Hot on the heels of the Detroit motor show comes a very different type of motor show – the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Not to be confused with the Tokyo motor show, the Auto Salon is essentially Japan's answer to the American SEMA tuning show, and is replete with all kind mental oriental machinery.
If you like Nismo Nissans, lowered Lexuses and muscled Mitsubishis, read on for our pick of the show.
Mazda Roadster Mazdaspeed M’z Tune Concept
This very cool MX-5 was put together by Mazda E&T, Mazda’s special ops division in Hiroshima and while it gets the Mazdaspeed badge (MPS in the UK), don’t get carried away. It’s not the rumoured MX-5 version of the turbocharged 3 and 6. Latest word from Mazda central is that there’s no plan to do a turbocharged MX-5 MPS, appealing as the idea sounds. Mazda top brass feels forced induction upsets the purity of the lightweight MX-5 formula, so it will be officially resisted for as long as possible. Instead, this Mazdaspeed M’z Tune concept is all about a carefully co-ordinated bodykit. It's not just show, however - the package also includes unique Bilstein dampers, a sports exhaust, 18-inch wheels and a remapped 2.0-litre engine with a 12bhp power boost. Mazda’s expected to put it on sale in Japan this spring.
Mugen Open-Top Pure Sports
Born in 1999, the Honda S2000’s now slowly on the way out but tuner Mugen will still sell you a whole barrel full of go-faster bits and this year it's come up with this interesting creation, the Mugen Open-Top Pure Sports.It's a swoopy revamp of the S2000 with a sleeker front end, bulging front wings, big roll bar, slim aero screen, trick carbonfibre rear diffuser and flat body under panel. There’s also a four-pipe exhaust, Brembo brakes, 18-inch alloys and a tuned 2.0-litre screamer of an engine that develops "over 250bhp.”
Mugen Road to Racing Concept
We should point out that this isn't a souped-up version of the Civic IMA hybrid - Japanese Civics are all four-door saloons. But that doesn't make it any less interesting, with its funky body kit, boot spoiler, dual exhausts and big wheels.Mugen won't confirm the engine – but it's believed to be a 2.0-litre Integra Type R engine supercharged to produce 300bhp.
Mitsubishi Delica D:5
Mitsubishi is just weeks away from launching its new Delica D:5 minivan in Japan. Sharing platform, engine and other key parts with the Outlander, the 2.4-litre, three-row Delica with has boxy styling and cavernous space inside. Should be a home run in minivan-obsessed Japan. Mitsubishi also rolled out a Dakar Rally-themed Delica, and if the past is any guide, some or all of its accessories (paint, lights, stickers) will eventually appear in the official Delica accessories catalogue.
Fledermaus Lexus LS460
The hottest car at the Tokyo Auto Salon this year? Try the Lexus LS LS460. The aftermarket crew were all over the LS in a way that would surely have shocked the car’s conservative creators. With huge, shiny Cuervo wheels, this slammed LS was one of many filling the show site and is the work of Osaka wheel/body/interior specialist Fledermaus.
NAT Mini SX
We knew Honda was building a new NSX, but this is ridiculous…A round of applause for the fertile minds at Japan’s NAT (Nihon Automotive College) who’ve tweaked an early ‘90s Beat to mimic the classic NSX look. According to the blurb, the pop-up head and taillights are off a genuine NSX and depending on response, NAT may produce it, either as a kit or as a complete article for sale in Japan. The creatives at NAT also want to draw the link between the Beat and NSX, which were both mid-engined, at a time when Honda already seems to be copping some flak for daring to make the NSX replacement front-engined.