Japan Mobility Show 2023

  • BMW Vision Neue Klasse on display at JMS – concept previews brand’s future EV tech and design language

    BMW Vision Neue Klasse on display at JMS – concept previews brand’s future EV tech and design language

    In addition to the latest BMW X2, another vehicle showcased by the German carmaker at the recent Japan Mobility Show was the Vision Neue Klasse. First revealed back in September this year, the concept serves to preview the brand’s next generation of electric vehicles (EVs), with reports suggesting this being the first draft of a future 3 Series that is expected to debut in 2025.

    The concept’s name is a reference to the Neue Klasse (or New Class) of sedans and coupes that BMW produced back in the 1960s that helped save the company from bankruptcy. In today’s age, the Vision Neue Klasse represents a similar transformative period for the much more financially stable company, one that is driven by electrification.

    Future production EVs to emerge from the concept will feature the sixth generation of BMW’s eDrive technology, which is said to provide 30% more range, 30% faster charging, and 25% more efficiency. These cars will also feature high-density cylindrical batteries (20% higher) as well as an 800-volt electric architecture, the latter allowing for much faster charging times.

    In terms of design, the Vision Neue Klasse boasts a retro-futuristic exterior that serves up a fresh interpretation of the brand’s signature cues. These include the exaggerated kidney grille, double headlamps and Hofmeister kink, which are joined by 21-inch aerodynamic wheels and contrasting black side skirts and bumpers.

    Meanwhile, elaborate lighting effects inject a bit of character into the vehicle to deepen the interaction with others around it, and is helped along by E Ink elements in the lower portion of the side windows.

    Inside, the human machine interface (HMI) is represented by the BMW Panoramic Vision, central display and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel. These are linked to the next generation of iDrive, with information being projected at the ideal height into the driver’s line of sight. Occupants can also fiddle with My Modes to set their preferred ambiance inside the cabin made with eco-friendly materials.

    Production of the first Neue Klasse model will commence in 2025 at the carmaker’s new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, followed by Plant Munich in 2026. It was also announced in May during the 20th anniversary of BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) that local production of the Neue Klasse will also take place at the company’s plant in Shenyang, China from 2026.

  • Honda Civic Type R-GT Concept previews brand’s new Super GT500 racer for 2024 season – replaces NSX-GT

    Honda Civic Type R-GT Concept previews brand’s new Super GT500 racer for 2024 season – replaces NSX-GT

    This is the Honda Civic Type R-GT Concept, which first made its debut at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon in January, and was also presented at the recent Japan Mobility Show. The new race car previews the carmaker’s replacement for the NSX-GT that has since bowed out of the GT500 category of the Super GT championship.

    While it may resemble the latest FL5 Civic Type R, there’s little shared between this GT500 racer and the road-going production version. In accordance with Super GT regulations, the car features a bespoke carbon monocoque chassis and rear-wheel drive layout.

    Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) has already confirmed its racer will be powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged inline-four engine, which should make up to 650 hp as is typical of the GT500 class. Cars competing in this category are also allowed to run more aero compared to the lower GT300.

    The final version that will go racing is called the Civic Type R-GT, which has already completed its first shakedown test in July. The provisional 2024 calendar for the next Super GT season was announced in August this year, with the first race set to take place at the Okayama International Circuit in April next year.

    GALLERY: Honda Civic Type R-GT Concept

    GALLERY: 2024 Honda Civic Type R-GT

  • 2024 Honda Prologue on display – EV SUV jointly developed with GM; 288 hp AWD, up to 480 km range

    2024 Honda Prologue on display – EV SUV jointly developed with GM; 288 hp AWD, up to 480 km range

    At the recent Japan Mobility Show, Honda showcased the new Prologue, which is the brand’s fully electric SUV jointly developed with General Motors (GM). Built on GM’s Ultium platform, the Prologue was styled by Honda Design Studio in Los Angeles and was presented at the event in the range-topping AWD Elite variant.

    All versions of the Prologue feature a lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 85 kWh that is good for an estimated range of up to 480 km. With DC fast charging at a max of 155 kW, 104 km of range can be recovered in just ten minutes, claims the manufacturer.

    On the Elite as well as the two other AWD variants (EX and Touring), the battery supplies power to two electric motors that provide a total system output of 288 hp and 451 Nm of torque. The Prologue is also offered in a single-motor, front-wheel drive configuration in EX and Touring trims, but technical specifications of the FWD model aren’t available yet.

    In terms of dimensions, the Prologue Prologue measures 4,877 mm long, 1,989 mm wide, 1,643 mm tall and has a wheelbase that spans 3,094 mm. Boot space is 713 litres, expandable to 1,633 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats down.

    As for standard equipment, the Elite variant brings with it 21-inch alloy wheels, Honda Sensing, eight airbags, an 11-inch digital instrument cluster, an 11.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Google built-in, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, a wireless charging pad, heated front seats, USB-C charging ports (45 watts of output), a panoramic sunroof, a powered tailgate, a 12-speaker Bose sound system and perforated leather seats.

    Pricing for the Prologue starts in the upper USD40,000 (RM185,940) range when it goes on sale in the US for the 2024 model year. So far, the electric vehicle (EV) is only being marketed in North America, so its presence in Tokyo was likely to represent Honda’s electrification strategy. Would you want something like this in our market?

  • Toyota Kayoibako concept – battery-electric light commercial van study with configurable interior

    Toyota Kayoibako concept – battery-electric light commercial van study with configurable interior

    The Toyota Kayoibako concept vehicle was unveiled at the Japan Mobility Show 2023, showcasing the Japanese manufacturer’s take on a compact mobile space concept representing the future of mobility, says Toyota. Also shown by the brand at the show was the Global Hiace BEV Concept.

    The term kayoibako refers to configurable shipping containers which are sized to eliminate waste and are able to meet a range of needs with changeable inserts, aiming to offer an ultra-expandable design to allow for tailoring to suit different roles.

    In essence, the Kayoibako is an EV van with a modular interior for applications such as transport for wheelchair users, a mobile shop or as a passenger shuttle. Powertrain details are scarce, with Toyota describing the Kayoibako concept as a battery-electric vehicle.

    Inside, the Kayoibako concept can be seen to feature a curved, full-width main display as well as a smaller, secondary display in the centre next to the steering yoke.

    Measuring 3,990 mm long, 1,790 mm wide and 1,855 mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,800 mm, the Kayoibako concept has interior dimensions of 3,127 mm in length (2,141 mm on the driver’s side), 1,485 mm in width and 1,437 mm in height.

    In addition to the white unit, Toyota also showed a second example in green that appears to be outfitted for outdoor adventure applications, seen here with a raised ride height and off-road wheels and tyres. This example has also been kitted with a roof rack on top, a ladder at the rear as well as a jerry can mount on the right-hand-side.

    Toyota Kayoibako concept

  • Nissan Hyper Punk concept – crossover EV with AI, onboard cameras for influencers and content creators

    Nissan Hyper Punk concept – crossover EV with AI, onboard cameras for influencers and content creators

    Shown with the Nissan Hyper Force concept is this, the Hyper Punk concept that Nissan says is an all electric compact crossover that is “tailored for content creators, influencers and artists.”

    Multi-faceted, polygonal surfaces on the exterior of the Hyper Punk concept is finished in silver paint with tones that shift depending on light source and the viewing angle, and its headlamps, tail lamps and rear design signature accentuate the shapes on the exterior. Meanwhile, its 23-inch wheels and tyres make the concept “ideal for both city and off-road driving,” says Nissan.

    The Nissan Hyper Punk has been designed as a mobile creative studio, providing internet connectivity within the cabin and is able to link to its occupants’ devices and creative equipment, thus enabling them to access information and create content on the move, the carmaker said.

    Part of its content creation feature set includes onboard cameras which capture images of the scenery around the vehicle, which are then converted to manga-style visuals or graphic patterns through the use of AI. The imagery can then be shown on a three-screen display that arcs around the driver.

    The cabin of the Hyper Punk concept also employs AI with headrest-installed biosensors to detect the driver’s mood and then automatically select music and lighting to suit, that way boosting the driver’s energy and creativity, says Nissan. Additionally, the V2X system in the vehicle enables the operation and charging of the users’ devices.

  • Toyota X-Van Gear concept shown – three-row van features sliding doors, configurable seating layout

    Toyota X-Van Gear concept shown – three-row van features sliding doors, configurable seating layout

    The Toyota X-Van Gear concept is being shown at the Japan Mobility Show 2023, where it is being shown with fellow Toyota Auto Body creation, the Global Hiace BEV Concept.

    Measuring 4,695 mm long, 1,820 mm wide and 1,855 mm tall, the X-Van – pronounced ‘cross van’ – features a sliding door design for both front and rear doors, revealing a body that does without B-pillars for ease of entry and egress.

    These doors slide on tracks which blend into the headlamp and tail lamp assemblies, which are slim horizontal units joined by vertically oriented pixel-like units. The X-Van appears to be aimed at the outdoorsy user, with SUV-like black plastic cladding around its wheel arches, sills, bumpers and front and rear fascia, while a roof rack provides additional storage space atop the vehicle.

    Inside is a cabin with a three-row seating layout, featuring a front passenger seat that can swivel to face the other passengers in the vehicle, or slide rearwards to vacate the space next to the driver and form a 1-3-2 seating layout, with a two-seater bench in the third row.

    In addition to the configurable front passenger seat, the middle row bench can have its seat backs folded flat to form a table, where the front passenger and third-row occupants can use the cabin in a lounge-like layout.

    The X-Van Gear concept is one of three concepts by Toyota Auto Body on the X-Van base, the other two being the X-Van Core and the X-Van Tool, each with varying storage options that are possible with the bodyshell. As with the Global Hiace BEV concept, Toyota has not revealed details on powertrain.

  • 2023 Subaru Crosstrek on display – 2.0L e-Boxer mild hybrid; 145 PS, 188 Nm; will this come to Malaysia?

    2023 Subaru Crosstrek on display – 2.0L e-Boxer mild hybrid; 145 PS, 188 Nm; will this come to Malaysia?

    The all-new Subaru Crosstrek is currently on display at the ongoing Japan Mobility Show, a few months after the third-generation crossover went on sale in the country. Known previously as the XV – the second-generation facelift is still sold in Malaysia – the Crosstrek made its global debut back in September 2022.

    In terms of design changes, the latest Crosstrek takes an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary. From a distance, the general shape and profile of the crossover appears similar to its predecessor, but there are some notable changes.

    As a start, the black body cladding around the wheel arches is more angular and expressive than before. There’s also a larger grille at the front, which has trim extending out of the insert towards the sleeker LED headlamps, while the fog lamp surrounds are a lot chunkier.

    2023 Subaru Crosstrek on display – 2.0L e-Boxer mild hybrid; 145 PS, 188 Nm; will this come to Malaysia?

    Moving to the rear, the Crosstrek features C-shaped taillights in keeping with recent models introduced by the brand, and just like the front end, the trim around the reflectors is more prominent – note the more rugged, diffuser-like skid plate too.

    This new shape sits atop an updated version of the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) and sees a 15 mm increase in overall length to 4,480 mm as well as a 40 mm reduction in height to 1,575 mm. No change to the width (1,800 mm) and wheelbase (2,670 mm), with the ground clearance remaining useable for soft off-roading at 200 mm.

    The Crosstrek’s cabin takes inspiration from newer stablemates by adding an 11.6-inch, portrait-format touchscreen infotainment system to the dashboard. This sees the omission of the supplementary display at the top of the dash in the previous model, which served to display the status of various vehicle systems. The analogue instrument cluster with a multi-info display as well as the steering wheel appear to be about the same as before.

    2023 Subaru Crosstrek on display – 2.0L e-Boxer mild hybrid; 145 PS, 188 Nm; will this come to Malaysia?

    The same is true of the positioning of the gear lever, although the centre console it is on has been revised so the cupholders are arranged diagonally and the controls for the electronic parking and parking camera now sit on the same gloss black panel.

    In Japan, the Crosstrek is offered with just one e-Boxer powertrain that uses consists of a FB20 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated flat-four petrol unit augmented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The latter comes with a 4.8-Ah battery under the boot floor that is linked to a MA1 electric motor rated at 13.6 PS (13.4 hp or 10 kW) and 65 Nm of torque.

    The electric motor is sandwiched between the FB20 and Lineartronic CVT, with the entire system providing 145 PS (143 hp or 107 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 188 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Based on the WLTC standard, the fuel economy rating is 16.4 km/l for the cheaper front-wheel drive variant and 15.8 km/l for the all-wheel drive.

  • Lexus LF-ZL concept previews future flagship EV SUV

    Lexus LF-ZL concept previews future flagship EV SUV

    Lexus has unveiled two battery-electric concept vehicles at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, and one of these is the LF-ZL concept that “represents a future Lexus flagship luxury model,” according to the brand; the other is the lower-slung LF-ZC that has been given a definitive timeline of entering production by 2026.

    Short for ‘Lexus Zero-emissions Luxury’, the LF-ZL is a crossover that measures 5,300 mm long, 2,020 mm wide and 1,700 mm tall with a wheelbase of 3,350 mm, and employs next-generation battery-electric vehicle architecture as well as software from the new Arene operating system. For comparison, the Lexus LS flagship sedan measures 5,235 mm long, 1,900 mm wide and 1,450 mm tall with a 3,125 mm wheelbase.

    The LF-ZL employs set of doors which open to reveal the absence of B-pillars, and with front doors that open conventionally and sliding rear doors, this layout offers more spacious entry and exit points for the rear seat occupants which are accommodated by two individual seats.

    Inside, the LF-ZL cabin features a dual-widescreen infotainment setup, and works with the Arene OS that aims to anticipate the driver’s needs for a more personalised experience. The integration of information also aims to ‘generate fresh experiential value’ by enabling interaction with a range of infrastructure and services, which would appear to be a form of vehicle-to-X (V2X) technology.

    Meanwhile, onboard sensors work with data from the vehicle’s surroundings, and the vehicle’s onboard displays will offer information and voice guidance when its driver points to objects of interest during a journey.

    Lexus has yet to detail powertrain specifications or plans for putting the LF-ZL into production, though as stated at the beginning, the concept aims to paint a picture of an upcoming flagship BEV crossover or SUV that aims to “offer a prestigious ownership experience beyond just the car.”

    Lexus LF-ZL

  • Toyota Global Hiace BEV Concept on display – fully electric van for cargo, tourist-carrying, ambulance duty

    Toyota Global Hiace BEV Concept on display – fully electric van for cargo, tourist-carrying, ambulance duty

    This is the Toyota Global Hiace BEV Concept, which is currently on display at the ongoing Japan Mobility Show. Created by the Japanese carmaker’s subsidiary, Toyota Auto Body, it is based on the latest H300-series Hiace, which was chosen by the Malaysian ministry of defence for ambulance duty, although you can’t buy one from UMWT (only the older fifth-generation model is offered).

    Getting back to the Global Hiace BEV Concept, the show car uses the Normal/Standard Roof body of the Hiace that measures 5,265 mm long, 1,950 mm wide, 1,990 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 3,210 mm wheelbase. The cargo space comes in at 1,715 mm wide and 1,270 mm tall.

    However, the concept’s front end differs quite a bit from a regular Hiace and adds another 15 mm to the overall length to reach 5,280 mm. The new face features pixel-like headlamps with daytime running lights that extend into a closed-off grille, accompanied by illuminated sections at the corners of the bumper.

    Down the sides, you’ll find turbofan-like wheels that are likely there for aerodynamic purposes, while the rear sports more modern taillights and the Hiace’s optional barn doors (instead of a regular tailgate).

    Inside, the concept electric vehicle (EV) is configured to be a delivery van, with a shelving unit and plenty of space. There’s only one seat for the driver, which gets to enjoy a digital instrument cluster as well as a large touchscreen infotainment system that includes connected services to track package routes and more. A rotary dial occupies the space where you would normally find the Hiace’s gear lever.

    Aside from being a panel van, Toyota Auto Body also has a video that shows the concept with side windows, a longer wheelbase and a higher roof for various applications, including as a tourist van, a cargo mover and even an ambulance. For now, the company isn’t disclosing powertrain details.

  • 2024 U10 BMW iX2 on display with up to 449 km EV range, 313 PS – joined by X2 M35i xDrive with 317 PS

    2024 U10 BMW iX2 on display with up to 449 km EV range, 313 PS – joined by X2 M35i xDrive with 317 PS

    Following its global debut earlier in October, the second-generation BMW X2 is now on display at the ongoing Japan Mobility Show. Pictured are two versions of the Sports Activity Coupe (SAC), namely the all-electric iX2 xDrive30 and the petrol-powered X2 M35i xDrive.

    The former is a first for the X2 and features a dual-motor setup for all-wheel drive, with both front and rear electric motors rated at 190 PS (188 hp or 140 kW) and 247 Nm. Together, the total system output, including temporary boost, is 313 PS (308 hp or 230 kW) and 494 Nm. The specifications of the powertrain are as follows:

    • Electric motors output: 313 PS (308 hp or 230 kW) and 494 Nm with temporary boost
    • 0-100 km/h time: 5.6 seconds
    • Top speed: 180 km/h
    • Battery: 64.7 kWh lithium-ion
    • Range (WLTP): 417 to 449 km
    • AC charging: 11 kW; 0-100% in 6.5 hours; 22 kW optional
    • DC charging: 130 kW; 10-80% in 29 minutes

    2024 U10 BMW iX2 on display with up to 449 km EV range, 313 PS – joined by X2 M35i xDrive with 317 PS

    As for the petrol-powered variant, the X2 M35i xDrive leads the range as the M Performance offering with standard adaptive M suspension and optional M Compound brakes. The specifications of this variant are as follows:

    • Engine: 2.0 litre turbocharged inline-four petrol
    • Engine output: 300 PS (296 hp or 221 kW) in Europe, 317 PS (312 hp or 233 kW) in the US and other markets; 400 Nm
    • Transmission: Seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch with xDrive all-wheel drive system
    • 0-100 km/h: 5.4 seconds
    • Top speed: 250 km/h

    Compared to the original X2, the new one boasts a radical redesign featuring a model-specific front end to differentiate it from the latest X1. The rear end is also pretty unique thanks to the taillights that are notched at the bottom a prominent spoiler lip on the rear deck. The all-new X2 is also a larger car than before with these dimensions:

    • Length: 4,554 mm (+194 mm)
    • Width: 1,845 mm (+21 mm)
    • Height: 1,590 mm (+64 mm)
    • Wheelbase: 2,692 mm (+22 mm)
    • Boot space: 525 to 1,400 litres (iX2 xDrive30), 560 to 1,470 litres (X2 M35i xDrive)

    2024 U10 BMW iX2 on display with up to 449 km EV range, 313 PS – joined by X2 M35i xDrive with 317 PS

    Inside, the X2 gets the BMW Curved Display made up of a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.7-inch central touchscreen. These are linked to the latest iDrive infotainment powered by BMW Operating System 9, which includes the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. The rest of cabin is familiar to those that have been in the latest X1.

    Given BMW Malaysia’s rapid introduction of new electric vehicles (EVs) from the German carmaker, there’s a possibility that the iX2 could be introduced here to join the iX1 as a sportier-looking alternative. Enjoy these photos and let us know what you think of the latest X2 in the comments below.

    GALLERY: U10 BMW iX2 xDrive30

    GALLERY: U10 BMW X2 M35i xDrive

  • 2023 C28 Nissan Serena on display – 2.0L NA and e-Power EV; already spied in Malaysia, launching soon?

    2023 C28 Nissan Serena on display – 2.0L NA and e-Power EV; already spied in Malaysia, launching soon?

    This is the sixth-generation (C28) Nissan Serena, which made its global debut in November last year and is currently being showcased at the ongoing Japan Mobility Show. Pictured here is the welcab version of the MPV, specifically one that is designed with a deployable ramp at the rear of the vehicle for easy wheelchair access.

    As you can see, the wheelchair occupies the third row when the seats are folded away to the side of the cabin, which is one of the configurations that Nissan offers. By removing more seats, two wheelchairs or one large wheelchair can also be fitted, providing customers with more options when transporting individuals who are confined to a wheelchair.

    This is just one of several welfare-focused variants of the Serena that are sold in Japan, with other available features being retractable side steps, slide-up seats, an electric lifter (for larger wheelchairs) and additional grab handles placed throughout the cabin.

    All this flexibility is made possible thanks to the spacious interior, which is packaged into an MPV that differs slightly in terms of size compared to its predecessor. The latest Serena measures between 4,690 and 4,765 mm long, between 1,695 and 1,715 mm wide, between 1,870 and 1,885 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,870 mm.

    2023 C28 Nissan Serena on display – 2.0L NA and e-Power EV; already spied in Malaysia, launching soon?

    Meanwhile, the fifth-generation (C27) model is between 4,685 and 4,770 mm long, between 1,695 and 1,740 mm wide, 1,865 mm tall and its wheelbase spans 2,860 mm. One reason why the Serena hasn’t grown bigger is because it needs to meet the size constraints of standard automated parking systems in Japan (5,000 mm length and 1,850 mm width limit).

    Design-wise, the latest Serena appears to be an evolution of its predecessor, with notable design cues being a more modern take on the brand’s signature V-motion grille, which seamlessly blends into the multi-tier headlamps.

    The general profile of the MPV remains familiar, albeit with more pronounced lines on the sides, while the rear sees narrower taillights that are now separated from the reflectors – these hug the corners of the vehicle.

    The interior overhaul is more substantial, as there’s now a digital instrument cluster that replaces the screens packed into a binnacle placed far up the cabin in the previous model. The new screen ahead of the driver is visually connected to the touchscreen infotainment system that is now more upright.

    Other changes include more discreet air vents, with those in the middle tucked between the central touchscreen and a raised panel. The latter is smaller to provide more space to slide between the front seats, while also housing lit-when-on climate controls and gear selector buttons – no more shift lever.

    The Serena in Japan also gets ProPilot (autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance steering assist) as standard, with higher grades getting ProPilot 2.0 that adds hands-free driving, ProPilot Remote Park and ProPilot Park with memory function.

    2023 C28 Nissan Serena on display – 2.0L NA and e-Power EV; already spied in Malaysia, launching soon?

    In Japan, the Serena is offered with two powertrains, the first featuring a MR20DD 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated inline-four petrol engine that outputs 150 PS (148 hp or 110 kW) and 200 Nm of torque. This is paired with an Xtronic CVT and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

    The second option is Nissan’s e-Power hybrid system, where a HR14DDe 1.4 litre inline-three petrol rated at 98 PS (97 hp or 72 kW) and 123 Nm acts as a generator to charge a lithium-ion battery, which then powers a front-mounted EM57 electric motor with 163 PS (161 hp or 120 kW) and 315 Nm.

    The C28 is expected to be launched in Malaysia, as a camouflaged unit was sighted near Genting Highlands back in March this year. However, there’s no word on when the all-new MPV will go on sale here, but based on what you see so far, are you looking forward to it?

  • 2024 Mazda MX-5 facelift on display – new lights, DSC-Track, ACC, 8.8-inch display; 1.5L gets more power

    2024 Mazda MX-5 facelift on display – new lights, DSC-Track, ACC, 8.8-inch display; 1.5L gets more power

    The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 recently received a facelift and is currently on display at the Japan Mobility Show, which is also where the carmaker unveiled the striking Iconic SP concept. The convertible sports car has been around since 2014 and got two updates previously, with the first being in 2018 and the other in 2021.

    The latest update brings with it a slight nip and tuck, most of which involve the car’s exterior lighting. At the front, there are new LED headlamps which now integrate the daytime running lights, while the taillights in the rear feature a more expressive light signature. New wheel designs and an Aero Grey Metallic exterior paint finish have also been added to the catalogue.

    The front grille also gets a slight revision to fit a radar sensor that is meant for the Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) – also known as adaptive cruise control. The improved suite of driver assistance systems also includes Smart Brake Support [Rear Cross] (SBS-RC), which is essentially autonomous emergency braking while reversing at speeds of up to 15 km/h or less.

    On the inside, the previous infotainment screen has been replaced with a larger 8.8-inch unit. This is joined by a slightly revised instrument cluster, new USB-C ports, a frameless rear-view mirror as well as new upholstery options. Japan gets a new S Leather Package V Selection variant that comes with a tan interior and beige folding soft top. On that mention, the MX-5 continues to be offered with folding soft top or hardtop, the latter referred to as the RF (Retractable Fastback).

    In terms of mechanical changes, the manual transmission-version of the MX-5 gets an asymmetric limited-slip differential with an increased limiting force while decelerating for improved stability. Manual variants also gain DSC-Track, which is a new mode for the dynamic stability control that provides the driver with more freedom by reducing intervention. The electric power steering of the MX-5 gets further refinement too for a lighter and more accurate steering feel, applicable to all variants.

    As for engine options, the 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine gets a power increase of 4 PS (4 hp or 3 kW) to reach 135 PS (133 hp or 99 kW) and 150 Nm of torque. The 2.0 litre NA inline-four is unchanged at 184 PS (181 hp or 135 kW) and 205 Nm – both engines are available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

  • Daihatsu Osanpo Concept – a tall Copen ‘off-road’ EV?

    Daihatsu Osanpo Concept – a tall Copen ‘off-road’ EV?

    You saw the Daihatsu Vision Copen from the 2023 Japan Mobility Show (JMS), a preview of the next-generation compact roadster that’s a lot more sports car than the past two Copens. It sounds like a delicious little bowl of don – rear-wheel drive, 1.3-litre engine (double the capacity) and dimensions that goes beyond kei-car boundaries.

    And then there’s the looks. Inspired by the original Copen from the noughties but with nice proportions and even some muscle, it’s a much more sportier look than we’re used to from the Copen. It’s now closer to the Mazda MX-5 and I love it.

    But if you want the main USP of the Copen – open-top driving – but don’t care for a low-slung driving position (or simply don’t have the knees to do sports cars anymore), then the Daihatsu Osanpo Concept might be up your alley. Unlike the ICE-powered vision for the Copen, the Osanpo is an EV.

    Daihatsu Osanpo Concept – a tall Copen ‘off-road’ EV?

    “A BEV mini vehicle of the future that allows drivers to enjoy the comfort of open-air driving with the ease of going for a walk, creating a slower value in their daily lives,” is how Daihatsu describes the Osanpo.

    It offers a “relaxed enjoyment that only a compact convertible can offer” and is “a luxurious vehicle to slowly enjoy the nature around you in a pleasant breeze, as if taking a walk,” DMC says.

    You may be scratching your head at the description, but there are few things better than driving a convertible on a good day, and the Osanpo combines that with a high hip point. In town, the EV will be smooth and silent, with zero tailpipe emissions.

    The Osanpo is 3,395 mm long and 1,475 mm wide, which means it falls within kei-car limits, unlike the Vision Copen. But like the Copen, the Osanpo’s wheels have been pushed out to the extremes of the car, so much so that you can see the tyres from the front and rear, as well as the exposed springs, which gives the Osanpo a bit of an ‘off-road’ look. Copious amounts of black cladding further amplify the ‘outdoors’ look.

    With tyres so far out, the 2,440 mm wheelbase is very long for a car with such a small footprint. But the biggest difference from the Vision Copen is height. This ‘4×4-style’ (no mention of how many wheels are driven, but it’s likely to be two for a kei-car) convertible is 1,330 mm tall, 65 mm higher than the Copen showcar.

    What do you think of this ‘off-road’ cabrio? For a more conventional take on open-top motoring, check out the Daihatsu Vision Copen.

    GALLERY: Daihatsu Osanpo Concept at JMS 2023

  • Toyota Crown Sedan FCEV – larger, luxury version of hydrogen-powered Mirai; Japan launch in November

    Toyota Crown Sedan FCEV – larger, luxury version of hydrogen-powered Mirai; Japan launch in November

    The current Toyota Crown is split into four versions, namely the Crossover, Sport, Estate and Sedan, the last of which is pictured here at the ongoing Japan Mobility Show. This Crown Sedan is the only version that will be available as a FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) and is built on the same platform as the second-generation, hydrogen-powered Mirai.

    Slated to be launched in November this year, the Crown Sedan measures It measures 5,030 mm long, 1,890 mm wide, 1,470 mm tall and has a wheelbase that spans 3,000 mm. The obvious comparison is against the previous iteration of the Crown that was only offered as a sedan, and that model is smaller as it is 4,910 mm long, 1,800 mm wide, 1,455 mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,920 mm.

    For a little more context, the current Mirai is smaller by comparison at 4,975 mm long, 1,885 mm wide, 1,470 mm tall and its wheelbase is 2,920 mm. Full technical details aren’t available yet, but given the shared Mirai underpinnings, which is the GA-L version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the Crown Sedan FCEV could also come with three hydrogen tanks that provide a range of up to 850 km.

    Toyota Crown Sedan FCEV – larger, luxury version of hydrogen-powered Mirai; Japan launch in November

    The Mirai generates power through a fuel cell stack rated at 174 PS (128 kW) to charge a 1.2-kWh lithium-ion battery, which then juices an electric motor that drives the rear wheels with 182 PS (180 hp or 134 kW) and 300 Nm of torque. A petrol hybrid powertrain will also be available as an alternative to the FCEV.

    Visually, the Crown Sedan features a large front intake decorated with vertical slats, hammerhead-style LED headlamps with a light bar linking the clusters, modest chrome accents, large 20-inch wheels, full-width LED taillights and a sloping roofline.

    The interior reflects the Crown’s prestigious past, with wood panels adorning the dashboard and centre console and generous amounts of leather upholstery. You’ll also find grab handles on the back of the front seats and a sizeable rear armrest with an integrated display.

    For the driver, dual 12.3-inch displays act as the instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen, while rear passengers appear to get quite a bit of legroom. The VIP/boss/tauke seated in the left rear seat will get even more with the front left seat brought all the way forward, with buttons to enable this located on the right side of the front seat. Given the Century sedan is the second-most expensive new Toyota on sale in Japan, the Crown Sedan is compromise for that chauffeur-driven experience.

  • 2024 Suzuki Swift Concept debuts with funky new face, 3-cylinder mild hybrid – previews fourth-gen model

    2024 Suzuki Swift Concept debuts with funky new face, 3-cylinder mild hybrid – previews fourth-gen model

    This is the Suzuki Swift Concept, which serves to preview the fourth generation of the hatchback that will replace the third-generation model that was first introduced way back in 2016. Though it’s being labelled as a concept, the cars you see here looks pretty much production-ready and even has an engine fitted under the bonnet.

    Full technical details aren’t available just yet, but the placard indicates an inline-three petrol engine with VVT and a mild hybrid system that is paired with a CVT to drive the front wheels. Such a setup isn’t too dissimilar to what’s currently offered for the soon-to-be-outgoing third-generation model.

    We also get official dimensions, with the concept measuring 3,860 mm long, 1,695 mm wide, 1,500 mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,450 mm. Again, this is not too different from the current Swift, which shares the same wheelbase, width and height, although the overall length is down by 30 mm.

    Of course, the size won’t be the first thing you’ll notice with the new Swift because it is the exterior design that catches your eye. The opinion-dividing front end sees the headlamps (with J-shaped daytime running lights) be positioned lower than before and flanked by a smaller grille with a thick surround, while the clamshell-like bonnet is new.

    Further down, the fog lamps are no longer connected by a black trim, and instead there is a contrasting bumper garnish. You’ll also notice a distinctive crease that originates from the bonnet that extends all the way to the taillights in the rear, which bear a revised shape and light signature.

    Inside, there’s a brand-new dashboard that places the touchscreen infotainment system above the central air vents. The circular controls for air-conditioning system also gets replaces with buttons and toggle-like switches, while the steering wheel gains additional buttons around the centre boss. No fully digital instrument cluster here, as there are still analogue dials set beside a multi-info display.

    Looks radically different compared to its predecessor, doesn’t it? What do you think of the new Swift’s design? Is it better than before or do you prefer the third-generation model? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


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Last Updated Feb 22, 2024