Of all the car shows on the calendar, the biennial Tokyo Motor Show is the one with the loosest grip on reality. To walk the show floor is to be barraged by a series of implausible, impractical, yet somehow desirable vehicles that may or may not fill our roads in the future.
Okay, most of these almost certainly won't. But as an exercise in what huge, rich companies can do when they throw money and design talent at intangible problems, you can't beat Tokyo Motor Show. From sleek, electronic vehicles that feel more like gadgets than cars, to roaring, muscular love letters to the concept of driving itself, it was all here this year.
Read on for some of the odder things I saw.
- Unlike Tokyo Game Show, Tokyo Motor Show actually takes place in Tokyo, and is all the better for it. Big Sight is a wild, futuristic venue that feels like a very appropriate setting.
- Nissan's imposing Vision Gran Turismo concept, taken from the video game and rendered in real life.
- Mercedes-Benz's Vision Tokyo, a car described as a "chill-out zone" for Generation Z.
- This is the FCV Plus, Toyota's concept fuel cell vehicle. Toyota says it'd be able to generate extra electricity from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle as well as in its fuel tank, turning it into a "stable source of electric power for use at home or away."
- Japanese designer Ken Okuyama shows off the new Gulf color edition of his Kode9 Spyder.
- The straightforwardly-named Impreza 5-Door Concept is Subaru's vision for its next-generation hatchback. Its sculpted body is said to be indicative "not only of the new Impreza but of Subaru's future models as a whole."
- Nissan's ridiculous Teatro for Dayz concept has LED panels on the door...
- ...and projectors over the seat and dash.
- Mitsubishi's Outlander plug-in hybrid scales a wall at the company's booth.
- Honda had Jenson Button's F1 car on display, although the company's engine has caused nightmares for the McLaren driver this season.
- It doesn't get much conceptier than this Toyota Coms Connect concept, which...
- ...could become the central unit of an actual mech designed by Macross creator Shoji Kawamori. Yeah.
- Mazda's elegant RX-Vision concept, which represents the company's desire to bring back its trademark rotary engines.
- Mitsubishi's terrifying Fuso Super Great V Spider is a four-armed truck that looks like it could tear Tokyo Big Sight apart, precipitating an inevitable fight with Godzilla.
- Daihatsu's cute Noriori (which means "get on, get off") concept is designed to be ultra-accessible.
- The Toyota Kikai concept is the antithesis of all the sleek, futuristic, connected cars at Tokyo Motor Show. Its exposed mechanics and analog controls are designed to reacquaint people with the purity of driving and the power of machines.
- Nissan's IDS concept looks like it could well be the next Leaf.
- Honda's Project 2&4 concept is an unholy mashup of car and bike — the driver's seat is fully exposed, looking more like a sidecar.
- The NeoWing, meanwhile, absolutely looks (and sounds) like it was stolen from a Batman movie set.
- I'm just including this tiny Honda Z-series bike because I have a huge soft spot for the line. They're nicknamed "Monkey" or "Gorilla" because of the way you look when you ride them. I'm 6'4" and I still want one.
- This is Yamaha's retro Resonator125 motorcycle, "conceptualized as a fusion of the old and new" and "melded together with the craftsmanship that goes into creating the finest musical instruments."
- I've saved the weirdest for last. Honda's Wander Stand concept lets you drive sideways and diagonally while looking like a cross between a phone booth and a Dalek.