2019 Tokyo Auto Salon

  • TAS 2019: Kawaii showgirls wrap up our mega inaugural Tokyo Auto Salon live coverage

    I don’t remember a busier start to the year than the one I just had, thanks to a coincidental coming together of work and personal events. That’s the reason for this delayed wrap-up post for our 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon coverage, but I’m confident that it’ll be worth the wait.

    It’s the first time we’re covering Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS), which – along with SEMA in the US – ranks as the world’s most famous auto tuning show. When you consider Malaysia’s Japanese-dominated car culture and preference, TAS is definitely the show for us car guys and Mat Keretas.

    While I’ve been to every Tokyo Motor Show since the 2007 edition, I knew that TAS would be an entirely different sort of show – less corporate and stuffy, more passion. Still, the scale of the event at Makuhari Messe (the previous home of TMS), how packed the halls were, and how enthusiastic the visitors, completely blew me and Paultan.org BM colleague Farid Awaludin away.

    Japan was cold, but TAS was a baptism of fire for Farid, a lifelong JDM and retro car maniac who was stepping on Japanese soil for the first time in his life. My tag team partner is a walking car encyclopaedia, and visiting the mecca of car tuning was akin to a pilgrimage for him. Even I, the more jaded between us, woke up every morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

    We were there for the entire three full days, and yet we can’t say that we saw every booth and exhibit in detail – there were just too many interesting sights; be it cars, parts, merchandise or ahem, ladies. Like the most popular pasar malam you know, the dense crowd made photography a physical battle as well as the ultimate exercise in patience (to get a clear shot). A mainstream motor show’s press day is child’s play in comparison.

    But we had a mission, and we managed to be among the first outlets to show you the GR Supra Super GT Concept, which will bring the famous Supra name back to Japan’s Super GT series.

    Race Supra aside, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing had some yummy cars on display such as the Daihatsu Copen GR Sport Concept (I need one!), the Toyota Mark X GRMN (big sedan, big NA V6, manual!) and the Toyota Century GRMN. The latter is Akio Toyoda’s company car, but in menacing black.

    Staying on the Toyota side of the park, we also showed you the Toyota Hilux TRD Black Rally Edition (imported from Thailand) and the good looking Toyota Corolla Sport hatchback, presented by TOM’s, Blitz and Yokohama in iconic Advan livery and a TCR-style body. Speaking of bodies, it would be a colossal waste if the Corolla Hatch shell does not eventually house more than a 1.2L turbo engine and a hybrid drivetrain, ‘cos it’s so evocative.

    Why not a Corolla GRMN to fight the hot hatch king from next door? We’re of course talking about the Honda Civic Type R, which was one of the most popular models at TAS. Legendary Honda tuner Mugen had two FK8s on display – the pig-nosed pre-production Mugen Civic RC20GT and a stock car wearing a full catalogue of prototype Mugen parts.

    Power tuner HKS didn’t bother with aesthetics and instead developed parts to boost the Civic’s 2.0L VTEC Turbo engine to 380 PS and 510 Nm. All coming to Sunway soon, for sure.

    I didn’t bother sitting in the FK8, but couldn’t resist trying out the Honda S660 Neo Classic Racer Concept for size. It’s a tight fit made even tighter by the roll cage, but the retro style and parts are way too cool. Speaking of kei sports cars, the Copen receives an official but limited edition Coupe version, besides the above-mentioned GR concept.

    What’s more interesting is the trend of making these cute little cars look like giants. The S660 and Copen can be made to look like the Honda NSX and Nissan GT-R, respectively, thanks to the Supreme of car tuners – Liberty Walk. LBWK can also turn your Suzuki Jimny into a baby G-Wagen, but DAMD goes one better by giving you an option of a Little G or a Little D – the latter is a miniature Land Rover Defender that’s off the scale in cuteness. If I ever need another Little D…

    To our surprise, the new Jimny was by far the most popular vehicle at TAS 2019, present at every other tuner’s booth. It wasn’t so much about performance upgrades (HKS has catalogue for it, though), but the customisation possibilities afforded by the little 4×4, which now carries a modern-retro look that’s impossible to not like.

    All very nice, but the best of the lot was from Suzuki itself, which brought out a pick-up version of the Jimny that reminds us of the OG BJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser. A sure-fire hit if they make it, don’t you think?

    That’s some list, but we’re far from done. Don’t miss the interesting stories and galleries of Top Secret’s Skyline GT-R collection (every generation is here, including Smokey’s crazy “R32-bodied R35”), gorgeous restomods from Star Road (Hakosuka, Kenmeri and S30 Fairlady included) and Jun’s “Super Lemon” Honda Fit RS for the Jazz fans. Also, feast your eyes on iconic rally cars in our WRC gallery (hint: Castrol, 555, Marlboro) and learn about “the new Initial-D” manga called MF Ghost and its modern day hachiroku hero car.

    While walking around on the final day and emptying our wallets of yen, we spotted a crazy-looking time attack-style Lancia Delta that deserved a post by itself, and a pink Kelisa that reminded us of Malaysian custom jobs.

    There were more offbeat creations in the form of a “homemade Mazda RX-9” and a strange beast that fuses Lamborghini Urus, Toyota 86 and a pick-up bed. Before you mock them, the latter two are projects by students of the Nihon Automotive Technology School (NATS), the future generation of Japanese auto engineers and customisers.

    Last and definitely least are the predictable dressed-up versions of everyday SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail (Impul), Subaru Forester (STI) and Honda HR-V (Modulo). These were the only cars we shot and wrote about out of duty – the aesthetic add-ons are likely to reach local showrooms in the near future.

    By the way, the above links will take you to Farid’s posts on our BM page. If you can understand Bahasa Malaysia, I recommend that you recap our TAS 2019 coverage in BM, as the author’s deep insights and fact gathering is best read in its original form. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot, as I did! Alternatively, they’re all in plain old English here.

    It was one hell of a working weekend for us, and I hope that you enjoyed our 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon live coverage as much as we did preparing it. No? Then here’s 100 variety pics of the stuff not already covered above, plus 120 pics of kawaii girls to win you over. You’re welcome.

    GALLERY: 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon, variety

    GALLERY: 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon, the ladies

  • TAS 2019: Mugen Honda Civic Type R RC20GT debuts

    The Mugen RC20GT Civic Type R concept arrived at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon following its initial showing at last year’s show, with its very imposing looks appearing to be carried over mostly intact. Here dubbed the Mugen RC20GT Package Pre Production Model, it may enter production to go on sale in its home market; great news for those whom the Mugen Honda Civic Type R FK8 Prototype is a touch mild.

    Much of the Mugen’s bodykit has been carried over for this iteration, not least the massive, Audi-aping front grille, while the generously vented bonnet is fashioned from carbon-fibre, as is the front bumper with large dive planes. Along its sides, the Mugen trades the tri-coloured stripes from last year for a stylised cartoon character.

    Fancy more wing? The rear aerofoil on the Mugen RC20GT concept continues to feature the carbon-fibre unit from last year’s car, which is adjustable for angle of attack and therefore, downforce. Meanwhile, rolling stock continues to be the 20-inch multi-spoked forged items, where a set of larger front brakes by Brembo with six-piston calipers take residence.

    Sadly the show car was sealed off and therefore its interior could not be clearly seen, though video footage on the sidelines depicted a conventional steering wheel from the ‘standard’ Civic Type R in place of squared-off, racing-inspired tiller on last year’s concept.

    Engine output and performance figures remain an enigma with the Mugen Civie RC20GT, though the car’s powerplant has been given an improved cooling system which in turn yields more power, according to the famed tuning firm. In standard guise, the FK8 Civic Type R produces 320 PS and 400 Nm of torque from its 2.0 litre K20C1 turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed manual driving the front wheels.

    GALLERY Mugen Honda Civic Type R FK8 Prototype

  • TAS 2019: NATS Urus 86 – a 3-in-1 car like nothing else

    As car guys, we’ve pretty much seen it all, from the breathtakingly gorgeous to copycatters and the downright wacky. But sometimes, even we get surprised by avid builders, or in this case a group of students from the Nihon Automotive Technology School (NATS).

    Presented before your eyes in all its yellow glory is a jacked up Toyota 86 that’s been hacked into the body of a pick-up truck. Before you wail your way into hysteria, note that the donor car (Toyota 86) had previously been used as a project car for former senior students known as NATS Extreme.

    For this project, the team created a custom front bumper that looks like the Lamborghini Urus, and fitted the rear end with a cargo bed that comes with a sports bar. The 86’s original tail lights are retained, and the rump gets an integrated ducktail spoiler to go with the chiselled apron and diffuser.

    Of course, who can see past those huge riveted fenders? Those house a set of gigantic 20-inch wheels wrapped with Nitto all-terrain tyres. Suspension-wise, expect the 86’s factory setup to be largely overhauled. Otherwise, not much else is known of this Urus 86 concept.

    You must be wondering, are the concept models made by NATS students only focus on looks, and can they actually be driven on the road? Well, for your info, NATS has about 750 students and four courses – basically, all students must sit through a management course for two years in order to be certified as a Class 2 mechanic in Japan.

    Once that’s done, the students can choose to further their studies into three other fields, which are motorsports (one year), customise (one year) or research (two years). No prizes for guessing which group is responsible for the Urus 86, then.

    After the show, the NATS Urus 86 will be put through on-road tests according to Japan’s ministry of transport’s standards. Once it’s given the green light to be used legally on the road, the students will have to run a more realistic road test called Test Run Caravan. If all is well, the students will pass and thus be able to graduate from NATS.

  • TAS 2019: Mugen Honda Civic Type R FK8 Prototype

    If the Mugen RC20GT was a little too overwhelming for you, here’s a more reasonable alternative. This is the Mugen Honda Civic Type R FK8 Prototype, a test platform meant to showcase a range of parts that the company will offer for the hot hatch.

    The usual array of modifications is present here, starting with a full body kit that includes bumpers and side skirts. Up front, the faux intakes have been made smaller thanks to body-coloured trim placed over them, joining a front lip, new bonnet scoop and a carbon-fibre bar bearing the Mugen and Honda badges.

    Along the sides, carbon-fibre mirror caps have been added, and the car rides on 20-inch multi-spoke wheels in a similar colour scheme to those on the RC20GT, with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres to match.

    Around back, a large, adjustable aluminium spoiler has been added, while the taillights gain new graphics of Mugen’s design. A more prominent diffuser element is part of the new bumper setup, which now includes a dual-pipe exhaust rather than the triple-pipe of the stock car.

    Inside, the interior features black Mugen bucket seats, carbon-fibre trim has been added to the steering wheel, and the shift knob is wrapped in bright red leather, with Mugen script on it.

    No word if Mugen gave the hot hatch a boost in power as this is merely a demonstration car,” but fresh from the factory, the Civic Type R offers 320 PS and 400 Nm from its 2.0 litre VTEC Turbo engine.

  • TAS 2019: Honda HR-V Modulo X Concept revealed

    At this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, Honda unveiled the HR-V Modulo X Concept 2019, which previews a set of accessories and parts that will be available for the compact crossover at the end of January.

    The show car is based on the latest HR-V, specifically the Vezel Touring that is available in Japan. Changes include a new bumper at the front with more prominent fog lamp enclosures as well as plenty of black-painted areas, including the chrome bar over the grille.

    There’s also a dash of silver at the base of bumper, and this look is replicated at the rear as well. The bumper at the back is new too, and made to look sportier to better complement the dual exhaust outlets and large faux vent. A set of 18-inch Modulo wheels complete the look, wrapped with Michelin Primacy rubbers.

    Inside, there are semi-bucket seats that boast Modulo X embroidery, along with dedicated floor mats. Honda says there are revisions to the car’s suspension as well – likely new dampers. Beyond that, the car retains its mechanical bits, including its 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine.

    With the facelifted HR-V already on sale in Malaysia, will this show car be a good source of inspiration for any modifications?

  • TAS 2019: Toyota Century GRMN – Akio’s company car

    The exceedingly regal Toyota Century isn’t the sort of car you’d give to your in-house tuning company, but when your name is Akio Toyoda and you’re looking for a new company car, that’s exactly what you’d do – take an iconic luxury sedan celebrating your family’s rich history and imbue it with a sporting edge courtesy of a Le Mans-winning motorsports division.

    Last year, the company president was seen being driven around in a one-off, hotted-up Century GRMN (short for Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring, as it were), even making an appearance at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival at the Fuji Speedway with Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel. The car was so popular among fans that Toyota decided to build another one for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon.

    While Toyoda’s unit was white, the show car is finished in a deep black, making it look even more menacing – and even more popular with the yakuza crowd, were it ever offered for sale. All the trimmings are present and correct, including a more aggressive front splitter, side skirts, a rear diffuser and a subtle carbon fibre bootlid spoiler – all tied together with red pinstripe detailing.

    A set of 19-inch BBS alloy wheels (wrapped in Yokohama iceGuard iG60 snow tyres, funnily enough) hint at the hardware found under the skin, and hide large GR-branded disc brakes. The interior remains unchanged, however, trimmed in light wood panelling and glorious beige 100% wool upholstery.

    No details of the modifications within have been announced, but it’s safe to assume the GRMN retains the same hybrid powertrain as the Century – a 381 PS 5.0 litre 2UR-FSE direct-injected V8 paired to twin electric motors to produce a total of 431 PS. Like Toyoda’s car, this one carries an “1867” number plate, referring to the birth year of Toyota Industries founder Sakichi Toyoda – which the original 1967 Century commemorated.

  • TAS 2019: Toyota 86 MF Ghost – real-world manga car

    This is the Toyota 86 MF Ghost Concept, and if you’re a fan of the MF Ghost manga, you can commence drooling. For those that are not in the know, here’s some backstory before we get to the car itself.

    MF Ghost is the creation of Shuichi Shigeno, the same person responsible for Initial D series that we all know and love. Shigeno-san’s latest work references Initial D and its characters, but is set in the 2020s, where traditional combustion engine-based cars have been almost completely replaced by electric self-driving cars.

    In this time of transition, the mysterious Ryo Takahashi created a racing series known as MFG, which aimed to preserve the use of internal combustion engine cars by way of competitive racing. The series’ participants primarily use foreign makes and models that are either all-wheel drive or are technologically advanced, with only a small number of Japanese cars present.

    The main story is focused around Kanata Rivington, a 19-year-old of Japanese and British parentage that graduated from the Royal Donington Park Racing School, who returns to Japan to find his missing father, Ken Katagiri.

    In his quest to find his father, Kanata decides to go race in the MFG under his father’s surname. He also uses an “old” Toyota 86 belonging to an acquaintance and quickly rises up the ranks in the series. You’ll have to read the manga for a better insight into the story, which mentions a certain tofu delivery person.

    Synopsis aside, the show car you see here is result of the manga’s publisher working together with Toyota to recreate the 86 from the manga. There are a good number of performance-related modifications here too, including an oil cooler and an Ogura N1 clutch, although the engine remains stock.

    Most of the work is aimed at improving the car’s handling, so there’s EXM Exmotion Athlete Orange suspension and the rear axle gains a two-way LSD from TRD. A set of 17-inch TWS Motorsport T66-F forged alloy wheels is also present, wrapped with Brigestone Potenza RE-71R tyres.

    Behind the front wheels, you’ll find Project Mu four-pot calipers, while they are two-pot units at the rear – slotted rotors are used on all four corners.

    Aesthetic enhancements include a red paint finish with plenty of decals and graphics applied to it, with the rather sizeable GT Sard LSR rear spoiler being one of the more prominent additions.

    Inside, the driver’s stock seat has been replaced with a Bride Low Max Xero CS racing seat, while a set of Defi ZD gauges help indicate important information such as engine speed, water temperature, oil temperature and others.

  • TAS 2019: Star Road flaunts vintage Nissan restomods

    The 2019 edition of the Tokyo Auto Salon saw an incredibly diverse display of modified cars, but for those with an unbridled liking for timeless classics, like our very own Danny Tan, visiting TAS becomes an obligatory pilgrimage. Apparently, over 330,000 visitors thronged the show, but even we think that figure is a tad conservative.

    If you’re a classic Nissan buff, one of the highlights of the show was Star Road’s booth. The Japanese vintage car restomodder fielded four iconic cars – the original S30 Nissan 240Z, the Nissan Fairlady ZG, C10 Nissan Skyline and C110 Nissan Skyline.

    The Z cars needs no introduction – the S30 Fairlady Z, known in some markets as the Datsun 240Z, is one of the most successful GT two-seat coupes of its time. In stock form, it had independent suspension on all corners, and underneath the long nose is a 2.4 litre inline-six that made 153 PS and 198 Nm of torque.

    S30 Fairlady Z (left), Fairlady ZG (right)

    To make things look a bit more special, Star Road widened the wheel arches and dressed them in satin grey fenders with rivets, though interestingly the left side fenders feature a carbon finish. The deep dish six-spoke wheels are shod with slick tyres, whereas the front apron gets a carbon lower lip, and the tailgate gets a raised carbon-fibre spoiler.

    Next up is the evocative Japan-only HS30-H Nissan Fairlady ZG. This model was released in 1971 to homologate the 240Z for Group 4 racing, and it gets extended fibreglass ‘aero-dyna’ nose, wider over-fenders riveted to the body, a rear spoiler, acrylic glass headlight covers and fender-mounted rear-view mirrors.

    It’s an iconic look that defies the passage of time, and the car continues to be a desired collector’s item to this day. In Japan, the Fairlady ZG trades for anywhere between US$50,000 (RM205k) to US$150,000 (RM617k) – if you can’t stomach the asking price, well, you can purchase the “G-nose” kit separately and have it look just as sleek. Hey, as long as it looks good, right?

    C10 Nissan Skyline (left), C110 Nissan Skyline (right)

    Another notable exhibit was the C110 Skyline, or more famously known as the Kenmeri Skyline. The unit seen here bears the GT-R badge, though we’re fairly certain it’s only modified to look like the GT-R KPGC110. That’s because the C110 GT-R is one of the rarest around, with just 197 units made and sold in Japan in early 1973.

    It’s powered by a 2.0 litre engine six-cylinder engine making 160 PS at 7,000 rpm and 177 Nm of torque at 5,600 rpm, and the S20 engine features DOHC and three racing carburettors. Production was cut short due to an oil crisis at the time, and the Kenmeri GT-R would serve as the last GT-R – for 16 years! – before the BNR32 arrived in 1989.

    Last but not least, the C10 Skyline. It’s historically significant because the C10 marks the first-generation Skyline under the Nissan brand after the company took over Prince Motor Company. A number of variants were made, including the top KPGC10 GT-R. Again, it’s unclear if the vehicle here is in fact the real deal (we didn’t get to see the engine), but at least it’s neatly modified to look the part. Good stuff, no?

  • TAS 2019: Subaru Forester Advance Sport Concept

    This is the Subaru Forester Advance Sport Concept, which recently made its debut at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon. Based on the Forester e-Boxer sold in Japan, the show car serves as a good reference point for those looking to modify their new SK-generation Forester when it eventually makes its way to Malaysia.

    In terms of aesthetic enhancements, the concept comes with new bumpers, front dive planes, side skirts, 19-inch wheels, a revised grille with honeycomb meshing, and a ‘Fighter Grey’ exterior paint finish. Yellow accents are applied to various parts of the exterior as well for some contrast, and this trend is carried into the cabin.

    Aside from tinges of yellow, the cabin also gets completely new upholstery to create a vibrant space. The uniform colour scheme is applied to almost every part of the interior, including the steering wheel, door cards, dashboard, centre console storage lid and other trim pieces.

    Unsurprisingly, the concept comes with a generous amount of STI badging to complete the look. For better stopping power, the Forester gets a set of Brembo monoblock six-piston calipers at the front, with cross-drilled rotors.

  • TAS 2019: Honda S660 Neo Classic Racer on display

    First announced at the end of last year, the Honda S660 Neo Classic Racer is on display at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon. Based on the mid-engined Honda S660, the Neo Classic Racer concept is a development of the Neo Classic styling pack introduced for the kei-class two-door car earlier in 2018.

    In place of the thoroughly modern style of the S660 goes a retro-inspired look courtesy of the more curvaceous body panels as well as round headlamps and tail lamps. The former is designed to ape the taped headlamps of classic race cars, while the latter now comprises circular LED units. Up top, the S660’s fabric roof has been replaced with a rigid item.

    The front end is adorned with a bumper which includes a wire-mesh grille that has more air intakes, whilst integrating a more protruding front splitter at its lower edge. Both front and rear wheels are housed within wider, flared wheel arches which feature exposed rivets, while the rear deck lid terminates with a ducktail spoiler.

    Like at the front, the rear bumper also adopts a very large wire-mesh insert, and here the exhaust outlets have been relocated to the centre and level with the car’s tail lamps in a further nod to racing. Further exterior features include fender-mounted side mirrors and leather clasp fasteners for the front bonnet.

    Rolling stock is comprised of 17-inch Work Meister forged alloy wheels, mounted with Toyo Proxes 888R tyres. Stopping power features slotted brake discs with Endless brake calipers for the front axle.

    Onwards to the interior, the retro theme continues with a leather-wrapped Momo California three-spoke steering wheel and an aluminium gear lever knob. Seating is one classic-styled Bride unit without headrest, with a two-point seatbelt layout, and the cabin also has a roll-cage in place. The S660 Neo Classic Racer concept is a strict single-seater.

    Mechanical details for the S660 Neo Classic Racer concept was omitted, however the standard S660 is powered by a three-cylinder, turbocharged 660 cc petrol engine with 64 hp and 104 Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.


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Last Updated 06 Oct 2022