The Craziness that is the Tokyo Auto Salon

Ulysses Ang (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2016 - 9:00am

The annual Tokyo Auto Salon ended last Jan. 17 and its organizers have every reason to be happy. This year, the show saw a record 105.1 percent increase compared to previous years. In total, 325,501 enthusiasts walked through the halls of Makuhari Messe to see the newest and craziest stuff the Japanese aftermarket scene had to offer.

The show traces its roots back to the “Tokyo Exciting Car Show” with a goal of establishing a custom car culture. Thirty four years later it has grown from being just a custom car show. It has become the gauge of the latest trends in the aftermarket business where new technology or methods for tuning and upgrading are showcased, some of which, for the first time.

The Philippine STAR is priviledged to have witnessed this wacky show first-hand and while I’d like to give a rundown all 880 vehicles on display from the 450 exhibitors, I will instead be focusing on the motorsports-inspired displays of the largest Japanese brands: Honda, Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru.


Honda’s Civic Type-R isn’t for the faint of heart already thanks to its 300-hp, front-wheel drive configuration. However, for Japanese tuner MUGEN, it doesn’t seem crazy enough. They showed off a more extreme version of the Civic Type-R with the menacing Civic Type-R MUGEN.

Shown as a prototype, the Civic Type-R MUGEN gains a body kit that’s lairer than the standard Type-R. It gains a new front bumper, touring car-style front and side skirts, and a large (but lightweight) rear wing. Forged MUGEN wheels and the requisite badging complete the transformation.

Though no performance enhancements were indicated, the Civic Type-R MUGEN does swap the quad exhaust system for a large single pipe system which should at least put down more power from the already potent 306hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

Toyota GAZOO Racing

Toyota GAZOO Racing showcased its past, present, and future at the Tokyo Auto Salon by unveiling three new racing car entries for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. The three vehicles, the Toyota C-HR Racing (based on the concept but not the eventual production model), Lexus RC and Lexus RC F took centerstage all dressed in “drool-worthy” racing gear.

2016 marks the 10th year of Toyota’s participation in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring under the banner of GAZOO Racing. Initiated in April last year, Toyota GAZOO Racing united the activities of GAZOO Racing, Toyota Racing and Lexus Racing under the same roof. Commemorating this, the pavilion is filled with several of their historic and present race cars.

In addition, the Toyota FT-1 Concept and a GAZOO Racing version of the S-FR Concept were also shown.


“Be a driver” is a slogan adopted by Mazda to showcase the fun-to-drive attitude of its entire line-up. Although most were left wanting a proper Mazdaspeed version of their cars, Mazda did give racing concept versions of the MX-5 (Roadster in Japan), Mazda6, CX-3, and the Mazda2 (Demio in Japan).

The rally-prepped Mazda2 is the most intriguing one that features a stripped out interior, racing bucket seats, and a roll cage. It’s joined by the MX-5 featuring adjustable suspension and the Mazda6 and CX-3 both of which have new monotone exteriors, body kits and larger tires. These racing concepts are joined by spec-racing version of the MX-5 featuring a roll cage and tow hooks. Finished in white, it is joined at the stand by the Global Cup roadster.

Garnering the most attention at the Mazda stand though is the Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo. Designed for Gran Turismo 6, the LM55 is a futuristic interpretation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning 787B but now featuring both Skyactiv technology as well as the KODO design language.

Subaru Technica International

Subaru and its tuning division, STI flaunted that it is “proud of boxer” with a slew of racing and racing-inspired machines. STI also used this opportunity to outline their motorsports activities for the year.

With the BRZ competing at Japan’s top-tier racing series, Super GT, Subaru STI will continue to compete in the GT300 class with the BRZ GT300. For this year though, it will feature refinements enhancing both its aerodynamics, engine performance, and weight. Joining the BRZ GT300 is the Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept. This tricked out BRZ features suspension and brake enhancements as well as other exterior and interior upgrades. It is a thoroughly modified car powered by a 350-horsepower turbocharged engine.

Subaru STI is also aiming to defend its class win at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. 2016 marks the ninth year for Subaru STI to participate (winning three times) and for this year, they’re using an improved version of their 2015 challenger, the VA series WRX STI.

Aside from these racing cars, Subaru and STI showed off the Levorg STI Concept featuring new alloy wheels and STI-tuned dampers. A STI tuned version of the revamped XV Hybrid was also shown with orange accents added to the new Quartz White Silica color.


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