With everything from the new GT-R to a new Audi supermini, the 40th Tokyo show should be a cracker
19 October 2007

Super-performance, ecology, fun, fantasy, weirdness: just some of the themes of the 40th Tokyo motor show which throws open its doors for business on 27 October. True to form, Tokyo will be chock-a-block with concepts this year. The initial list has 25 and counting and yet for some, the car of the show is already decided.

The headliners

Nissan’s long-awaited, much-hyped GT-R super-coupe finally gets to go live in front of a world audience on 24 October in a carefully choreographed presentation. The GT-R, a Corvette-sized 2+2 coupe, with V6 twin turbo engine, 4WD and starting pricetag of some £33K in Japan may well steal the show. But across the other side of the hall, Subaru’s new Impreza WRX STI will also be drawing in the crowds. Visually and in tech terms a vastly improved effort over the so far underwhelming standard new Impreza, the new STI has to date been a closely guarded secret, like the GT-R. Everyone will want to see what it’s really like, in the metal. Mitsubishi’s brilliant new Lancer Evolution X will also be making its show debut.All the buzz surrounding the GT-R seems to have sent Lexus and Honda scuttling for cover. Tokyo 2007 was supposed to be a high-stakes power game between the GT-R and a productionized version of Lexus’s impressive V10-engined LF-A supercoupe.Across the way, Honda’s “next NSX,” alias the Acura Advanced Sports Car concept, also V10-powered, was also set for another outing at Tokyo complete with fresh, improved design.Instead, in the show previews, the LF-A stays unchanged and the Acura is now a disappointing no-show. Unless there’s a last minute surprise, of course, and a new LF-A and Acura do get to roll out on press day after all. It could well happen…

The big concepts

Something completely different is the Toyota 1/X, a fascinating rear-engined 500cc hybrid study that could show some of Toyota’s thinking for the next Prius family. With lightweight carbonfibre frame, the 1/X is designed to offer Prius-style cabin space but in a Yaris-class body one third the weight and with 50 per cent better economy on top. Interested? A lot of people will be. No question, the 1/X is one of the most significant designs at the show, even though it appears as a simple mock-up.Mazda’s amazing-looking Taiki is a far off suggestion for a possible future RX-7. Taiki also features Mazda’s bigger (yet physically smaller), next-generation 16X rotary engine and looks miles better in reality than in press shots. Much closer to production is Honda’s CR-Z, a small, slinky hybrid sports coupe that’ll turn into both a new CR-X and replacement for the Insight. Subaru’s G4e is a small electric-powered supermini concept and preview of the new B-segment car that’ll eventually become the next Subaru Justy and Daihatsu Sirion. Lexus LF-Xh? That’s a big clue as to how the muscular, classy next RX400h will shape up. Underneath, there’s a next generation V6+ high power hybrid drivetrain. And post-Frankfurt, Suzuki’s giving us another look at its Kizashi concept, this time as a crossover SUV with Suzuki’s own 3.6-litre V6, six-speed auto and all-wheel-drive.

The Europeans

Three significant German concepts will be making their debuts at Tokyo this year; the much-anticipated Audi A1 supermini, a new “performance-oriented” BMW 1-series concept (because clearly the new 135i coupe isn’t performance-oriented enough…) and a new VW minivan concept based on the Up! city car that made its debut in Frankfurt in September.

... and the downright odd

Tokyo wouldn’t be Tokyo without the weird, wonderful and fanciful. Toyota continues to look at the curious world of powered personal mobility with the armchair-like i-REAL. Suzuki takes it all a step further with the PIXY which even comes with its own shuttle-like carrier (SSC). Yet more novel is the idea that PIXY can be mounted on a boat or single-seat racing car. And why not?Then, there’s the Honda Puyo, a bubble like, fuel-cell powered concept with soft touch, silicon body, which Honda’s conceived as a kind of friendly, adorable four-wheeled pet. Yes, really. Puyo looks and is very strange, but then it’s not the first, or last, Tokyo show concept to be surreally left-field, a reminder that the show is also about fun and ‘what if’ besides the serious business of shifting metal and pointing to the future.Click our gallery for pictures of all that Tokyo will have to offer. Add it all up and it looks to be one of the best shows of its kind in years.

Peter Nunn

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