There have been some disappointing motor shows lately, with many car companies choosing to skip them altogether.
So imagine the pleasant surprise we received when the Tokyo motor show – sorry, the Japan Mobility Show – ended up being host to a number of exciting reveals.
Electric Toyota MR2 revival? Check. A return of the Honda Prelude? You betcha. An electric sports car that seems to preview the next Nissan GT-R? Oh, you better believe it.
The Japanese brands brought their most exciting vehicles to the innocuously named show. Many of these were just concepts, mind you, with the level of technical detail in their press releases being scarcely more detailed than “it’s an electric coupe”.
While some of these may never see the showroom floor, they still captured our attention. Here are our favourites from the show, including from Alborz Fallah and Paul Maric who were on the floor at Tokyo and got to take these in firsthand.
I’m torn. The Nissan Hyper Force Concept is a prelude to the next-gen GT-R which the motoring world has been anticipating for so, so long, and even if it looks half as good as the concept, I’d order one immediately.
That said, Mitsubishi’s D:X Concept that previews the next-generation Delica is a genuine showstopper – with innovations like the aerial cockpit, panoramic seats and AI nav are cutting-edge and practical tech at the same time.
This would give the Volkswagen ID. Buzz some serious competition and then some.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, there were a lot of interesting cars at the return of the Tokyo motor show. Having attended the worst motor show of all time in Munich earlier this year I was a little worried this would be the same but it wasn’t. It was a great show.
So it’s hard to pick just one. I want to give some stand-up mentions to the Mazda Iconic SP concept, as well as the new Honda Prelude and a notable mention to the new Nissan GT-R concept for being so far from production that it may as well be a prank.
My favourite thing of the show, however, was Toyota’s refusal to submit to the EV greenwashing. The company has made it clear it will pursue all possible powertrains and provide multiple solutions for the future, from BEVs to fuel cell to fuel guzzlers.
Toyota Australia’s VP of marketing and sales, Sean Hanley, pointed out some interesting figures, like the 90 hybrids Toyota could build for every one EV using the same amount of battery material and why that is far better for the environment. Some hard honesty goes a long way.
So with that in mind, my favourite car would have to be the Toyota FT-Se. An MR revival is very tantalising and Toyota mentioning that it may also come both as an EV (as shown) but also with internal combustion power is all we could really ask for.
I choose the Nissan GT-R… I mean Hyper Force.
For me the biggest highlight of the show was the next-generation Nissan GT-R, which Nissan execs refused to call the GT-R.
The Hyper Force concept debuts solid-state battery technology in a supercar platform for Nissan, which it says will enter production from 2028.
It looks incredible in person and the specs suggest it’s going to be an absolute monster.
But, opinion has been mixed on the design, so let’s see what the final product looks like.
I’ve been burned by Mazda concept cars so many times, but the Iconic SP has me ready to get hurt again. Goddamn it Mazda, just build it already.
It’s stunning, with lines that somehow manage to blend elements from 1960s and 1970s supercars from Italy with lines that couldn’t have come from anything but a Mazda RX-7, and headlights that were 100 per cent nicked from the Ford GT90.
As for the powertrain? I’m less enamoured of that. Rather than trying to bridge petrol and electric power with a twin-rotor range extender, Mazda should have just committed to one or the other. Make the Iconic SP a screaming, revvy petrol sports car for purists, or make it an electric rival to the upcoming Porsche 718 EV… but don’t consign it to the scrapheap of history with an overcomplicated, under-developed powertrain that’ll never see the light of day.
I’m going to go with something a little bit different to offer some diversity.
I think Lexus’ two concepts that debuted are intimidating but wildly attractive at the same time.
My favourite would be the LF-ZL concept which is a mix of SUV, sedan and wagon, two of the three being my favourite body styles.
An interesting design choice for Lexus is the addition of sliding rear doors, and the removal of a rear windscreen like the Polestar 4. There’s also a very futuristic interior.
I’d be very keen for Lexus to bring some form of this to production and if the exterior styling is something to go by it makes me very excited for their future production designs.
If I had to pick a highlight from this year’s surprisingly fruitful Japan Mobility Show I think I’d have to go with the Nissan Hyper Force concept. In a close second I’d choose the funky Subaru Sports Mobility concept.
If even a little bit of the Cyberpunk-looking Hyper Force concept becomes reality in a next-generation electric GT-R, I’ll certainly be a happy chappy.
With claims of 1000kW of power, an advanced all-wheel drive system, and solid-state batteries, this potential next-generation electric Nissan GT-R will likely be one hell of a beast.
I haven’t even got to the interior yet, but the wink-wink-nudge-nudge ‘GT’ and ‘R’ drive modes are a bit of fun, as are the graphics by the Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital.
I understand the Hyper Force is likely just a vanity project and the potential next-generation electric GT-R will likely look nothing like this concept, but please just let me dream!
I’m yet another fan of Mazda’s Iconic SP concept, but the brand has revealed sports car concepts before that haven’t eventuated in a production vehicle.
The Honda Prelude concept, however, has a good shot at reaching production. Honda has previously indicated it plans to introduce two electrified sports cars of some description, and the Prelude isn’t quite as ambitious as many of these concepts – its styling looks almost production-ready (and, frankly, rather Civic/Accord coupe-like), and Honda’s US division has confirmed it’s a hybrid.
Again, this is a concept we know next to nothing about thanks to a typically vague press release – what even powered it wasn’t revealed until an executive took to Twitter.
It could be a CR-Z redux: an iconic nameplate brought back (although in that case a single letter was changed) on a hybrid coupe, some initial buzz, and then a slide into irrelevance. The proportions also look distinctly front-wheel drive, not that that’s a bad thing considering what Honda engineers are capable of (see: Civic Type R).
But what a relief it is to see a heritage coupe nameplate brought back, and not on an overweight electric SUV! It’s also refreshing considering the market has been moving away from coupes.
An ambitious concept? Hardly. But an entirely pleasant one? You bet.
Japan is back baby! I have loved seeing all the brands pitching in some awesome visions for the future, and breaking the “play it safe” mould that has plagued the nation’s carmakers for the last two decades.
There were several highlights for me, but the Mazda Iconic SP concept has to be my favourite. What a stunner.
A rotary engine, sleek lines, pop-up headlights and a new take on Mazda’s hero red colour. It’s a future vision that embraces the company’s rich past.
Could we be closer to a rebirth of the RX nameplate? I bloody hope so.