NEWS: Tokyo Motor Show may be a reunion of Japanese sports car icons

If the multitude of rumors are true, this fall’s Tokyo Motor Show could be one for the history books. Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are all said to be reviving sports car icons. A modern Z, Supra and S2000 could be in the works. 

According to Car & Driver, Nissan is working on the long-awaited next-generation Fairlady Z concept. This matches the timeline we’ve been able to discern from talks with Nissan employees, as hard core engineering is likely in the early stages, if it has begun at all. The easiest thing to do at this point would be to come up with a design concept to signal their intention based on an existing (or non-running) chassis.

It is safe to say that the Z will adopt the new V-motion grille, as it’s already propagated throughout the lineup on everything from the Maxima to the GT-R. What’s less certain is the powertrain, but having it be powered by the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 Red Sport‘s 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 is a pretty good guess. It’ll probably share an FR platform with them as well. As of now, though, the only transmission available is a 7-speed automatic. The 370Z could be the last one that allows you to row your own gears.

The report also says a base version with a non-turbo 300-horsepower V6 will start at around $30,000, while the top-of-the-line hybrid version will churn out 500-horsepower with the help of an electric motor and be priced at around $50,000. Car & Driver got at least some of this information from Best Car, a notorious publish-anything Japanese auto tabloid, so take it with a grain of shio.

A different Car & Driver article says that Toyota will finally unveil a Supra concept. This is also sourced from Best Car, but we’d say it’s far more likely because the Supra mules have been seen testing on German roads and on the Nürburgring. It’s also rumored that the Supra will share a platform with BMW, and prototypes of that have been spotted near BMW test facilities as well.

Design-wise, the Supra is said to be a 2+2 coupe with styling influenced by the FT-1 show car. Speculated powertrains include a 2.0-liter turbo four as a base model, commonly found on Lexus cars, and a 3.0-liter V6 generating 340 horsepower as a range topper. A hybrid version may come a few years later, but based on the Lexus RC and LC it seems Toyota is quite content to have high-revving naturally aspirated engines speak for themselves. Again, the sole transmission is an automatic, but an 8-speed.

Ironically, the only way to get a straight-six in your Supra may be to get the BMW version. Choices there may be BMW’s own turbo-four and inline-six. The BMW will be positioned as a Z4 or Z5, and will come in convertible.

In addition to the Supra, Toyota is said to be bringing an S-FR II, an ultra-lightweight rear-wheel-drive sports car smaller than the Toyota 86. An evolution of the S-FR concept from the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Power is said to come from a either a 116-horsepower 1.2-liter turbo four, or a naturally aspirated 130-horsepower 1.5. And great news, this one may actually have a 6-speed manual option. The report says it may even come to the US, but given the majority of Americans’ constant misunderstanding of why the 86 doesn’t have more power, we think that’s unlikely.

Toyota may also debut with something called the Corolla GTI, a turbocharged Corolla hatchback said to make 250 horsepower from a turbo 2.0-liter inline-four. Again, Best Car was the original source, so watch your sodium intake.

Lastly, we have whispers of a Honda S2000. This time, Car & Driver gets its info from a Honda source and Holiday Auto, another Japanese auto tabloid. The original S2000, debuted in1998 in Japan, was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Honda’s founding in September 1948. Now, 20 years on, the new S2000 will celebrate Honda’s 70th anniversary.

Power will reportedly come from a twin-charged 2.0-liter inline-four, but not the upcoming Civic Type R‘s. Here, they have a quote from a source: “Sure, the Type R’s 2.0-liter turbo is a great engine… but by 2018, that would be old news. We need to take things forward. As a celebratory model, the sports car must be special, so it must have a new powertrain and a unique chassis.”

Instead, the engine will be boosted by an electrically controlled supercharger and a smaller conventional turbo. The setup is said to produce better fuel economy than a twin-turbo and is good for 320-plus horsepower. However, the transmission is — you guessed it — an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Honda does need a sports car to fill the gap between the S660 and the NSX, especially since neither of those can be sold at US Honda dealers. It’s an interesting proposition, but in terms of salt level we’d give it a 6 (with 1 being a single NaCl molecule and 10 being a New England snowplow).

That leaves Mazda and its on-again, off-again rotary sports car. The last official statement from the company was that the RX-Vision was something the company desperately wanted to build. It’s no secret that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the rotary. However, with a 6.7 percent drop in sales last year and a thorough revamping of its bread-and-butter lineup in the works, we’re not sure if it’s going to happen. We hope we’re proven wrong, though.

In any case, it appears that at least some legendary names in Japanese sports cars are poised for a comeback. The Tokyo Motor Show starts in October, and we’re sure more info will have us adjusting our salt measurements as the time draws near.

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12 Responses to NEWS: Tokyo Motor Show may be a reunion of Japanese sports car icons

  1. Lasse J. Nordvik says:

    My face hurts from smiling so much!

  2. goodshow_aa says:

    They really need to make the sfr here. I think it would be the true miata challenger and at the estimated price, would kill. Look how successful the stupid fiat is.

  3. Yuri says:

    I’m totally looking forward to all these new higher end Japanese sports cars being revealed. However a lack of a manual option means if I wanted something, why wouldn’t I just get a Lexus RC-F or Infiniti Q60? Two-pedals do absolutely nothing for me. I guess I can cross-shop the SFR and 86, but I was hoping to finally own something fast again….

    • Mark Newton-John says:

      Modern dual clutch transmissions shift faster than anyone can manage, and even F1 doesn’t use “old-fashioned” manuals anymore.
      Plus the simple fact that fewer people are buying them, so it makes less economic sense to sell them. I don’t see anyone wanting manual spark advance (that dial you see on the steering wheels of 100 year old cars) anymore either…
      Hell, no modern car uses carburetors either.

      • Sedanlover says:

        Your absolutely right. It’s just advancements in technology combined with supply and demand.

        I can understand that many enthusiasts would want a “real” car, with a manual box, and you can still buy these cars, but if you also want a really fast car, don’t expect them to build it with a manual. The new autos shift faster and can help to get more power to the ground/faster speeds, so why would the auto makers build cars for the purists when they can easily sell to the masses. It’s all about the $$$.

        In saying that, I think this (JNC) community is the best place to be. We are all here because we love to be nostalgic. We want the good old days when cars were simple, real to drive and fun. Many new cars are mass produced, lacking in soul and don’t necessarily inspire you, but can have great fuel economy and drive smoother and faster than any old car. BUT, you can have the FUN in an old car. I mean, I’m preaching to the converted here… but I guess I’m trying to define the two areas of the automotive culture – FAST CARS (new tech) & REAL CARS (commonly older tech).

        I’ve lost my train of thought now…

        I’m looking forward to October.

      • Yuri says:

        True, and Soylent is a more efficient way of getting nutrition into your body than a filet mignon. It doesn’t mean it’s the more enjoyable option.
        Pretty soon, an autonomous car will be faster around the Nurburgring than a human driver. We’ve gotten to the point where oftentimes the driver is the weakest link in a car, so cars become more efficient and higher performance the less you involve the driver. However when you start to eliminate the involvement of the driver in a so-called “driver’s car” at what point does it become self-defeating? To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.. “Your engineers were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

  4. Cho says:

    Love to see a video of the whole show in great detail. In English . Every brand and model if it comes State side or not.

  5. Randy says:

    Nice cars all, of course, but here’s what I’m seeing:

    If they price themselves silly high, the AVERAGE enthusiast is out. Maybe they can pull $30-ishK for a sports car, but will the average enthusiast be willing, or even ABLE to spend that, when they have other responsibilities (expenses)?

    If you’re part of the “normal” American household, you have a spouse; maybe 2 kids, so the sportster could NOT be your only vehicle. Now, maybe as the daily driver, but then, if you live where things like winter occur, it’s probably not too swell for 3-4 months of the year. Watcha gonna drive then? Also useless for those big shopping trips.

    Sports cars are generally for those young enough to be not married/not have kids (also not yet at their earning peak), the empty nesters, and, like I said, the DD for warmer climes.

    I’m sure LOTS of people would love to have something like these, but realistically, a toy is what it would be, so the companies gotta keep the prices down to make it work for us “unwashed masses.”

    I’d say the priced-above-Miata cars are going to have a tougher time, as they’re appeal is going to be a higher-income bracket, hence a smaller piece of the pie.

    I, for one, could be interested in the S-FR, if the price was in Miata territory – preferably lower. Maybe if they marketed it as a runaround, rather than a “sports car,” the power question wouldn’t be such a problem, and since it’s not styled like some atomic-age predator, maybe the expectations would be different.


    Honda S-something:
    “Sure, the Type R’s 2.0-liter turbo is a great engine… but by 2018, that would be old news . . .”

    So what if it’s “old news?” In a lighter chassis, the thing could be a screamer – think Lotus, using a Toyota (Corolla?) 4-cyl.; I’ve read zero complaints that it’s a dog.

    Nice link back to the ’15 show! The Daihatsu Hinata would be a GREAT commuter/carry the kids/carpool vehicle, and the Sube Viziv concept might have forced me to buy one! I can think of at least three people who could live with that VERY easily.

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