By Steve Laser reporting from Tokyo, Japan
The Tokyo Auto Salon reported that this year’s show drew more than 324,000 people during the three-day event. Plus, the exhibits managed to occupy just about every nook and cranny of the massive Makuhari Messe convention complex.
The show traces its history back to the “Tokyo Exciting Car Show” which started in 1983 with the goal of “establishing a custom car culture.” The name was changed to Tokyo Auto Salon in 1987 while this year marked its 35th anniversary.
Honda had an excellent exhibit at this year’s show including a wide variety of cars and motorcycles as well as several Honda competition vehicles from the worlds of Formula One, MotoGP and SUPER GT.
The new Honda Civic Type R Prototype had its official Asian market debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The model previews elements of the styling of the next-generation Civic Type R that Honda says will be “officially unveiled” later this year.
Arriving at the Honda press conference early, I took a great seat and was able to record most of the action in this video. (The conference was held in Japanese.)
Honda’s unveiling of the new Civic Type R Prototype in Tokyo was accompanied by the official announcement that Japanese sales of the Civic Sedan and European-built Hatchback and Type R will begin in summer 2017.
While the Civic Sedan (above) will be produced at the Saitama Factory group of production plants in Japan, the five-door Hatchback (blue car) and Type R models will be manufactured at Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) in Swindon, U.K. Since the Civic nameplate first appeared in 1972, approximately 24 million examples of the model have been produced worldwide.
The next-generation Civic Type R was engineered within the same development program as the other members of the Civic family. Here’s our video of the Type R in Tokyo.
Type R will be exported to markets around the world, including the U.S. – which will mark the first time that a Honda-badged Type R has been officially sold in North America. The previous generation Civic Type R was sold in Japan, in limited numbers. Sales of the new generation high-performance hatchback in Japan will not be limited, Honda says.
It was great to see so many examples of the new NSX at the Tokyo Auto Salon. Note that they’re all wearing Honda badges in our video.
Last August, Honda began accepting applications in Japan for custom orders of the new NSX. Since then, it says the number of applications submitted exceeded the annual sales plan of 100 units. Honda says customer deliveries in Japan are scheduled to begin on February 27, 2017.
The NSX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® (Super Handling-Hydraulic System), is a high-efficiency, high-output three-motor hybrid system with a newly developed direct-injection V6 twin turbo engine. (NSX is sold as a Honda in Japan because the Acura brand isn’t used here.)
This time around, the NSX will become an American export. At the Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) located in the area adjacent to Honda’s automobile production plant in Marysville, Ohio, approximately 100 associates are engaged in body construction, painting and final assembly of the new sports car.
Honda’s cool little S660 roadster gets a sporty new interior treatment. Check out the Bruno Leather Edition in my video.
The S660 is the latest in a long line of Honda roadsters that include the vintage Sports 360, S500, S600 and S800. Launched in 2015, Honda continues to explore new treatments for S660. At the Tokyo Auto Salon it displayed this Bruno Leather interior style. My seat-of-the-pants impression is that it looks and feels luxurious.
Located in another part of the convention center near the press room, I made this quick video of the latest generation Honda Freed, a successful model name in Japan.
The compact Honda Freed is larger than the Kei-car N-Series, but considerably smaller than the STEP WGN. A close competitor is the Toyota Sienta. Be sure to see the wild customized Freed Active Concept in the Modulo section below.
Honda Racing is a global business that takes many forms and involves a variety of partners. Standing just inches away from the FIA Formula One McLaren-Honda MP4–31, my hand was shaking as I snapped the photo below.
The racing car is so beautifully constructed that is almost looks fragile up close. Yet we know just how rugged it is. Honda RA 616H, a power unit featuring state-of-the-art hybrid technology and compact layout, is said to be designed to enhance the aerodynamic characteristics of this machine. The RA616H is a compact, 1.6-liter V6 turbo engine.
FIM Road Race World Championship MotoGP RC 213 V (Repsol Honda Team #93 Marc Marquez) is shown above. Honda says that RC 213 V is made in accordance with the change of 2012 MotoGP class engine displacement regulation. In the 2016 season, the team achieved two crowns of riders’ titles and constructors’ titles.
Also on display (see the Honda and Mugen Racing video below) was the FIM Motocross World Championship CRF 450 RW (Team Honda Gariboldi Racing #243) that Tim Geizer won the Motocross World Championship in 2016. And FIM Trial World Championship COTA 4 RT (Repsol Honda Team #1) where Tony Bow achieved victories at the 2016 trial world championship.
Here’s my walkaround video of the N-ONE Owner’s Cup car on display. The N-ONE production car is part of Honda’s hugely successful N-Series that has sold more than one million units in Japan.
While it may seem like an unlikely candidate for racing, Honda introduced a motorsports program last year called the “N-ONE Owner’s Cup.” With the aim of letting fans take part, the Cup featured sprint races using vehicles licensed for public roads. The event was held at six circuits around Japan: Fuji Speedway, Autopolis International Racing Course, Okayama International Circuit, Twin Ring Motegi, Sportsland SUGO and Suzuka Circuit.
Modulo is Honda’s custom-style brand name in Japan. It started out as a brand of aluminum wheels in 1994. Five years later, it graduated to selling aero parts. Today, Honda offers Modulo-ized versions of its vehicles as well as parts and accessories.
This Freed Active Concept, based on the Freed +, is said to be influenced by outdoor active sports, such as running. Does it look like a big running shoe?
Remember the Freed we showed earlier in this story? The new Freed Active Concept dials up the fun factor. In a society known for its legendary work ethic, folks here treasure leisure-time activities and sports. This Freed has been reworked to reflect sports gear, like a running shoe.
The generous application of bright lime green makes the interior of the Freed Active Concept stand out from the pack. As we showed in the video, it even adorns the headliner.
The Honda STEP WGN and its Modulo X edition is an innovative van that’s already on sale in Japan. This updated show version gained even more goodies.
The latest generation Honda STEP WGN was launched in 2015. STEP WGN Modulo X, released in October 2016, is a complete model that Honda says tunes the driving reflexes for the van, including “straight running stability at high-speed, supple cornering, and a high-quality ride comfortable on the road.” For the Tokyo Auto Salon, Honda updated some of the color treatments and other details.
Mugen (M-TEC Co., Ltd.)
The concept for this year’s Mugen display is “Mugen Power 2017.” Exhibits include the Mugen Garu, which is based on the Honda S660, with all customized exterior parts except for the glass. It looks incredibly cool in person – and we hope it reaches production.
In the “Things that make you say ‘Wow!'” department, the Mugen Garu caused plenty of excitement at the show. Check it out in my video above.
Mugen says the Garu is a concept car that gives shape to “our dreams and the car that we want to make.” We really hope that they do decide to make this. Underneath is a Honda S660 roadster.
All exterior parts except for the windows are custom-built. Mugen produced all the interior elements too, from the seats to the interior panels. The rounded, compact body delivers a bold look and what Mugen calls “a message for future drivers.”
Mugen Motorsports exhibits included the Team Mugen SF14 which raced in the 2016 Super Formula Series – called Japan’s top formula series. (Also included in this video are Honda brand racing vehicles.)
Mugen says the Super Formula Series is the “fastest and most prestigious formula race in Asia.” The Team Mugen SF14 which raced in this series was on display in Tokyo.
The Shinden Go electric motorcycle raced for Team Mugen in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race – a historical and traditional street race.
Shinden Go Team Mugen #5 is the electric motorcycle that’s been champion for three consecutive years in the TT Zero Challenge class (class of vehicles with engines that emit no CO2) at The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race. Mugen also had an earlier example of Shinden on hand that was used as a driving simulator.
Visit the links below for our additional 2017 Tokyo Auto Salon stories:
CarNichiWa.com thanks the Tokyo Auto Salon for providing us with media passes to the show. We also thank Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Modulo and Mugen (M-TEC Co., Ltd.), for access to display vehicles for this news report.
Note: Production vehicles, launch dates, and features and specifications for Japanese market models in this story are subject to change without notice by the automaker.
Story, photos and videos © 2017 CarNichiWa.com