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Tokyo Motor Show 2005 - Highlights
 What we've seen • Our photos and comment

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Volkswagen EcoRacer concept

This was a surprise, a tiny canary yellow, mid-engine roadster concept from Volkswagen. The Eco Racer is a test-bed for an advanced 1484cc turbocharged diesel which along with a lightweight carbon fibre body are the credentials for it's good fuel efficiency. Shown with cut down windscreen and no roof, the car also has a full height screen which can be fitted when not in 'race mode', a targa roof panel, and covered luggage rack that sits over the rear deck.

The exterior is full of interesting elements: eyebrows over the stacked front lamps that consciously echo the lamp graphic of the Golf, a side undercut feature line that swoops around the Boxsteresque air inlets and forward along the rocker, and thin but deep-section LED rear lamps that book-end the sides of the rear aspect. But the Eco Racer is also interesting in the way it differs to the form language of recent Volkswagens, not least the mid-engine Concept R roadster from two years ago, with more intricacy and less voluminous flowing surfaces.

Related Stories:
Frankfurt Motor Show 2003 - VW Concept R

Design Review coming soon...

Nissan GT-R Proto

Four years ago at Tokyo the GT-R concept car was shown, and this year the remarkably similar GT-R Proto debuts. The core difference is that this year's car is more of a preview for a soon to be launched production GT-R with only minor details (apparently mostly at the front) set to change.

The core proportions, identity and design cues closely conform to its illustrious heritage and will appeal to its 'petrol / gear head' target customer. There are also new elements that work well: the full-depth lamp graphics, bumper incorporated within the grille graphic, and front fender that runs into the air outlet and rocker feature line. But some details let it down: the upsweep to the corners of its chin that don't align with the similar surface on the rocker, the square edged rear number plate surround that jars with the rounder corners of other rear design elements, and an unnecessary subtle crease half way up the C-pillar that then requires the tiniest of flying buttresses to the side of the rear window. An exciting car, but given the four years since the GT-R Concept, the GT-R Proto might have been expected to be more progressive and better resolved.

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Tokyo Motor Show 2001 - Nissan GT-R

Toyota FSC concept

The FSC aims to create a new feeling of quality from Toyota under the 'Vibrant Clarity' design philosophy in a form that is neither sedan nor a minivan. The body surfaces contrast soft upper surfaces with hard lower portions and crisp intersections. The key character line runs from the front bumper to rear bumper in a kind of double beltline through the doors – an unusual treatment that appears to work surprisingly nicely. The design also uses a pair of lines in a new heart-shaped motif from the A-pillars to the Toyota hood emblem. The tailgate repeats this motif and features a unique double-opening action for the trunk access.

The interior is finished in light silver grey with blue neon inserts and features a sliding third row rear seat partition that can transform from sealed trunk mode to open wagon mode at the touch of a button.

Toyota Fine-X concept

The Fine-X focuses on two core areas: maximising its urban utility by offering exceptional space within a compact footprint and good manoeuvrability through four wheel steer; and minimising its ecological impact by using a fuel cell powertrain and environmentally friendly materials such as carbon neutral sugar cane and kenaf. The monospace exterior is impressively refined and cleverly disguises its tall for its length dimensions with a very long wheelbase, unbroken wedged DLO, high rocker feature line and large wheels. Two of the most interesting exterior elements are front and rear lamps that stand proud of the body to literally form the corners of the car, and the shallow shoulder that drops vertically down just inside of the front lamps.

Like the exterior, the interior is refined and simple with control interface clutter reduced to the minimum. It has a calm, fluid design language, handlebar steering, and seats that use a mesh akin to the Herman Miller Aeron. The front seats are particularly innovative as they turn, slide and lower the driver and front passenger out through the two huge gull-wing doors.

Honda FCX concept

The FCX concept centres around displaying Honda's latest fuel cell technology in a 4.7meter premium car with an exceptionally spacious interior. What's also notable about it is that it combines a handsome monobox profile with flowing lines and elegant surfaces - not easy with that 'one-flow' profile and an exceptionally short nose. The front face also successfully integrates the visor theme seen on recent Hondas with a new three-bar grille treatment that moves Honda's face on into new territory. 20” seven spoke wheels complete the dynamic and sophisticated look of the car.

The interior uses contrasting materials, from futuristic transparent plastics to classic leather and wood, to produce an advanced, yet warm, interior. Other features include a speed sensitive adjusting IP for the front passenger that moves up at high speeds to provide a more secure feeling, and an interactive floor that uses lighting to indicate changes in cabin temperature.

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Mini Concept Tokyo

With the Japanese market accounting for over 80% of all Asian sales of the new Mini, its easy to see why BMW have decided to re-show this concept here. The Mini design team have been busy retrimming the Frankfurt car to create this German interpretation of Britishness for a Japanese audience. The main difference is the inclusion of a set of picnic tables and chairs on the roof and a built in canteen in the rear quarter window on one side, complete with thermos flasks, tea bags, and cutlery.

There's an interesting use of green-gold color for the grille, wheels and quilted seat pads, together with Paul Smith patterning on the door mirrors, roof lining and accessories. Then there's the lime green accents, said to be a contemporary interpretation of the traditional British racing green color. Anywhere other than Tokyo the concept might be seen as overtly 'cheesy' but against some of the other quaint concepts in adjacent stands it looks perfectly rational.

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Frankfurt Motor Show 2005 - Mini Concept Frankfurt

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© 2005 Car Design News Ltd
Last updated: Tue, Oct 25, 2005