The Tokyo Auto Salon motor show kicks off on January 14, 2022 (at this stage, anyway), and as always you can expect plenty of exciting new cars and concepts from the domestic manufacturers.
Here’s a quick list detailing what to watch for, which we will keep up-to-date as more manufacturers outline their plans for the event.
Remember Daihatsu? The Toyota-owned brand still operates in Japan, with a range of small cars aimed at younger buyers.
On show at the ‘Daihatsu Village’ will be two versions of the Daihatsu Rocky hybrid small SUV (also sold as the Toyota Raize), one with chunkier tyres and adventure racks, and another with blue add-ons and sportier wheels.
There are also two versions of the Atrai kei car: one that’s been dumped and kitted out with sporty alloys, and another with a cute little pop-up tent and wild paint job.
Ten points for fun factor, as always from Daihatsu.
Honda has been teasing the 2022 Civic Type-R for a few months, showing us a camouflaged car undergoing performance testing.
A ‘prototype’ version will make its premiere at the Auto Salon sans disguise.
Expect this to basically be the final roadgoing version. Honda previewed the previous Type-R as a so-called prototype in 2016 as well, and it looked ready to sell.
Honda also promises a Type-R prototype test-driving video, putting visitors “behind the scenes with Honda engineers and [to] experience the development of Type R”.
Mitsubishi has two big concept cars ready to show at the Auto Salon.
The first is a new version of the pioneering i-MiEV electric Kei car, fitting called the Kei EV Concept. It suggests Mitsubishi is taking a bottom-up approach to battery EVs, starting small.
The production model will subsequently go on sale in Japan early next fiscal year (the Japanese fiscal year is March to March).
The other much-anticipated reveal is a mysterious Ralliart Concept Car. Mitsubishi promised it would bring back Ralliart after a hiatus during its 2020/21 financial results presentation in May 2021.
“With a premium-feel and a strong sense of presence, the styling expresses the company’s vision for the new Ralliart,” the company says of this new concept.
A single accompanying image shows a lower bumper and diffuser with diamond-pattern inlays and a modernised take on the old Ralliart logo.
Aside from the concept having a premium slant and a design that previews its near-future, we have way more questions than answers.
Top of the roster for Nissan is the Japan-market Z in final production form, which charmingly retains the Fairlady Z name used by the 370Z.
Beyond this, the company will also reveal the wild Nismo Z GT500 race car for the 2022 Super GT season.
Also of interest is a sportier version of the Note light car using a version of the familiar e-Power hybrid with a more responsive tune developed under Nismo branding.
The Note Aura Nismo also has a body kit said to be inspired by Formula E, a more rigid body, and stiffer suspension.
On the topic of Nissan products sold in Japan that don’t come to Australia, there’s a concept version of the Nissan Caravan called Mountain Base.
This more rugged version of Nissan’s Japan-market Caravan cargo-hauler has a foldout solar panel on the roof and along the sides, a digital fireplace in the back, and woodgrain panelling like a ’70s US wagon.
First cab off the rank is the STI E-RA concept, “a new project launched with an aim of gaining experience and practice in new technologies in the world of motorsport which is making its way toward a carbon neutral era”.
One might presume it’s the BRZ-based vehicle running on “carbon-neutral synthetic fuel derived from biomass” that Subaru announced in November this year, set to compete in the 2022 Super Taikyu Series.
However the accompanying teaser image indicates more radical styling than this, and standalone STI branding. The ‘E’ in E-RA also suggests a form of electrification.
There are also versions of the new WRX, Levorg (to be called WRX Sportswagon in Australia), and BRZ using STI performance parts.
They set the stage for the proper STI version of the WRX.