After far too many years of clumsily styled cars, Honda popped up with a really agreeable concept car in the all-electric EV-Ster. It has a nice looking, if totally unneeded, grille shape, makes nice use of blue plastic around the headlamps integrated into that grille, and has a space ship cockpit with twin lever steering. It has been quite a while since the mere sight of a Honda product made one want to jump in and drive. This one does it.
Daihatsu DX (they pronounce it ‘D-Cross’)
I’ve long had a penchant for tiny Japanese Kei cars, in particular sports models like Daihatsu’s Capuccino, Mazda’s AZ-1 and Honda’s Beat. This one opens new mechanical perspectives with a twin-cylinder 650 direct-injection turbo declared to make the statutory 64 hp maximum, but the power figures are about as accurate as those for 427 big block Chevys used to be when they were hiding horses from the bosses. Say it’s a lot more and enjoy what is likely to be sparkling performance up to the legal limit of 82 mph. Styling is funky/curious, with strange black blocks over each wheel and nice Walt Disney Donald Duck car fenders. It’s half cartoon and half serious little sports car, but all fun.
Both of the joint-venture flat-four, rear drive sports cars we’ve been promised for so long from Toyota and Subaru were unveiled in final production form at the show. The Subaru is far better-looking to my eye, and although it probably will cost a bit more than the one we’ll see in the US as a Scion, it would be my favored choice. If the prices can be kept somewhere in the Miata vicinity, they’ll both be winners. And when the tops come off later on, look out!
Nissan Pivo 3
This third iteration of Nissan’s electric urban three-seater is a lot closer to being production feasible than its extreme, essentially uncertifiable and absolutely unaffordable pivoting-cabin predecessors. It retains the four-wheel-steering motor-in-wheel chassis concept, is still only a bit over 9 feet long, and can still make a U-turn in just a little over 6 feet. The urban maneuverability is extraordinary and it is virtually certain that a commercial product will be derived from this concept, although it could be several more years before Pivo derivatives are on sale.
Ah, what would the Tokyo show be without at least one completely off-the-wall concept car that has no rational reason for being, nor the remotest possibility of ever becoming a commercial reality? Suzuki, in this year of doubt and fear and seriousness on the part of the Japanese auto industry, has come through with an absurd concept that one can look at, laugh at, and be reassured that it will never encroach upon the streets of the world. The Suzuki Q is short, narrow, tall, garish and impractical — everything needed for a Tokyo show. Its perfectly round doors, its fully-enclosed wheels (if there were wheels in those pods — they came so close to the stand surface it was impossible to see if there were tires in them or if the Q was sitting on blocks) and its odd bustle for the rear tandem seat, complete with quarter windows made the Q a perfect goofmobile. Hats off to Suzuki.