Like a bolt from the blue, Yamaha and Gordon Murray Design capped an already fascinating day at the Tokyo motor show by showing off their city car concept, the Yamaha Motiv, built around the long-vaunted principles of the revolutionary iStream production process pioneered by ex-F1 designer Murray in the UK.
It was a bombshell both because the partnership hadn’t been talked up pre-show, and because of the undeniable rightness of the deal. Yamaha executives openly admitted they would never have considered an entry to the city car market unless it was innovative and engineering led, while Murray discussed the pervading engineering approach that was at the core of everyone he met at Yamaha.
Production is still to be confirmed, but there was a comfortable rapport between the two sides that boded well for this most innovative of projects. Previously, people had mooted Apple and Google as potential Murray partners, but the fit here seemed just right, thank you.
Should the project proceed as planned, it is likely that this year’s Tokyo motor show will become etched in the tomes of history for today’s big reveal. Certainly it was fascinating to watch the number of people sidle up to the stand wearing name badges from rival manufacturers long after the covers had come off the car. BMW, Nissan, Porsche and more were all represented among the intrigued onlookers, eager to know more whilst being eager not to show too much interest, presumably lest they appear in any way worried.
It’s a credit to the Tokyo motor show that the Murray does not stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cars displayed. So often known for serving up a delightful but ultimately teasing platter of cute kei cars and wacky concepts, this year’s Tokyo show had a harder edge, underpinned by key global reveals and a more focused production edge to even the most radical concepts.