Tokyo show stars from Honda prove that the brand is shedding its staid image

Honda will use the Tokyo motor show to introduce a trio of concept cars designed to take the traditionally staid - in styling terms, at least - Japanese marque in new directions.

The first has the most immediate relevance: the Sports 4 Concept is an athletic-looking sports saloon, and hints that performance will be high on Honda’s agenda when it replaces the current Accord in 2008. It is underpinned by the same basic mechanicals as the excellent existing Accord saloon, but packs a high-output 2.0-litre VTEC engine and Honda’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system, also to feature on the new Legend. Inside, it’s a strict four-seater with a full-length glass roof.

Alongside the Sports 4 Concept is a reinvention of Honda’s FCX fuel cell car, the FCX Concept. In contrast to Honda’s current FCX, a supermini-sized three-door hatchback, this is a much more upmarket four-door saloon that reflects how far fuel cell technology has developed since the first FCX was unveiled in 1999. Honda describes it as a ‘premium fuel-cell sedan’, has fitted it with three electric motors and four-wheel drive, and endowed it with a maximum speed of 94mph and an operating range of 270 miles.

Rounding off the trio is the WOW (the Wonderful Open-hearted Wagon) concept. Reflecting Japanese tastes for very specific niche models, this is a car designed to be as welcoming to you as it is to your dog. Based on the Jazz, it has a dedicated air-conditioned dog compartment, wipe-clean upholstery in the fascia and a rear bumper cut-out to make access easy for your canine friend. It’s positively barking, you could say.

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