It doesn’t get much publicity in the Western Hemisphere, but the biannual Tokyo Motor Show is a showcase for the latest offerings by Japanese and European automakers. The 2011 version wrapped up recently, and here are the six vehicles generating the most buzz among auto makers, car lovers and auto insurance pros.
Toyota GT86 – This Toyota rear-wheel drive sports coupe has a Subaru-styled engine but will be sold as a Scion in North America sometime next year or in early 2013. Confused yet? Toyota Motor Company owns almost 20% of Subaru and manufactures Scions for the North American market. The GT86’s 200hp direct-injection flat-four engine gives it some “quicks” to go with its looks.
Nissan PIVO 3 – If you’ve always wanted a car with forklift-like rotating rear wheels where the driver is seated in the middle instead of on the left, then the PIVO 3 is for you. Nissan execs insist that this concept car is not as implausible as it looks. But if it does come to the U.S. in the years to come, it may have to be modified to meet American auto specifications and regulations.
BMW ActiveHybrid 5 – This is one of the few German cars on display at the Tokyo Auto Show that will be found in American showrooms next spring. The ActiveHybrid 5 boasts a turbocharged 3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine to go with an electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Bottom line: it has the potential to really shake up the luxury performance car market in the U.S.
Honda N-4 – Alas, Americans won’t get to experience the N-4, which is arguably the most cubelike vehicle on the planet. This small hatchback claims chair-style seating for up to six people and is designed to evoke memories of Honda’s original N cars from the 1960s. And, after all, “cubic” is the new “sleek.”
Audi A1 Sportback – This model may win the “really-want-it-but-can’t-have-it” award in America. The flashy five-door version of the three-door A1 will come in the buyer’s choice of six gasoline and three diesel engine versions. It’s agile, frisky, and classy – and available only in foreign markets. (sob!)
Suzuki Swift EV Hybrid – This one’s just a concept car, so there won’t be any production models in the near future. And when there are, they will likely target European consumers. The Swift EV Hybrid’s range-extending electric technology operates on a smaller battery which reportedly takes only four hours to charge on a 110-volt outlet. Suzuki officials are targeting commuters who drive about 12 to 18 miles a day.