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

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Honda WOW concept

This is the Honda Wonderful Open hearted Wagon; the Honda Wow, a concept orientated around travelling in the car with your pet dog. The chunky exterior is reminiscent of the Honda Element and FRX / Edix and has some interesting details, such as the very 3D effect of the repeated C-shaped rear light elements positioned in front of a mirror, the blue lighting at the front and rear, and the shallow windows in the base of the doors. The rear has a twin door arrangement that opens low to the ground which with the raised centre to the roof enables the (shorter) dog owner to literally walk their dog out of the car.

But it’s inside that the car’s extensive dog orientation is most evident with a mesh covered carrier in a small second row chair and in the large glovebox. Two other notable elements are the extensive use of plywood, and the single-layer centre console that integrates innovative HVAC controls and a centre display.

The silly name and perhaps some of the more superficial detailing slightly undermines an important issue that Wow uniquely addresses: despite the millions of people who travel with their dogs, cars are designed exclusively to carry people and luggage.

Honda Sports4 concept

The Sports 4 is a study for a future Accord-sized sedan that showcases Honda's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive drivetrain, as used on the new Legend. While not nearly as advanced as the FCX, it's nevertheless a good-looking car that develops Honda's crisper, edgier look they've been promoting recently. The main interest is the front and rear LED lamps with fine-ribbed lines within the main graphic but also note the clean, vertical lips to wheelarches that are becoming a Honda design cue. Compared to the recent faces being explored by Honda on the FCX, WOW and Civic, the conventional pentagon grille at the front is looking a bit dated though.

The interior explores a more advanced theme, with an aluminium console sweeping gracefully upwards to become the upper IP surface. Below this lie layers of light coloured wood and black leather. The sporty picture is completed with four independent seats, two large dials and a pop-up Night Vision monitor.

Toyota i-Swing concept

The i-Swing is Toyota's proposal for a new form of personal mobility, following on from the i-Unit shown at the recent EXPO 2005 and IAA shows. The CDN team felt this was in many ways the most significant vehicle of the show, with a wealth of new ideas and ground-breaking technologies that have far-reaching implications for the future of transportation.

There are three main elements to the i-Swing. Firstly, a two or three-wheel electric mechanism incorporating a gyrosensor allowing an exceptional degree of agility. Secondly, a body made of polyurethane and fabric that allows endless possibilities for customisation to suit a wide range of users. The front door and rear panel of the i-Swing also have embedded color LED screens to allow users to display latest video or still images to display their moods. Thirdly, the vehicle uses artificial intelligence to communicate via phone or PDA, or to allow two i-Swings to travel side by side, synchronising their movements automatically. The cleverest part is how it offers so much more than a Segway within the same footprint and wraps it in a sophisticated style that owes little to conventional automotive design.

Design Review coming soon...

Ferrari GG50 concept

A Ferrari show car. A concept car by the world’s most famous car designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, celebrating 50 years in car design. A red, 540bhp, front engined supercar from Italy. Surely these ingredients should make the GG50 one of the stars, if not the star, of the Tokyo Motor Show?

Based on the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, the GG50 has shorter overhangs, a hatchback tailgate, and a more sports car design identity than the original, designed by Pininfarina as all recent production Ferrari have been. Talking to various designers about the car at the show, there were two consistent responses: that it had more than a hint of Maserati, particularly in its rear three quarter (one designer described the car as a Ferrati!) and that it didn’t better the much criticised original 612.

Taking the uncomfortable 612 package and making a truly beautiful Ferrari is arguably an impossible task, and perhaps, on the evidence of recent designs from Giugiaro, one should not be surprised that the GG50 isn’t the show star we’d hoped for. But if it isn’t a surprise, it is a disappointment when you consider the rich back catalogue of Ferraris and Giugiaro designs past.

Related Stories:
Design Review - Ferrari GG50
Detroit Auto Show 2004 - Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Hyundai Neos-3 concept

According to Hyundai, this is a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) but to most onlookers it appears as a straightforward luxury SUV in the guise of the Lexus RX330 or BMW X5. The real aim of the Neos-3 is to promote Hyundai's newly developed 4.6-liter V8 engine that will debut in a new luxury vehicle next year and signals Hyundai's seriousness at competing in this area of the market.

The front end takes inspiration from recent Renault concepts with its stacked headlamps and side grilles, yet keeps a conventional central grille as well. There's also a neat L-shaped side vent on the fender which is a new motif that hasn't been seen before. However, the most notable feature is the way the crease lines on the front and rear fenders sweep back in a boomerang form to run into the wheelarches. It certainly brings tension to the design but also forces the eye to focus on one area of the car a little too much and adds other surfacing problems. But overall the styling is imposing and classy – one of Hyundai's best efforts to date

Nissan Note Adidas concept

Nissan seems to be serious about the potential of co-branding opportunities; two years ago they showed the Conran Cube and this year they are showing the Note Adidas concept car.

The idea has been to take trainer design elements and apply them to the standard compact Note, most obvious is the ribbed sole that wraps up into the fenders and runs along the rocker at the side. Other elements include: Lycra stretched over the upper fender and grille area, a strap as an exterior tailgate pull, a tongue-like loose fabric cover to the IP, and striped seat and door casing covers. These and the colour concept of warm grey and powder blue with white detailing, and light orange illuminated highlights, very clearly give the car the feel of an (Adidas) trainer.

This concept – correctly titled ‘Note inspired by Adidas’ – has an immediate appeal very different to that of the standard Note, and has been well executed. But, with the exception of a removable soft bag integrated between the front seats, it is rather superficial, failing to delver much beyond the application of trainer design elements on a car.

Related Stories:
Tokyo Motor Show 2003 - Conran Cube

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© 2005 Car Design News Ltd
Last updated: Fri, Oct 28, 2005