In recent years, Japan’s car makers have opened their minds and their bank books to the outlawish Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS), which up until a decade ago was just a rebellious gathering of paroxided revheads showing off their souped-up engines, outrageous aeroparts and scantily clad show girls.
Those elements are all still there. It’s just that the manufacturers now use the Salon as a venue to showcase new material.
Leading the way at this year’s TAS was Toyota, which revealed some 17 models. Of note was the in-house-produced GRMN (Gazoo Racing tuned by Meister of Nurburgring) iQ Racing Concept. Based on the 2009 iQ GRMN, this racing version employs a supercharger, roll-cage, racing seats and harnesses, flared fenders and a tricked-up, race-spec dash.
Another highlight at Toyota was the Lexus IS F CCS-R, short for Circuit Club Sport Racer. This machine has been developed from the ground up as a race car, with lightweight carbonfibre body parts, a reinforced frame and roll-cage, new slipperier aero parts, and a mildly tweaked, 435bhp, 5.0-litre V8. The car will tackle this year’s Nurburgring 24-hour race.
Meanwhile, tucked over in a corner was the Toyota TES Concept T-Sports, a rear-wheel-drive coupe voted as the most popular concept by employees. It sits on an MR-S platform. Lightly modified G Sports versions of the Prius and Vitz (Yaris) also generated interest at Toyota.
As expected, it was the Nissan GT-R which garnered the most attention from tuners. At the Nissan stand, the sharp-looking Nismo GT-R RC (Racing Concept) follows the Lexus IS F CCS-R in that it comes standard with a lightweight carbonfibre body and roll-cage, as well as upgraded brakes and slicks.