EVENTS: Tokyo Motor Show, Day 01

383s_Prince R380

We’ve already covered the biggest reveal of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, and it was a doozie. But it wasn’t the only thing to see at the wild and wonderful event that showcases what the automakers we know and love are working on. Let’s take a tour, shall we? 

435s_Tokyo Big Sight

After a 12-hour flight out of LAX, another hour to get through the baggage claim and customs, and another two hours to get to our hotel in Monzen-Nakacho, we were pretty beat. Except that we still shot up like a bolt after a mere hours of jetlag-interrupted sleep. Might as well head to Tokyo Big Sight.

373s_Subaru Cross Sport Concept

The first booth we came across was Subaru‘s, and though the big reveal was supposed to be the Levorg wagon, Fuji Heavy’s gave us a different wagon to drool over. No specs were given for the Cross Sport Concept, which appeared to be a BRZ nose with an Impreza WRX badonk, but there was one clue given: it’s rear-, not all-wheel-drive, meaning it’s basically a BRZ shooting brake.


The actual Levorg, on the other hand, is a handsome four-door wagon that splits the difference between Impreza and Legacy in size. It starts with a base 1.6-liter turbo boxer, but enthusiasts will no doubt opt for the 2.0-liter turbo good for 295 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.


We’ve always loved Legacy wagons, but the latest incarnation lost the model a lot of fans when it debuted due to its bloated size and alien-bug styling. The great news is that the Levorg is almost identical in size as a third-generation Legacy longroof, and its handsome design is more befitting of the Legacy, er, legacy. It will go on sale next year in Japan. Hopefully it’ll come to the States as well.

375s_Isuzu Wolseley

In 1924 Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering licensed kits of this 1.5-ton truck from Great Britain’s Wolseley. The Wolseley CP was assembled in Fukagawa and used as an official vehicle of the Japanese military.

Isuzu Wollsley

This particular truck was displayed at the National Science Museum until 1991 when it was returned to the originating company, now called Isuzu. It was restored and put on display alongside a huge display of modern dump trucks and buses.

379s_Prince R380

Of course, the main reason we at the show as the unveiling of the Nissan IDx so we shuffled off to secure a front-row seat at the Nissan booth. The 80th anniversary part was still going strong and the Grand Prix-winning, record-setting Prince R380 was waiting for us. Keep in mind that at this point no one knew that the IDx would be revealed in less than two hours Shinichiro Sakurai’s Porsche fighter was distracting the crowd.

389s_Datsun Type 14

On the other side of the stage stood a 1935 Datsun Type 14, another symbol of how far Nissan has come.

Datsun rabbit hood ornament

Elsewhere at the booth symbols of Nissan’s heritage abounded. A wall of Nissan emblems started with an example of the Datsun “dashing hare”  hood ornament.

Nissan Tokyo Motor Show model cars 1 Nissan Tokyo Motor Show model cars 2

Instead of real cars, Nissan showed the breadth of its 80 year history with milestone vehicles in diecast form. Nearly any real car you could think of was represented. We could barely believe that a scale model of the Nissan EX-A Pulsar existed.

387s_Nissan Blade Glider

The Blade Glider had been officially released weeks before the show, and most assumed that it and the NISMO GT-R wold be it for Nissan’s reveals. I kept telling Skorj it was called the Blade Runner, but I think my brain was glitching to the super-future architecture we were surrounded by (and lack of sleep).

The electric sports car featured a Leaf powertrain matched with an extreme aerodynamic shape based on the Nissan ZEOD RC race car, which was in turn based on the Deltawing. Because of its narrow front track seating is a McLaren F1-like 1+2 configuration.

Nissan Tokyo Motor Show

We were two hours early, but sometimes you can guess what might be happening by looking at the positioning of items on the stage. There was obviously something hidden behind the black curtain. Was it the concept we’d been waiting for? And there was a third turntable in the center. Hmm… for the NISMO GT-R perhaps?

We planted ourselves in the front row an hour before the conference started, right next to Carlos Ghosn’s speechwriter. There was no way we were going to miss the unveil. And it was good thing we did. By the time it was ready to begin, the Nissan booth looked like Shibuya crossing at rush hour.

Tokyo Motor Show Nissan GTR NISMO

At precisely 10:22:52, the countdown began. Why? because 7:08 is the new Nürburgring lap record set by the 595hp NISMO GT-R. A full run of the ring king played out the wraparound screen. As Godzilla’s roar crescendoed during final straight, a door behind the black curtain opened and the GT-R rolled out.

405s_Nissan IDx Freeflow

But instead of taking the spotlight, Nissan immediately sidelined the GT-R by parking it stage left while the IDx Freeflow was driven onto center stage. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stepped out of the passenger seat and introduced the car you now all know.

403s_Nissan IDx NISMO

At the same time, the black curtain lifted to expose the IDx NISMO. That’s right, folks. Nissan put the two 510-inspired cars front and center, ahead of its halo legend that had just become the new volume production record holder of the Green Hell.

As soon as the conference ended, we ran back to the media center to file a report, which soon became the most commented on article in JNC history. The chief designer of the project even chimed in and had a conversation with JNC readers about the design. We’ll have more on this later.

mitsubishi-gc-phev- 03

With the main event over with, we wandered the massive Tokyo Big Sight halls to see what other manufacturers had to offer. Mitsubishi‘s been on the rocks for the past few years, but they’re not about to let one of their winningest race lineages die out. The GC-PHEV is a hints at a possible direction for the next Pajero. The petrol-powered half of its drivetrain is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, but as the alphabet jumble in its suggests, it’s also a plug-in hybrid.

Suzuki Hustler

The Toyota FJ Cruiser may be no more, but at least a tribute of it will live on in the newly introduced Suzuki Hustler. Suzuki may have withdrawn from the US market but its presence in Japan is as strong as ever, where nearly 40 percent of new cars sales are kei cars. The Hustler, available in AWD, is meant for outdoorsy types and comes with a rubber cargo area that you can hose down and an optional tent attachment for the rear hatch.

Suzuki Crosshiker Suzuki X-Lander

It wouldn’t be the Tokyo Motor Show without some strange kei concepts, and on that from Suzuki did not disappoint. Most kei cars try to maximize space by being a large, tall box, but the Crosshiker is the company’s foray into making it beautiful as well. To us it looks like an underwater creature of some sort, but at least it’s interesting.

At the other end of the spectrum is the X-Lander, whose purpose is pure utility. Suzuki says it was inspired by the Jimny, the cult car Americans know as the Samurai. We don’t see much Jimny in its design, but the go-anywhere attitude is a niche that needs filling.

kawasaki J concept 01 kawasaki J concept 02

The Tokyo Motor show isn’t just about cars. Japan’s bike manufacturers show off their latest concepts as well, and the craziest thing we saw was the Kawasaki J. The three-wheeled electric bike looks like something straight out of Akira, which you ride by controlling handlebars attached to each of the two front wheels. Tetsuo!!!

We’ll have more coverage from Day Two of the Tokyo Motor Show coming soon, so stayed tuned.

This post is filed under: events, isuzu, Motorcycles, nissan, subaru, suzuki, Tokyo Motor Show and
tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

25 Responses to EVENTS: Tokyo Motor Show, Day 01

  1. acbpanda says:

    I thought the GT-R wasn’t the ring king anymore? I thought the Porsche 918 took its spot?

  2. Nigel says:

    The bike needs a Casio sticker on it’s side, (Also looks like something from Tron).
    I’ll take that die cast B110 pickup.

  3. Randy says:

    1. I want Suzuki to come back to the U.S. Cross hiker is different, but I think I like it… X-Lander is yes. Hustler is maybe; has a definite utility to it. Of course, I still want them to build and send over the Regina. Only Suzukis I’ve owned were Metros, and they were GREAT at their job. Advertising – ANY advertising – would have helped.

    2. The Mitsu GC-PHEV is way off in the rear proportions, in my eyes. Wheelbase needs extended back, with the overhang reduced. Can’t tell about the rest.

    3. Are those diecasts available in the U.S.? If so, where, and for how much?

    • There are several vendors at the JCCS each year that have many of the models on display here. The TOMICA LV [limited vintage] series is probably the source of quite a few of the models as far as I can see. Other than that, need a good excuse to take a trip to Tokyo? Many commuter rail stations have model car shops to amuse Salary Men while waiting for pickup at night.

      • Randy says:

        I’d be looking online…

        I’d LOVE to go to Japan, but there’s that whole radiation thing (heard WILDLY differing reports), and I’d quite likely not want to come back.

  4. Jim-Bob says:

    The sad thing about Suzuki is that it became a badge-engineered division of GM for selling Daewoo cars in the US. Almost every car they sold here in the last ten years was not an actual Suzuki design. I think part of the problem is that GM hobbled them as a part of their “partnership” that started with the Chevy Sprint. Sadly, they were never able to promote their products here. A good, well maintained real Suzuki is a thing of beauty as they tend to be reliable and inexpensive to run. I have been through almost all of the systems of my 1991 Geo Metro (Suzuki Swift) and have been impressed with how logically it was built and easy it is to service. Perhaps if they had continued to sell the Swift in the US instead of replacing it with the Aerio and later the SX4, they would have been able to sell cars in large numbers when fuel prices started rising. Instead they were saddled with fuel thirsty cars that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    • Randy says:

      I don’t remember any Daewoos in the line…

      Sprint/Metro and Samurai (the bigger one – I don’t remember the name) were ‘Zuki, Prism (Prizm?)/Nova were Toyota, Storm was Isuzu.

      What was the Daewoo model? The only Daewoos I remember at all were the Charades. Having read around the web a bit, I maybe should have looked at them at the time, too. Proportions didn’t look right to me; I thought they looked like less-attractive Festivas.

      If I’d had any brains at all back then, I would’ve gotten a Sprint, kept it at least into the Metro years, and always had at least one… Could’ve paid for my having the other cars. Wouldn’t mind having another one if I had ANY space to park it.

      • RainMeister says:

        Verona, Forenza and Reno were rehashed Daewoo garbage that sank Suzuki to the bottom of JD Power rankings. An absolute disaster that was.

        • Randy says:

          Oh, I thought they were actual Suzukis!

          I take it they had quality issues?

          There was one little Suzuki built from something like, 2005-7 that I liked that I can only describe as “looked like a high-top shoe.” I could see those things all over some resort town, or any SMALL town. I REALLY don’t think I’d take it on the highway. Great, now I have to try to find it, ’cause it going to bother me until I do.

          It’s a pain anymore, with all the badge engineering… Daewoo “Suzukis” sold as Chevies; Hyundais sold as Dodges (in Brazil; didn’t even change the badge, as I recall). I think Toyota sells some GM stuff in Japan under it’s brand…

          I thought they were pretty alright looking, though the Forenza and Reno’s specs read a bit underpowered, comparatively.

          My problem is that I like too many cars / types of cars, and I haven’t hit the lottery yet.

        • Randy says:

          It was the Suzuki TWIN.

          Looks to be (by U.S. standards) an utterly disposable car, but I think that’s part of what I like about it.

          Pick a couple up for cheap, stack them in the garage, and break one out when the previous one dies.

          BTW, if you haven’t been there, carstyling .ru has mega-lots of real and concept cars. I go there fairly often. LOTS of cool ideas that unfortunately never made it, or at least never made it here.

          • CelicArt says:

            Well the Charade was a Daihatsu not a Daewoo, luckily we still have Suzuki in Mexico, so we have the Vitara and Swift…is the Kizashi a real Suzuki?

    • Randy says:

      Oh yeah – I thought the Aerio was -okay- looking. There’s ONE that I see fairly regularly in Pittsburgh, though it’s kind of neglected-looking.

      Too bad no AWD with stick. Would have made a pretty strong case for me.

      The SX-4 – I just don’t know… They got off-track, I think, in the styling. That little A-pillar window was distracting to me, and I thought it just threw off the entire look. Small, I know, but it was always, and consistently, what caught my attention.

      Once they escaped GM, they should have advertised more. Or at all…

  5. Tony says:

    I’m sorry Nissan but that Blade Glider thing is not sexy… If you want that to be cool then may I suggest you stuff it with the Nismo370Z 6spd and 350hp engine… then extend out the wheels in the front and back like a modern techie Plymouth prowler interpretation. Open wheels in front kinda look with meats out back. THAT would be a sick little number not that it would be a volume seller but it would be cool as hell & you could reuse alot of the Z car interior as it would be a 2 seater! Randy you in on this one? LOL

    • Randy says:

      Looks like a top fuel dragster to me. Cool enough idea, but probably not what they’re shooting for.

      Picture it with the front end widened to car-width. THAT’S what I thought they were going to bring out as the BRZ competition. Hey – maybe that’s the new Z?

      BTW, when is Nissan going to get into NASCAR??? Toyota’s having pretty good success…

      • Tony says:

        Good point that could be a great disguise for the next Z! About the Nascar… I dont know if Nissan would ever get into that its waaaay to American even for me LOL…

        I think the GT series Lemans stuff is plenty good. I would like to see the Z car in a Grand am type series against Mustangs BMW Camaro’s etc… And I would like to see the Juke Nismo in the Rally FIA series… I am pretty sure they have the trucks in the Short Corse racing so that is pretty all american. I’ll have to head out to Crandon WI not to far from me (few hours) to confirm the truck racing…

        • Randy says:

          I got to the point where I watch the NASCAR races from Daytona, Talladega and Bristol, and MAYBE if one’s on from a road course, and that’s about it. With all the new rules, they really don’t beat each other up ALL THE WAY around the track the way they used to, even like ten years ago.

          Last time I saw one of those “Celebrity Grand Prix” races it was more interesting than most of NASCAR. Hell, SNOWMOBILE racing was better.

          A big part of the attraction WAS that at least they looked like what you could buy at your local dealer. Now it ain’t even that, so I watch for “the big one,” to see who survives it and goes on to the win. Lots of people make the joke about go straight, and turn left. Unfortunately, for MOST of a given race, that’s all they’re doing – just pacing. The last 20 minutes is too often all I need to see.

          Except for some of the Aussie sedan racing, and some rally stuff, the other race types don’t look remotely like a real car, so there’s not even the vicarious “That could be me!”

          The LeMans cars are cool and all, but there’s no identification with them either, for me, and I have to admit I do NOT get the different classes racing together… Each one’s not popular enough to justify the cost of opening the track?

          I want to see ALL the manufacturers showing off what they can do in ALL the racing types/divisions. I want to see BMWs in NASCAR; I want to see Chevies in WRC. Dude, I wanna see Maserati-versus-Jaguar in drag racing, and I’m not even a fan of drag racing!

          I gotta check out more pix of the Blade Glider to see if I see any Z-ness(?) to it. I do like the low, wide lights, and no, I would not be looking to put whitewalls on it! (Maybe some knobbies, and off-road rally it?) There was a 240-Z rally car on this site, as I recall, so…

          Being electric though, I’m gonna take a wild swing here and say “no stick shift.”

          • RainMeister says:

            Racing for the most part has gone to hell in a hand basket. Most of them are or look like spec series. Remove the ad wrap, and one couldn’t tell the difference amongst them. All the innovation is undetectable, while the cars keep getting uglier. There’s a reason historic racing is so popular these days.

          • Tony says:

            LOL, Like I said before I like your style! I used to watch Nascar in the 80’s when they had some competition Earnhardt Richmond etc… So I can’t hate on you LOL, It was a great blue collar series and I honsetly think it lost its soul somewhere as it grew and got corporate…

            Aussie and Rally I agree are cool… and LeMans Prototypes are only cool for the tech that they are using other than that I only like the lower classes of cars that look lie cars… By the way I almost spit my breakfast laughing about the “cant get enough cars because of popularity” comment…

            I can dig the want to see all cars compete in all areas that’s why god made Top Gear UK… POWER!! LOL

          • Randy says:

            Top Gear killed the Furai.

            ‘nuf said.

          • Tony says:

            you got me on that… the burnt that beautiful car to the ground, what a tragic screw up!!!

  6. Dave says:

    I love Pajeros, really glad to see that (apparently) there’s a future for it. And that Suzuki Hustler, is that a production model? It looks AWESOME!

  7. RainMeister says:

    I hadn’t realized the ID-X was featured as a centerpiece of Nissan’s 80th anniversary celebration. I’ve got to believe they are serious about making it, assuming it generated enough positive interest. It reminds me of the Z concept that heralded the return of that iconic sports car. I hope they build it, because everything else in Nissan’s current lineup is uninspired and boring.

    The Subaru shooting break is very interesting. It reminds me of my favorite executive wagon, the BMW Z3 coupe. It’s sporty, practical, and unusual enough to be a rare sight. I would consider one as my daily driver. They just need to keep it upscale, with high quality interior materials, and strong low-end torque.

  8. Patrick Strong says:

    The Hustler…just the thing for hardcore Suzuki enthusiasts.

  9. Bart says:

    Just got back from vacation. I see you are spending your time well over there. 🙂

    Really cool to see the Wolseley CP photos. And I love the Suzuki Crosshiker!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *