The weird and wonderful debutants at the Tokyo Motor Show
The Tokyo Motor Show is known, if nothing else, for its wacky concepts. Whether it’s tiny Japan-only Kei cars or futuristic ‘mobility concepts’, there’s plenty to assault the senses at the compact biennial show.
We’ve been on the ground in Tokyo seeing what’s what, so here’s a list of our favourites from the show – from the sublime to the ridiculous…
A very sensible start to this list: the Ariya outlines what Nissan sees as the future of both its C-segment crossover offerings and its design language as a whole.
Built on a dedicated EV platform, there’s loads of interior space and a flat floor, while its two electric motors mean it has ‘sports car’-level performance.
We’ve been told that the Ariya will be put into production in some form or another very soon, so watch this space.
Daihatsu Wai Wai
Silly name aside, this six-seater concept wouldn’t look out of place in showrooms today – though there’s more than a hint of Volkswagen Bus in the design.
Unfortunately, Daihatsu is no longer with us in the UK, so it looks like we’ll be missing out on whatever production model the Wai Wai morphs into.
Another tiny concept car with a bizarre name, the Waku is an unashamedly retro-looking coupe – until it’s not.
Flip a switch and the Waku turns itself into an estate, thanks to a folding rear section that looks not dissimilar to that of the Nissan EXA of the 1980s.
One of the few production cars unveiled here that we’ll see in the UK, the Fit will make it to Britain as the new Jazz.
We’ve had a quick sit inside and it’s very impressive, though expect the ‘Basic’ and ‘Ness’ trim levels to receive a more sober rename before it goes on sale here.
Toyota has far too many ‘mobility concepts’ than it bears mentioning, but a particular stand-out is this utterly bizarre broomstick-shaped creation.
There’s not much information flying around (get it?) about the creation, but look closely and you’ll see that rather than being powered by witchcraft, it actually has a collection of powered wheels hidden under its bristles.
Nissan Kei Concept
This rose gold Kei car probably won’t reach Europe, but it’s likely to do very well in Japan.
As a Nissan executive explained, petrol-powered Kei cars are extremely limited by their very nature – they’re noisy, underpowered and unrefined. A near-silent electric one should be a revelation, then.
Another Daihatsu, albeit a more sensible-looking one. This mysteriously titled B-segment crossover is likely to replace the Terios in the small car maker’s global range.
More importantly though, with Daihatsu owned by Toyota this could – repeat, could – make it to the UK as a vehicle to slot below the CH-R.
Might need renaming were it to reach these shores, but we rather like the unashamedly square GranAce.
It’s the passenger version of the new HiAce – something of an iconic van over in Japan, which remained on sale pretty much unchanged for 14 years until early 2019.
We reckon they’d do quite well in the UK as a Mercedes V-Class rival. C’mon Toyota, what’s the worst that could happen?
More of a refresh than a debut, the Hustler has been on sale in Japan for five years now – a sort of cuboid off-roader slash MPV, with a maximum of 63bhp on tap (as per Kei car rules).
This particular one – resplendent in Barbie pink – comes complete with ‘crossover utility vehicle’ graphics, and some drawings of camping stoves on the bumper.
Nissan Note e-POWER NISMO
Also not strictly a debut, but we love Nissan’s commitment to squeezing Recaro bucket seats – the same variety you’d find in an old RenaultSport Clio 200 – into an 83bhp compact MPV.
The UK is no longer offered the Note, but its e-POWER drivetrain – effectively an EV, but with batteries topped up by a petrol engine – is likely to appear in other models soon.
Daihatsu Tsumu Tsumu
Sorry, this is the last Daihatsu, we promise. This tiny cab-over truck seems to have been designed purely for the hell of it – though it could feed into a re-design of the Hijet Kei van, which we haven’t received in the UK for some time.
For no particular reason, Daihatsu has embedded a rising platform complete with a large drone in its rear. Jolly good.
Subaru WRX STI EJ20 Final Edition
We know what you’re thinking: how many final editions can one car have? This one marks the end of the WRX STI in Japan, and in particular, the end of its ‘EJ20’ 2.0-litre Boxer engine.
Us Europeans haven’t been able to buy this 2.0-litre turbo since 2005, but it’s been soldiering on in Japan – where tax is based on engine size rather than emissions – for a staggering 30 years.
There’s no real need for tears, as Subaru has a whole new Boxer engine family to rely on these days. Though, as this particular motor powered the Legacy and Impreza through countless rally wins, it does feel like the end of an era.