Every two years, Japan hosts a wild, exciting international auto show overflowing with tiny, micro cars, daring concepts, and leading-edge technology. The Tokyo show has its own character, with a rabid press core, anime-fashioned female models, video game arcade, and general flurry of activity.
True to form, the 2003 event has carried on all the proud traditions, though where the flavor was decidedly wacky in 2001, this year's dominating theme is hybrid drivetrains. From luxury SUVs to practically pocket-sized cars, hybrid drivetrains shown here exploring all boundaries of the automotive market. Most applications focus on the practical, such as chasing big fuel economy numbers, or using the packaging efficiencies to explore new vehicle type. But, there are a few concepts exploring the fun side of hybrids, using the system to deliver significantly more power.
Sony again has provided the gaming entertainment, as the upcoming Gran Turismo 4 title further closes the gap between virtual reality and true reality. Our contingent of sushi-enabled editors have had little time for games as they comb the show floor, meeting with the development teams, and even take some first drives for reporting online and in future issues of the magazine.
Enjoy this look at the motoring future.
Click on images to enlarge.
Based on the Maserati 4200GT, this carbon-fiber sports car draws upon the Italian marque's rich motorsports history for inspiration, as it looks to set the course for future vehicle design. Even the name refers to racing accomplishments, with "8c" being a signature moniker from the 1930s and 1940s, and "Competizione" paying tribute to the 6C 2500 Competizione, the sports coupe driven by Juan Fangio in the famous 1950 Mille Miglia race. Walking around the red two-seater reveals cues from the 33 Coupe Stradale (front) and Giulia TZ (rear). This show machine boasts more than 400 horsepower from its 4.2-liter DOHC V-8. Routed through a six-speed manual transmission, and put to the pavement via 20-inch tires, this power translates to a claimed 4.5-second 0-60 mph time. Even sitting still, it can cause heartbeats to race.
Audi has taken the genes of its three-time-LeMans-winning R8, and cooked them into its high-performance LeMans Quattro concept. The stunning car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.0-liter V-10 that promises about 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That power is transferred through a sequential-shift gearbox operated via steering wheel paddles, to catapult the two-seater from 0-62 in just 3.7 seconds and to a 155-mph (limited) 214-mph (unlimited) top speed. First shown last month in Frankfurt, the Le Mans was designed to test the market for a premium Audi sports car. If the reaction is strong enough, Audi will work aggressively to make the business case. As the brand becomes increasingly performance-oriented through its impressive S vehicles, the German automaker craves a hallowed performance icon. Judging from response so far, you just may be looking at it with the Le Mans concept.
Seeming huge and defiantly American, the Chrysler 300C Touring concept loomed over numerous smaller machines in Frankfurt last month and now in Tokyo. The latest in the Chrysler product offensive, the 300C Touring offers a thinly veiled look at the production counterpart to the 300C sedan shown earlier this year. Underneath the exterior bravado is a Hemi V-8 engine, signaling the return of American muscle family style. Exclusive to the wagon model will be an available all-wheel-drive system, expanding its appeal into crossover territory. To further aid all-weather safety is Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control, anti-lock brake system, and High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps. Look for the production car to debut as a 2005 model, priced in the $30s.
Jeep designers applied core brand styling cues to this futuristic concept, creating what must be the strangest vehicle to ever wear the "Jeep" moniker. Looking past the styling, there are some interesting ideas at play. The pickup trucklet is built on a fuel cell platform, with an electric powertrain providing full-time all-wheel drive. This platform can adapt various alternative powertrain systems, allowing the three-seat Treo to be a rolling science experiment. On the styling front, the Treo applies rugged elements to an urban commuter, with exposed tires on 19-inch wheels pushed to the very corners, bolted-on body panels, oversized tow hooks, boot tread texture on sill plate, and obligatory seven-slot vertical grille.
Considered a concept for the next-generation Miata, the cuddly Ibuki is built with a front-midship, rear-drive configuration like the RX-8. The name Ibuki comes from a Japanese word that translates to "breathing new life into" and "adding vigor." An appropriate name, as this concept features a 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine producing nearly 180 horsepower, with a hybrid electric assist. The electric motor system boosts acceleration, recovering power on deceleration, and it automatically stops the engine when idle to save fuel and reduce emissions. Other innovations see an active rollbar secreted away in the front pillars and rear cowl section, and combination seat-fitted A/C outlets and speakers. The tale of the tape shows the Ikbuki measures 145.6 inches long, 68.8 inches wide, 49.2 inches tall, and rides on a 93.2-inch wheelbase, this makes it 12.6-inches shorter than the current Miata, with the length cut in the overhangs. Smaller, more powerful, and promising clever features, the Ibuki concept is even more sporty than the current zoom-zoomy Miata.
Although the name sounds like a Japanese bath house, it translates to "Eagle's Wing." The experiment in packaging focuses as much on how to access interior space as the versatility of it. The slippery 0.25 Cd body opens up in an almost toy-like way. The front doors swing wide to nearly 90 degrees, and the second-row "airplane" doors the wrap into the roof slide all long the body, creating a massive aperture. The rear splits into a tailgate that slides down to nearly the ground, with the top raising, along with a significant portion of the Washu's top. The long wheelbase and flat load floor create a large, flexible interior, with three rows of captains chairs. Each bucket seat folds forward, and slides forward/aft. The driver gets the best toy - a foldaway steering wheel and instrument panel. Taking advantage of drive-by-wire, engineers allowed these typically prominent features to be completely hidden when the vehicle is parked. Combined with the Japanese architecture-inspired interior treatments, the Washu would make uniquely comfortable escape pod.
Mazda announced a hydrogen development program for the RENESIS rotary engine, winner of the 2003 International Engine of the Year award. Due to its unique nature, the rotary engine can run on hydrogen with very little modification. The RENESIS engine has the injection, compression, ignition, and exhaust areas separated from each other so no pre-ignition of the gas occurs. Whereas the more common Otto cycle (reciprocating) engine needs substantial development to run on hydrogen to avoid pre-ignition on the intake cycle. This rotary engine has been developed with a dual-fuel system, allowing it to run on either gasoline or hydrogen, offering flexibility to promote the usage of hydrogen fuel and the development of a supporting infrastructure. Mazda is still several years off producing a hydrogen car for customer use, but it is actively pursuing this alternative fuel system with the RX-8.
Mercedes has been pushing the technology envelope for years, urged on by the internal initiative to be the first to market with new, leading-edge features. This uncharacteristically swoopy concept vehicle unveiled in Tokyo showcases not only design, but explores next-generation technology integration. Standout items include electronic accelerator and brake pedals that, among other things, increase interior legroom over traditional, mechanical pedals. An innovative "multivision" display provides a reconfigurable instrument display and programmable control center. A semitransparent mirror allows the computerized images to superimpose over one another, or be combined. Ultrasonic technology is used to direct navigation, news, and information at only the driver, leaving the passengers undisturbed. Other technologies include laser-based night vision and a hybrid diesel-electric powertrain.
First seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the CZ2 is a chic convertible that provides sporty open-air driving fun, as well as high-tech information systems to allow new forms of interactive communication between driver and vehicle. Waterproof seat materials use a combination of thick and thin yarns to evoke a traditional basketweave pattern amid its minimalist interior design. Underhood, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative timing and lift Electronic Valve Control system) engine combines with a continuously variable transmission for higher power output, improved fuel economy, and cleaner emissions. The Sport Mode six-speed also allows the driver to operate the transmission as a manual. As with other home-market Mitsu offerings, the CZ2 uses familiar memory stick technology to carry destination data, music files, and other info between auto, home, and office.
Mitsubishi's latest solution to the quest to squeeze more space into minimal dimensions is apparent in the design of the "i." Its 999cc three-cylinder engine is transversely mounted and slanted downwards under the luggage compartment, while the radiator remains in the nose for cooling, making it possible to lower and taper the roofline at the front and rear of the cabin without sacrificing occupant space, and results in a slippery Cd of 0.24. Combine this with its stop/start idling feature and a CVT transmission, and the "i" realizes fuel consumption of 62 miles per gallon and five-star emissions ratings. Inside transparent plastics and small roof skylights give the cabin an airy feeling, while a "festival of light" design makes the high-tech dashboard appear to hover within its housing. A portable Information Key utilizes Bluetooth technology and a memory stick to function as a vehicle lock/unlock key, as well as to transfer computer or audio/visual data between the car and office or home computers, without the bulk of larger PC systems.
Making its world debut in Tokyo, the Se-Ro minicar concept is a roomy and versatile vehicle that can be used as a mobile hobby shop or home away from home. Based on the same midship engine/rear-wheel-drive platform as the "i," Se-Ro is powered by a new 0.66-liter three-cylinder 12-valve DOHC turbocharged engine linked to a continuously variable transmission. Taking its name from "secret room," Se-Ro provides its occupants a personal space to release their inner child, with a swing-away steering wheel and swiveling driver's seat that turns to face a sofa-style rear bench. Se-Ro's Portable Information Technology uses Bluetooth communications and a 6.5-inch monitor to access Navigation, Entertainment, and Drive Management systems via touchkeys on the dashboard.
Renault's funky Be Bop twins were shown in Tokyo, where their wild, fish-like styling seemed to be at home. One Bopper is a 115-hp all-terrain vehicle, while the other Bopper is a more performance-oriented, 225-hp model from the Renaultsport brand. Both draw styling influence from previous Renault designs, along with the natural aerodynamic sleekness of a water droplet. The aero theme carries over to the streamlined floor plan as the designers seek to cheat the wind to aid fuel efficiency. The SUV-variant features rear seats that can disappear under the front seats with the push of a button and a rear hatch system that lifts the glass above the roof, opens the lower portion downward, and slides out a package shelf. Both models use LCD instrument panels and feature appropriately artistic interiors.
Developed in cooperation with Mitsubishi, the Smart ForFour adds a second, larger line for the trendy automaker, as it prepares to expand into new markets. On sale in Europe this fall, the ForFour carries the two-tone appearance and wafer-thin overhangs that help distinguish the brand's diminutive vehicles. Despite the name, there will also be a five-passenger model offered. As with the smart city-coupe, customers can choose between a plastic roof, a panorama glass roof, and an electric glass sunroof for the smart ForFour. A Brazil-built ForFour variant will be offered in the United States, likely with a more aggressive exterior, increased power, and possibly all-wheel drive.
As fuel cell technology advances, expect to see more creations like this one, the Fine-N concept car from Toyota. Updated slightly since its debut in Detroit, its radical styling boasts four-wheel drive that is exactly that: a lightweight, high-efficiency electric motor powers each wheel. Each wheel is individually and continuously controlled for optimal wheel-by-wheel acceleration/deceleration according to steering angle, vehicle and road conditions, and other parameters. The four in-wheel motors are driven by Toyota's FC Stack Hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery technology, giving the Fine-N a cruising distance of 310 miles and creating new options for driving performance as well as environmental performance. And if that's not high-tech enough, Fine-N also utilizes a biometric face-recognition system that authenticates the driver for enhanced security, and then automatically personalizes seat position, audio system, climate controls, and other settings.
Toyota has placed an emphasis on exploring new automotive possibilities in fuel concepts, demonstrated again by the CS&S concept. Featuring a midship-mounted Toyota Hybrid System paired with Toyota's E-Four electronic four-wheel drive, the CS&S is designed to provide outstanding environmental performance and driving exhilaration. The next-generation hybrid system combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with a 50kW high-output electric motor for powerful acceleration, while its midship engine position further enhances handling and road-holding performance. Inside, its sporty interior uses a horseshoe motif to define individual spaces for the driver and passenger; easily convertible from two- to four-seater, space for rear passengers hides beneath an adjustable back canopy. A futuristic Space Touch interface allows the driver to "touch" a spherical holographic display for natural, effortless control.
Sport/utility vehicles have come under fire recently (some literally...) for their size and inefficient fuel economy, though Toyota aims to change that image with the technology found in the SU-HV1. Featuring an SUV-optimized Hybrid Synergy Drive and electric four-wheel drive (E-Four), the SU-HV1 promises V-8 performance teamed with the fuel economy of typical compact cars. Underhood, the hybrid powertrain matches a 3.3-liter/240-hp V-6 gasoline engine to a 163-hp electric motor up front and another 24-hp motor at the rear wheels to deliver powerful performance with fuel efficiency and emissions twice as good as currently found in an SUV of equal displacement. An additional Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Management system coordinates the hybrid system with E-Four and Electronically Controlled braking for improved handling and stability.
Calling it a "wearable" single-person vehicle, Toyota's PM "Personal Mobility" concept focuses on driver ergonomics so that the cabin and seat shape will fit the driver "almost like a glove." Its design steps away from more familiar shapes, and even includes antennae like headlamps making it look like some exotic life form. It features a variable "lifelike" posture, allowing the cabin and wheel structures to function separately, so the PM can vary its posture depending on speed, and to facilitate entry and exit. Inside, a floating virtual Space Touch holographic display senses driver finger position allowing touchless interface with vehicle data, interaction with other PMs, and additional info. Besides its unusual looks, it's a smart little bugger, able to communicate vehicle-to-vehicle with other PMs while they travel, so they can follow in platoons and rendezvous automatically. Move over Segway, there's a new personal conveyance in town.
Toyota's Crown concept's spacious luxury contrasts sharply with the sea of minicar designs we've seen at Tokyo, boasting a voluminous cabin that carries driver and passengers in tasteful luxury and amenities. Underhood, Toyota's dynamic new 3.3-liter V-6 D-4 engine mates with a six-speed automatic transmission to deliver a world-class combination of dynamic power and outstanding fuel economy. Additional emphasis is on safety, with vehicle movement controls that interact with pre-crash safety systems, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistance functions, adaptive front lighting, and structural optimization for superior collision safety and minimized pedestrian injury.
Athough Miata power has made a gradual climbed through the years, sports car enthusiasts style identify the modest output has a weakness in the otherwise wonderfully balanced convertible. The namesake turbocharger force feeds the 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, promising ample low-end torque and a thrilling top end. To manage the additional power, the radiator core volume has been increased, and the six-speed transmission, clutch, propeller shaft, and differential have been fortified. Also, firmer rubber is used for the engine mounts. More than just an engine package, this model features aggressively tuned Bilstein shock absorbers and larger 204/40R17 tires. Springs, shocks, and brake calipers are treated to red and silver paint hinting at the car's performance demeanor. The exterior is dressed with a wide-mouth front fascia, tinted headlamps, and fog lamps. The interior is outfitted with two-tone red/black seats, with red door trim, and aluminum pedals. Perhaps gunshy due to issues with the RX-8, Mazda wouldn't reveal the horsepower output. But, the good news is this model will be headed to America in early 2004.
Created as a sporty, every day car, the Mazda 2-based Kusabi concept is proof that fun, practical, and affordable aren't mutually exclusive. The four-seat Kusabi is powered by a 1.6-liter common-rail diesel engine with a six-speed transmission -- a reminder that fun in this segment is based heavily on style and dynamics, rather than power. Its show-car trick is a clever Twin-Lift hatchback that allows the rear to lift traditionally and to also hinge in the middle in a gullwing fashion. Access to the second-row seats is equally innovative, with the front buck seat backs swinging inward, rather than folding forward. Mazda sees growth potential in this sport compact segment for Europe and Japan. No doubt, the product planners will be watch the success of small hatches, like the Mini and Ford Focus ZX3, to gauge the worldwide potential.
At a show dominated by sensible subcompact and hybrid drivetrains, the SLR stood out as rare fodder for traditional automotive fantasies. Constructed almost entirely from carbon fiber, the stiff, lightweight SLR uses the latest F1-developed technologies to create a lust-worthy machine -- something the Japanese show goers are certain to appreciate. Under the long, sloping hood is a 5.5-liter/626-horsepower supercharged V-8 paired with a next-generation AMG five-speed automatic with SportShift R. This combination is good for a claimed 3.8-second 0-60-mph time and reach a 207-mph terminal velocity. To achieve such high speeds, Mercedes tapped McLaren for its aerodynamic expertise, leading to a nearly smooth undercarriage, slick body surface, and speed-adjustable spoiler.
Nissan teamed with London-based design firm Conran & Partners to create "Cube Cubic," an artistic take on the boxy Cube production vehicle. The firm known more for interior design and home furnishings adopted a "Japanese DNA" theme for its mild makeover. As a symbol for beauty, circles are used throughout, providing a curvy contrast to the decidedly slab-sided vehicle and its straight lines. Circles and straightlines can be seen in the grille and rock-garden-inspired wheels. This theme peppers the interior, applied to vents, trim, speaker grilles, and steering wheel. Sure this rates low on the significance meter for concept vehicles, but the Cube appeals for its designer approach to small van-like vehicles.
In August 2005, Toyota plans to launch Lexus in Japan, establishing Lexus as a worldwide, premium brand. Supporting this news were two concept vehicles, including this LF-S. The Lexus Future Sedan (LF-S) demonstrates the evolving design language, referred to internally as "L-finesse." The 196.4-inch luxury sedan features a hybrid V-8 drivetrain that powers all four-wheels, suggesting an interesting new chapter is about to be written for Lexus.
L-Finesse design themes, and clear RX lines, are applied to this Lexus Future Crossover (LF-X). Now a show car cliche, the LF-X promises a blend of sport sedan and sport/utility manners in the glimpse at a future production model. Sport is ensured with the strong 4.3-liter V-8 engine underhood motivating all four wheels. All the essential safety and comfort features are represented, with tech kudos for a stow-away third-row seat, drive-by-wire system, and customizable dash-fitted LCD display. The interior is quite futuristic, with a sci-fi steering wheel, slender bucket seats, vertically stacked gauges, and minimalist, modern trim. All told, this is the type of vehicle that should appeal in all of Lexus' broadening markets.
Don't let the name fool you. This is a first look at the 2005 Infiniti M45, which is bigger, roomier and arguably better looking than the car its replaces. Built on the new FM-L (front midship, large) rear-drive platform, it is to the G35 what the Audi A6 is to the A4. All-wheel-drive will be an option and the 4.5-liter V-8 should be standard. The Fuga demonstrated several emerging Nissan technologies, such as Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), a lane-keeping support system, Intelligent Brake Assist, Brake-operated Pre-crash Seatbelts, and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The interior features proposals for new information technology and controls, as well as seat-integrated stereo speakers. Nissan says the next Infiniti flagship might not be a Q45 sedan replacement, and hints that the Skyline GT-R supercar that appeared as a concept in '01 could be the next flagship. And now the bad news: the GT-R won't launch until calendar year 2007.
Nissan has pushed its distinct corporate design to the next level with a sleek multipurpose vehicle (aka MPV) concept. Following a "Japanese DNA" theme, the six-passenger Serenity has numerous elements and shapes to appeal to the home market. For example, the unusual side glass is shape to remind of folding fans, and the front fascia is intended to recall Kabuki makeup. Likewise, the interior was inspired by elements such as ink paintings, cherry blossoms and wave-like patterns. Flexible interior gives the seats long sliding travel tracks with integrated ottomans. Each seating position has its own exclusive video monitor, and flat speakers that reduce sound leakage to adjacent seats are embedded in the head restraints. Nissan speaks of harmonious color, textures, shapes, and so on. End result, a funky wagon with some clever touches, cool technology, and the lauded VQ35 V-6 engine.
Europe and Japan's next Sentra is a five-door Renault Megane compact, whose design is inspired by the controversial Vel Satis luxury sedan. Rear seats fold and track back and forth, and there's a large-screen navigation system in the concept. Does it look like a car it could sell in the U.S. to anyone but Francophiles? No? Well, you're right: we'll get a more traditional three-box Sentra on the Megane's platform. The Eurasian Sentra goes on sale in Fall '04. The North American Sentra is due in calendar year '05.
This tall three-door urban off roader has new "center slot roof technology" for a semi-open top feeling. Doors, seats, and floor have water-resistant materials for hose-it-out cleaning. The moveable passenger-side display has navigation and entertainment equipment, and each of the four passengers get "e-Memo" e-mail via cell phone technology. The four-wheel-drive Redigo is powered by a four-banger from a new 1.4- to 1.6-liter engine family.
No, we're not using swear-words with you. To the contrary, Effis takes a calming feng-shui attitude toward fuel-cell vehicles, with a newly developed Super Motor and a compact lithium-ion battery with a fuel cell stack. The fuel cell stack and compact lithium-ion battery fit neatly under the floor, for more interior space and better weight balance. It's a one- or two-seater, with room for the third seat, in back, if you fold away the instrument panel. Plus, there's short-term room for a fourth person in back. Effis is proof that life with fuel cell vehicles will be pretty liveable. Okay, we take that back...it won't be at all liveable.
Using the GM Hy-Wire platform, Suzuki's interpretation of the 6-passenger minivan looks more like a '61 Corvair van than the automotive future; however, the slide-away doors, floor, roof, and 20-inch console display (which does convert into a table top) could offer the perfect off-site meeting room for smallish auto execs. Picture a lime-green loaf of bread with wheels.
A more serious concept and likely candidate as the next-generation Acura NSX, the two-seater HSC (Honda Sports Concept) uses a 300-plus horsepower mid-engine V-6 and employs an F1-style paddle shifter transmission. Typically, Honda is being very tight-lipped about the HSC and its production potential; Don't expect to see this halo vehicle anytime before late 2007. The wide, smooth front-end design is meant to compliment the reverse-angle B-pillar shape and bubbled deck lid. This could be their next home run.
Following in the vein of the long, low, and wide sport wagons, this Honda concept tries to balance the complexity of hydrogen fuel cell technology with a simple (even primitive) aesthetic interior and exterior style. While the outside surfaces are boxed and flat, inside designs try to be relaxing with only a few smooth accents. Likewise, each seat is at least three feet away from each other, ensuring no two passengers will every touch each other. Call it the Zen chamber that gets incredible mileage.
A true stunner, the mid-engined Volkswagen Concept R offers an early look at an expected, future sports car. This 3.2-liter V-6 delivers 260 horsepower to the rear wheels for a brisk 5.3-second 0-60 mph time. A six-speed direct-selection gearbox puts the driver in command, racing to the car's nongoverned167 mph top speed. For clever show-car features, the Concept R has adjustable springs...in the seats. Measuring 164 inches, the two-seat Concept R is approximately the same length as a three-door Golf. Beyond the future roadster, this concept hints at the Golf V R32, as insiders suggest the Concept R shares the engine. This sharp sportster is on our wish list, and VW insiders say wishes can come true.
Following their exhibition theme of "wonderful small vehicles - the future form," Daihatsu presented a wide variety of interesting concepts at Tokyo, most of them quite small and quite creative. Calling the D-Bone its "rude boy," Daihatsu promises the styling of this skeletal four-seater dune buggy will "set you free," (though some might add, "at least until it starts raining"). A simple design of circles and lines combines an abundance of metallic textures with sand and water-resistant flooring and seat upholstery to build a car that promises an explosion of freedom for its passengers. Radical touches like buggy-looking lamps and cycle fenders announce its license for full-contact fun. Underhood, a 656-cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine transfers power via four-wheel-drive for an exhilarating open-air ride of a sports car.
As Ford is rolling out the new Fiesta, the motorsports group is quickly preparing it for entry in the 2004 World Rally Championship. Ford is working toward homologation based on this three-door concept. The striking video game escapee is wider and lower than a production Fiesta, wearing an aggressive front grille, hood- and roof-mounted air intakes, and 18-inch magnesium wheels. Under that stickered hood is an all-aluminum 1.6-liter Duratec four-cylinder engine producing 206 horsepower, which is paired with a Hewland six-speed sequential transmission. Fast and ferocious!
Ford Japan Limited will introduce the "new Fiesta" into the local market next year in addition to the Focus and Mondeo, all developed by Ford of Europe. As Ford's subcompact family car, the latest Fiesta was designed for improved dynamics, increased safety, fuel efficiency, and maximized interior space. To make the car more livable, engineers focused on many challenges facing daily life, such as loading strollers and mounting child safety seats. This engineering strategy lead to changes that will make a difference to the ownership experience, but don't jump out at an auto show. Ford example, larger rear doors open wide and the cargo section provides improved access, sized to accommodate large strollers.
The centennial celebration heard around the world rumbled in the show halls with the Ford GT making its first appearance in Japan this week. As all enthusiasts know, the Ford GT40 won the Le Mans 24 Hours, considered to be the most demanding race in the world, four years in a row in the latter half of the 1960s. Now, the legend is reborn with the spirit and silhouette recast with modern materials for production. This low-volume American supercar will hit the streets next spring at about $150,000 propelled by a supercharged 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 boasting 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. We estimate 0-60 mph times of 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 195. The GT has returned, ready to hunt Ferraris once again.
Nissan was born 70 years ago as Datsun, a company that licensed design for the diminutive Austin 7. Two years later, it built its own design, the1935 Roadster. Jikoo pays homage to the Roadster, with its cycle fenders and a short, curvy tail that makes the car look like the old Panoz roadster. The car has a jump seat, or as Datsun called it, a Karakuri seat, and a combination of old and new design, including wooden floor boards and a navigation system using 400-year-old maps from the Edo Shogunate period. Virtually no chance of production, but it is a romantic sports car in true auto show fashion.
Concept S2 is follows up the sporty Concept S first shown at the 2002 Paris Motor Show by adding a convertible top to the same basic car. Both vehicles give clear indication of a 2005 model year range of subcompact cars from Suzuki that marry fun and affordability into a small package. The four-seater features a three-piece retractable roof that stows neatly into the rear luggage compartment. Motivation comes from a 1.6-liter DOHC four cylinder that benefits from mechanical lessons learn through the Junior World Rally Championship. The engine is matched with a six-speed sequential transmission. The dash features a 13-inch information display that looks like a full-on television in scale to this 147.8-inch car. This cunning little car reminds of a Japanese Mini Cooper, and it carries all the goodness that goes with that comparison. Fun stuff.
As hard as it may seem to believe, Honda promises the high-tech combination of lightweight body, wind-cheating aerodynamics, and refined Integrated Motor Assist engine will push the IMAS to achieve more than 90 miles per gallon. Constructed of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum, its overall weight is just 1540 pounds and its drag coefficient is a slippery .20, making it an exceptionally efficient little sportscar. Handling is optimized by a shaftless variable gear ratio steering system with drive-by-wire technology for a natural linear throttle response. Interior design is sparse, with an aluminum frame structure reminiscent of a road racing bicycle so passengers can experience the invigorating "cutting-through-the-breeze" feeling evoked by its design from inside the car, as well.
Subaru revisits its corporate origins as an aircraft manufacturer during WWII by using a cockpit-inspired instrument panel along with a subtle wing motif throughout its B9 Scrambler concept. Beneath the gorgeous bodywork is a Sequential Series Hybrid EV powerplant that combines a 134-hp electric motor and a 138-hp 2.0-liter Boxer gasoline engine, allowing the car to run full electric, full gasoline, or combine both power sources for wide-open-throttle acceleration. The B9 Scrambler features an outback-ready variable ride-height suspension that can give the sleek roadster up to eight inches of ground clearance. Those rare off-pavement excursions are made less worrisome by run-flat tires and air-pressure monitors. We hear that a convertible will be heading market as a 2006 model.
Kia has crafted a retractable hardtop concept to appeal to Generation Y trend setters and showcase production-destined features from upcoming models. Designed at the Namyang R&D Center shared with parent corporation Hyundai, the KCV-III combines steeply raked lines with dramatic wheel arches to create a truly dynamic appearance. The KCV-III looks like it is in motion even when parked in the show hall. Modest power comes from a 142-horse DOHC four-cylinder engine, though this car's real motivation is the technology. On the safety front, Kia is demonstrating active anti-whiplash headrests, electronic stability control, automatic exterior lighting and windshield wipers, and soft spots on hood and front bumper to reduce potential pedestrian injury. Other goodies include a telematics system, in-dash DVD player, navigation system, and personalized key card to unlock doors and start engine.
Developed and manufactured in cooperation with Karmann designers, the sporty CCS concept is based on the Hyundai Coupe (aka Tiburon) currently on the global market. This daring droptop features a convertible glass roof that allows three use modes: closed, fully open, and a "slide" setting in between that makes the top seem like a conventional hardtop with wide, open sunroof. Power is provided by a production-spec 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 engine linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Inside are eight-way leather Recaro sports seats and a powerful 280-watt Becker/Infinity sound system. The exterior is updated with new light clusters, front and rear, along with distinct 18-inch wheels. First shown last month in Frankfurt, the CCS concept may be the harbinger of a convertible variant of the next-generation coupe, if Hyundai gets the reaction it expects.
Hyundai says it has designed this crossover-utility vehicle with a design that is a "concrete expression of the new style Hyundai is creating." Building on a "workhorse" theme, its bold exterior styling takes a muscular, equine appearance with powerful lines, and a front end that hints at the large eyes and proud nose of a wild horse. The all-wheel-drive Neos-II rides on massive 20-inch wheels, continuing the dual-purpose theme. Trick electronics allow a cell phone act as the key, thanks to Bluetooth technology. Hyundai says it this 2+2 crossover combines the technical performance of a car and the physical pleasure of a horse; a modern-day steed that is most at home galloping through the dark city night. We say, "Hee-yah! Get along there little doggies!" And stop with the horse references, before we inquire about the emissions...
In a land conspicuously devoid of space-consuming sport/utilities, tiny transporters reign supreme and the ultimate measure of compact efficiency is fuel economy. Enter Daihatsu's aluminum-and-resin-bodied follow-up to the UFE seen at the 2001 Tokyo show, the UFE-II. This latest show machine weighs in at just 1254 pounds and boasts a stunning 0.19 coefficient of aerodynamic drag, key factors in this effort to obliterate the triple-digit fuel economy barrier. Narrow, large-diameter tires slash rolling resistance, while a 660-cc direct-injection gasoline engine is meshed to two electric motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery to achieve the world's highest fuel economy, according to Daihatsu, at more than 140 mpg. Gullwing doors allow access to the inside, though it appears only small children could ride in the Lilliputian backseat.
Based on the Italian word for "plenty," Daihatsu repackages the family small car into a "super space wagon" that offers generous interior dimensions, thanks to its ultra-short nose, and front-engine/front-drive powertrain layout. Its futuristic design features vertically straight sides and back, abundant window space, and a homey interior feel. A flat floor, tall roof, and wide-open doors allow ease of ingress and egress, as well as ease of mobility once inside. A sporty turbo version adds an aerodynamic bumper and a 660-cc twin-cam three-cylinder engine renowned for combining torque with economy and clean performance.
We've seen cars that aspire for high fuel economy and others that strive to be high tech, but the Landbreeze is a compact SUV "employing advanced environmental technology to coexist in harmony with nature." Go figure. Built entirely of materials that are naturally recyclable (especially aluminum), and non-petroleum-based tires, it uses its technology to contribute to a "better relationship between people and nature." Its hybrid powertrain utilizes a 660-cc naturally aspirated engine for low fuel consumption. Meanwhile, a dash-mounted three-dimensional information bubble adds fun to the great outdoors by projecting navigation information for the driver (to cut down on unnecessary driving time), while simultaneously showing "nature information" to the passenger.