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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 3 Other Japanese brands


Daihatsu D-Bone The Daihatsu D-BONE is a four-passenger, dune buggy-style concept that's Spartan inside and out. We suppose the intent was to say it's stripped to the bone. A 660cc engine drives all four 18-inch wheels. Because it's open to the sun, wind and more, the floor and seat upholstery are "highly sand and water resistant." It may be underpowered for our taste, but it definitely looks fun. DAIHATSU UFE-II

Daihatsu UFE-II The UFE-II - Ultra Fuel Economy - achieves the world's highest fuel economy for a four-passenger vehicle: 140 mpg. It boasts a Cd of 0.19, also the best in the world. The body of the UFE-II is made of ultra-lightweight aluminum and composites and tips the scales at 1,260 pounds. The engine is a direct-injection, 660cc gasoline Atkinson hybrid, using two motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery. Specially developed large-diameter, narrow tires contribute to low rolling resistance. Full wheel skirts encase the rear tires. The doors are gull wings. DAIHATSU AI

Daihatsu ai The Daihatsu ai - for Attractive and Intelligent - is a high-efficiency city commuter vehicle. It weighs in at 1,256 lbs, and though there are seats for four, Daihatsu says the back seat is only large enough for children. The ai has a hinged door on the driver's side and a sliding door on the passenger side. Four engines are available, all with 660cc displacement: a three-cylinder gasoline; two-cylinder, two-cycle diesel; three-cylinder gasoline Atkinson; and a three-cylinder gasoline Atkinson hybrid that delivers 100 mpg.


Daihatsu XL-C The Daihatsu XL-C - "Excellent Compact" - is retro-styled, four-door, four-passenger premium small sedan. We say premium because inside you'll find leather seats, and the exterior dimensions are as large as a Japanese minivehicle can be. For a Kei-class vehicle, the XL-C is positively fat at 1,765 pounds. MAZDA IBUKI

Mazda Ibuki The Mazda Ibuki is a lightweight, two-seat, open-top sports car. The name comes from the Japanese word for "breath new life into" or "invigorate." Mazda says the Ibuki "hints" at a possible design direction. From our point of view, it clearly shouts "next Miata." The design team borrowed the front-midship layout of the RX-8. Compared with the current MX-5 Miata, the engine is nearly 16 inches farther to the rear and 1.6 inches lower, which Mazda says greatly reduces vehicle yaw and provides exceptional handling. Because the engine was moved back, the air conditioner unit is positioned behind the seats, just forward of the rear axle. The 1.6L four-cylinder engine kicks out 177 hp, compared with today's 1.8L generating 142 hp. The Ibuki rides on 18-inch wheels, up from 16 inches on the road today. MAZDA ROADSTER TURBO

Mazda Roadster Turbo The Mazda Roadster Turbo is an MX-5 Miata powered by a turbocharged version of today's 1.8L DOHC four. It will be launched next year as a limited-edition model. Horsepower has not been announced, but to handle the extra power generated by the engine, upgrades have been made to the six-speed manual transmission, clutch, differential and radiator. Other modifications include the addition of Bilstein shocks and 17-inch wheels instead of 16 on the naturally aspirated model. MAZDA RX-8 HYDROGEN RE

Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE Mazda built its first hydrogen rotary engine in 1991 and has continued development ever since, leading up to the RENESIS engine in the RX-8 Hydrogen RE. The engine uses a bi-fuel system allowing one-touch switching between running hydrogen or gasoline. Mazda says rotary engines are inherently superior for hydrogen because they allow room for two hydrogen injectors per rotor, which are necessary because a single injector can't supply sufficient fuel, while the structure of piston engines doesn't readily offer space for two injectors per cylinder. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE produces more than 200 hp using gasoline and nearly 110 hp with hydrogen. MITSUBISHI SE-RO

Mitsubishi SE-RO The Mitsubishi SE-RO - for Secret Room - is built on the same mid-engine/rear-drive platform as the Mitsubishi i, which was introduced last month in Frankfurt, though it has a smaller, three-cylinder 600cc engine that's turbocharged. Mitsubishi claims the aluminum body panels give the SE-RO the appearance of a futuristic airplane. We feel it looks more like an art deco toaster on wheels. The name is meant to evoke a secret place where children can hide away for an hour or two. Versatile seating allows the interior to be configured into a space for work, fun or cargo. For example, the steering wheel can be tilted up and driver's seat swiveled to face the rear, creating an intimate conversation pit. While the i is headed for production, the SE-RO likely will remain a curiosity on the auto show circuit.

Tokyo Part 3B: Other Japanese brands Mitsubishi CZ2 Cabriolet Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR Suzuki Mobile Terrace (fuel cell) Subaru B9 Scrambler (hybrid) Subaru R2 (660 cc mini engine) Suzuki Concept-S2 Subaru R1e (electric) Suzuki S-Ride (660 cc mini engine) Suzuki Landbreeze (hybrid) Suzuki Twin my style

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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