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10/25/03-11/05/03 ** LESS WACKY AND MORE GREEN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Oct 26, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


By Contributing Editors CHRISTOPHER MERLO and CHUCK DAPOZ Photos by JAMES KUBIK and CHUCK DAPOZ 2003 Tokyo Motor Show - Part 3B Other Japanese brands


Mitsubishi CZ2 Cabriolet The Mitsubishi CZ2 Cabriolet is an ultra-light four-seat soft top, with a 1.5L four-cylinder engine driving a CVT. Through the use of an aluminum space frame, the CZ2 weighs in at only 1,740 pounds, and it achieves five-star ratings for both safety and emissions. Aimed at young women, it uses waterproof seat material in a combination of thick and thin yarns that evoke traditional Japanese basket weaving. The door trim panels are fitted with two detachable "pouchettes" designed with Italian fashion house Mandarina Duck. The larger pouchette comes with a strap and can be used as a shoulder bag or carrier bag, and the smaller one can serve as a shoulder bag or backpack. The CZ2 Cabriolet uses Memory Stick technology to transfer data in and out of the car, such as navigation information, digital music and dealer-accessible diagnostics. MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION VIII MR

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR Unlike the other vehicles in this report, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR doesn't qualify as a world premier. But we love rally cars, and it lets us note that Mitsubishi will return to the World Rally Championship in 2004 after a year's absence. The Evo VIII MR represents an evolution from the current Evo VIII. An aluminum roof and other weight reductions lower the center of gravity. Improvements have been made to the electronic all-wheel drive, Active Center Differential and Active Yaw Control. Slick-response Bilstein shocks contribute to improved handling. The MR designation - for Mitsubishi Racing - is traditionally reserved for high-performance models. We're sorry to say this is a Japan-only car, and there are no plans to bring it to the US. SUBARU B9 SCRAMBLER

Subaru B9 Scrambler Subaru's contribution to this year's roadster theme is the B9 Scrambler. However, this is a roadster of a different sort - it's hybrid powered. Using Subaru's SSHEV (Sequential Hybrid Electric Vehicle) that combines all-wheel-drive and hybrid technologies, the system is engaged in speeds up to 50 mph. This provides good high-end torque for quick acceleration from starts. Thereafter, the 2.0L boxer engine kicks in for flat out driving enjoyment. Technology bells and whistles aside, we absolutely appreciated the B9's attractive styling. It's wide stance promises great stability. The bulge in the hood suggests the power beneath. Finally, the two-tone paint treatment with an abrasive resistant lower half is out and out attention getting. Thumbs up. SUBARU R1e

Subaru R1e Who says electric must be boring? The R1e dispels that dictum. This all-electric 2+2 minicar puts short distance and urban mobility into the attractive column. Note the space saving wheels-to-the-corners layout, the teardrop headlights and the smooth line that flows from the edge of the front quarter panel to the rear. The overall impression is stylish. SUBARU R2

Subaru R2 Now here's something close to reality. The R2 is scheduled for production in the near future - probably this coming spring. This minicar, with its 660cc engine teamed with a CVT, puts an emphasis on fuel economy. SUZUKI MOBILE TERRACE

Suzuki Mobile Terrace In years past, the presence of a design like the Mobil Terrace was common - even expected - at the Tokyo Motor Show. For daring to go where few manufacturers went, we found ourselves congratulating Suzuki for this Jetson's-like design. Note the lack of differentiation between front and rear end. This is a scaled down rail car on tires or an Airstream morphed into an RV. Park the Mobil Terrace in any mobile park along PCH, and enjoy the comforts of home. Open the doors, and the shag-carpeted platform with swivel chairs slides out into a porch. The lime green and Day-Glo yellow are sure to wake up the neighbors. In addition, this fuel-cell-powered vehicle, based on the General Motors Hy-Wire platform, goes easy on the environment. Just think, you can park, plug into the local electric grid and pay your rent while vacationing on the beach. Now that's cool. SUZUKI LANDBREEZE

Suzuki Landbreeze Landbreeze fits into a popular category at this year's show, the dune buggy or multi-activity vehicle. We found its front grille design to be just a little too suggestive of the Jeep and Hummer trademark. Nonetheless, Landbreeze continues another show trend - and perhaps a Japanese aesthetic - of seeking to be one with nature. Its name is inspired by the state of being in harmony with nature like a gentle breeze blowing over the land. To that end, Landbreeze features a glass roof. It is also an environmentally friendly SUV incorporating naturally recyclable materials including aluminum and non-petroleum-based tires along with a hybrid electric powerplant. SUZUKI CONCEPT S2

Suzuki Concept-S2 Concept S2 is the evolution of the Concept S introduced at the 2002 Paris Auto Show. Inspired by the image of busy women driving the streets of Europe, this eye-catching, pearlescent lemon yellow compact four-seater is certain to stand out from the crowd. Its casual and sporty appearance is further heightened by the open-air feature of a three-piece, fully automatic rotating/retracting roof. On the inside, a large 13-inch monitor serves as a display for a wide range of information technology functions such as navigation, email and security. Concept S2 is powered by an all-aluminum 1.6L engine paired with a six-speed semi-automatic transmission. Suzuki's show theme, "Small cars for a big future," is fully represented in this concept. In fact, Suzuki hinted that the Concept S2 is the basis of two small cars to be introduced in 2004. Stand by. SUZUKI S-RIDE

Suzuki S-Ride One of the more offbeat concepts at the show, the S-Ride - or Suzuki Ride - is an urban commuter that seats the driver and passenger in tandem. Does the S-Ride pick up where the Toyota PM leaves off by offering dual personal mode transportation, or does it belong in the same genre of runabouts or dune buggy designs as seen in the Jeep Treo, Nissan Redigo and Daihatsu D-Bone? Either way, the S-Ride tests conventions while remaining both playful and simple. We even heard a company executive use the descriptor "skateboard' when talking about the vehicle. Driver and passenger gain access to the cockpit by lifting the glass canopy. The tandem seating position, with the passenger placing his or her legs at the sides of the driver, suggests a scooter - a bow to Suzuki's other calling as a motorcycle manufacturer. SUZUKI TWIN MY STYLE

Suzuki Twin my style Make that "my" with a lowercase "m" because cars don't get much smaller than the Twin my style - at least not for the Western human body frame. This design study based on the current Suzuki Twin looks to satisfy the needs of female urban commuters. Take our word for it, the my style is small. When sitting behind the wheel, your left hand easily reaches the left-side door.

Tokyo Part 4: Non-Japanese brands Hyundai NEOS-II (Mercedes-Benz F 500 Mind is reviewed in the introduction under Most-Notable Vehicles) Jeep Treo (fuel cell or hybrid)

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