The 2017 edition of the Tokyo Motor Show will primarily focus on concept cars, many of which probably won’t see production. But, it’s a sign of if not a booming economy, a recovering one in which Japanese automakers feel confident enough to dream again.

While conventional wisdom holds that Japan builds competent but boring vehicles, the reality is that if you visit the island nation, you’ll see cities packed with small urban cars—the so-called Kei cars with engines that displace one-liter or less. These diminutive vehicles not only are taxed at a lower rate because of these small engines, but also the tidy footprint of these entries is perfect in the country’s large cities where space is at a premium.

Daihatsu, which tried its hand at the American market and later withdrew, is coming to Tokyo with a slew of concepts based on the Kei concept. Two of them reflect the trends so persuasive in the Japanese home market, nostalgia and utility. On the nostalgia side is the DN Compagno, a little 4-door coupe inspired by the Italian-designed Compagno of the 1960s. It looks like the kind of car George Jetson would drive if he didn’t have a flying vehicle. The other, the DN Trec is a tiny crossover SUV that would look equally at home on Tokyo or New York City streets.

More serious are two concepts being pitched by Mazda, one that could presage the next generation Mazda3, the other more a directional design study that shows further refinement in the Kodo design philosophy that is seen across the current Mazda lineup.

Honda is also pushing its electric agenda at Tokyo promising a sporty follow along to its urban EV concept it showed in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, Toyota continues to tantalize us with what the next Supra may look like with its GR HR concept, Nissan with a possible Z car replacement, and Subaru with its VIZIV performance car study. Check back for updates as the show kicks of its press days Oct. 24.

Advertisement
Advertisement
New Car Spotlight

Advertisement

Advertisement