Scene: Tokyo Motor Show; Makuhari Messe, Japan
Every two years, Japan has this little car show called the Tokyo Motor Show. There, every major manufacturer brings out its Sunday best, as it relates to the Japanese automotive market. 2007 marked the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo Motor Show and also a pivotal time for enthusiasts in Japan and around the world. TMS takes place at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan-the same place we visit for Tokyo Auto Salon. Henry happened to already be in Japan to get his helmet polished in Kabukicho, so we figured, what the hell-might as well get some work done on the company dime and have the guy shoot while we hit on hot Japanese chicks.
On a serious note, more so than years past, the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show proved to be a who's-who of high-horsepower, factory-tuned machines, including the Nissan GT-R, Lexus LF-A, Lexus IS-F, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Each and every one of these vehicles would have been considered a highly-modified car 10 years ago, and soon you'll be able to purchase each one of these as a showroom-stock vehicle.\
'09 Nissan GT-R
Nissan President Carlos Ghosn introduced the '09 Nissan GT-R, but didn't spend much time on the numbers that define the new monster. He was more interested in talking about the Pivo-2. Good thing we went to the GT-R Seminar days earlier (more on this elsewhere); now, if only we had taken notes. God bless overachievers; we managed to steal Sport Compact Car Editor Joey Leh's Hello Kitty notepad-he was busy hitting on the GT-R's data acquisitions engineer. The red crayon was difficult to read, but we got the gist of stuff. The '09 GT-R is powered by a 3.8L twin-turbo (VR38DETT) that isn't related the VQ37. Nissan has chosen Borg Wagner for its twin-clutch system (similar to the new Evo X) and the new GT-R is the first vehicle in the lineage to use a transaxle (with integrated diff and clutch assembly).
'10 Lexus LF-A
While Justin conned his way into Lexus' IS-F driving event at Laguna Seca, the much manlier LF-A was on display at Tokyo Motor Show. The word is that this will be the Lexus answer to all the European supercars and Nissan's own GT-R. The vehicle looks like it's all concept, but with the current trend of other design studies like the IS-F becoming reality, we can expect this one to appear in about two years as a 2010 vehicle. Nothing is confirmed, but we hear it'll be powered by a super high-revving V-10 powering all four wheels.
All Access: 2009 Nissan GT-R Seminar`
Against better judgment, Nissan invited 250 of its closest friends to an abandoned underground parking structure to see the unofficial unveiling of the '09 Nissan GT-R. We weren't invited so, naturally, we crashed, sneaking in as the hired help. And good thing we did. While the official unveiling would be days later, Nissan gave select media not only a look under the skirt of the new Godzilla, but the proverbial reach-around. The garage had no less than a dozen GT-Rs, both Black Mask and unmasked production models, as well as full cut-aways of the engine, transaxle, suspension and unibody.
By far, this was the most informative event Super Street hasn't been invited to. A GT-R fanboy's dream, the seminar was five solid hours of information with every person on the GT-R development team, including access to engineers, designers and GT-R suppliers. We wouldn't be exaggerating if we said that every piece of the GT-R was disassembled for the sake of having it on display. Nissan also had new, not-yet-leaked footage of the GT-R testing, as well as the G35-esque test mules we saw at Nrburgring in early '07. We have a boner just thinking about it all again.
'08 Lancer Evolution X
Mo said it would happen, and it has. The new '08 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is hotter, faster and more stylish than the model it replaces. Also shown, but not for the first time at TMS, was what will be next year's AWD sports sedan. After all the fuss at other shows, the Evo X was casually on display in the corner of Mitsu's large TMS booth.
'08 Mitsuoka Orochi
In Japanese mythology, Orochi is a giant snake, usually with multiple heads. The Mitsuoka Orochi is a two-seater sports car designed by Aoki Nakanori and is based on the body and shape of snakes and the mythological beast. Mitsuoka first built a concept back in '01 and it was redesigned for every TMS following. Based on the Honda NSX, the Orochi is powered by a 3.3L 230hp Toyota engine (the 3MZ-FE). Good luck getting one; Mitsuoka is only producing about 400 of these, each running around $90K.
'08 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The STI is the Yin to the Evo X's Yang. Like the Evo X, the new Impreza and STI have gone the way of the four-door hatch, with a stronger focus on its WRC roots. In Japan the car will get a new 2-liter boxer engine (boosted to 14.7 psi by a twin-scroll Mitsubishi turbocharger). It'll make about 295 SAE horsepower and 299 lb-ft of torque. We'll have the full scoop on the USDM STI in next month's issue.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Demo Booth
Sony insists that the Gran Turismo is more than just a video game; it's a driving simulator. Whatever it is, the game is practically at every car show. Sony releases a free downloadable demo of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (itself a demo of Gran Turismo 5) on the PlayStation Store the weekend before TMS. The demo features seven playable cars (Nissan GT-R, Lexus IS-F, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Daihatsu OFC-1, BMW 1, Mazda Atenza) and one track (Suzuka). Here's the crazy part: the Nissan GT-R featured the famous Black Mask UNTIL the Nissan press conference at Tokyo Motor Show. At that time, all the demos downloaded around the world received the final version of the GT-R sans mask. We watched this happen at the Sony booth, to the amazement of show media. The second day of the show, Sony unveiled the Subaru WRX STi, also to coincide with Subaru's preceding conference and unveil. By the time you read this, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will be available for purchase and download at the Japanese PlayStation Store or at online game importers. Although a Japanese game, it'll run fine on North American PlayStation 3 models. Go get it.
BMW TII Concept
Remember the BMW 2002? Of course you don't. Well, maybe you do, but if you don't, think of the 2002 as the German version of the Datsun 510 (Hey genius, it was the other way around -JW). For the Tokyo Motor Show BMW managed to pull a little bit of racer into its 1 Series coupe. What we end up with is a concept that's heavily inspired by the old 2002, with 2007 technology. If there ever was a M1, this would be it: carbon-fiber exterior, custom white paint, racing stripes and a hooked-up interior. We want it, bad.
Anyone who bleeds Honda can instantly recognize this concept hatch as the future CR-X replacement and love child of the Insight and aformentioned car. Honda has confirmed that a production vehicle based on this design will be produced. Mostly concept, we'll see a lot of changes to the CR-Z before it makes it to showrooms in the next year and a half. Expect the large front snout to change and the overall dimensions to look much more Civic-like (the platform it'll be based on). Honda claims the concept and production car will have hybrid power, but we can't see why. And the K20, again, will be the engine of choice for this two-seater Civic Si hatch. Yeah, they'll call it the CR-X, probably. Chrome wheels gotta go, though. Straight up nasty.
Tokyo Motor Show Models
Where there are cars, there are beautiful women. Tokyo Motor Show does it up with class. Even if we spoke Japanese, we still wouldn't have a chance in hell at getting a Japanese babe. The thing about Motor Show is that the women are far too classy for our taste; we'll have to wait until Tokyo Auto Salon for some nice, skanky girls. C'mon, who really needs wholesome, right? Here's a selection of Henry's TMS girls; these are the girls that Henry would give his anal virginity to get to know.