By Steve & Tamami Laser
The Tokyo Auto Salon returned to the Makuhari Messe convention center complex on Jan. 14-16, in celebration of its 40th year. The show traces its roots to the “Tokyo Exciting Car Show” that began in the early 1980s, with the goal of establishing and promoting a custom car culture.
From customized cars, vans, trucks, and SUVs, to parts and accessories, plus collectible and wearable goods, there’s something at the show for everyone. Automakers join the action and unveil new concepts, plus customized and racing vehicles. This story highlights the Toyota and Lexus display.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
GR GT3 Concept
A week before the show opened its doors, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing issued a press release announcing the world premiere of the new GR GT3 Concept planned for the Tokyo Auto Salon. It was accompanied by a shadowy photo, offering a sneak preview of the concept’s silhouette.
Now that the GR GT3 Concept has been revealed, we’re amazed by its breathtaking design. TGR said that it strives to offer “ever-better motorsports-bred cars.” It participates in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), plus other races and rallies. Could GT3 racing be next?
TGR says that by commercializing motorsports cars, rather than simply adapting production vehicles for use in motorsports, it intends to use feedback and technologies refined through participation in motorsports to develop both GT3 and mass-production cars.
We had a flashback to the 2017 Tokyo Auto Salon, where we saw Lexus GAZOO Racing unveil the RC F GT3, a prototype based on a production car. If the new GR GT3 previews a potential racing model for the track, could it also hint at a version for the street?
The GRMN Yaris is a car you can actually buy, if you happen to live in Japan, and are among a group of 500 lucky people selected from an online reservation lottery. Deliveries for this specially tuned model of the GR Yaris are expected to begin this summer at GR Garages in Japan.
This special Yaris follows other limited-edition GRMN models, including the 86 GRMN (2016 Auto Salon), and Mark X GRMN (2014 Auto Salon). Applying techniques from its motorsports experience, GRMN Yaris has increased body rigidity, reduced weight, greater width, and lower height. There’s a mechanical limited-slip differential, close-ratio transmission, and low final gear set. TGR says enhancements result in improved grip, braking force, cornering and performance.
Inside, RECARO® full bucket front seats with side airbags are installed, while the rear seats are removed, and a lateral reinforcement brace is installed. An available Circuit Package includes BBS® GRMN wheels, 18-inch brakes, adjustable Bilstein® shocks, carbon twill-weave rear spoiler, side skirts, and lip spoiler. A Rally Package can be added as a dealer option to the base model, with GR shocks and stabilizer set, GR under guard set, and GR roll bar with side bar.
bZ4X GR Sport Concept
Toyota’s upcoming all-electric crossover, called bZ4X, is the first in a new lineup of “beyond ZERO” bZ models. Riding on the new e-TNGA modular platform, bZ4X is a midsize SUV jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru. All-wheel-drive models with electric motors in the front and rear offer “genuine off-road capability.”
The new bZ4X GR Sport Concept, making its debut at Tokyo Auto Salon, shows that Toyota is already thinking about potential customization options. The concept is fitted with an array of goodies, including sporty wheels and tires, sport seats, and matte black exterior body panels.
Lexus displayed two new concept vehicles at the Tokyo Auto Salon this year: the NX PHEV Offroad Concept and the ROV (Recreational Off-highway Vehicle) Concept.
Lexus says these models aim to expand customer choices and “balance the refined lifestyle and driving pleasure that cars provide our customers, while living in harmony with nature.”
NX PHEV Offroad
Based on the new Lexus NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid that’s already on sale, the NX PHEV Offroad is treated to a customized appearance with rugged good looks. In addition to a raised ride height, it features off-road style all-terrain tires, plus custom bronze (Iron Oxide) and matte black paint.
Like the NX 450h+, the NX PHEV Offroad is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with Plug-in Hybrid System, and E-Four electronically controlled all-wheel drive. Custom parts include a matte black grille with smoked Lexus badge, smoked outside mirrors, window and belt moldings, matte black door handles, and roof rails with a carrier basket.
ROV (Recreational Off-highway Vehicle)
Lexus revealed details about its amazing new ROV Concept in Europe last month, ahead of its public debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The two-seat off-roader is built on a rugged pipe frame topped with a sporty, lightweight body featuring Lexus design cues and build quality.
The ROV Concept receives a Lexus-first hydrogen engine. A 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder DOHC powerplant with direct-injection operates like a gasoline engine, yet it’s fed by a high-pressure tank with compressed hydrogen. Lexus says the ROV delivers an exhilarating driving experience with high-response torque and virtually no CO2 emissions.
The ROV’s interior is dressed with shock-absorbing seats trimmed with synthetic leather. There’s a sequential paddle shifter + reverse gear transmission, selectable 2WD and 4WD, and a differential lock.
Note: Some vehicles in this story are concepts and are not for sale. GRMN Yaris limited-edition is available only in Japan.
News sources and photos courtesy of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Toyota Motor Corp., Lexus International, Lexus UK, and Tokyo Auto Salon Association (TASA)
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