Meanwhile, back in Tokyo… 4 Japanese showstoppers, CAR+ December 2015

Published: 13 November 2015

► Four stars from the Tokyo motor show
► Japan's design teams are ticking the boxes
► Self-driving cars with retracting steering wheels and more!

Nissan IDS Concept

Nissan says we shouldn’t assume the IDS previews Mk2 Leaf styling, but who are they kidding? This all-carbon electric concept is a statement of the company’s thinking about autonomous driving tech, which it remains committed to introducing by 2020. The ‘Intelligent Drive’ features include full ‘piloted driving’ capability – in which the steering wheel retracts into the dash – and the option to park it via iPad. Somewhat alarmingly, it’s proposed the autonomous mode will mimic the owner’s driving style, rather than proceed in the most logical and orderly fashion, but sensors and LEDs around the car aim to signal reassurance to cyclists and pedestrians. Skinny tyres and aero optimisation maximise driving range. 

Need to know

What it is: The politest autonomous car concept yet 
Powered by: Electric motor, 60kWh battery 
Made from: Carbonfibre 
Dimensions: Chopped 1380mm height to reduce air resistance 
Aimed at: Tightening the screw on internal combustion

Yamaha Sports Ride Concept

Looks like something Gordon Murray designed? Perhaps.

It’s no OX99-11 but this is a pretty bold statement from Yamaha. Following on from 2013’s Motiv city car concept, the Japanese motorbike maker has once again teamed up with Gordon Murray to show a four-wheeler based on the erstwhile F1 design maestro’s ‘iStream’ manufacturing process. This time it’s a low-slung sports car and the bones of the project are built from carbonfibre – a first for iStream – in an effort to convince the world that the wonder weave can be cost-effective as well as superlight. There’s a tantalising suggestion the Sports Ride could be powered by a Yamaha bike engine for high-rev thrills, but at this stage it’s all just wishful thinking. Production not confirmed. 

Need to know

What it is: The second coming of Gordon Murray. Possibly 
Powered by: Tbc; here’s hoping a bike engine 
Made from: Carbonfibre 
Length/width/height: 3900/1720/1170mm 
Aimed at: Lotus Elise customers with auto anorexia

Lexus LF-LC Flagship Concept

Lexus LF-LC Flagship Concept could be an alternative to the 7-series

It’s a vast four-door saloon with coupe-ish styling and a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain. Visually, it gives us a good idea what the next LS flagship is going to look like; technically it might be a bit more far-fetched – though Toyota has just put the hydrogen-powered Mirai on sale in the UK, so it has the capability. Key design features include a grille big enough for barbecuing small animals, muscular haunches and tail lights that look like giant boomerangs having an orgy. The spacious four-seater interior includes gesture control, which should be a given since the BMW 7-series already offers it. In-wheel motors at the front and conventionally motor-driven rears create torque vectoring 4wd.

Need to know

What it is: Sexy future alternative to S-class and 7-series 
Powered by: Electricity generated by hydrogen fuel-cell, 4wd 
Made from: Steel 
Length/width/height: 5300/2000/1410mm 
Aimed at: Proving Lexus can do beauty as well as luxury

Toyota S-FR Concept

A roof down version of the GT86, perhaps

If at first you don’t succeed, Toyota, please, please try again. The GT86 hasn’t exactly set the sales charts aflame, so we’ve no doubt this proposal for a smaller, cheaper (and therefore less profitable) S-FR coupe is going to be a tough sell in the boardroom. But Mazda seems to be proving there is an appetite for compressed driving purity with the latest MX-5, and this similarly sized but more practical (it seats four) fixed-head alternative could take a piece of that action by undercutting the roadster. The confirmed layout is front-engine, rear-wheel drive and six-speed manual; rumours suggest a 130bhp 1.5 is lined up should the project get the go-ahead. The petition starts here.

Need to know

What it is: Kid brother to the GT86 and wannabe MX-5 rival 
Powered by: 4-cyl petrol, rwd 
Made from: Steel 
Length/width/height: 3990/1695/1320mm 
Aimed at: People who already own a hairdryer, or need four seats

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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