The opening days of Tokyo's big show have wrapped up. What did our team, both on the ground and back at headquarters, think of the unveilings? Read on.
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The Tokyo motor show is often very different to the European shows, and this year was exactly that. Along with a few production hatches, there were plenty of forward-looking concepts with unique powertrains.

Check out our team's hits and misses below, and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.


Mike Costello, at the show

Best production car: Honda Jazz

Honda's new Jazz looks to have recaptured the magic of the original, after two successive generations of treading water. It looks less van-like and cuter, its cabin features more tech and lovely material quality (plus a great little wheel), it's as ridiculously practical as ever (I sneakily sat in one), and it has a two-motor hybrid system perfect for urban commutes.

Now, the hard bit. Will Honda Australia offer the 'right' versions, given its parent company sometimes fails to make the best stuff available to us? It would be exceedingly frustrating if not... What does this mean? All the cabin tech, plenty of active safety, the crossover-styled version, and hybrid power.

Best concept car: Toyota e-Racer

Endless talk of autonomous vans and electric ride-share services taking over congested cities in place of conventional cars proliferates. Clearly self-proclaimed 'mobility provider' Toyota does as well, since one of the gems at its Tokyo motor show stand was a topless single-seater called the e-Racer.

Quite literally, the accompanying information on this tiny and chic concept is limited to: “A sports car of the future with a virtual tailor that creates bespoke racing suits”. That’s it. Harrumph.

But what was more interesting was the rationale behind making it. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda’s keynote speech explained his view that everyone in the future could one day have their own sports car, if practical needs were met by shared mobility services. No compromises.

“Won't kinds of mobility like [ride sharing pods] mean that cars will end up not being owned? I certainly hope not. Shared mobility will lead to people owning forms of mobility that are more personal,” he conjectured. “The cars in everyone's garages will all be sports cars, like this e-Racer!" he said. In jest. Probably.

Biggest miss: Mazda MX-30

Electric car platforms let designers have a field day. No lumpy engine up front to ruin those proportions, for one thing.

Add to this the fact that Mazda's designers usually nail their briefs, be it on road cars or drop-dead concepts like the Shinari, Minagi, Vision Coupe et al. Despite these promising pointers, its first EV looks awkward, frumpy, finicky, confused, complicated and altogether unrepresentative of such a design-led brand.

And given the BMW i3's lack of sales success, why echo its suicide doors and limited driving range? Sure, the cabin is fantastic and made from lots of green recycled materials, but it's not enough to make the MX-30 desirable. Back to the drawing board, Team Hiroshima.


James Wong, in Melbourne

Best production car: Alpina B3 Sedan

There wasn't a whole lot to choose from in the production space, but the Alpina B3 sedan did stand out as one of the cool reveals in Tokyo. I personally would prefer the Touring, but the fact an Alpina Green example with a light leather interior was on display at the show makes me happy inside.

Best concept car: Toyota Mirai Concept

Let's be honest, the first-generation Toyota Mirai looks like a dog's breakfast that had been put through a blender. If this concept is any indication of what's coming next, I may just go hydrogen.

It looks like a Supra and a Lexus LS had a baby, and in the best way possible. It's edgy, sexy, and looks suitably luxurious for a flagship product. Another goal for Toyota.

Biggest miss: Mazda MX-30

Mazda's design team has been on a roll lately, until now. There's a few things that irk me slightly about the brand's first EV, the first being the looks. Everything about Mazda's latest products have been about fluid, luxurious and athletic, and the MX-30 doesn't really have any of that. It looks like the CX-30 was made into a Lego kit.

That should say it all. Meanwhile, the 'MX' naming should be reserved for a sports car. I don't care if it has forward-hinged rear doors and a low centre of gravity, a crossover isn't a sports car. Also, the centre console looks weird, and the battery doesn't sound like it's that big. Rant over.


Derek Fung, in New York

Biggest hit: Honda Jazz

The first album was a revelation which mixed cheeky tunes with spatial efficiency. The two follow-ups were largely more of the same, but without the same soul. With this fourth album, Soichiro and his merry band have once again nailed the calibration between economy and levity.

Best concept: Toyota Mirai

Will turning the Mirai from a ugly duckling to a beautiful swan mean there's more than a handful of hydrogen refilling stations? Probably not. But it's transformation probably augurs well for the next-generation Prius, and Toyota's big push into the EV sector.

Biggest miss: Mazda MX-30

Given Mazda's aspirations to move upmarket, it's surprising that the company's first electric car doesn't take a leaf from the Tesla and Porsche playbook.

An evocatively-styled four-door with good performance and range might've been a nice successor to the long-departed RX-8. Instead there's an awkwardly styled crossover coupe with disappointing range and reverse-hinged rear doors.


Scott Collie, in Melbourne

Best production car: Honda Jazz

The Jazz looks fantastic, like a more modern interpretation of the first-generation model my primary school music teacher drove, and the fact Honda is offering hybrid power range-wide is another step forward for electrified vehicles.

The interior looks like a meaningful step forward from the cheap and nasty current car but should still maintain its practicality, and there's finally what appears to be a modern infotainment system on board. Plus, Honda Sensing is standard.

Honda Australia, please get us the hybrid, and please make sure the good interior options make it Down Under. Don't mess this one up.

Best concept car: Subaru Levorg Prototype

It was a bit of a lean show for drop-dead gorgeous concepts, but the Subaru Levorg Prototype shows a lot of promise.

For one, it looks far sharper than the slightly blobby current model, especially at the front end. The idea of a new 1.8-litre turbocharged engine is promising, and Subaru has done a good job with its EyeSight system so an expanded suite of capabilities can only be a good thing.

The only catch? It's a Subaru concept (fine, prototype) and that means it's unlikely to look anywhere near as cool when it reaches production. Prove me wrong, Subaru.

Biggest miss: Nissan's talk about Zed and GT-R

Nissan, it's time to commit to a direction on the GT-R and Zed. For crying out loud, pick an idea and stick with it.

Build the damn thing, whatever form it takes, and own the results. At a time where Nissan needs to restore trust and earn some love – its own CEO said as much this week – proper sporting flagships that reminds the world why it fell for the brand in the first place might be a good place to start.

The fact the R35 is now 12 years old (yes, it's had some updates) and Nissan hasn't committed to a direction for the new one is just staggering.

I sincerely hope all this talk about not having decided on hybrid, electric, or internal-combustion power is an elaborate ruse from Nissan head office. I hope there's a stunning new GT-R waiting in the wings, and they're just toying with us. But my faith is waning.


William Stopford, in Brisbane

Best production car: Toyota Yaris

If Toyota had stuck to its traditional product lifecycle with the Yaris, I probably wouldn’t be as impressed with the new one. But instead, Toyota has foisted the same basic car on us for almost a decade. Ford, Holden and Hyundai may have abandoned this segment but the Yaris has still had to deal with tough competition from, among others, Mazda.

Funnily enough, Toyota decided to simply rebadge the Mazda 2 as the Yaris in North America – perhaps Toyota’s American operations got tired of waiting for this cute, new TNGA-based model.

Now, Toyota sells four different cars globally as the Yaris. Will it align them all? And is the new, much-improved Yaris better than the Mazda 2 that Toyota has slapped Yaris badges on elsewhere?

Best concept: Toyota Mirai

In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, a fluffy little cygnet yearns to be as beautiful as the graceful adults swans and eventually gets its wish. The fairy tale is a bit silly as cygnets (not the Aston Martin) are actually adorable, though it’s still a huge transformation for the titular character.

The change from the current Toyota Mirai to the next-generation model, previewed by this concept, is just as dramatic. The difference? The current Mirai is no baby swan. It’s hideous. Meanwhile, the new Mirai concept is drop-dead gorgeous. Let’s hope the production version looks the same.

Biggest miss: Mazda MX-30

The MX-30 is actually quite an inoffensive crossover. Unfortunately for Mazda’s first EV, it’s wearing the wrong frock to the party. Mazda’s latest designs have been increasingly premium and almost Italianate in style as the brand creeps upmarket, except for the MX-30.

If Mazda was using a bolder, dramatically different design language specifically for its EVs, that would make sense. Alas, the MX-30 feels like a toned-down, blockier version of Mazda’s existing crossovers. It would be an excellent-looking Toyota or Nissan but I hold Mazda to a higher standard.


Mike Stevens, in Melbourne

Best 'production' car: Subaru Levorg Prototype

Alright, I'm trying to influence the universe here, just a little. Subaru, of all brands – and that is truly saying something – has most consistently let enthusiasts down when it comes to the leap from concept to production. Never has a company had so much form in revealing a powerfully-styled concept before launching a comparatively underwhelming production version.

With this 'prototype' concept, though, Subaru has revealed probably its most production-looking show car in decades. There is nothing, not a thing, about this concept that couldn't go to production if Subaru could just find the will and the self-worth. Get it done, Subaru!

Best concept: Mitsubishi Mi-Tech

It hardly moves the game forward in anyway, for Mitsubishi let alone the industry, but the Mi-Tech is my pick from Tokyo. It's a fun off-roading EV design, and it looks oh so much like the MASK toys I loved as a kid. The retro-futuristic dash really tops it all off, too.

Biggest miss: Lexus LF-30

They're really just throwing crap at the wall now, aren't they? It's a nice enough profile and rear-end, but, oh boy, that snout. Is there no better aquatic design influence in the world than the whale shark? That appears to be what so many brands are going for these days. Save us all.


Everything from the Tokyo motor show