There's something bizarrely fascinating about Japanese car culture, especially around Tokyo. The metropolis packs people tightly together in a way that would seem to make owning any car tough. And yet, there's still enough enthusiasm around anything with an engine to support everything from wildly tuned bosozoku rides with exhaust pipes reaching toward the sky to seriously fast Porsche and Lamborghini models.
It's been two years since Toyota first revealed its Camatte show car at the Tokyo Toy Show. Though sadly never destined for production, Toyota brought the concept back the following year as the Camatte 57s roadster, and is now returning to the same show with yet another take on the kid-friendly, configurable 1+2 with interchangeable body panels - this time with a slew of features that are fresh not only to the concept itself, but to the industry altogether.
OK, here's where we think those road tests will start to get a little scary. Those super-narrow all-electric three-wheeled Toyota i-Road vehicles may have looked great sashaying through the towns of the French Riviera. But now? They're being tested in Tokyo. Hoo boy.
The Tokyo Auto Salon kicked off this weekend, filling the slot in the Japanese car scene that SEMA does in North America or Essen does in Germany with tuned and modified versions of domestic automobiles. Of course, Toyota wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to show just how far its JDM models can be taken, and to that end brought no fewer than 34 customized vehicles to the Makuhari Messe in Chiba City.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) powered by hydrogen were taken more seriously at the LA Auto Show and Tokyo Motor Show last month than ever before, but their presence in the market is still shrouded in fog. Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of research and development at Toyota, is confident fuel cell costs will come down enough to make FCEVs "just one alternative of the eco cars," but that probably won't happen for another 10-15 years.
Tokyo Motor Show, Los Angeles Auto Show, Car and Driver 10Best list
Episode #359 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Michael Harley and Jonathon Ramsey talk about the LA Auto Show, Tokyo Motor Show, and the release of the Car and Driver 10Best list. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. You can follow along after the jump with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
LA and Tokyo show recaps, Car & Driver 2014 10Best
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #359 tonight, and we'll be joined by Michael Harley and Jonathon Ramsey to recap the Los Angeles Auto Show and Tokyo Motor Show. Check out the topics below, drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module, and don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
To reiterate what Editor-in-Chief Neff said in our LA Auto Show wrap-up from earlier today, let's never do this whole two-major-shows-in-one-week thing ever again. Oh sure, we handled it, doing our whole obsessively kicking butt thing on a global scale. But here we are, Friday evening, and we're spent.
Though most Formula One teams are based in the UK, they hail from places all around the world. There are teams from Russia, India and Malaysia, but in the 1960s, the idea of an F1 team coming from as far away as Japan was unthinkable in what was a predominantly European racing series. That's just the notion that Honda aimed to upset when it entered the car you see here in the 1964 Formula One World Championship.
In America, Nissan attempts to slake our kinschlepping needs with its slow-selling Quest minivan, but in Japan, where consumers seem a lot less reluctant to buy MPVs, there are a lot more models for every size family and budget. Nissan itself offers no fewer than six such minivans, including the popular Serena seen here.
Japan may be best known, at least among motorcycle enthusiasts, for its sport bikes. But as we found at the Tokyo Motor Show this year, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are capable of producing all kinds of motorbikes. And to our delight, that includes cafe racers.
We take it for granted that women can enter just about any career they want now. But there are still countless occupations where females are underrepresented. You don't see too many women truckers, for example – particularly in a country that's still as deeply traditional as Japan. But Mitsubishi Fuso is showing just how forward thinking – and simultaneously, how traditional (pink polka dots are a bit 'on the nose') it can be with this hybrid pink truck.
As an automaker, Suzuki may be long gone from American shores, but it's still a force to be reckoned with in its home country of Japan. At this week's Tokyo Motor Show, the brand known as much for its two-wheeled fare as its four displayed a slew concept vehicles for both drivers and riders.
Even average production cars from Japan often seem very conceptual to US eyes. Throw in typical, nonsensical-quasi-English-words name like "Dayz Roox" and you'd be forgiven for thinking this Nissan box on wheels was still a designer's dream. But the fact is that the Nissan Dayz is a model currently on sale, and this Roox version is the latest take on the micro-van, which is a popular segment in Japan.
Nissan has already shown its e-NV200 in Detroit and Frankfurt in conceptual form, now its home market is getting an up-close look at the production all-electric compact van at the Tokyo Motor Show. While it doesn't sound like the e-NV200 will be making its way to the US anytime soon, it will go on sale on sale in Europe in the middle of next year and in Japan by early 2015.
Taking a page from Renault and the Twizy – the page that says you don't need real doors on a tiny electric vehicle – Honda has unveiled a new version of its tiny MC-β EV. That's tiny in terms of overall size, battery capacity and range. Should it ever go on sale in Europe, the MC-β would be considered an L7 vehicle, which is a classification for vehicles that weigh 400 kilograms or less (not counting battery weight) with a maximum power output of 15 kW – typically mot
Yamaha and the inimitable Gordon Murray have teamed up to make a small but significant splash at the Tokyo Motor Show, showing Murray Design's long-promised small car project in the form of this MOTIV.e City Car electric vehicle.
A Rolls-Royce Phantom or a Bentley Mulsanne is great if you want absolute luxury regardless of the cost, but what if you want absolute luxury and manic speed, regardless of cost? Well, Mercedes-Benz will quite happily sell you this – the new, 2015 Mercedes S65 AMG, complete with 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of a majestic 6.0-liter biturbocharged V12.
Mitsubishi enjoys a long history of thinking outside the literal box when it comes to designing minivans and people movers. Remember the Mitsubishi Van, a.k.a. Delica? How about the Chariot, better known to us as the Colt Vista? The Expo and Expo LRV, the twin models that succeeded it? These were all left-of-center takes on the MPV genre, and while they never sold in large volumes, we can't help but look back at them with a mix of bemusement and respect for their oddball character. Who knows? A