Tokyo Motor Show 2013: Japanese mini cars and all-new models

Daihatsu KOPEN & Honda S660 mini sports cars, Suzuki HUSTLER mini crossover revealed



 The 43rd Tokyo Motor Show started on November 20, 2013 at the Tokyo Big Sight and ended successfully on December 1 with 903,000 visitors, a 7% increase compared with the previous show. This report focuses on mini vehicles and non-mini vehicles which are expected to be launched by Japanese automakers.


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Tokyo Motor Show 2013

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Scene of outer panel replacement demonstration for Daihatsu KOPEN
Scene of outer panel replacement demonstration
for Daihatsu KOPEN

 The sales of mini vehicles (Japanese specific vehicle category: Note 1) is increasing in recent years. The sales in full-year 2013 are expected to exceed the record high of 2.02 million units (2006). Suzuki and Daihatsu sell vehicles based on the technologies used on mini passenger vehicles sold in Japan to emerging countries including India and Indonesia. The technology of mini vehicles is likely to support the expansion of Japanese automakers in emerging countries, and foreign medias also actively gathered information on mini vehicles.

 Daihatsu and Honda unveiled their concept mini sport cars, the KOPEN and S660 which are expected to be launched in the near future, respectively. As the models planned to be launched, Suzuki exhibited the first mini crossover HUSTLER; and Honda exhibited the N-WGN, the fourth model of its N Series. Mitsubishi and Nissan also exhibited their jointly developed Mitsubishi ek Space and Nissan DAYZ ROOX. Meanwhile, Yamaha Motor, a major motorcycle manufacturer, unveiled its concept automobile, the MOTIV to be launched within 2010s. Other vehicles included the Lexus RC sports coupe, the luxury sedan Nissan SKYLINE (Infiniti Q50), the Compact SUV Honda VEZEL, a wagon exclusively for the Japanese market, and Fuji Heavy Industries LEVORG.

(Note 1) Vehicles with an overall length up to 3.4 meters, width up to 1.48 meters, and height up to 2 meters that are powered by engines with total displacement less than 660cc are classified as "mini vehicles" under the Japanese vehicle regulations, and are eligible for preferential taxation. Because of the affordable prices and maintenance costs, mini vehicles today account for nearly 40% of all automobile sales in Japan.
(Note 2) The "*" sign is attached to the model names that were unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

Mini sports car concept: Daihatsu KOPEN and Honda S660

 Daihatsu and Honda exhibited concept mini sports cars that the automakers plan to launch in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Daihatsu had sold the previous-generation COPEN until 2012. Likewise, Honda had sold the mini sports car BEAT until 1996.


Daihatsu KOPEN future included Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN
Daihatsu KOPEN future included
In the photo, the vehicle in front is RMZ
and the vehicle at the upper left is XMZ
        Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN (side view)
The orange-color part in the back is the resin outer panel removed from the body
Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN
Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN
(rear view from above)
The resin outer panels are being replaced.
Skeleton of Daihatsu KOPEN (front view)


Daihatsu KOPEN future included* This model is a mini open-top sports car with plans to be launched in the spring of 2014. Daihatsu exhibited vehicles with two different exterior designs named RMZ and XMZ. The two cars are based on the common skeleton and are mutually convertible by replacing the outer resin panels. The interior design is also exchangeable.
The outer resin panels largely have two advantages: 1. the use of resin with low mold cost allows the automaker to propose diverse exterior designs; and 2. the weight reduction of parts which is far from the body's center of gravity enables better steering. The outer panels were replaced at the show venue for demonstration purposes. The replacement was finished in five minutes. The outer panel of the production model is reported to be more difficult to remove because it is attached with bolts.
The body size is 3,395 mm in length, 1,475 mm in width, and 1,275 mm in height, with the wheelbase of 2,230 mm. It is mounted with a 660cc in-line three-cylinder gasoline turbo engine.
Honda S660 Concept* This car is a mini open-top sports concept which Honda aims to launch in 2015. The exterior design succeeds that of EV STER uncovered at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011. The powertrain was changed from the electric configuration. The S660 is mounted with a 660 cc mid-ship gasoline engine (with maximum output of 64ps). The vehicle measures  3,395 mm in length, 1,475 mm in width, and 1,150 mm in height. The production of the powertrain will be reportedly outsourced to Yachiyo Industry.


Honda S660 Concept
Honda S660 Concept
Honda SPORT 360 replica model
Honda SPORT 360 replica model
This model is the very first Hodna's sports car



All-new mini cars: HUSTLER by Suzuki, the N-WGN by Honda

 Suzuki announced the company's first crossover HUSTLER in mini segment. The vehicle attracted much attention from visitors with its novel design and advantage in outdoor use. Suzuki also exhibited a coupe concept based on the HUSTLER.

 Honda uncovered N-WGN, the fourth model in successful mini-vehicle N Series. The car was launched during the period of the Tokyo Motor Show.

 Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan exhibited the second model of Mitsubishi ek Space and Nissan DAYZ ROOX, which were developed jointly. The vehicle will be launched in early 2014.

 Daihatsu revealed its concept model, the DecaDeca, maximizing the standard of mini vehicle.


Suzuki HUSTLER Coupe
Suzuki's concept model HUSTLER Coupe



HUSTLER* The first mini crossover, the HUSTLER, is expected to be launched on December 24, 2013. The ground clearance was raised from its base vehicle, Wagon R, by 30 mm to 180 mm for front-wheel drive (FWD) models. The exterior design emphasizes the image of outdoor use. The interior has been designed assuming outdoor use with the passenger seat which can be converted to a table when folded.
The HUSTLER is also equipped with hill descent control and grip control that supports driving on rough roads for the first time for mini vehicles (on All-wheel Drive (AWD) and CVT-mounted versions). The hill descent control enables the vehicle to descend a steep hill at a constant speed of 7 km/h. The grip control assists the driver starting on snowy roads.
HUSTLER Coupe* This design concept based on the HUSTLER has downward sweep of the roofline design and proposes a mini crossover coupe. The height is lower than the HUSTLER by 35 mm. The rear door handle is designed to be hidden in the C pillar.
Alto Eco Suzuki will launch a freshened ALTO ECO on December 18, 2013. The fuel economy was improved from 33.0 km/L at the time of upgrading in March to 35.0 km/L (JC08 mode), achieving the best fuel efficiency among petrol-powered cars. Improvements include an increase in the engine compression ratio from 11.0 to 11.2, adoption of newly developed engine oil with low friction resistance, and changes in CVT control.



Honda N-WGN* Honda exhibited its fourth model of the mini-car N Series. The new vehicle is 1,655 mm high (FWD vehicle) and falls under the height-wagon category (Note). The vehicle was launched on November 22 during the period of the Tokyo Motor Show. The interior and exterior of the vehicle is designed to give an impression of luxury. For the first time in the N Series, the model features rear seats which can slide forward and backward by 200mm. The vehicle also features enhanced safety performance. According to the Honda's internal measurement standard, the vehicle has achieved the performance equivalent to a JNCAP five-star grade for the first time for mini vehicles. The FWD model boasts a fuel economy of 29.2 km/L (JC08 mode).
The vehicle is mounted with an upgraded engine used on the 660 cc engine for the N series. Each cylinder has two injectors to promote fuel atomization. For the first time for a Honda car, a sodium filled valve with excellent thermal conductivity was adopted to suppress knocking. Honda plans to use this upgraded engine to other N series.
The CVT weight was reduced by 3.9 kg compared with the one used for the N BOX which was launched in 2011. New features include the thinner case, lightweight differential case and final gear, without an electric pump.
Mitsubishi ek Space/
These models are the second model of the mini vehicles which were jointly developed by Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan. The models are expected to be launched at the beginning of 2014 in the name of ek Space from Mitsubishi and DAYZ ROOX from Nissan. The rear seats have a large cabin space so that a child can change his clothes while standing. Both sides of the rear doors are sliding doors. A large triangle window is mounted at the A pillar section to broaden the eyesight of the driver. The around view monitor is available as an option.
The vehicles are mounted with the Assist Battery. This battery converts deceleration energy to electricity and stores it in a nickell metal hydride battery. The stored power is used for the auxiliary equipment. It reduces power generation by the engine and improves fuel efficiency.
Deca Deca*
With a height of 1850 mm, this vehicle is  a concept of "super space" minicar. Double doors are used on both sides to facilitate loading and unloading of baggage. Cameras are equipped on the upper part of the A pillar instead of the side mirrors. Daihatsu currently sells a passenger minivan with the same height, ATRAI WAGON (a passenger car version of the mini commercial vehicle HIJET CARGO).

(Note) According to Honda, the height-wagon is a category of mini-car whose height measures from 1,550mm to 1,700mm. The Super-height-wagon is a category of mini-car whose height is exceeds 1,700mm.


Honda N-WGN
Honda N-WGN
(photo of the higher grade - Custom type)
Mitsubishi ek Space
Mitsubishi ek Space
(photo of the higher grade - Custom type)
Daihatsu DecaDeca
Daihatsu DecaDeca



Yamaha to enter automobile market in 2010s; Honda's micro-sized EV MC-β

 Yamaha Motor, a major motorcycle manufacturer, announced at its business presentation meeting held in July 2013 that it plans to propose a new three-wheeled and four-wheeled "vehicle." At the recent Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha exhibited a new automobile concept model, the MOTIV. Yamaha plans to launch an automobile based on this model within the 2010s. The company currently manufactures automotive engines for Toyota or sells four-wheeled vehicles exclusively for off-road use. However, Yamaha has not launched road-going automobiles.

 Honda exhibited the micro-sized prototype EV vehicle, MC-β, which are currently under proving tests in Japan. The test drive for the participants was conducted at the venue.


Yamaha MOTIV
Yamaha MOTIV (The object shown on the upper left
of the photo is a skeleton frame of the vehicle)
Skeleton frame of Yamaha MOTIV
Skeleton frame of Yamaha MOTIV
Three-cylinder DOHC 1.0L engine of Yamaha MOTIV
Three-cylinder DOHC 1.0L engine of Yamaha MOTIV
Driving motor for Yamaha MOTIV
Driving motor for Yamaha MOTIV (maximum output 25kW)
The object shown on the upper left of the photo is the 1.0 L engine also shown in the left photo.


Yamaha MOTIV* This is the automobile concept which is currently under development by Yamaha. The company aims to enter the automotive market within the 2010s. MOTIV is a two-seater vehicle which is smaller than the Toyota iQ and smart fortwo. The body measures 2,690 mm in length, 1,470 mm in width, and 1,480 mm in height. MOTIV is planned to be available in a variety of body styles such as a sports-car and an SUV as well as the exhibited vehicle.
A gasoline engine, a hybrid system, and electric configuration can be used for the powetrain. The exhibited concept was equipped with the electric powertrain. The powertrain mounted at the back of the body drives the rear wheels. The skeleton frame comprises a combination of steel pipe and composite materials. The frame was designed based on a F1-derived design concept called iStream proposed by Gordon Murray Design.
MOTIV is planned to be sold in a society where one- to two-seater small cars are accepted (in advanced countries like Japan). Future issues reportedly lie in various aspects including safety and crash management technologies, production technologies, determination of manufacturing country, and establishment of sales network.
Honda MC-β* This is a micro-sized prototype EV vehicle with a length of 2,495 mm, a width of 1,280 mm, and a height of 1,545 mm (β means the beta version of application software and the like). Mounted with a lithium-ion battery which is placed under the floor and a motor (maximum output 11 kW) in the rear body part, the vehicle's cruising range is more than 80 km. Social experiments are under way since November 2013 using dozens of MC-β in Kumamoto Prefecture (local core city), Saitama City (large city area), and Miyakojima City (an isolated island).


Honda MC-β
Honda MC-β



Toyota/Lexus /Nissan's all-new models: Lexus sport coupe RC, Nissan SKYLINE

 Toyota unveiled the Lexus-brand new type sports coupe RC. The company emphasized the vehicle's sporty and dynamic design and color. For the Toyota brand, a crossover SUV, the Harrier, was exhibited. The Harrier will be launched on December 2, 2013. The minivan siblings, the VOXY and NOAH concepts were also displayed under Toyota brand. These models will be launched at the beginning of 2014, VOXY and NOAH were exhibited.

 Nissan unveiled the 13th model of Nissan SKYLINE, which has been sold overseas as the Infiniti Q50. The vehicle will be launched in Japan with the 'Infiniti' emblem attached to the front grille instead of the 'Nissan' emblem.


Lexus RC 300h
Lexus RC 300h



Lexus RC* This car is a sports coupe which is expected to be launched in Japan in the second half of 2014. It is designed with more emphasis on the Spindle Grille shape. While RC is positioned as a coupe model of the IS, it shares the same platform with the GS, one grade higher model.
The hybrid model, RC300h, has a 2.5L in-line four-cylinder engine mounted with the D-4S system which combines cylinder-direct injection and port injection (with the maximum output of 162kW). RC350 is mounted with a V6 3.5L engine (with the maximum output of 234kW) and an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift―AT system which also features the function of manual transmission.
Toyota HARRIER This redesigned crossover SUV which is exclusive for the Japanese market will be launched on December 2, 2014. This vehicle is downsized by 15 mm in length and 10 mm by width from its predecessor which was discontinued in July 2012 (comparison of FWD models).
The engine mounted on the hybrid model was downsized from a V6 3.3L engine to a 2.5L in-line four-cylinder engine. The gross vehicle weight was reduced by 150 kg. The fuel economy of the hybrid model varies, but better than 21.4 km/L (JC08 mode).
Toyota unveiled next-generation minivan sibling concepts, the VOXY and NOAH. These vehicles are expected to be launched in early 2014. In addition to the 2.0L gasoline engine mounted on the existing model, a hybrid model mounted with a 1.8L engine will become available.


(gasoline vehicle; aerodynamic design)
Toyota NOAH CONCEPT (hybrid vehicle)



SKYLINE The 13th model of SKYLINE is expected to be launched in Japan in February 2014. The car will be launched as a luxury sedan which is available only with the hybrid powertrain in Japan. The model features the 'Infiniti' emblem instead of the 'Nissan' emblem on the front grille. The vehicle has been already launched in foreign markets as the Infiniti Q50 after it debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2013.
This vehicle has the "Direct Adaptive Steering System" based on the steer-by-wire technology, the first of its kind in the world. Nissan plans to roll out the technology on other vehicle models, but the models to be mounted with the system are likely to be limited for reasons of space and cost.
GT-R Nissan facelifted the GT-R sports car and launched it as the 2014 model in December 2013. This car is refreshed every year, which is rare for a Japanese vehicle. The recent improvements include adoption of LED lamps and fine-tuned suspension. Nissan also unveiled the GT-R NISMO with engine output enhanced from 550ps to 600ps. GT-R NISMO is expected to be launched in February 2014.


Nissan Skyline
Nissan Skyline
Nissan GT-R Nismo
Nissan GT-R Nismo



Honda, Subaru, Mazda's all-new cars: Honda compact SUV VEZEL, Subaru LEVORG

 Honda unveiled a compact SUV, the VEZEL based on the Fit. The vehicle will go on sale in Japan on December 20, 2013. Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) unveiled a wagon developed for the Japanese market, the LEVORG. The production of the LEVORG is scheduled to be released in spring 2014.

 Mazda exhibited all-new AXELA as the third model featuring Mazda's next-generation SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY in every aspect.

               Subaru LEVORG             Special emphasis placed on interior and exterior designs


Honda VEZEL* The VEZEL is an SUV based on Honda's compact car, the Fit. Honda boasts that the model belongs to a completely new category of automobiles. It features the dynamic suspensions of an SUV, the coupe-like elegant exterior and interior designs, and the functionality of a minivan. The VEZEL is expected to be launched in Japan on December 20, 2013, and will be sold globally thereafter. The design is based on the Urban SUV Concept exhibited at the Detroit Motor Show in 2013.
The hybrid version features the SPORT HYBRID i-DCD with a 1.5-L direct injection engine and seven-speed DCT(the Fit Hybrid features a 1.5 liter engine).The gasoline version features a 1.5-L direct injection engine. Both versions are also available in FWD and AWD layouts. The VEZEL measures 4,295 mm in length, which is longer than the Fit by 340 mm at 4,295 mm.
Subaru LEVORG* The LEVORG is a new sports tourer developed for the Japanese market. The ongoing fifth-generation model of the Legacy, which was developed for the US market, was upsized from the fourth-generation model by 110 mm (wagon type). It has been often criticized as being too large chiefly in the Japanese market. Therefore, the new LEVORG was developed as a successor model to the fourth-generation Legacy with a size slightly larger (by 10 mm in length) than the fourth-generation model. It is a production model of the ADVANCED TOURER CONCEPT announced in the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011. The LEVORG is expected to be launched in the spring of 2014.
Two types of engines are made available in the LEVORG: A 1.6-L or 2.0-L horizontally-opposed direct-injection turbo engines with fuel efficiency of 17.4 km/L (1.6-L model). LEVORG is the first model featuring the next-generation EyeSight which was unveiled in October 2013 as the EyeSight (ver.3) (click ITS 2013 for details).
Mazda AXELA This small vehicle is the third model to adopt both Mazda's "KODO - Soul of Motion" design and its "SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY." The vehicle is available in sedan and hatchback models. The sedan will be the first vehicle to feature the  SKYACTIV-HYBRID, which combines the Toyota's hybrid technology and the 2.0-L gasoline engine (SKYACTIV-G 2.0) with the fuel economy of 30.8 km/L (JC08 mode).
AXELA will be also available with SKYACTIV-G 1.5, a newly developed 1.5-L direct injection gasoline engine. A wide variety of powertrain options are available including 2.0-L direct injection gasoline engine SKYACTIV-G 2.0 and a diesel engine SKYACTIV-D 2.2. The hybrid and gasoline models have been already sold in Japan since November 2013.



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