I’m here at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show, and while you Americans were sleeping I went to the various press conferences at Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lexus, and Toyota. The verdict? There’s some cool stuff here, but not the big announcements we enthusiasts were kind of hoping for.
I’ll get this out of the way first: no big sports car announcements, contrary to earlier reports (that seemed hard to believe anyway.) No new Nissan Z, no new GT-R, no new Mazda rotary engine.
Toyota didn’t even mention the Supra in the press briefing. They didn’t talk about the rumored high-performance Lexus LC-F either, even though that was a long shot.
Autonomous vehicles, EVs, and artificial intelligence are the keywords at this year’s show. So far it’s all felt a bit like the press conferences were just a copy and paste job of each other, just with different branding.
It’s only halfway through the first day but it seems like this show is indicative of the Japanese auto industry as a whole right now. There’s little excitement in the air; we’re caught between the enthusiasm of the past and the necessity of the electric and autonomous future.
Don’t get me wrong—there are still some exciting offerings here, especially the concepts that showcase new design languages. And there are some automakers that have defied the autonomous EV concept norm. Mazda and Subaru have shown some promising and enticing concepts for the future.
Mazda gave us two beautiful concepts of what their future holds while Subaru delivered yet another sharp looking sport sedan that could preview the next WRX in some way. Whether or not they’ll deliver with the production version is another story.
Make no mistake: Tokyo is a small show compared to other international shows. Geneva has more exotics while Frankfurt, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles have the cars you’ll actually buy. Where Tokyo shines are the concepts and so far I haven’t been blown away. Still, Daihatsu, Honda, and even Yamaha will have a few surprises in store.
Mercedes-AMG are set to give their Project 1 hypercar its Asia premiere to later, while Mazda will give a press conference about the direction of the company. I’ll be going through the displays as the day goes on. You should tell me what you’d like to see from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.
Until then, here’s a little taster of what I’ve seen so far and what’s to come.