Forward-thinking concept cars weren’t the only ones that took the spotlight at the biennial 45th Tokyo Motor Show. Some showroom-bound cars also made their worldwide debut at the huge Tokyo Big Sight convention center. While some of these cars are destined primarily for the Japanese domestic market, some will actually make it to global markets including, perhaps, the Philippines. Here’s a rundown of my eight favorite production cars from the Tokyo Motor Show.
Three rows. Seven seats. Diesel engine. These are the key words to success for any carmaker who wants to make a sizable dent in the Philippine auto industry. And now, Mazda is the newest one to throw their hat into the ring. Confirmed for launch in the ASEAN region by next year, the Mazda CX-8 made its Japan (and global) market debut at the show. It essentially shares the CX-9’s suspension, but tuned uniquely for this application. It also gets a 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine good for 187hp and 450Nm of torque.
Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Honda is pushing to electrify two-thirds of its global line-up in the next 13 years as part of their long-term Vision 2030 strategy. Cost and complexity are certainly part of the problem and as a solution, Honda decided that not one system fits all; there could be hybrids, plug-in hybrids, pure electric, and fuel cell vehicles. Taking up the banner for their plug-in hybrids is the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Boasting the best range in the mid-sized vehicles, the Clarity offers an all-electric range of 75 kilometers before running out of juice. After that, a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine kicks in and takes over.
Subaru is having none of that environment-friendly chatter as they unveiled the S208, a special limited edition run WRX STI. Limited to just 450 units (and for Japan only), the S208 gets a bump in power to 329hp and 432Nm of torque. A quicker steering ratio, suspension with adjustable dampers, and numerous STI goodies making the handling even sweeter. Unique bumpers and 19-inch forged alloy wheels complete the transformation. An even more extreme NBR Challenge Package is available with a dry carbon roof and a high-type carbon fiber spoiler.
Toyota JPN Taxi
In the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Toyota has begun the rollout of its ultra-modern, rider-centric JPN Taxi which will replace the current crop of Prius and Crown taxis. It has a function over form design with its low, flat floor and wide-opening power rear sliding doors which can accommodate wheelchair users. It’s also designed for low emissions with its hybrid-LPG engine and low maintenance costs with its 3-part front, and rear-bumpers. Even the engine uses a no-maintenance power water pump.
Nissan Serena e-POWER
Another carmaker with huge plans for electrification is Nissan and though its pure electric offering, the Leaf has taken the spotlight, they have also launched vehicles which remove the range anxiety commonly associated with EVs. With e-POWER, a small gasoline engine acts as a generator that charges the battery eliminating the need for an external charger. First launched on the Note, e-POWER has now made its way to the Serena. Nissan’s spacious MPV also gets their latest single-lane autonomous driving technology called ProPILOT.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The Mitsubishi Eclipse is back. And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you; it’s a crossover. It carries Mitsubishi’s signature styling but fused with coupe-like looks and dynamic SUV mobility. With Mitsubishi focused on building SUVs, EVs, and 4WD vehicles, the sporty Eclipse Cross joins the ASX and Outlander. It takes on a sportier bent though with its 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. And providing all-weather stability and performance, it uses an electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system that integrates vehicle dynamics control along with brake-activated Active Yaw Control or AYC.
Two years after its launch, the Honda NSX still manages to grab attention with low-slung stance and well-chiseled shape. At the extreme (performance) end of Honda’s electrification strategy, the NSX uses a three-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system to deliver an emotional, yet secure driving experience. The combination of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and a trio of electric motors push out 581hp. It also uses a spaceframe chassis made of aluminum, ultra-high- strength steel, and other rigid and lightweight materials, some of which are the world’s first applications.
Named to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, the Toyota Century is the ride of both the Prime Minister of Japan and even the Imperial House of Japan. Riding on an all-new platform, the Century manages to remain true to its heritage. Inside, the Century is certainly fit for royalty. The seats are covered in 100-percent wool making them flexible and soft. The biggest change for the third-generation Century is a move from V12 to V8 power, specifically a 5.0-liter V8 with an electric hybrid system. – Words and photos by Ulysses Ang and Manny N. de los Reyes
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