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Japanese brands reveal concepts ahead of Tokyo


Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda and Suzuki will celebrate the fast and the curious at the Tokyo motor show later this month.

Expect some some bold concept vehicles on the stands at this year's exhibition.

Carmakers will celebrate the fast and the curious at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

Toyota has already confirmed the S-FR concept, a near production-ready lightweight sports car aimed at the Mazda MX-5's cult following. The two-door sports car uses a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox to drive the rear wheels. Power is a claimed 97kW (the MX-5 makes 96kW) and with a sub-1000kg mass, performance should be on a par.

Pitched as an entry model to sit below the Toyota 86, the concept "emphasises responsiveness and aims to make a whole new generation fall in love with driving".

For those in that generation who aren't moved by fast metal, Toyota has revealed the Kikai, a quirky stripped-down rod where the mechanical elements are intentionally exposed.

Toyota says it "takes the machinery, normally hidden beneath the vehicle body, and makes an open display of its beauty". A new hydrogen concept dubbed the FCV Plus and the latest Prius hybrid will also be on display.

Over on the Mazda stand will be another sports car concept rumoured to be a pointer to the return of the rotary-engined RX-8.

Mazda hasn't damped speculation by noting the concept adheres to the brand's "unique approach to driving pleasure". The sleek-looking sports car will be joined by the Koeru crossover concept and a pair of race-spec MX-5s.

Extended Eyesight will be a Subaru stand feature where the Viziv compact SUV concept is showcasing the company's autonomous driving efforts.

The stereo camera Eyesight program has been linked with radars and telematics to give a complete picture of the environment around the car and the conditions the vehicle is approaching.

The Viziv uses a hybrid all-wheel drive drivetrain combining the 1.6-litre turbo engine found in the Levorg wagon with an electric motor to drive the rear wheels and eliminate the need for a shaft running from the engine to the rear axle.

Subaru will also preview the look of its next-gen Impreza small car, showing a more aggressive front end and a tapering coupe-style roof. Lexus is taking a similar approach with a new style-driven concept that will preview the evolution of its design language … hopefully away from some of the wilder interpretations of the signature spindle grille.

The obsession with SUVs continues at Mitsubishi in the form of a fully electric compact SUV concept dubbed the eX.

A pair of 70kW motors drives the front and rear axles and Mitsubishi claims improvements to the 45kWh battery pack and the concept's light weight result in a 400km cruising range. The eX is also fitted with Mitsubishi's latest car safety software, from blind spot and lane departure warnings to rear cross-traffic alerts and semi-automated driving.

A sense of theatre will apply at the Nissan display with a concept designed specifically to interest the "digital native generation" the maker has dubbed "share natives".

The company says: "this generation will reach driving age in a few years, but has shown little interest in cars so far". The electric Teatro For Days concept is designed to overcome that indifference by being a mobile canvas, mobile battery and urban mobility in the one package.

Nissan notes that "to a share native, this is the point: cars can be mobile devices for occupants interested in creating, connecting and sharing".

Honda's hydrogen credentials will be there with the FCV sedan. It is a concept at this stage but its near production-ready look hints it may not be far from dealerships. The Japanese giant will also launch a three-wheeled "Neowing" trike to compete with the likes of the Can-Am Spyder.

Suzuki will hark back to its 1980s Mighty Boy roots with the Mighty Deck concept.

The mini pick-up concept has a retractable canvas roof and height-adjustable rear deck for stowing outdoor gear.

It will be joined on the stand by the Air Triser concept, a modern day "interpretation" of the VW Kombi van with seats that can slide, swivel and face each other. There's also a display screen for displaying content from your mobile or tablet.