Toyota FCV-R concept:
Toyota Fun-Vii concept:
Toyota GRNM Hybrid sports car concept:
Fellow CDN correspondant, Massimo Prando, tipped me off about a new HGV tractor unit concept hidden at the back of the Isuzu stand that had caught his eye.
It’s easy to see why, with its playful graphic treatment – the DLO to DRG flow is particularly fresh – and its surfacing carefully manages the enormous mass of the thing with its lengthening lower light catcher and softly swollen fenders.
It’s just a shame so few will find it here in Tokyo Big Sight.
By Owen Ready
The Honda EV-Ster was a surprise debut from the Japanese automaker at the Tokyo show this morning. Aiming to demonstrate that driving pleasure is at the core of the company’s DNA, the two-seater is an exercise in lightweight and diminutive dimensions – it measures just 3570mm long, 1500mm wide, 1100mm tall and has a wheelbase that spans 2325mm.
Honda calls the EV-Ster a ‘next generation electric sports car’ and claims it features ‘dynamic and innovative styling’. Unfortunately the design is unnecessarily overwrought for such a small vehicle. Slotting in just 170mm longer than Japanese kei car regulations, the complex surface treatment on the bodyside and lack of plan shape make the car appear truncated and smaller than it actually is. A more organic surface treatment, such as that found on the larger AS-X concept sitting beside it on the showstand, would have improved the overall aesthetic of the diminutive vehicle.
Judging from the sheer number of electromotive mobility concepts on the Honda stand it seems clear that the company is committed on delivering on its sustainable promise and achieving its goal of addressing climate change and energy resource issues, we just wish it would turn to nature to influence its design language as well.
“Confidence in Motion” is Subaru’s new global brand statement and is supposedly personified in its latest Advanced Tourer Concept, a second take on the Tourer conceptunveiled at the 2009 Tokyo motor show. Its press brochure claims the Tourer “embodies any number of ideals that Subaru believes are essential to advanced automotive design” but the concept has tried to fit in too many conflicting ideas in its design – and the overall result has become over-busy and over-worked.
The exterior design has a lot of unsophisticated surfacing – which is particularly angular – and in places conflicting. Take the way the line of the front fender bulges and dives down too close to the side air vent or the over-played graphic emphasis around the twin rear exhausts and multiple surfaces vying for attention around the license plate area.
The interior is better with great chunkily ribbed leather seats, a huge glass roof to let in light and some clean details. Still, even here it seems too angular again. Its lack of curves make it seem strangely emotionless. It’s a much bolder design direction for Subaru than in recent years yes, but is it fully resolved? Not yet.
The Volkswagen Cross Coupe concept was one of those increasingly rare things – a genuine motor show surprise. And it wasn’t just its presence that was surprising, but its execution.
Proportionally it’s as would you expect given its name – deep bodysides topped with a shallow, tapered upper and it works particularly well. Its side profile is particularly successful, where its long hood and thick C-pillar offer a point of difference from others in the increasingly crowded crossover space.
Its nose is less successful though. Not bad as such, but too reminiscent of the Honda Crosstour, with a dash of Dacia Duster to taste.
But step closer and the surfacing treatment is genuinely new to VW. The sharp precision is as evident as ever, but between the creases lie tightly controlled but more expressive surfacing. The undercut belt line is a particular stand-out, while the way its lower line flares out into the pumped-up fenders adds a machine-like muscularity, if you will. We’ll brush over the Jeep Compass reference…
When we asked Klaus Bischoff, Executive Director of VW Design about the car’s significance, he said: “it represents the next stage for Volkswagen design. Recently we made a fresh start and created a strong identity for the brand: unique, global, timeless and precise. Now we have established this strong identity, it’s time to find more identities within the families.”
Bischoff went on to explain that each strand within the brand would start to find its own identity, so sedans will feel different from SUVs and so on.
And is this a direct result of the criticism that all VWs are starting to look the same? “There were only a few voices saying this”, says Bischoff, although there is clearly a desire from within to derivate within the parameters of the brand set by de’Silva.
By Owen Ready
With the increasing popularity of the small vehicle segment in Japan, the N-Box is a particularly interesting and attractive proposition. It’s also one that is expected to double the sales of Honda’s products in the segment in the coming year, as the company launches the first model in the Japanese market on December 16.
The N Concept 3 – essentially the same model as the N-Box with a more aggressive, chrome laden face – will be sold under the ‘Custom’ nomenclature and will launch in the spring of 2012, while the Concept 4 – the car variant of the two-box ‘mini-minivan’ with a similar DRG to the EN-V concept unveiled at the 2009 Tokyo motor show – will follow in the autumn.
Built on an all-new platform, the N-Box is just shy of 4m long, has a 2520mm-long wheelbase and a cabin that’s 2180mm in overall length, maximizing interior space. Its simple IP and infinitely reconfigurable rear cabin space enable it to cater to a number of people looking for a practical mode of transport and its diminutive size make it a marvel for navigating and parking in congested urban milieus.