By Steve Laser and Craig Nicol reporting from Tokyo, Japan
With most of the major press conferences at the Tokyo Motor Show scheduled for the first day, your dynamic duo reporters split up to cover as much ground as possible. As we discussed in our Tokyo Motor Show Part 1 story, thousands of journalists from across the globe were on hand to cover the news.
The organizers of the Tokyo Motor Show provide journalists with top-flight accommodations including this huge press center with 780 seats plus a 140 seat lounge area. We take an early morning walk through the area in our video as journalists and photographers begin to set up their equipment.
It looks like everyone is ready, so let’s put on our walking shoes and join the throngs of media as we cover the new concept vehicles unveiled at the Daihatsu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Suzuki exhibits.
We always enjoy the fun spirit of this small car maker that’s one of Japan’s oldest auto manufacturers tracing its roots back to the early 1900s. While Daihatsu had a brief five-year run in the U.S. market under its own brand name the automaker is still going strong in Japan where Toyota continues to own a controlling interest.
Daihatsu says that its new Nori Ori concept focuses on the issue of “getting in and out of a car,” the first hurdle faced by anyone who uses a vehicle. The high-roof concept with its upright windshield and glassy cabin resembles a passenger bus or perhaps a Tokyo subway car.
Daihatsu targets “the multi-use commuter of the near future,” as it aims to create an easy access compact vehicle equipped with an ultra-low floor, two-way access doors that open widely, and a power slope for a wide range of uses, such as loading a stroller or wheelchair.
“Everyone is taking about the future of cars at the Tokyo Motor Show, but Daihatsu has a different viewpoint, we want to talk about our future life,” said Masanori Mitsui, Daihatsu president. “Nori Ori on the outside looks comical, but it’s our conception looking at our future life regarding commuting.”
We take a walking tour of the Daihatsu exhibit in our above video. The car in the cover photo is the Daihatsu Copen, a popular roadster in the Japanese Kei car class.
Meanwhile, Daihatsu’s Tempo concept presents the idea of “a new genre space-commercial vehicle,” creating a new form of mini commercial vehicle on a small front-wheel-drive platform. The automaker says Tempo could be used as a moving sales vehicle and product display.
Daihatsu says it seeks to enter new markets by taking advantage of the features of its front-engine, FWD layout, such as the ease of driving and getting in and out. Tempo makes full use the flexible floor space, while a large gull-wing door with LED lighting is installed on the passenger side and includes a counter for added convenience.
Daihatsu also showed the D-base, a vehicle that it says embodies the concept of its next-generation compact cars. The “environmentally friendly” car is equipped with an internal combustion engine that incorporates Daihatsu’s advanced e:S technology.
With all the talk about futuristic vehicles, autonomous driving and digital age natives at the Tokyo Motor Show, a traditional sports car concept from Mazda called the RX-Vision may have been the biggest crowd-pleaser at this year’s show.
“Our theme for this year’s show is ‘Accelerate Toward our Dreams,'” said Masamichi Kogai, Mazda president and CEO. “Over the years, Mazda has consistently sought to make cars that are a pleasure to drive, tackling various challenges along the way. Our theme this year expresses our desire to continue providing customers with Mazda’s distinctive driving pleasure, sustaining our passion for fun-to-drive cars and desire to take on challenges.”
“We don’t see cars simply as a means to get from one place to another,” he added. “We offer cars that not only transport people and things but also deliver driving pleasure, the essence of the automobile, and hope to enrich our customers’ lives through car ownership. As a carmaker, only if we can do these things does our existence have meaning, and only then can we make a contribution to the automobile industry.”
“In order to fulfill this role, 50 years ago we took on the challenge of the rotary engine and were successful in mass-producing and commercializing it,” said Kogai as a beautiful example of Mazda’s Cosmo coupe stood nearby as a testament to the automaker’s rotary engine heritage.
We tried to contain our emotions and hold the camera still to take a 360-degree view of Mazda’s stunning new RX-Vision concept in our first-look video.
“It hasn’t been an easy path; we’ve had our share of setbacks and challenges and are no longer producing rotary engine vehicles,” added Kogai. “However, one day the rotary will make a comeback. The model we reveal here today gives form to Mazda’s vision of the future: a rotary-powered sports car concept we call Mazda RX-Vision.”
“We attempted to create a design that would encapsulate our entire history of sports car development while also representing the ultimate in styling for a front-engine, rear wheel-drive sports car,” he said. “Under the hood is our next-generation rotary engine, the SKYACTIV-R.”
“This name expresses our intention to make breakthroughs in the rotary engine’s dynamic and environmental performance with the same high aspirations that made SKYACTIV technology possible,” said Kogai. “There are still many issues to overcome, but we will continue our development efforts in the spirit of ‘never stop challenging.'”
Mazda also displayed the Koeru crossover that made its debut in Frankfurt. This five-passenger concept appears much closer to production than the RX-Vision. Mazda says the name “Koeru,” which means “exceed” or “go beyond” in Japanese, comes from the automaker’s aspiration to deliver value that goes well beyond the existing category norms and standards.
Mazda says Koeru’s “determined eyes, low cabin and substantial width on 21-inch wheels create a truly formidable presence with a premium level of refinement inside and out. The enriched KODO shapes deliver outstanding aerodynamics and with it high-speed stability, while Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology includes efficient driver-oriented powertrains and suspension as well as an ingeniously rigid body and chassis that enhance handling as well as safety.”
Over at the Mitsubishi display, the automaker says its new eX Concept is a vision for a compact SUV powered by a next-generation EV system. Its design is said to “evoke the image of a sports crossover zipping nimbly around town as it merges the elegance and stylishness of a ‘shooting brake’ (wagon) with compact SUV lines.” In both its exterior and interior, Mitsubishi says the eX Concept indicates the direction MMC Design is taking.
Mitsubishi says the next-generation EV system in the concept employs a high-capacity and high-performance battery together with compact high-output electric motors making it lighter and more efficient. With further weight reductions Mitsubishi says it can provide “a cruising range of 400 km.” Installing the drive battery beneath the body has lowered the center of gravity and together with its Twin Motor 4WD and S-AWC integrated vehicle dynamics control systems it’s said to help to improve handling and control.
The concept’s easy-access doors without center pillars lead passengers into the cabin. Inside the eX Concept, the driver and passenger seats use different colors to give each side a different ambience in an effort to enhance the refinement and sportiness of the interior.
Employing Augmented Reality technology, information acquired through linking with connected car technology is displayed on the concept’s windshield. Mitsubishi says that displaying such information within their forward field of view allows drivers to view changes in road conditions without having to make major movements of their line of sight.
We take a walk through the Mitsubishi display in our video above highlighting the concept and production vehicles on display.
Mitsubishi says the kind of information that can be displayed on the windshield includes: Route guidance from the car navigation system; Vehicle-to-vehicle distance alerts; Lane departure warnings; and information on fixed or movable traffic signs acquired by the camera-based road sign recognition system.
In addition, the AR windshield is fitted with Caution Tracking which employs driver assistance technology using vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-road and vehicle-to-pedestrian communications to display guidance and warnings on information outside the driver’s field of view, such as vehicles or pedestrians approaching intersections but hidden from the driver.
The path to the eX Concept is told through a display highlighting the 50 year story of MMC’s research and development in electric vehicle development. Examples that support the display include a Baja Portalegre 500 Outlander PHEV cross-country rally car (above) along with a custom-wrapped Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Subaru says its new VIZIV is a SUV-type concept embodying the future vision of its car development for “enjoyment and peace of mind.” The concept gives a look at next-generation technologies including the ongoing evolution of Subaru EyeSight, and the power unit combining a downsized turbo engine with a hybrid system.
The automaker says “true SUV style is expressed throughout, by the strong motifs starting from the hexagonal grill that symbolizes the Subaru identity and flowing to the sides and then ascending to the rear pillar, as well as by the dynamic and wide bumper motif.”
According to Subaru, the next-generation hybrid system has advanced every aspect of the system first launched on the market with the XV Hybrid. The combination with a downsized turbo engine is said to improve fuel efficiency, while at the same time “the smooth, linear feel when accelerating brings driving enjoyment.”
The downsized turbo engine adopted by Subaru in its Levorg model is optimized for the next generation of its cars. The propeller shaft has been eliminated in the concept by mounting a single motor on the rear axle. In addition to AWD, a flat floor contributes to increased interior space.
Subaru says the interior design “heightens peace of mind and the anticipation of driving, by means of a dynamic motif spreading out symmetrically from the cutting-edge interface between the center and powerful frame.”
“Enjoyment and peace of mind” have been expanded by making advancements to EyeSight, Subaru’s stereo camera technology, and by merging linking technologies like vehicle-to-external communications and telematics.
Join us in our video as we walk through Subaru’s exhibit and take a closer look at the vehicles on display.
Moving on, Subaru says the Impreza 5-Door Concept previews the next-generation Impreza. While positioned as an entry model in the Subaru lineup, “its compact body features a blend of bold expressions beyond its class hinting at the design direction of the new Impreza and other Subaru’s future models.”
The Subaru “look” can be seen in the wide and low stance that generates a sporty impression, and in the unified three-dimensional structure extending from the hexagonal grille flanked by hawk-eye headlights. The rear combination lights share the same motif as the headlights, adding “powerful shoulders” over the rear fenders.
Suzuki cars may be gone from the U.S. market, but they’re still going strong in Japan and other nations across the globe. Based on our 22-year track record attending the Tokyo Motor Show, we always look forward to Suzuki’s concept vehicles that generate ear-to-ear grins.
Our biggest happy face was triggered by the “Air Triser.” Suzuki says the Air Triser is a new-concept three-row compact minivan. “Within manageable body dimensions, it offers a cabin where roominess and smart seat configurability embody the concept of a private lounge.”
When parked, the seats can be configured in a “relaxation mode” (where they face each other) or in a “lounge mode” (where the seats form a U-shape sofa). Users can enjoy media content from a smartphone on a large-format display that extends from one of the B-pillars to the ceiling. If Suzuki has its way, the custom van craze of the 1970s may stage a return led by the likes of the Air Triser.
Meanwhile, Suzuki says the Mighty Deck concept is a new, fun-oriented minicar with a canvas top and an open load deck that can be repositioned for different uses. We’ve seen pickup-style crossovers at the Tokyo show before, yet we hope this one actually previews an upcoming production model.
Suzuki says an “urban/outdoor” theme is “embodied by features that free people to move between contrasting situations and mindsets: city and nature; home and away; work and leisure; relaxed and playful.” Wide-ranging functionality including an automatic raise/lower function for the open deck accommodates lifestyle situations ranging from daily life to leisure.
With our camera in hand, we take a stroll through the Suzuki exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show and attempt to capture the heat of the moment.
The theme for Suzuki’s display is “Suzuki Next 100.” The automaker will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, so its display is said to represent “proposals for products and technologies that give a sense of the company’s preparations for ongoing success in the next 100 years.”
Here’s what Suzuki says about the Ignis: “It shows how a compact car can straddle the boundary between daily life and leisure. A high eye-point and plenty of road clearance ensure day-to-day convenience.” Suzuki also says it allows confident driving on snowy roads and rough tracks, so weekends become a chance to enjoy the great outdoors.
The Ignis-Trail Concept expands upon the Ignis concept of urban and outdoor versatility by offering even greater rough-road ruggedness. Suzuki has beefed up the exterior and energized the cabin with more crossover-style design cues. There’s no word about the running gear, but we would think that it offers all-wheel drive to segue with its trail-happy name.
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Story, photos (as noted) and videos © Copyright 2015 CarNichiWa.com