We’re back at Tokyo Auto Salon! After a hiatus during 2021, for obvious reasons, the silliest auto show in Japan is back smaller than ever. Fewer people, fewer exhibitors, and fewer bonkers things in general. The decrease in number of people this year is a welcome change as the last Tokyo Auto Salon, held in 2020, seemed to be something of a super spreader event. There isn’t any concrete proof, but I did get horrendously sick the week after. Hopefully that won’t be the case for this year’s outing.
While the Tokyo Auto Salon is generally a show for tuner cars and over-the-top builds, it’s also a chance for OEMs to show some of their newest metal to the public. This year there were some odd omissions, for example Lexus, Mazda, and Suzuki didn’t have an official booth at the show. With the Tokyo Motor Show taking a miss in 2021, we got some nice surprises when the doors opened at this year’s TAS.
First up, Toyota. This was the unveil I was most excited for. Toyota had teased images of a “full tune” GR Yaris and a mysterious GT3 Concept car in the week leading up to TAS, building up excitement and anticipation. The GT3 Concept is a spectacular looking thing. There’s a sense of ‘elongated AMG GT’ about it. To my eyes, it is a better proportioned AMG GT with some bits of it reminiscent of the Mazda Vision GT concept for many years back. Speaking to a Toyota official at the show, they stated that this was a concept to “enhance customer racing culture in Japan and abroad.” The aim of the GT3 Concept, should it reach production, is to be eligible for all GT3 class events around the world. This is essentially Toyota’s way into having a slice of the private customer racing market. When asked about if/when this will see the light of day and if a road car version will follow, “it’s all TBD”.
What isn’t TBD is the GRMN Yaris. A hotter, more extreme, and limited edition version of the already brilliant GR Yaris, this brings in a 20kg weight saving thanks to removing the rear seats, a slathering of carbon fibre parts, as well as mods such as a more rigid body structure, bucket seats, mechanical LSDs front and rear, and cross gears. For now, the GRMN is limited to the Japanese market and only a total of 500 units will be produced. Buyers will have the choice of either a Circuit Pack (the matte grey car) for maximum circuit driving enjoyment or a Rally Pack (the red car, dirtied up by Morizo no less) for those wanting the rally driving experience. Prices in Japan start from ¥7,150,000 ($62,875) up to ¥8,500,000 JPY ($75,000) depending on options.
Over at Nissan, the Japan debut of the production version of the new Fairlady Z dominated everything. Crowds were lined up alongside the entire Nissan booth to get a glimpse of the Yokohama-based manufacturer’s new sports car. With two Launch Edition cars on display, Nissan also showed a Tokyo Auto Salon Prototype special with a retro-inspired widebody kit. Nissan said while the kit is a show prototype for now, it’s very keen to have something similar available once the Z is available for sale. With dealer add-on parts a popular business in Japan, an Autech or Nismo version of this kit would make sense. Certainly the positive reception from crowds at TAS should help convince Nissan to make and sell a production version of the kit.
Honda didn’t have anything too out-there. The new Civic Type R still remains in its camouflaged prototype form, we’ll have to wait longer for the production version to be unveiled. The main new car it showed off, which I assumed was destined to be unveiled at the canceled Tokyo Motor Show last year, was the new StepWGN minivan. One of Honda’s best sellers in Japan, the mid-size minivan gains a new, more simplistic design akin to the new HR-V. That said, would anyone want to see a review of this car here?
Subaru showed off the WRX S4 STI Concept which basically previews what the next STI will look like. As it is, it’s the WRX S4 with some STI add ons. Down from it was the Solterra STI Concept, again the Solterra EV but with some ‘STI styling upgrades. More interesting was the E-RA Concept, a STI-led project aimed at going around the Nurburgring in 6:40 seconds. Powered by four electric motors and producing over 1,000 horsepower, STI will make its attempt in 2023.
Mitsubishi promised us the return of Ralliart and they delivered. Sort of. Based on the upcoming Outlander PHEV, the Vision Ralliart concept adds a widebody and matte black paint to the highly anticipated SUV and hints at the return of Mitsubishi’s in-house performance division. Perhaps it’ll just act more as something along the lines of Hyundai’s N-Line rather than the full performance N division, but it’s a start to get the pulse going again over at Mitsubishi. Is it wrong that I kinda like it a lot?
That’s all for the new car launches at Tokyo Auto Salon. Next up are some of the more TAS-appropriate tuners and modified cars.