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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

10/26 LESS WACKY AND MORE GREEN

By Contributing Editors CHRISTOPHER MERLO and CHUCK DAPOZ Photos by JAMES KUBIK and CHUCK DAPOZ

2003 Tokyo Motor Show - Part 2 Japanese Big 3

HONDA KIWAMI

Honda Kiwami The overwhelming impression here is size. The overall package is massive. Note the extra wide stance combined with the long graceful sweep to the rear. The greenhouse is huge. Note the expansive windshield and side greenhouse divided into four lights. These cues hint at a very large interior. Another impression is the clean, minimalist look of the exterior that carries through to the interior. Kiwami employs the language of Japanese aesthetics. One recurring theme throughout the Tokyo Motor Show demonstrated by Honda and other manufacturers was the aspiration to be one with nature. Kiwami speaks to that aspiration both visually and technically. The vehicle is powered by fuel cells located in the floor. The compact design of the fuel cell stack allows a low roof while still delivering a spacious interior. This is harmony on many levels. HONDA IMAS

Honda IMAS Is this the successor to the Honda Insight? If so, it speaks to Honda's increasing confidence in the hybrid sector. Imagine creating a sports car powered by a hybrid engine, and this near contradiction takes the form of IMAS or Integrated Motor Assist Sports. Thanks to a carbon-fiber body and aluminum frame, the IMAS weighs in at just over 1,500 pounds. Its aerodynamic shape paired with Honda's IMA hybrid system offers bicycle-like freedom of movement. HONDA HSC

Honda HSC The Honda Sports Concept, or HSC, fueled speculation this hints at a replacement for the Acura NSX. Incorporating a lightweight, compact V6 rated at 300 hp, the HSC's lightweight - due to the use of an aluminum frame and carbon composite body panels - offers a favorable horsepower-to-weight ratio that should make this car a screamer. The combination of a midship engine, long wheelbase and short overhang promises to deliver exceptional handling and stability. HONDA ASM

Honda ASM One of the fun-and-delightful aspects of any auto show is the manufacturers seeking to stretch definitions by way of concepts. Like the Honda IMAS, the ASM - or Advanced Saloon Minivan - stretches the definition of a minivan. Even more exciting is the fact that the ASM is reported to be a near-production prototype scheduled for introduction next spring. This eight-passenger minivan pushes definitions by way of its hybrid powerplant - using Honda's IMA System employing a V6 engine with variable cylinder management and electric motor assist. The vehicle's wraparound oval form houses an interior inspired by an ocean liner motif where luxury and comfort are the order of the day. We were especially taken by the front headlights with their near jewel-like appearance thanks to the use of LEDs. This same basic lighting design concept is employed on the IMAS. HONDA ODYSSEY

Honda Odyssey Before venturing to Tokyo, one of the ground rules we established was to review world premiers only. Honda forced us to deviate from the rulebook with the display of the recently introduced Japanese-market Odyssey minivan. Sadly, there's no plan to sell it in the US. While minivans are not the stuff of dreams, the impact of this segment in the market, both in the US and Japan, demands attention. What fascinates us is the fact that this is a relatively large package for Japan. Yet its sleek design and low overall height provide a package that is spacious on the inside. What is also attention grabbing is the sophistication of the vehicle. Available in two trim levels, the Odyssey and Odyssey Absolute offer a range of sophisticated features including a CVT, rear camera, voice-recognition navigation, intelligent cruise control with intervehicular distance control and a Collision Mitigation Brake System employing radar to alert the driver to a possible collision. Wow! Throw in Honda's revered 2.4L four-cylinder I-VETEC engine, and you get a double "wow." If this Odyssey model is a foreshadowing of things to come in Honda's North American product line up, then surely the stakes have been raised. LEXUS Although Lexus was introduced in North America in 1989, the brand has never been sold in Japan - though some Lexus vehicles we know in the US have been badged in Japan as Toyotas. In anticipation of its planned August 2005 Japanese launch, for the first time there's a separate Lexus display at the Tokyo Motor Show. Two striking vehicles point to a fresh design signature for Lexus, breaking with past styling that has been criticized for being based on German luxury sedans. LEXUS LF-S

Lexus LF-S The Lexus LF-S (Lexus Future-Sedan) is a sleek, five-passenger four-door with coupe-like styling, a design trend that was prominent at the Frankfurt show last month. A hybrid V8 drives all four wheels. The hood sweeps back into a sharply raked windshield, which blends into a glass roof. Lexus calls the sporty LF-S its next-generation premium sedan - in other words the replacement for the current GS. LEXUS LF-X

Lexus LF-X The Lexus LF-X (Lexus Future-Crossover) marries an SUV with a sports sedan. It's an update of the HPX, shown at this year's New York Auto Show and looks positioned above the RX 330, perhaps to take on the likes of the Porsche Cayenne. The engine is a 4.3L V8, of course driving all four wheels. Steering is drive-by-wire. Six passengers sit in three rows of bucket seats. Second- and third-row passengers can watch DVDs on an LCD display on the center console, and the third row can be stowed away in the floor. Headlight and taillights are embedded LEDs. NISSAN JIKOO

Nissan Jikoo Roadsters were one of the recurring themes at this year's show. The Jikoo concept is a design exercise inspired by the1935 Datsun Roadster and the traditional crafts and design aesthetic of Tokyo's Edo period. Design cues of this open-top two-seat roadster include a high and long nose, short rear deck with jump seat and oversized wheels. Materials include ebony wood finishes, hammered metal finishes and water buffalo horn. The combination of these design elements results in a jewel-like package that is perhaps best exemplified by the intricate filigree pattern of the wheels. While not as thoroughly developed in terms of powertrain and electronics as the Toyota CS&S roadster concept that premiered at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show, the Jikoo is pure Japanese design in its playfulness and fantasy. (For more on the Toyota CS&S concept, see LA Car's report on the Frankfurt Auto Show.) NISSAN SERENITY

Nissan Serenity A study of the next-generation multipurpose vehicle (MPV), the Serenity concept combines sporty luxury with minivan roominess and comfort. The shape of the side windows evokes a Japanese paper fan, while the front end suggests a Kabuki mask. The interior defines the origin of the Serenity name with an emphasis on providing its six occupants with an ergonomic, stress-free environment. The Japanese emphasis on tranquility is one of the watchwords here. For instance, the front passenger and rear passenger seats have an ottoman mechanism for cruising in true sit-back-and-relax mode. In addition, each passenger seating position includes a personal video monitor and headrest-mounted speakers. Another notable interior features include a "Horizontal Meter Unit" positioned at the bottom of the windshield for the display of essential driving functions. NISSAN REDIGO

Nissan Redigo Wind in your hair and sun on your face are two of the design aspirations for the development of the Redigo. This concept takes on the beach patrol and dune buggy culture with a shape reminiscent of a rubber boat and a glass roof that slides open on either side. Water-resistant surfaces for the interior of the doors, seats and floor contribute to its playful go-anywhere/do-anything image. Naturally, the occupants' activities will be synchronized to the beat of the music pulsing from the console-embedded subwoofer and speakers in the A-pillars, front seat backs and rear seat headrests.

Tokyo Part 2B: Japanese Big 3 Nissan Effis (fuel cell) Nissan Fuga Nissan C-Note Nissan Cube3 + Conran & Partners Toyota Fine-N (fuel cell) Toyota NLSV Toyota SU-HV1 (hybrid) Toyota Crown (Toyota PM is reviewed in the introduction under Most-Notable Vehicles)

Tokyo Part 3: Other Japanese brands Daihatsu D-Bone (660 cc mini engine) Daihatsu ai (660 cc mini engine) Daihatsu UFE-II (660 cc mini engine) Daihatsu XL-C (660 cc mini engine) Daihatsu E3 (660 cc mini engine) Daihatsu Mira Selfmatic (660 cc mini engine) Mazda Ibuki Mazda Roadster Turbo Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE (hydrogen engine) Mitsubishi SE-RO (660 cc mini engine)

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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