By Steve & Tamami Laser
Now in its 41st year, the Tokyo Auto Salon is the largest custom car show in Japan. Returning to the Makuhari Messe convention center from Jan. 13-15, this year’s show offered plenty of excitement for enthusiasts, fans, and lovers of all things automotive.
What began as the “Tokyo Exciting Car Show” way back in 1983 has become a world-class event. Automakers, custom car builders, aftermarket parts makers, and related industries display their latest creations, highlight motorsports activities, and stage outdoor driving exhibitions.
According to the Tokyo Auto Salon Association, this year’s show attracted 341 exhibitors, with 789 vehicles on display, and some 3,904 booths and exhibits. Total attendance was 179,434, including exhibitors, officials and those at the adjacent Tokyo Outdoor Show.
This story highlights the Nissan Motor Co. vehicle displays, including a special premiere.
2024 GT-R Debuts
Following last year’s introduction of the next-generation Fairlady Z, we’ve been wondering what Nissan had in store for its flagship sports car, the GT-R? Rumors were flying across the web with some speculating that it might become a hybrid, a BEV or perhaps be discontinued.
Nissan finally put our minds at ease by introducing the enhanced 2024 model year, Japan-market R35 GT-R models during a press conference, prior to the public opening of the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Introduced by Nissan CEO Ashwani Gupta, followed by a detailed product enhancement presentation from Chief Vehicle Engineer Takashi Kawaguchi (above), the new models for Japan offer eight variants, including two specials, the GT-R Premium edition T-spec, and GT-R NISMO Special Edition (shown above).
GT-R gains enhanced aerodynamically crafted front and rear styling, revealed on the Premium edition T-spec above. Said to deliver the pleasures of a smoother ride and responsive handling, T-spec receives special suspension settings and carbon disc brakes. The VR38DETT twin-turbo V6 puts out 419 kW (570 PS) and 637 Nm (65.0 kgf-m) torque via a GR6 dual-clutch transmission and ATTESA ET-S all-wheel drive.
GT-R NISMO Special Edition has more dramatic styling cues with a new rear wing, and revised lower rear diffuser, while continuing to feature lightweight carbon-fiber body panels. Maximizing the use of racing technologies, Nissan says this is the highest-performance GT-R ever. There’s a new mechanical limited-slip differential for the front final drive, along with refined suspension tuning. The twin-turbo V6 employs high-precision weight-balanced parts, including the piston rings, connecting rods, and crankshaft. NISMO-tuning delivers 441 kW (600 PS) with 652 Nm (66.5 kgf-m) torque.
Inside, the GT-R NISMO Special Edition gains exclusive Recaro® carbon-back bucket seats with exposed carbon frames. With NISMO embroidered logos, red stitching, and Alcantara and leather upholstery, the seats are said to enhance comfort and drive quality.
The 2024 GT-R is expected to go on sale in Japan in spring 2023, with NISMO versions following in the summer. (Similar launch timing is expected for the new U.S.-spec models at select Nissan dealers in America.)
Roox Suite Concept
The latest generation Nissan Roox mini vehicle (Kei car) is offered in regular and Highway Star models, with normally aspirated and turbocharged 660cc 3-cylinder engines, plus an available Smart Hybrid system. So “What If” it could be transformed and customized into what might be the ultimate Roox pleasure vehicle?
The Roox Suite concept is a perfect example of why we love the Tokyo Auto Salon, a venue where car designers can let their dreams run wild. Nissan says the Roox show car features its latest innovations and technologies, “customized to enable special times with loved ones.” In other words, it looks like nothing else on the road.
Access to the interior is easy thanks to a huge, swing-up door on the passenger side, while there’s a chauffeur-style driver’s seat up front. The lucky passenger is treated to a premium first-class reclining second-row seat with an ottoman-style footrest, and swing-out tablet holder. This concept even includes a piano, housed in a unique mini-trailer.
Fairlady Z Customized Edition
Along with the new generation Z, called the Fairlady Z in Japan, Nissan showed a customized version at last year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, called the Fairlady Z Customized Proto. The concept showcased heritage-inspired styling treatments.
The concept was so well received, that Nissan has decided to offer a “mass-market version” for Japan, dubbed the Fairlady Z Customized Edition (above). It’s dressed with an orange exterior, reminiscent of the legendary Fairlady Z432R, along with a special front fascia, alloys, fender flares and rear spoiler.
Nissan also brought along a vintage Z432R for comparison purposes. And while it would certainly be totally cool, they’re not offering copies of that vintage Z. (We can always dream.)
Powered Base for Pro – Caravan Concept
The Nissan Caravan is a long-running minivan built by Nissan Shatai, that also manufactures other Nissan models, including the Patrol, Armada, and Elgrand. Auto Works Kyoto converts the Caravan into various work-use vehicles, such as the Nissan Paramedic van.
Nissan says that the Powered Base for Pro Caravan concept is a customized show van designed to support professionals in a variety of scenarios. It features four portable power packs employing rechargeable, recycled batteries sourced from the Nissan LEAF. The concept also gains solar panels, a tool rack, and a “sterilizing” air conditioning system.
Serena Highway Star Accessory Concept
Nissan introduced a new generation of the Serena minivan late last year. Sales of the gas-powered models have started in Japan, while e-POWER models are expected to commence in spring. Nissan says that since its launch in 1991, Serena has always been in touch with the needs of families. New models also offer high-tech features, such as ProPILOT 2.0 and ProPILOT Park.
Nissan brought several customized Serenas to the Tokyo Auto Salon, including this Highway Star Accessory concept. In addition to its attractive body wrap, the van sports add-on accessories, including a front spoiler, illuminated front grille, plus special cabin features to enhance comfort and fun.
Cube Refreshed & Retro Concept
Remember the cool Nissan Cube? While sales concluded in the U.S. for 2014, the Cube continued to be produced for Japan through 2019. Love for the Cube continues to blossom, so Nissan brought a new concept model to the Tokyo Auto Salon.
The Cube Refreshed & Retro, based on a refreshed, used Cube, has been enhanced and updated inside and out for a customized and retro look. Over the years, Nissan has customized the Cube in many creative ways. One of our favorites was the “Cube Shutter Room” “concept. Fitted with dozens of cameras, it was billed as the Ultimate 360-degree selfie car that reads your emotions.
Nissan Sakura Super EV Ride
The Nissan Sakura is a new, all-electric Kei car that joined the LEAF and Ariya when it went on sale in Japan last year. Named for the cherry blossom, Sakura provides sleek styling, with a spacious, four-passenger cabin, advanced driver assistance systems and connectivity features.
Sakura is built by NMKV, the Nissan and Mitsubishi joint venture that also produces a version for Mitsubishi called eK X EV. Designed to deliver smooth and powerful driving, the EVs are said to provide sufficient range for everyday use. The “Nissan Sakura Super EV Ride” at the outdoor event venue (above) offered the chance for Tokyo Auto Salon visitors to observe the Sakura’s surprising acceleration and cornering.
Note: Some vehicles in this story are concepts and are not for sale. Features, specifications, and launch timing for Japan market production models are subject to change without notice.
News sources and photos courtesy of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Tokyo Auto Salon Association (TASA)
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