The Tokyo Auto Salon is an annual celebration of Japan’s massive automotive tuning and aftermarket scene. Despite the show focusing mainly on modified and vintage vehicles, Japanese automakers typically turn up to the event with a few new performance-focused new product debuts of their own.
This year’s edition of the Tokyo Auto Salon, held between Friday, January 14 and Sunday, January 16, was no exception, with Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Subaru and others all bringing interesting new concept vehicles and prototypes to the event. We’ve picked five of our favourite debuts from the event that could be relevant to the Canadian automotive market, preview what's coming, or are just plain cool.
5. Lexus LX Off-Road Concept
The Lexus LX Off-Road Concept is based on the Lexus LX600 that’s currently sold here in Canada. A variety of aftermarket parts developed by Japanese off-road company JAOS set it apart from the production model, though, including front and rear skid protectors, mudguards, fender flares, and door handle protectors. Completing the package are a set of 20-inch gold-finish JAOS wheels shod in knobby Toyo Open Country tires. While this is only a concept, it could be indicative of a desire from Lexus to offer more off-road focused accessory parts or model variants.
4. Mitsubishi Vision Ralliart Concept
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The Mitsubishi Outlander-based Vision Ralliart Concept is a performance crossover that's too cool not to include on this list. In addition to the heavily overhauled, performance-inspired exterior styling, the Vision Ralliart also features a more powerful version of the Outlander PHEV’s hybrid powertrain. This concept is also a sign of Mitsubishi’s intent to revive its Ralliart sub-brand for future performance hybrid and electric crossover models.
3. Subaru Solterra STI Concept and Toyota BZ4X GR Sport Concept
The Subaru Solterra and Toyota BZ4X are two closely related battery-electric crossovers jointly developed by the two Japanese automakers, both of which will launch in Canada for the 2023 model year. Subaru and Toyota brought performance variants of both vehicles to the Tokyo Auto Salon, with Subaru’s dubbed the Solterra STI Concept and Toyota’s called the BZ4X GR Sport. Both feature unique STI and GT cosmetic add-ons to communicate their sporty, handling-focused character. The top-spec powertrain in the bZ4X and Solterra is rated at 214 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, while a 71.4-kWh battery provides an estimated range of 400 kilometres.
2. Subaru STI RA Concept
The Subaru STI RA Concept is a battery-electric performance car that the Japanese automaker says will be used to gather experience “with new technologies in the world of motorsports for the carbon-neutral era.” It’s powered by a total of four electric motors, with one mounted at each wheel, and produces an impressive 1,088 horsepower. Subaru plans to eventually take it to the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany, where it will attempt to lap the 20.8-kilometre circuit in 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
1. Honda Civic Type R Prototype
The Honda Civic Type R made its official debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon, with the production model set to go on sale in Canada sometime in the near future. Honda also released a video this week showing the Civic Type R Prototype on the track at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan this week, allowing fans to see the hot hatch in action and hear its raspy exhaust note. We’re still awaiting technical details on the new Civic Type R, although it’s expected to offer a six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive, and a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine producing more than 300 horsepower.