While boxy vans and wacky concepts clearly dominate the newsfeed coming out of Tokyo, the show managed to produce more than a few full-on sports cars, ranging from a couple of super-minis to a futuristic tandem-two-seater and a hypercar-lookalike tech demonstrator. Take a look at some of the best sports cars of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show below.
Daihatsu Copen GR Sport
Daihatsu’s lovable kei-sized retractable-hardtop roadster first appeared in 2002, sporting mini-me Audi TT styling and a choice of turbocharged 659cc turbo I-4 or 1.3-liter four-cylinder power. Then in 2014 came the second-gen model, which dropped the rounded styling. Now this month the Copen gets the Gazoo Racing Sport treatment and is now also being sold directly by parent company Toyota. Thanks to considerable additional underbody bracing, the body rigidity and hence handling precision is greatly improved. Sport-tuned shocks, (red painted) springs, a limited-slip front differential, and retuned electric power steering also sharpen the handling. Power from the 660-cc turbo I-4 is unchanged at 63 hp. The Copen GR Sport is on sale now in Japan for the equivalent of $21,905 with a CVT or $22,411 with a five-speed manual.
FOMM AWD Sports Concept
FOMM stands for First One Mile Mobility, and the Japanese electric-vehicle company just began building what it claims is “the world’s smallest four-seater electric vehicle,” called the One. For its second act, the company is considering producing this fetching tiny roadster, which for now merely wears the name AWD Sports Concept. Penned by Modi Design, the scissor-doored roadster features four tiny in-wheel motors that, combined, produce a pitiful 26 hp but a mighty 826 lb-ft of torque. (And those same stats have been posted at three international auto shows without revision, so they must be correct!) Four lithium-ion batteries pack 2.96 kW-hrs each, so the range won’t set any records. Sized to fit within Japan’s kei-car size limits, it measures 129.9 x 58.7 x 48.2 inches. The weight has not been disclosed yet.
“The birth of the automobile led to 15 million horses being replaced by cars in the United States, but still we have racehorses,” Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda said while introducing the e-Racer concept. His point? If/when autonomous mobility makes cars obsolete, people will still collect and cherish high-performance steeds like this gorgeous two-seat tandem roadster. Without divulging any information about what powers the e-Racer (presumably electricity), a video on the stand played a constant loop showing an owner’s body being scanned so that a form-fitting driver suit could be robotically created. Once suited up, she climbs aboard and dons augmented reality glasses that allow her to drive down a road while the goggles overlay traffic from a vintage grand prix; or make it appear that the real road is in an underwater tunnel with dolphins swimming above. Very “high concept” and perhaps only practical in a post-personal-mobility world when the “real road” is a car country-club track.
Nano Cellulose Vehicle
The NCV Project is a consortium of 22 mostly suppliers and academic institutions launched in 2016 by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and spearheaded by Kyoto University. Its goal is to study the fitness of cellulose nanofiber (CNF) materials for automotive use. This plant-based material is primarily derived from wood chips (a bed of which the car was parked on for display) and promises high strength and modulus of elasticity at roughly 1/5 the weight of steel. The concept car features extensive use of CNF in its structural tub and body panels, with extensive wood trim used throughout the interior. Power is envisioned to come from a fuel cell, and no performance data was shared (except current top speed is 20 km/h). The stealth-fighter inspired exterior design was penned by Yuzo Niimi of Toyota Customizing & Development, one of the consortium members.