First Drive: 2011 Lexus LFA

2011 Lexus LFA

It's taken nearly four days to wrap my head around the 2011 Lexus LFA, and if I'm honest, I'm still not halfway there. The combination of a decade-long gestation, a half dozen prototypes comprised of two different materials, a high displacement V10 that cuts fuel at 9,500 RPM and a $375,000 price tag has left me incapacitated and trembling in a caffeine and nicotine-fueled fetal position for the better part of a week. I can't make heads nor tails of Lexus' first foray into supercardom, simply because nothing exists in the four-wheeled world to put it into perspective. Judging by your comments, I'm not alone.

There's more to this story than driving impressions and photos.
It's a front-engine GT, but its MSRP means it doesn't compete with the Ferrari 599. It's a technological tour de force nearly on par with the Bugatti Veyron, but its 202 MPH top speed doesn't come close to the V-max of Ferdinand Piech's quad-turbo masterpiece. It's lithe and nimble, but lacks the directness and tactility of the Lotus Elise. Its 3.7-second zero-to-60 time falls short of the GT-R, and it can't come close to the Nissan's point-to-point brutality. There's simply no frame of reference to apply, which begs the question: Why? Why has Lexus invested hundreds of million of dollars, ran a dozen races and developed nearly every single component in-house to build a scant 500 LFAs and offer them to the world's elite?

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma coated in carbon fiber. And there's obviously more to this story than simply driving impressions and photos. So after last week's barrage of LFA news, it's time to take a step back... then get stuck right back in.

The general consensus is that Toyota built the LFA simply because it could. That's just a poor excuse to prevent your head from exploding. The LFA represents more than just a V10-powered, carbon fiber plaything; the investment in development, technology and manufacturing appears to be a cornerstone of ToMoCo's future products and Toyota President Akio Toyoda's vision for the automaker. But let's put the bird's eye view aside for the moment and revel in the details, beginning with the styling.

Compared to the concept that rolled out at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, the production LFA bears more resemblance to Toyota's follow-up in 2007. The flat, pointed exterior has evolved into a scooped and ducted coupe that's far and away the best application of Lexus' L-finesse design language to date. But as everyone is quick to point out, the LFA is unabashedly Japanese. And that's only the half of it. Literally.

Up front, it's a semi-convoluted mess of angles and creases typified by the overwrought headlamps that look more like an afterthought than a cohesive design element. But get aft of the A-pillar, and it's marvelous. Swoops, intakes, smooth, organic surfaces matched with raw, industrial (and functional) components. The LFA has presence, though it's decidedly low-key when compared to other exotica � something that could be a boon or a curse for appearance conscious consumers.

Every carbon fiber component was developed and manufactured by Toyota.
Even if you can't get past the fascia, know that everything is there for a purpose. And that purpose is performance. The gap ahead of the hood feeds air to the engine. The intakes below the doors cool the brakes and supply air to the rear-mounted radiators. The sizable side mirrors and quaint set of spoilers hovering over the LED tail lamps are pure, wind tunnel and track-tested perfection. The two small slits housed within the black vents out back provide an exit for air that's been scooped up from an underbody tray to cool the titanium exhaust. And the dual ducts in the hood are mated to a chimney that shuttles the toasty atmosphere away from the titanium exhaust manifold. It's all ruthlessly exacting and terrifically efficient � exactly what you'd expect from an automaker whose recent reputation is built on perfection over passion. But that's not an insult, it's a necessary � maybe even complimentary � explanation when you scratch past the 28 available exterior colors.

Here's an example: Unbeknownst to us, Toyota has 150 years of textile manufacturing experience. Why bring it up? That gracefully arching A-pillar is the product of one of two rotary looms in the world (we're working on snagging video from Lexus PR) masterfully weaving individual strands of carbon fiber into the desired shape. And that's just the A-pillar. Every single carbon fiber component was developed and manufactured by Toyota � from the tub to the body panels � including the blast fiber reinforced sheet panels (think Chevrolet Corvette or Saturn) for the front and rear fenders, doors, roof rails and rocker panels. Parking lot dings are a simple (if expensive) swap away.

This holistic approach to development is one of the reasons it took so damn long for the LFA to come to market. Midway through its incubation, Toyota realized it couldn't meet the rigidity, weight and sound targets with an aluminum structure, so they went back to the drawing board and decided to replace it all with carbon fiber. The result: the 3,263-pound LFA is 65 percent composite and 35 percent aluminum � not single a piece of steel to be found.

And no, there won't be a convertible version.

That's a pity when you hear the 72-degree 4.8-liter V10 blasting past its 9,000 RPM redline. As evident in the video last week, the engine's exhaust note is muted and a bit of bore inside the cabin. But outside, running down the front straight of the Miami-Homestead Speedway, it sounds like an industrial hairdryer mic'd through a bullhorn. The aural cacophony and prodigious output of the 1LR-GUE V10 is partially thanks to Yamaha, which helped develop the engine for Toyota. But the collaboration didn't just net 552 horsepower at 8,700 RPM and 354 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 RPM. Yamaha tapped its musical department to tune the intake and exhaust tracts, resulting in a decidedly un-V10 soundtrack. It's not quite an F1 blare, but it's not far off, and below 3,000 RPM, there's no hint of the potential underneath and none of the unbalanced rattling found in truck engines modified for track duty.

Three air-cooled heat exchangers and a 10-liter remote oil reservoir handle both cooling and lubrication duties for the dry-sump V10, which is shorter and narrower than Toyota's own 3.5-liter V6. With weight distribution of paramount importance, the engine sits behind the strut towers and rests so deep that the valve covers actually sit below the tops of the tires. Because of its low placement and the rear-mounted six-speed sequential gearbox, Toyota developed an offset gear mounted to the crank that sends power to the transmission through a torque tube � a world's first. All of this results in a 48/52 front-to-rear weight distribution and a center of gravity that sits just behind the steering wheel. You're practically sitting on top of it, so the LFA pivots around your hips rather than being anchored up front � nearly negating the mid-engine argument.

Nestled into the stylish yet supremely comfortable seats, Toyota's attention to detail continued to assault every fiber of my being. I can't remember the last time I was excited about seat controls (never?), but the milled aluminum switchgear next to one's left leg is modern automotive art. Even the seatbelt causes pause: its thick, textured outer coating stretched across the chest, simultaneously securing and satisfying. I've never experienced that before, and probably never will again.

With the wheel-mounted Engine Start button depressed, the TFT screen lights up in Auto mode with the central-mounted aluminum bezel surrounding the tach and a digital speedometer � it's all digital and all configurable. Press the D-pad on the left of the steering wheel and the trip computer, engine vitals and lap timer pushes the tachometer to the right. Toggle the switch again and the display smoothly retracts back to the center. Three knobs to the left of the instrument cluster allow you to change transmission, engine and traction control settings, with the top knob allowing the selection of Auto, Sport, Normal or Wet driving modes. Twisting it down to Sport, all 552 horses are at my disposal, the gearshifts drop to two-tenths of a second and the tach's background switches to white, drops the 1,000 RPM mark and moves the redline up to the two-o'clock position for optimal viewing.

Finally, it's time to drive.

I leisurely run through first, second and third gears before making the slow left turn to enter the track. Gear changes are polished, but slightly abrupt, and only slightly smoother in automatic mode. Although two-tenths is properly quick, the latest 'boxes from Italy and Germany could put the LFA to shame in execution, but not refinement considering Toyota's decision to stay sequential.

I take the first lap around Homestead's infield (sadly, no banked runs for us � the LFAs on hand are the only two production prototypes in existence), to get the feel for the layout, but by the time I make it back to the front straight � tires warmed, carbon ceramic discs begging to be brutalized � my confidence grows in proportion to how quickly the ten individual throttle butterflies shuttle air into the compact V10.

By the time I brake for the first sweeping left-hander, I've crested the 130 MPH mark, the front 15.35-inch and 14.17-inch rear drilled discs clamped by six-piston (front) and four-piston (rear) calipers. Body roll? You'd have a better chance finding a show tunes CD in a Texas locker room. There's absolutely no dive, twist or squat transitioning from the stoppers to the steering to the throttle before downshifting from fourth to third with the left paddle.

I clip the first apex on the left, dab the brakes for the late apex on the right and realize there's no reason to slow down or load up the height adjustable front coilovers. The front double A-arm and multi-link rear suspension is perfectly taut and supremely composed as I lay into the throttle down the infield straight. The tach effortlessly flies to the right, glows green for a moment at 8,500 RPM, then red at 9k joined by an infernal beep when I select third and, a sneeze later, fourth. Heavy braking into another late right-hander, snatch third before going into a long right-hand bend and then right back up through fourth. The whole experience is so undramatic that it's unnerving. And not particularly thrilling either.

Generally, when I come off of a new track after a few hot laps in anything � Versa or Veyron � my hands are a bit shaky and my legs a little on the wobbly side. With the LFA, it feels like I just re-robed after a Swedish massage. That's just not right, so after an internal download session, I head back for another three laps.

This time out, I've got a flow, a feel for the track and its transitions. On the three sections where the road course meets the oval, the surface changes slightly, providing the perfect opportunity for a few ill-advised � but controlled � hamfisted maneuvers. Coming onto and off the back straight, where a 100+ MPH run is easily attainable, these abrupt transitions simply can't rattle the LFA no matter the steering, throttle or brake inputs. With four strategically placed mounts holding the engine and transmission to the carbon fiber monocoque, the four 20-inch wheels (each wrapped in an all-new Bridgestone Potenza pattern that Lexus isn't at liberty to talk about) remain in constant contact with the tarmac, no matter what idiotic maneuver I pull off. I deliberately nail the sexy machined brake pedal mid-corner and the LFA readjusts its attitude and carries forth. The power-assisted steering may not be the most communicative, but it's perfectly precise and deadly accurate. When I stab the throttle with around 30 degrees of lock dialed in, the Sport mode's traction control setting � which modulates the rear brakes and doesn't disrupt power delivery (the opposite of Normal mode) � and the Torsen limited-slip differential allows the rear end to gently track out, while all I've done is keep the throttle planted and taken a few degrees out of the steering. It's otherworldly and simply effortless to drive quickly.

Right. But is it fun?

It is, but in a leather-ensconced, grand-tourer from the fourth dimension way. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to take the LFA onto public roads, so its daily livability (that suspension is plenty stiff) and horizon-come-forth abilities haven't been fully exploited, let alone assessed. But it's got the potential to be many things � track toy and ultra-GT � to 500 (stupendously wealthy) people. But the overarching question about why Toyota's created the LFA still remains unanswered.

The LFA is a harbinger of the future for Toyota.
Sure, it's a halo car in the purest sense. With only 20 LFAs being built between December of 2010 and the end of 2011, a $375,000 MSRP and 30 billion ways for well-to-do owners to screw it up configure the interior and exterior, seeing one on the road is going to be all-too-rare. But a halo vehicle is supposed to bring people into dealerships, and we somehow doubt consumers are going to ogle an LFA then turn around and buy an IS 250. So there's got to be something more...

Let's go back to the bird's eye view. Toyota opted for a carbon fiber structure as opposed to aluminum, and while we almost/sorta/kinda buy the line about the previous prototypes not meeting specific targets, it would've been far less expensive to manufacture the LFA out of metal rather than the exotic and expensive weave. By doing everything in-house, Toyota's learned plenty about the mass production of carbon fiber and, possibly, how to bring costs down to a more manageable level � maybe even less than aluminum.

The age of automotive lightness is nearly upon us, and unconventional wisdom says that the automaker who brings composite production costs out of the stratosphere is going to have a huge advantage going forward. The LFA is a test bed for that development � the first massive leap for the world's largest automaker.

While weight reduction is something all enthusiasts are clamoring for, Toyota's first application is the hyper-expensive LFA. Far, far below that is the FT-86 Concept, which Toyota asserts is the model for lightweight sports coupes going forward. So they've got the LFA at the top and the FT-86 at the bottom... what's in between?

We don't know, but we wouldn't be surprised if Toyota unveils something in the next few years that takes the lessons learned from the LFA and distills them into a lightweight, sub-$100k package. That model � if not that specific vehicle � seems to be the direction President Akio Toyoda is aiming for... and until then, the LFA is here: A harbinger of the future and proof that immensely entertaining things are on the way from Toyota. Finally.

Ram hybrid coming in 2010

Ram hybrid coming in 2010

According to The Detroit News, the big joint development program formed several years ago between General Motors, Daimler, Chrysler and BMW to develop a two-mode hybrid system for light duty vehicles is over. With all four automakers now having launched versions of the gas-electric system, the joint program is being wound down and the Troy, Michigan office where engineers from each company collaborated will be closed by the end of this year. Most of the joint work actually ended last June and many of the staff have already been relocated to other facilities.

The Mercedes-Benz ML450 hybrid and BMW X6 ActiveHybrid are both going into production right about now using a version of the two mode transmission built by Daimler. Chrysler, which briefly built a version of the Durango and Aspen SUVs with the hybrid system last year, remains committed to re-launching the system in the Ram pickups in 2010. At this point, however, it looks unlikely that the planned light-duty hybrid will launch anytime soon in the Ram 1500.

[Source: The Detroit News]

Tokyo 2009: Should Honda bring the Freed MPV to America?

2009 Honda Freed

Here in Tokyo, we were hanging around with some American Honda Motor Co. officials when they got their first up-close look at the Freed. The Freed is a compact minivan/MPV based on Honda's Fit architecture. For reference, the six-seat, three-row Freed is about 15 inches shorter than a Mazda5 and about 4 inches longer than a U.S.-spec Fit.

Freed's third row seats fold up against the sides of its body, leaving a completely flat load floor. At least two U.S. Honda PR people checking out the model loved the idea of offering it Stateside, although they'd be inclined to see two changes. Because of the micro-van's short length, they would drop the third row and move the second row back for more legroom. Additionally, the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (the same one used in the U.S. Fit) would also likely be replaced by something a bit larger for the our market � possibly a 1.8-liter or even a 2.0-liter.

[Source: Honda]

Tokyo 2009: Toyota FT-EV II concept

Toyota FT-EV II concept

Toyota has revealed its latest plug-in electric concept car here at the Tokyo Motor Show. The FT-EV II is a followup to the iQ-based FT-EV that we saw in Detroit earlier this year but appears to be a ground-up design that takes advantage of the electric drive architecture. The iQ is promoted as a 3+1 layout because the presence of the steering column and instrument cluster force the driver's seat to be further back � limiting the already small rear seat behind it.

The new concept uses a complete drive-by-wire system with joystick-like controls that feature a steam-punk design motif. The result is wide open space in the front, which conspire with the very thin-shell seats to offer decent room inside. The car also has sliding doors on both sides. It's not known if this concept represents a design direction for an urban BEV that Toyota will likely build to meet ZEV mandates in the next five years, but it would seem to make sense for Toyota to do a custom design such as this.

Tokyo 2009: Toyota Prius claims Japan Car of the Year title

Toyota Prius claims Japan Car of the Year title

For the past 30 years, Japan has declared a car of the year, an award given to newly released or redesigned vehicles released from November 1st of the previous year to October 1st of the current year. More than 60 jurors composed of Japanese journalists receive an allocation of votes, and the car with the most votes comes away with the crown.

This year the Toyota Prius narrowly edged out the Honda Insight, continuing the recent trend of environmentally-friendly winners. Other notable winners included the new Volkswagen Golf, which was named the Import Car of the Year, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which was declared to have the Most Advanced Technology. The Nissan Fairlady Z won the category of Most Fun, and finally the Subaru Legacy took top honors for Best Value.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the award, the Tokyo Motor Show also organized a display of past winners, starting with the Mazda Familia 3-door Hatch Back in 1980-1981 and finishing with last year's winner, the Toyota IQ.

Tokyo 2009: Subaru Legacy B4 GT300

Subaru Legacy B4 GT300

Our jaws literally dropped when we spotted this car in the Subaru booth here at the Tokyo Motor Show. The concoction of carbon fiber spoilers, wings and widened fenders seen here is the Legacy B4 GT300 racecar that is set to compete in Japan's Super GT series next year. The car actually made its racing debut at Fuji Speedway last month, and even though previous driveline problems prevented this racer from making an even earlier debut, the B4 GT300 managed 300 trouble-free kilometers to finish a respectable 18th place.

As for specs, the Legacy B4 GT300 features a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer-four that pumps out more than 300 horsepower. With all-wheel drive, a six-speed sequential transmission, and a curb weight of just over 2800 pounds, we imagine it's an absolute blast to pilot around the track.

Tokyo 2009: Caterham CSR 175

Caterham CSR 175

It would be tempting to call this year's Tokyo Motor Show an entirely domestic affair, but that's not entirely accurate, as a few smaller specialty automakers like Lotus and Alpina took advantage of a surplus of available square footage by nailing down prime floor space for themselves. As a belated addition to the festivities, Caterham, England's merry band of Colin Chapman acolytes marked the occasion with the world debut of its CSR 175.

The new model slots in as a new bottom rung to the CSR franchise, which is paradoxically the marque's premium range. The 175 joins the range's existing trio of variants, the 200 bhp CSR200, the 260bhp CSR260 and the full-house 260 bhp CSR Superlight. If you're paying attention, you can therefore deduce that the new addition possesses 175 bhp. That may not sound like a lot of power, but in a car that weighs as much as an anorexic gnat, we reckon the Ford-sourced 2.3-liter Duratec four-pot will still be plenty entertaining.

Either way, traditional minimalist roadsters like the Se7en have never been about terminal velocity, they've always been predicated on leech-like cornering and giant-kiling acceleration. And given that the 175 shares the CSR family's stiffer spaceframe chassis, updated suspension and refined aerodynamics, Caterham's latest should continue corner like a cat on carpet


CATERHAM, UNITED KINGDOM � October 15, 2009: Caterham Cars will be one of just three European manufacturers exhibiting at this month's Tokyo Motor Show (Oct 24-Nov 4).

The iconic British sportscar marque will continue its surge into markets across the globe by exhibiting three of its newest models � the Japanese premiere of the Superlight R300 EU4, the world premiere of the CSR 175 EU4 and the Roadsport EU4 which have not only achieved pan-European homologation but have passed Japan's even more stringent regulations.

Japan has long been a key export market thanks to the country's fascination with all things connected with innovative British design. Caterham has sold cars successfully in Japan since the 1970s.

The exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show is the latest move by Caterham importer, Premium Cars Import (PCI) to help promote the brand in the Far East. PCI was confirmed as Caterham's Japanese exclusive importer in January this year.

Caterham Cars managing director, Ansar Ali, will be attending the show and said: "Japan has always been one of our biggest export markets. During the early 1990s, Caterham was selling over 100 cars a year in Japan and now, with our new importer doing great work to highlight the company from their Tokyo base, we are looking forward to pushing sales up again.

"I have no doubt we will achieve this objective as we now have a retail network of over 15 dealers in Japan who are committed to making Caterham another British success in this exciting and dynamic market.

"The Tokyo Motor Show is a fantastic way to showcase our unique products alongside the numerous world premieres from other manufacturers. To be one of only a small handful of European manufacturers present shows our commitment to this market."

Tokyo 2009: Mazda RX-500

Mazda RX-500

One of the coolest concept cars here at the Tokyo Motor Show isn't even new. In fact, it's almost forty years old. Originally displayed at the Tokyo show in 1970, this Mazda RX-500 Concept features styling similar to the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO Breadvan, gullwing doors that swing forward, and a 491cc rotary engine just behind the seats. Weighing in at just 1873 pounds, the 247-horsepower concept was said to have reached nearly 150 mph on Mazda's test track.

Tokyo 2009: Nissan Fuga

2010 Nissan Fuga

We've always thought that Infiniti's current M35/M45 sedan deserved greater consideration from American consumers than it has typically received. With a strong VQ-series powerplant and entertaining rear-wheel drive handling, there has always been a lot to like from behind the wheel, but its restrained styling has seemingly always failed to convey the sort of emotion delivered by the driving experience. Thankfully, judging by its just-introduced Nissan Fuga twin here at the Tokyo Motor Show, anonymous styling figures to be less of an Achilles heel going forward.

Powered in the Japanese market by a pair of VQ-series V6 engines displacing 2.5-liters and 3.7-liters respectively (power figures have not been disclosed), the real emphasis for the next-gen model appears to be on advanced safety and creature comfort technology. We're hoping this focus doesn't result in compromised dynamics, but we are very curious to sample such bits of electronic wizardry as Nissan's "Forest AC" that includes a breeze setting and an aroma atomizer, to say nothing of "Intelligent Pedal," a new system that can actually make braking decisions based on data from the sat-nav unit. In our experience, bearing in mind how often the map data has been wrong in a given vehicle's GPS system, we hope that the system doesn't randomly lock up the binders for a phantom hairpin � especially with someone following a bit too closely behind.

Either way, when the Fuga comes to North America next year, we expect it to once again be powered by either the larger of the two VQ-series V6s or a V8 engine. A hybrid model will hit Japan next autumn, and we hear it's also coming Stateside.

New Nissan Fuga blends class-leading technology
interior comfort and performance

Redefining the traditional luxury car, Nissan's first generation Fuga luxury sedan, delivered outstanding performance, comfort and interior quality. Inheriting that flagship DNA package, the all-new Nissan Fuga arrives in Japanese showrooms this autumn.

Class-leading performance, handling and engineering
At the heart of the new Nissan Fuga are new technological advances that combine seemingly conflicting attributes such as nimble handling and comfortable ride, plus powerful acceleration and silent, eco-friendly performance. Customers may choose from either the VQ37VHR 3.7-liter V6 or the VQ25HR 2.5-liter V6.

Amongst the innovation, fitted to the Fuga are newly developed `Double Piston Shock Absorbers' (frequency responsive) that employ a double piston construction to improves handling and ride quality by increasing oil flow inside the shock absorber to reduce vibration from road undulations and absorb minor road imperfections.
Incorporating some significant advanced technologies such as LDP (Lane Departure Prevention system) and Intelligent Cruise Control, this sedan promotes safe, comfortable driving.

Based on sat-nav map information indicating a curve approaching, the system assists deceleration by deploying a movable accelerator pedal and activating the brakes in a system called `Intelligent Pedal (Navigation-Cooperative).' `Cornering Stability Assist' applies the VDC System to control vehicle movement for safe and smooth cornering. Both the `Intelligent Pedal' and the `Cornering Stability Assist' are world-first technologies to be featured on the new Fuga. Along with advanced active four-wheel steering, these technologies support the driver to ensure a comfortable driving.

Supporting Eco-drive and Safety-drive
The new Fuga is the world-first model to feature a driving safety support system, which utilizes the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) in its navigation system. The system supports safe driving by providing information to alert the driver at blind intersections for example, based on information on nearby vehicles and traffic environment, which is transmitted to the Fuga from optical beacons installed all across the country.

Fitted as equipment that supports eco-driving, the Fuga employs a world-first `ECO-pedal'. When the eco-pedal system is on, each time the driver steps on the accelerator, a counter push-back control mechanism is activated if the system detects overly zealous throttle work, helping to inform the driver that they could be using more fuel than required. An eco-driving indicator integrated into the instrument panel feeds the driver with real-time fuel consumption levels to help improve their driving behavior.

A first for Nissan, the newly engineered "Drive Mode Selector" is fitted as standard equipment and adjusts engine response, transmission shift schedule and 4-wheel active steering, giving the Fuga a sportier, more comfortable on-road feel. In addition to normal drive mode, the 4-door sedan features a newly fitted sports mode and eco-mode. By selecting a mode using a dial located under the gear shifter, drivers can choose modes ranging from sharper, more responsive handling to economical, easy cruising settings to suit any mood or road conditions.

Dynamic design appeals to senses
The new Fuga's powerful combination of long hood, short overhangs and deeply sculpted fenders with large diameter 20-inch wheels*, give a visual appeal as only authentic rear-wheel drive sports sedan proportions can. By moving the front pillar back, lowering the car's height and adding to its width, interior comfort has been enhanced while achieving a low, powerful stance.

The Nissan Fuga's large, low-slung, grille and bold headlight design inspired by traditional Japanese Kabuki eye make-up combine to establish a strong presence, while its sculptured body takes on varied personalities depending on the angle viewed and the light reflected on its surface.

Spacious, bright and comfortable interior
The premium quality interior in the new Fuga takes the first generation's highly rated cabin design to the next level. Designers have further improved interior quality by enhancing trim and details.

For example, seats in the luxurious interior employ `premium semi-aniline leather.' A special kneading process creates a softer, more supple surface that has been finished in a strong yet soft protective coating. This process results in a luxury sofa-like leather seat that is soft to the touch yet firm in its cushion support.

In addition, soft and smooth textured trim (Sofiless) has been used to cover the armrests and other spots where the skin touches, and the dashboard has been covered with a material that has the high-quality finish and comfortable softness of a leather furniture.

Employing a traditional hand-application method, craftsmen have painstakingly applied pure silver powder to the premium interior woodgrain panels giving them an immaculate mirror finish. The silver powder woodgrain paneling and semi-aniline leather are exclusive to premium interiors.

Utilizing materials suitable to each specific location in the car, occupants sense they are cocooned in a tailor-made cabin, surrounded by surfaces that are soft to the touch and switches that are all newly designed and boast a more luxurious, tactile and high-quality feel.

Significant luxurious appointments further elevate the Nissan Fuga's status as a leading luxury sedan. These include a world-first climate control system called ` Forest AC' that manages air temperature and fan strength, as well as humidity, odor detection and suppression to create the clean interior environment. Occupants can also enjoy the relaxing effect of special aromas and natural outdoor-like breezes through air vents, while a newly developed plasma-cluster ion unit purifies cabin air. In addition, the overwhelming sound from the BoseR Surround Sound System, which drives 16 speakers with a 14-channel digital amplifier, will ensure premium sound quality.

Overall Length (mm) 4,945
Overall Width (mm) 1,845
Overall Height (mm) 1,500
Wheelbase (mm) 2,900
Seating Capacity 5

Fuga Hybrid
On the Nissan stand at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, a hybrid version of the new Fuga will also be displayed. Employing a 3.5-liter V6, high-power Li-ion batteries and a highly efficient one-motor-two-clutch parallel hybrid system solely developed by Nissan, this model generates the fuel consumption of a compact C-segment car. This model will be launched in the Japanese market from 2010 autumn.

Tokyo 2009: 2010 Toyota Sai hybrid

2010 Toyota Sai hybrid

Toyota has rolled out its new Sai hybrid here at the Tokyo Motor Show, and if it looks familiar, that's because you've probably seen something very similar wearing "Lexus" and "HS250h" badges.

The overall aesthetic of the Sai is very similar to that of its premium sibling, but it features different light fixtures front and rear, along with bespoke fascias on both ends as well as a unique hood and trunk lid.

The Nippon-market dedicated gas-electric model utilizes the same 2.4-liter gasoline engine tied to Toyota's latest Hybrid Synergy Drive system, and the luxury compact features things like plant-derived plastics and a radar-based pre-crash safety system.

According to Toyota, "Sai" means "talent" and "coloration" depending on how it is written in Japanese, and the name is meant to combine "advanced talent and multi-color sophistication." Obviously.

The automaker expects 36,000 customers to be wooed by the front-driver's colorful talents each year. No word yet on whether the sedan will cross the Pacific as a more affordable Toyota-badged version of the HS250h


TMC Unveils Luxury Hybrid 'SAI'

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces the unveiling today in Japan of the compact luxury sedan "Sai", which is planned to go on sale in Japan on December 7.

The Sai is based on a concept derived from the Japanese word sai-which means "talent" when written as "sai" and "coloration" when written as "sai"-as a hybrid-only sedan "combining advanced talent and multi-color sophistication".

The Sai, designed with extensive consideration for the environment, features a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.4-liter engine for outstanding fuel efficiency and use of Ecological Plastic (made from plant-derived materials) for approximately 60% of the interior surface area. Its highly efficient package achieves an outstanding balance between maneuverability, comfort, refined sedan styling and aerodynamic performance. Furthermore, in addition to offering advanced features for high-level safety performance, such as a millimeter-wave-radar Pre-crash Safety system, the Sai, among its other attributes, provides cruising performance and riding comfort befitting a luxury vehicle, altogether making it a compact luxury vehicle for a new era that brings together "talent" and "coloration" to enrich customers' lifestyles.

Monthly sales target for Japan: 3,000 units

Assembly Plant: Miyata Plant, Toyota Motor Kyushu, Inc.

"Advanced talent"

Outstanding fuel efficiency and environmental performance

The Sai features the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) II combining a 2.4-liter Atkinson cycle combustion engine with an electric motor and a reduction gear. By delaying intake valve closure, the engine achieves a high expansion ratio at low pressure, thus raising heat efficiency.

* Possessing dynamic performance with power to spare, vehicle realizes fuel efficiency of 23.0km/l-on par with 660cc minivehicles-under 10-15 test cycle of Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT); under MLIT's JC08 test cycle, vehicle has fuel efficiency of 19.8km/l
* Vehicle meets new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards set out under Law Concerning Rational Use of Energy, and CO2 emissions are 75% lower than 2005 standards under MLIT approval system for low-emission vehicles, which is currently strictest standard in Japan for emissions; thus, vehicle qualifies for Japanese government tax reductions and subsidies for environmentally friendly vehicles

Key Hybrid System Specifications
Engine Model 2AZ-FXE
Displacement 2,362cc
Maximum output 110kW (150PS)/6,000rpm
Maximum torque 187N-m (19.1kgf-m)/4,400rpm
Motor Maximum output 105kW (143PS)
Maximum torque 270N-m (27.5kgf-m)
Complete system Maximum output* 140kW (190PS)
HV battery Type Nickel-metal hydride
*Using both engine power and electric motor power (based on TMC calculations)

The transaxle is exceptionally small and light, with a compact high-speed motor that achieves increased output and a reduction gear that increases torque.

An exhaust heat recovery system uses exhaust gas to heat the engine, thus shortening engine-warming time and contributing to greatly improved fuel efficiency, especially when outside temperatures are low.
LED headlights conserve electric power and consequently reduce power-generation requirements on the engine.

In addition to Standard Driving Mode, which balances fuel efficiency and power, drivers can also select Eco-Drive Mode, which prioritizes fuel efficiency by moderating driving force relative to accelerator operation and putting the air conditioner into a low energy-consumption mode, and Electric Vehicle (EV) Drive Mode, which uses the electric motor only, resulting in extremely quite cruising and zero emissions.

Support for environmentally considerate driving
A Hybrid System Indicator that shows real-time driving status and an Eco Driving Indicator that lights up to signify fuel-efficient vehicle operation provide visual support to the driver.

The ESPO1 system, which encourages and rewards environmentally considerate driving, enables drivers to gain extra enjoyment.

* G-BOOK mX, TMC's advanced telematics service, assesses environmentally considerate driving and awards points to driver; mastery of eco-driving can be determined according to rate of points gained each month
* Programs that allow drivers to make donations to charities using points received, that rank fuel efficiency of nationwide Sai ESPO users, and other fun incentives to encourage drivers to drive in environmentally considerate ways, are available

Environmental impact reduction
To limit CO2 emissions through achieving carbon neutrality2 and to minimize use of Earth's limited fossil fuels, plant-based Ecological Plastic has been used for approximately 60% of the interior surface area-by far the greatest use of such plastic by TMC in any vehicle to date.

* Ecological Plastic used for first time in ceiling and pillar garnishes and sun visor surfaces in mass-production vehicle; plastic also adopted in injection-molded parts such as scuff plates and luggage trays, as well as for luggage-space trim surfaces and foam in seat cushions
* Required heat resistance, shock resistance and mass production capabilities have been ensured by employing advanced compounding technologies to combine plastic's plant-derived and petroleum-derived raw materials
* Logo and surface patterns indicate parts made of Ecological Plastic
* Recycled materials are also used in parts such as undercover to further reduce environmental impact

TMC employed its Eco-Vehicle Assessment System (Eco-VAS)-its in-house-developed system to comprehensively assess environmental impact-in designing the Sai.

* Eco-VAS includes setting targets at start of vehicle development to help reduce environmentally harmful factors by such means as balanced reduction of CO2 emissions
* Life-cycle assessment carried out to reduce CO2 and air contaminants throughout vehicle's lifecycle

Review of materials, processing methods and adhesives used for interior parts resulted in a reduction of volatile organic compounds and sometimes-unpleasant interior odors to levels compliant with voluntary industry standards.

High-efficiency package limits length while increasing interior space

The Sai adopts a high-efficiency package that balances superb maneuverability and comfort with attractive, refined sedan styling and aerodynamic performance.

* Body size offers excellent maneuverability and minimum turning radius of 5.2 meters (when fitted with 16-inch wheels)
* Slightly elevated hip point enhances forward visibility and positioning of door openings and seat height optimized to ease ingress and egress
* Telescopic, tilt-function steering wheel and eight-way adjustable power seat enable driver to easily set optimal driving position
* Slimmer front seatbacks allow more legroom at knee height for increased rear comfort and ease of ingress and egress
* Optimal positioning of hybrid-system battery secures enough luggage space to accommodate four golf bags3

Enhanced safety equipment

Advanced technologies including a Pre-crash Safety System (featuring millimeter-wave radar) to counter both front and rear collisions as well as seven Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags-standard on all models-and optional rear seat SRS side airbags pursue safety performance at the highest levels.

Preventive safety performance and driving support

* Steering-assisted Vehicle Stability Control (S-VSC) system-standard on all models-optimally balances driving power, steering and braking to achieve stable driving regardless of road conditions
* Pre-crash Safety system (millimeter-wave radar type) detects risk of collision and warns driver with buzzer and display; depending on probability of collision, system also initiates Pre-Crash Brake Assist system, Pre-Crash Brakes, and Pre-crash Seatbelts to minimize collision damage
* If Pre-crash Safety system determines risk of collision from vehicle approaching from behind, hazard lights flash to warn driver; if collision is highly probable, system shifts front-seat headrests to optimum position to brace occupants for impact and to lessen risk of injuries
* Brake-signal system-standard on all models-flashes brake lights in event of sudden braking to warn driver of the vehicle behind
* On highways and freeways, Lane-keeping Assist alerts driver of lane divergence and assists with corrective steering
* Radar cruise control (with brake control) maintains appropriate distance from vehicle immediately in front within set speed
* Wide-view front monitor simultaneously displays ground in front of vehicle as well as left and right frontal areas

Collision safety

* Vehicle features advanced Global Outstanding Assessment (GOA) collision-safety body that incorporates omni-directional compatibility to achieve exceptional collision safety performance in frontal, side or rear collisions
* Body designed to reduce pedestrian head and leg injuries in unfortunate event of collision with pedestrian
* Seven SRS airbags, including SRS knee airbags (driver seat) and SRS side and curtain shield airbags, are standard on all models; rear seats have SRS side airbags and seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters (optional) to enhance rear-seat safety
* Active Headrest-standard on all models for driver- and front-passenger seats-shifts headrest to appropriate position to lessen stress on neck and reduce risk of whiplash injury sustained during rear-end collision

"Multi-color sophistication"

Simple, modern interior and exterior designs integrate and refine functional beauty and style

The unique exterior, based on the Toyota-brand "Vibrant Clarity" design philosophy, creates a triangular silhouette-a first for a Toyota-brand sedan-that features outstanding aerodynamic performance as well as prominent innovation and styling.

* Low grille reduces air resistance and enhances engine-cooling performance, while plated grille and area around headlights convey quality, creating refined sense of integration of whole front section and express union of innovation and style
* Aero-management features in adoption of triangular silhouette; character line along door shoulder section extends to rear and emphasizes trunk while achieving both excellent aerodynamic performance and stylish sedan form
* Laser welding technology (laser brazing) used for first time on Toyota-brand vehicle to join trunk lid panels; clean and subtle rear view features detailed plated garnishes
* Seven exterior colors, including newly developed Aqua Mica Metallic, available

Enhanced aerodynamic performance
Through use of aero-management, the vehicle's underbody has underfloor covers across large sections to create smoothness, achieving a coefficient drag value of 0.27-among the highest in its class4.

* Front pillars are positioned forward, while rearmost portion of roof is gently sloped, resulting in excellent aerodynamics; sides of front bumper feature "aero-corner" (plane surface to streamline airflow along areas around wheels)
* Light but highly rigid roof panel shaped to reduce wind resistance
* Front achieves negative lift (downward force) when equipped with 18-inch wheels, enhancing tire grip when cruising at high speeds and providing excellent handling and cruising stability

The cockpit layout is driver-focused and provides outstanding visibility and operability, while the interior conveys modernity and quality with an unassuming and consistent beauty, including a slim and flowing center cluster characterized by advanced functionality.

* Display Zone, which displays information, and Command Zone, for operations, create advanced cockpit that enables driver to focus on driving
* Navigation screen, which displays maps, air-conditioning and audio-system information and more, is positioned in upper center of instrument panel to minimize need to shift visual focus
* Vehicle features Remote Touch system-Toyota-brand debut-positioned optimally on center cluster that allows driver to operate on-screen cursor using fingertips; together with steering-wheel-mounted controls, combined system reduces need for driving-posture changes
* Electro Shift-matic (shift-by-wire) shift lever, conveniently located close to steering wheel, can be used with minimal effort
* Easy-to-use, steering-wheel-mounted controls and Remote Touch allow infrequently used center-cluster controls to be covered, thereby maintaining the cluster's easy-to-use, simple, modern form; combination with thin gauge hoods and shape of armrests provides depth and feeling of quality to advanced cockpit space
* Stylish front seats' thin seatbacks achieve comfort and also contribute to roominess of rear-seat area

Comfort-enhancing features
A Power Easy Access System that supports the driver's ingress and egress and other comfort-enhancing features befit such a luxury vehicle.

Newly developed fabric seat covers (in plum and gray) combine vibrant elegance with a silken textural quality. The driver and passenger seats also have functions that help prevent static electricity build-up and eliminate odors. For optimum comfort, automatically controlled leather heated seats, in plum, are also available.

Storage spaces, including an illuminated and lockable glove compartment, overhead console, and bottle holders, are positioned for optimal convenience.

An HDD navigation system with 8-inch pop-up display comes standard on all models. All 10 speakers of the Super Live Sound System (excluding the tweeters) contain bamboo fiber-a material with minimal environmental impact-for clear sound reproduction.

Fully automatic air conditioning (with a pollen removal mode) that allows the temperature to be set independently for the driver and passenger side is standard on all models. A temperature adjustment switch is also located on the passenger-side door trim.

Plasmacluster Ions�5 releases a balance of positive and negative ions into the cabin, helping reduce the propagation of airborne germs and impurities, thus aiding the creation of a stress-free cabin environment.

Hybrid-specific features
The color, Hybrid Synergy Blue, which identifies TMC's hybrid vehicles and their advanced nature, is used on the vehicle's emblems, headlights, combination taillights, gauge display, shift knob and power switches.

Superior driving performance befitting a luxury vehicle

The 2.4-liter hybrid system is powerful yet refined, providing smooth and seamless acceleration.

The new platform was developed for medium/compact vehicles. Tuning tailored specifically for the Sai provides superior and light handling, excellent cruising stability and comfortable ride.

* Hood and body frame materials use aluminum and high-tensile steel plates to achieve both lightness and high rigidity
* Newly designed suspension features MacPherson struts in front and new double wishbone format in back

The electric power steering (EPS) adopts a brushless motor. The steering gear ratio and EPS control are optimized for comfortable maneuverability and a feeling of direct control from low to high speeds.

Meticulous attention was paid to reducing noise by combining a high-rigidity body with vibration-damping suspension members and optimal placement of vibration-controlling and soundproofing materials, thus raising the high level of quietness that typifies a hybrid vehicle.

Welcabs: Specially equipped vehicles with factory-installed features for disabled people

Lift-up Front Passenger Seat models (Type A and Type B) feature a front-passenger seat that slides down and to the outside of the vehicle to facilitate ingress and egress. Switches to slide and recline the seat are on both the left and right sides of the vehicle, also enabling operation from the driver's seat. In addition, rear-seat legroom was maintained by making the lift-up mechanism more compact. "Type B" has a motorized device for loading and unloading a wheelchair.

As with the base vehicle, the Welcab models qualify for Japanese government tax reductions and subsidies for environmentally friendly vehicles.

1Abbreviation derived from "eco" and "passport"
2Refers to zero net CO2 emissions over entire product life cycle
3Depending on the size and shape of golf bag, stowage may differ
4Compared to vehicles of similar engine displacement
5Registered trademark of Sharp Corporation

Tokyo 2009: Alpina B7 Bi-Turbo LWB

Alpina B7 Bi-Turbo LWB

The Alpina B7 Bi-Turbo long wheelbase revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show today doesn't add anything to the less well-endowed Alpina B7 we saw at Geneva except length, but isn't that enough? The double-turbo'd 4.4-liter V8 brings 507 romping horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque � all of which is enough to get the white whale to sixty in 4.8 seconds.

Alpina's custom 21-inchers support an interior package touched up with the tuner's logo throughout. Our only cause for pause: the much larger steering wheel; the smaller diameter unit in the regular BMW helps to make the execu-barge a hoot to throw around a track.

Tokyo 2009: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo Concept

You can make anything bigger and better if you just add a hump, and that's what Mitsubishi has done to its i-MiEV to create the i-MiEV Cargo.

For those who find Ford's Transit Connect simply too monstrous and don't want to pay for gas � like, oh, a commercial concern in Tokyo � Mitsu's battery-powered i-MiEV could be the perfect solution. Growing only in height compared to its hatchback sibling, the thing is tiny but still packs 62 cubic feet of cargo space in its Quasimodo back end � that's a little less than half the Transit Connect's space. That said, we have to wonder how much a full cargo load will negatively effect the i-MiEV's range and overall performance.


Generous expansion of i-MiEV 's interior space
Concept: Greater utility for an extended range of uses

The i-MiEV CARGO is a concept car that maximizes the outstanding environmental performance and economic efficiency characteristics that define the i-MiEV production model and at the same time adds a generous amount of customizable free space at the rear to extend the range of uses to which it can be put by corporate users and self-employed operators in particular. The result is a concept for an EV that meets user space needs and demands for a variety of situations: from business use, where maximum payload space is required, to leisure and other individual owner uses. Being a zero-emission vehicle that produces no drive-time CO2* the i-MiEV CARGO offers the ideal solution to users in the welfare and medical fields where clean low emission vehicles are becoming a requirement.

*: Excluding CO2 emitted during the generation-to-charging process.

Innovative and unique styling gives appealing road presence

The i-MiEV CARGO ' s distinctive styling was developed around a "joint" design concept as it links the i-MiEV ' s curvaceous front section with a square rear end that offers extra space. The S-shape body line running from the front to the rear gives the vehicle a light and nimble appearance when viewed from the side. The unique styling which effectively joins the radically different front and rear sections creates a road presence that will attract attention not just around town but on any number of situations. Inside, the simple and user-friendly styling eliminates extraneous elements and details to improve usability and create an interior space characterized by its free-thinking design and originality.

Free Space
Generous and versatile free space invites creative use of imagination

The square-design compartment at the rear of the vehicle allows every inch of available space to be utilized. Also, with its flat floor design and high capacity, the space not only accommodates more luggage or cargo but also lends itself to being customized in practically any manner the owner's imagination may run to and thus extend the range of uses to which it can be put. The height of the floor has been designed to facilitate loading and unloading of luggage or cargo.

Tokyo 2009: Suzusho Supasse-V

Suzusho Supasse-V

The concept behind the Suzusho Supasse-V is a good one. Take a lightweight chassis, a Le Mans-inspired body, then stuff it with the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4 from the Mazdaspeed3 and a 6-speed transmission. How can that go wrong? Well, we wouldn't say the Supasse-V is a failed attempt at the formula, but it fell short of our expectations from when we first learned about the car a few weeks ago.

In person the Supasse-V looks like...well...a kit car. We don't know why this is a surprise, since Suzusho specializes in Lotus 7 replicas, but the car actually looked pretty good in pictures. Up close we couldn't help but notice the awkwardly shaped and oversized wheel wells or the dated headlight design that always seems to come with kit cars. The interior is spartan but purposeful and reminds us of a Lotus Elise, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Still, the Supasse-V is far short of cars like the relatively polished Rossion Q1.

Press Release:

Supasse V - Tokyo Motor Show 2009

This is the second car show of extremely high performance closed sports car Supasse V. Director Toshio Suzuki was a Racing driver. He and his two sons and his professional staff has been to designing and manufacturing sports car using 3D CAD systems for many years. The monocoque chassis and the suspension is designed by Suzusho. The rear sub frame is bolt on and is easily replaceable. The Suppasse-V is the closest thing on the road that is equal to a competitive racing car which, can be seen at Le-mans and many other circuits. The Body is shaped and designed by the famous Kenji Mimura, who is well known for Dome Zero and Le-mans cars in Japan. We are very pleased to present to you with satisfaction the Supasse V.


Length 3,873mm
Width 1,953mm
Height 1,160mm
Wheel Base 2,447mm
Track Fr/Rr 1,540mm / 1,550mm
Road Clearance 95mm
Weight 850Kg
Chassis Alminium twin tube monocoque , Steel tube sub frame
Body FRP
Engine L3-VDT
Power 2,260cc 264PS/5500 rpm
Transmission 6 speed manual
Suspension Fr/Rr Double wishbone push-rod dumpers
Brake Fr/Rr 4pod ventilated disc / Single pot solid disc
Tyre size Fr/Rr 245/35-18 / 265/35-18
Wheel size Fr/Rr 8.5J/18 / 9.5J/18

Tokyo 2009: WRX STi Carbon

WRX STi Carbon

Most people we talked with don't seem to understand the point of the Subaru WRX STi Carbon unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show � but it's a JDM-only car, and frankly, there are a lot of things that outsiders don't understand about the Japanese market.

The carbon-roofed A-Line will come with two choices of engine, but since the model isn't earmarked for America, we probably don't need to worry about it. That said, the powerplants are as intriguing as the car: a 2.5-liter turbo with 296 horsepower, and a more powerful 2.0-liter turbo with 305 hp. Both will operate through the only tranny on offer: a five-speed automatic. If you got past that last sentence, there's also suede inside. So you'll be more comfortable shifting... your automatic.

Tokyo 2009: Honda SkyDeck

Honda SkyDeck

Unlike the CR-Z which is nothing more than a thinly veiled preview of an upcoming production model, the Honda Skydeck remains a pure design study at this point. While most automakers would provide a full list of specifications for a concept that is nothing more than a fiberglass buck, Honda isn't bothering with even that. The only thing the automaker says about this Tokyo Motor Show star is that it's a theoretical hybrid.

The SkyDeck is a six-seat MPV with some oddball portals and interesting interior fitments. The front doors swing up Lambo style, while the rear sliders actually pop out like normal doors and drop down as they slide back, ideal for jamming against the curb.

Once inside, the first two rows of seats are cantilever mounted off of the center tunnel and the second row can slide forward and down to stow underneath the fronts. All the seats consist of a mesh material stretched between a wooden frame.

[Source: Honda]

Tokyo 2009: Daihatsu Basket concept

Daihatsu Basket concept

We're sure it wasn't meant this way, but standing beside the Daihatsu Basket concept, you do feel like you could throw things in it, pick the thing up by its t-top crossbar, and take it to a picnic. And carrying it that way would probably be better than driving it. A thoroughly JDM offering, it is described thusly: "the slow pace of life open four-seater model with a wide rear deck is designed for full enjoyment of life, such as for trips to the family vegetable plot out of the city." Amen.

The rinky-dinky pickup packs a removable hardtop up front and a removable canvas top in back, and linen throughout the cabin for that light, airy interior feel.

okyo 2009: Honda EV-N concept

Honda EV-N concept

Honda's new CEO Takanobu Ito started off his tenure at the head of the company today by unveiling a new plug-in battery electric concept. The EV-N showcar hides its futuristic electron pumping powertrain in a decidedly retro bodystyle thanks to a design reminiscent of the subcompact 600N of the Sixties.

Honda has yet to reveal much in the way of technical details about the diminutive hatch, but we do know it uses lithium-ion batteries and the electric motor drives the front wheels. The car can be started with a fob called the Loop that incorporates a display showing the driver know the battery pack's state of charge.

Tokyo 2009: Subaru Hybrid Tourer concept

Subaru Hybrid Tourer concept

The Subaru Hybrid Tourer is sharp-nosed and an all-out sharp piece of car. The car's flat floor hides two electric motors, one aft that powers the car in low-speed acceleration and assists with acceleration, and one up front connected to a direct-injection turbocharged gas engine. The Tourer is also fitted with Subaru's trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive system and a Lineatronic CVT transmission.

As for its design, Subie officials tell us that the nose points the way for Subaru's new corporate face and the rest of the car indicates the general design language we'll see from the brand represented by the Pleiades. "It will be anti-Bangle, editing, not adding � cars have too many character lines now." But forget about the gullwing doors -- those were fitted to provide the best view of the interior.

Tokyo 2009: Lexus reveals $375,000 LFA supercar

Lexus LFA supercar

It seems like the Lexus LFA has been around forever. In reality, the first concept version was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2005, but that's a long time in the automotive world. Additional concepts followed in 2007 and 2008, and the on-off rumors of a production version haven't help. Nevertheless, the production version of the LFA is finally here at the Tokyo Motor Show, and it is glorious. All of which makes it harder to stomach that the car shown here isn't expected to reach customer garages until early 2011.

The specifications of the new rear-drive Lexus supercar are impressive enough: a 4.8-liter V10 with 560 ps (552 bhp), 354 lb-ft torque, a zingy 9,000 rpm redline, six-speed sequential gearbox, 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds, and a top speed of 202 mph. It looks amazing too, both in pictures and in person.

Of course, we can't help but make comparisons to the current reigning Japanese supercar, the Nissan GT-R. At just 3,263 pounds, the LFA easily has a better power-to-weight ratio, but that hasn't seemed to stop the all-wheel drive juggernaut before. Then there is the small matter of cost to consider. Unlike the GT-R, which is considered a performance bargain, the LFA will be exclusive � and costly. Only 500 units will be produced at a cost of...drum roll please....$375,000. Despite the colossal price tag, we hear that Lexus expects to take a loss on each one.


Tokyo, October 21, 2009 - Lexus announces today the official launch of the LFA, a two-seat supercar scheduled to go into production at the end of 2010 as the pinnacle of the Lexus "F" premium sports car series. Pre-sales start today.

Ultra-responsive and extremely stable even when taken to the edge, the LFA creates a sense of reassurance that opens up a new world of driving emotion, exhilarating the senses to move the driver in more ways than one.

The LFA combines high output, superb chassis design and meticulous aerodynamics to achieve instantaneous total-vehicle response characterized by high-rev, seamless acceleration echoed by a self-defining resonance from its 4.8-liter V10.

Only 500 units of the LFA are to be produced and sold worldwide.

A prototype of the LFA is now on display at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show, which is open to the general public from October 24 to November 4 at Makuhari Messe in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture.

1. Packaging brings out the most in fundamental performance

Strong and light

The newly developed 4.8-liter V10 engine boasts exceptional power, while lightweight materials (aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy and titanium alloy) and a very compact size (smaller than a conventional V8) allows for optimal weight distribution and an exceptional power-to-weight ratio.

Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) cabin enhances high body-rigidity and reduces weight. This unique cabin is 100kg lighter than a comparable aluminum cabin. Detailed analysis and precise matching of CFRP materials allows for high rigidity and low weight. LFA CFRP production technology, including unique CFRP-to-metal joining, was completely developed by Lexus.

Relatively higher weight components such as the engine and transmission are placed within the wheelbase. A low center of gravity is made possible by the use of dry sump lubrication1, along with placing peripheral components (oil pump, water pump) behind the engine. Furthermore, optimal placement of the transmission and the fuel tank in front of the rear axle adds to this application of centralized mass. This minimizes weight shift during cornering and contributes to outstanding performance and stability. Lighter weight components, like the radiator and electric fans, are placed behind the rear axle.

Combined with a front-engine and rear-wheel-drive configuration, the short, wide and low body allows the LFA to achieve its target front-to-rear weight distribution of 48:52.

The driver's seat is positioned near the LFA's center of gravity. The centralized seating concept (with the seat between the front and rear axles and closer to the left�right center) is made possible by the use of a rear transaxle and vertically stacked torque tube and exhaust pipes reducing the width of the center tunnel. The driver placement is aimed to provide maximum car-to-driver feedback, especially under sport or high G-force driving conditions.

2. Emotive performance embodies an extraordinary driving experience

High�rev engine

Titanium valves, ultra�light weight rocker arms with a diamond�like coating and a fully integrated lower crankcase that reduces pumping losses at high RPMs combine to provide the driver with overwhelming acceleration right up to the 9,000rpm redline. The LFA's purpose-built V10 delivers 90% of its peak torque between 3,700rpm and 9,000rpm.

Precise Response

Independent, electronically controlled throttle bodies ensure precise air-feed to each of the 10 cylinders, enabling immediate engine response from the accelerator pedal. The engine response time is approximately half the normal response time of a single-throttle valve.

The six-speed ASG transmission features heavy-duty synchronizer rings and a newly developed gearshift actuator, providing the driver with a very direct shift feel. Four selectable driving modes and a seven-stage shift-speed selector that results in upshift speeds down to 0.2 seconds provide a higher level of driver control.

Track-sized high-performance (Carbon Ceramic) CCM brake discs and Electronically Controlled Braking system generate ultra-powerful yet stable braking.

Responsive handling and engaging dynamics

The very light and rigid CFRP cabin, combined with a front double-wishbone suspension and a rear multilink suspension, result in a very stable, controlled ride. Detailed aerodynamic engineering results in elements such as a flat underbody, a diffuser and a speed-controlled rear wing, which allows precise vehicle response at all vehicle speeds, thus creating unity between driver and machine.

Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management integrates numerous vehicle dynamic functions that provide a high level of vehicle stability and preventative safety without interfering with the driver's intentions, especially when sport driving.

Exciting engine sound and L-finesse2 design
Equal-length exhaust manifolds combined with an equal-length dual exhaust system routed through a multistage titanium main muffler fine tunes the exhaust note.

An acoustically tuned surge tank linked to 10 individual throttle bodies creates a powerful induction sound. The coordination of intake and exhaust sounds overlap at various RPMs to create a unique, exciting and inspired soundtrack.

The exterior design includes carefully tuned aerodynamics and airflow management. The use of CFRP, in addition to strength and weight advantages, frees up the design of the exterior panels allowing a fresh supercar L-finesse design. The interior design combines state-of-the-art instrument-panel design and technology, along with a variety of custom-tailored interior trim packages to suit the most discerning driver.

Tokyo 2009: Honda CR-Z concept 2009

Honda CR-Z concept 2009

Honda fans of all sorts have cause to celebrate today with the reveal of the 2009 iteration of the CR-Z coupe. In typical Honda fashion, this CR-Z remains a concept in name and detail only. What you see here is essentially the production coupe that will go on sale in Japan next February and then arrive in North America in the Fall.

The cool scoop-like grille from the original 2007 concept has been largely carried over, with the biggest changes being a somewhat taller roof and a more upright windshield with blacked out A-pillars � concessions to the fact that real people will have to fit into the production car. On the exterior, the only elements likely to change once it hits the assembly line are the side mirrors, which will probably be a bit larger, along with the internals of the light clusters.

The good news for fans of the much-loved 1983-1991 Civic CR-X is that the CR-Z should have significantly better performance than the disappointing new Insight, a car that is geared more toward fuel economy than performance. In any case, the CR-Z coupe gets a bump in displacement up to 1.5-liter and � wait for it � a six-speed manual gearbox! This will be the first hybrid with a row-it-yourself six-speed.

Tokyo 2009: Toyota unveils FT-86 Concept

Toyota unveils FT-86 Concept

We got a sneak peak of the FT-86 earlier this month, and now Toyota has just officially revealed its new 2+2 concept here at the Tokyo Motor Show. It's been a while since the Japanese automaker has offered anything resembling a sports car � especially one with rear-wheel drive � so there was plenty of excitement when the covers were pulled off the FT-86. The coupe looks stunning in person, and we particularly like the details like the carbon-fiber rear diffuser and the stunning white leather seats.

We were hoping for more information about the FT-86 at its debut, but Toyota is still keeping quiet about the specific details of the car that is tipped for production in late 2011. Rumor has it that a Subaru 2.0-liter flat-four will be sending power to the rear wheels, and that keeping weight down to a minimum will be a top priority.

Tokyo 2009: 2010 Nissan GT-R

2010 Nissan GT-R

Without much fanfare (okay � zero fanfare), Nissan has rolled a tweaked version of its home-market GT-R onto the show floor here at the Tokyo Motor Show.

While you're not likely to notice any exterior differences, JDM buyers should appreciate that Nissan has fettled the suspension, fitted higher-flow cats to the exhaust system for improved low- and mid-range response (as if this were a problem before), and they've also added a next-generation hard-drive based navi system that includes iPod connectivity.

On the suspension end of things, the rear suspension radius rod bushings have come in for a stiffening, and the front shocks and springs have been tweaked for increased "accuracy" (no, we're not entirely sure what that means either).

Perhaps the only modification that will be visible to passers-by is the inclusion of rear diffuser cooling ducts across the range � previously these were only fitted to the SpecV model.

Speaking of SpecV, the higher-performance model also gets new rear shock settings and standard Dunlop tires � Bridgestone loyalists, fear not - those shoes are also still available by request.


October 21, 2009
Nissan Releases New-Spec Nissan GT-R

YOKOHAMA (Oct. 21, 2009) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the release of the latest version of the Nissan GT-R, which goes on sale on December 7th at Nissan dealers nationwide in Japan. The updated GT-R receives a number of enhancements, including a revised navigation system, recalibrated suspension settings and an improved-flow catalyst system. It is scheduled to go on sale in other global markets beginning next spring.

Since its introduction in the Japanese market in December 2007, the Nissan GT-R has gone through continuous evolution, remaining on the cutting-edge of multi-dimensional performance. The GT-R has also been acclaimed globally, winning more than 50 top awards in various categories since launch. Nissan also supports GT-R owners with exceptional after-sales service.

The latest revisions to GT-R include a new HDD-based CARWINGS navigation system with enhanced entertainment functions. A USB port with iPod�*1 connectivity allows the driver and passengers to enjoy their favorite music in the car, creating an even more pleasant interior environment. *2

In addition, the GT-R's suspension has been retuned to offer enhanced, premium quality ride comfort, while still providing the driver with a feeling of direct contact with the road surface. The accuracy of the front shock absorbers and springs has been increased and the stiffness of rear suspension radius rod bushings has been strengthened. Rear diffusers with cooling ducts, previously available only on the GT-R SpecV, have been expanded to non-SpecV models, improving cooling performance around the rear floor area.

The exclusive Nissan GT-R SpecV models receive revised rear shock absorber settings, enhancing the characteristic combination of supple ride comfort and flat, predictable handling. In conjunction with this change, SpecV now comes standard with Dunlop tires. The previously standard Bridgestone tires are available as a factory-installed option.

Finally, both the Nissan GT-R and GT-R SpecV achieve improved low- and mid-range engine response, thanks to newly adopted hexagonal meshed catalyst cells that reduce ventilation/airflow resistance.
Nationwide MSRP Pricing in Japan (including consumption tax)

Drivetrain Engine Grade Transmission Price (yen)
4WD VR38DETT GT-R GR6 dual clutch
transmission 8,610,000 ?Model in photo
GT-R Black edition 8,820,000
GT-R Premium edition 9,240,000
GT-R SpecV 15,750,000

* SpecV goes on sale at seven specially selected Nissan dealers throughout Japan.
*1 iPod is a trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
*2 May not be applicable in selected countries.

Tokyo 2009: Lotus Exige Stealth

Lotus Exige Stealth

Lotus has unveiled the latest special edition of its maximum performance, minimum everything else Exige today at the Tokyo Motor Show. We took a moment to check out the Exige Stealth (known as the Scura in Europe) on the show floor and managed to curry some time with Lotus vehicle development director Roger Becker.

The new model gains a set of comely forged alloy wheels, but the big news with the car is the unique paint. We asked Becker about the Stealth and its special finish, and as it turns out, this is more than just a basic matte paint. Lotus has been experimenting for several years with matte finishes but was never satisfied with the results. The problem � as anyone who has ever done body repairs and worked on primer-finished cars can tell you � is that matte surfaces really show marks and stone chips. Lotus wanted something more durable before putting the car into production.

To create the Exige seen here, the entire car has to be sprayed in the base gloss coat seen on the central stripes. The stripe area was then masked off and the rest of the body abraded in order to get a surface that the matte paint will grip to. Finally, a newly formulated rubberized matte paint is applied. When you touch the car, the surface actually feels soft, and according to Becker, it is four- to five-times more resistant to marking and peeling than other finishes.

Tokyo 2009: Nissan Land Glider Concept

Nissan Land Glider Concept

At the Tokyo Motor Show this morning, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn rolled silently onto the stage in the company's latest battery powered concept, the Land Glider. Like Volkswagen's One-Liter concep from the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Land Glider is a narrow-gauge tandem two-seater. However, that's where the similarities end.

The Nissan is purely battery powered, with a pair of rear-mounted electric motors receiving juice from a sub-floor lithium-ion battery pack. Ghosn referred to the Land Glider as a vehicle that offers quick acceleration thanks to its light weight and torquey electric motor. Topping up the batteries figures to be quick and painless as well, as the Land Glider features a non-contact charging system, meaning that drivers won't have to fiddle with any plugs, they can just pull into designated charging spaces.

Like some other tandem seat concepts that we've seen in the past, this one also leans into turns like a motorcycle � up to 17 degrees. Unlike those past concepts, however, Ghosn announced today that this model may reach showrooms in the not too distant future.


Is it a Car or a Motorcycle?
-- Land Glider Leans into a Totally New Driving Experience --

Nissan's planning and design team were given a challenge: to explore new forms of zero emission mobility that redefined existing segments. The result was a radical new vehicle that combines the company's vision for future urban mobility with Nissan's great driving heritage.

In creating the Land Glider concept, Nissan planners and designers have conceived a totally new form of personal zero emission mobility that combines clever, new driving experiences, all in the one compact, 4-wheeled package.

With more than 50% of the world's population living in big cities in the near future, designers latched onto motorcycles as a credible base to start the design process.

While the agility, thrills and freedom of bikes inspired the designers and engineers, an extra spice was added to the mix. Tandem architecture became the obvious choice. A unique two-seater, cocoon-like structure sitting on a zero emission powertrain. With four-wheel stability and a sense of safety that originates from a tilting cabin, the Land Glider will appeal to both two- and four-wheel driving enthusiasts.

Targeted at city dwellers of all generations, the Land Glider is a serious motoring statement of the new era of mobility that Nissan intends to lead.

Cocoon in the shell
"The exterior incorporates a soft, sleek-looking body that appears to be protected by a special armor," explains Takashi Nakajima, Nissan's Project Design Director. "And while it is very mechanical in its nature, the four-wheeler boasts a dynamic body design that almost seems alive. As part of Nissan's expanding zero emission family, the Land Glider exudes a clean, friendly attitude."

The vehicle's two-seater tandem layout is enveloped in what seems like the canopy of a glider, while its unique `tilt' setup employs a special leaning function that holds occupants firmly in place even when the vehicle is cornering at angles. In developing the Land Glider, Nissan designers have created a two-seater that offers the sense of security of a cocoon, but delivers real driving pleasure.

Corner and lean
Described as a `personal city commuter,' the Land Glider features steering-by-wire and a lean capability when cornering ? like a motorcycle ? that enables the vehicle and its tires to lean by up to 17 degrees. Able to turn sharply at nearly any speed, the Land Glider employs sensors for vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw rate to instantly calculate the level of lean required to negotiate a corner. All the driver must do is turn and the cabin will lean accordingly. By enabling the car to lean, designers have succeeded in minimizing vehicle width and tire tread width, thus achieving a sleek, futuristic look.

Driven by rear electric motors
With drive coming from two electric motors in the rear powered by lithium-ion batteries mounted beneath the floor, the zero-emissions Land Glider is quick off the mark. The car also features a non-contact charging system that can be charged whilst shopping at a supermarket or stopping at a motorway service station. This system enables vehicles to be charged cable-less at locations where the infrastructure exists.

Collision Avoidance
To ensure maximum safety whilst driving, engineers have fitted a car-robotics style crash avoidance system in which sensors mounted in the body detect other vehicles in the same way as fish swim in schools without colliding. This system directs the vehicle's path away from any obstacles.*

Whilst Land Glider is a concept car created for the Tokyo Motor Show, it should not be regarded as a mere design study. This leaning machine gives a clear direction to how a future small car from Nissan could look in congested cities...a clue of what Nissan means by new era of mobility.

*: Refer to the CEATEC press release issued Oct. 1, 2009.

Overall Length (mm) 3,100
Overall Width (mm) 1,100
Overall Height (mm) 1,415
Wheelbase (mm) 2,180
Seating Capacity 2a

Tokyo 2009: Nissan confirms three EVs for production, including Infiniti

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn with Leaf EV

We're here at the Tokyo Motor Show, where CEO Carlos Ghosn has just confirmed that Nissan, Renault's Japanese alliance partner, will boast a lineup of at least three electric vehicles in the next few years � and a fourth vehicle is also possible. We already know about the Leaf hatchback (above) that was unveiled back in August. In addition, Nissan will build an electric version of the NV200 light commercial van that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show. For the first time, Ghosn also confirmed that Infiniti will get a compact four-passenger sedan powered only by batteries.

No other information was available on this car, but Ghosn did say that it would be unveiled in the near future. In all likelihood, the Infiniti will be based on the Leaf platform that is designed for purely electric drive.


Infiniti Confirms Plan for a Zero Emissions Vehicle

FRANKLIN, Tenn., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Mr. Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., announced at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show that Infiniti plans to introduce an electric vehicle - one that will be true to the Infiniti brand's promise of "Inspired Performance."

Mr. Ghosn stated that a concept is being developed for a stylish, compact, high performance four-seat luxury Infiniti with zero emissions.

With the addition of a high-performance V6 diesel to Infiniti's Western Europe line in 2010, and the Infiniti M Hybrid, which will available in the U.S. in the spring of 2011, Infiniti will soon offer an almost unrivalled choice of powertrains compared with other luxury brands.

About Infiniti

Infiniti offers a full-line of luxury performance automobiles, including the G Coupe, Sedan and Convertible, M sedan, EX and FX crossovers, and the QX full-size SUV. More information about Infiniti and its Total Ownership Experience� can be found at

Tokyo 2009: Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV

Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV

Mitsubishi has put its plug-in hybrid Concept PX-MiEV crossover concept on a pedestal here at the Tokyo Motor Show, touting the CUV's "environmental and on-road performance," as well as its serial and parallel modes and wireless charging capabilities.

The crossover's design language represents another refinement for Mitsubishi, and although it's markedly less provocative than the newly re-shnozzed 2010 Outlander, it presents a pleasing collection of shapes and could point the way for a future iteration of the softroader. Inside is typical concept car fare for "linking man and car interactively" � which means it's far too cool for us to actually get on the road � but hey, where else are you going to find a cocochi interior with a yoke-style steering wheel?

The real story here is arguably the drivetrain, where Mitsu has combined a 1.6-liter gas engine and a hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries.


Concept: The new Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System brings a major increase in range and environmental performance

The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV is a concept for a new-generation plug-in hybrid crossover that delivers both
outstanding environmental and road performance. Extending the active range of the i-MiEV city car, this concept also satisfies the need for mobility that combines occupant comfort with powerful performance.

The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV is powered by the all-new Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System which is designed primarily to drive the vehicle in all-electric mode while using a gasoline engine to generate electricity and to assist the electric motors as and when required.

Depending on the energy remaining in the drive battery and on driving conditions, the system automatically switches between three drive modes: all-electric EV, on-the-move generating EV, and Motor + Engine. The system allows the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV to return super-low fuel consumption figures. The concept is fitted with Mitsubishi's new S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) advanced vehicle handling control system that is built around torque and braking control at each wheel and incorporates electronically-controlled E-AYC (Electric-powered Active Yaw Control) which uses a differential motor to control rear wheel torque split.

Among the many features that makes this concept car the crystallization of Mitsubishi Motors' wealth of automotive environmental technology is the cocochi-interior which embraces occupants in a very comfortable and healthy cabin environment. Providing very high levels of both environmental performance and economy, the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV stands apart from conventional hybrids that rely mainly on engine power as it significantly extends the possibilities offered by the EV.

Exterior Design

Pared-down looks give the new plug-in hybrid a simple and clean shape, producing refined looks expressing Mitsubishi Motors' new crossover design Solid, Safety, and Simple were the keywords that drove the development of the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV 's exterior design. The design team has created a clean and simple appearance for a new-generation crossover that visually sets it apart from conventional SUVs. The use of flush surfaces for the whole body eliminates virtually all projections to create a neatly-integrated one-piece design and at the same time lowers the impact to pedestrians in
the event of a collision.

The front end locates the headlamps, air intakes and other functional parts within the graphics that center on the 3-diamond Mitsubishi logo in the middle of the grille to produce a simple but distinctive appearance. Styled to harmonize with the emblem, the front grille displays the advanced and high-tech qualities of the vehicle as well as presenting Mitsubishi Motors new crossover design identity.

The rear end styling is also designed around the 3-diamond emblem and distinguished by graphics that encompass
the full perimeter of the tailgate, giving the car a distinct personality while also projecting high-tech looks.

The LED headlamp and rear combination lamp units not only accent the advanced looks of the car but also improve its environmental performance through lower power consumption, longer service life and the elimination of the use of any mercury. Technical development of the headlamp LED emitters means they now project a highly visible beam that is very close to neutral white in color. The fast-illuminating brake light LED units contribute to enhanced safety performance.

The body uses new high-tech coloring that brings out a distinctive metal-like look. Combining elements of both spoke and dish styling, the geometric road wheel design highlights the sense of newness and at the same time optimizes air flow over the brakes to improve heat dissipation as well as improving aerodynamic characteristics at higher vehicle speeds.

Interior Design
Ergonomic, simple, classy design gives cabin soft wraparound appearance

The interior uses high-grade nubuck leather lining throughout and a high-contrast rich purple/off-white two-tone color scheme to create a comfortable space that melds choice quality with sophisticated and advanced design. The wraparound design of the cockpit and the excellent location and hold provided by the seats help the driver to concentrate on operating his vehicle. The use of a number of comfort items in this classy and functional space allows occupants to enjoy a sense of well-being similar to that found in the first-class cabin of an aircraft.

Soft illumination for the center console monitor and door trim creates a serene ambience while generating a high-tech look. The illumination flashes on/off when the drive battery is being charged to create an atmosphere that aesthetically befits a plug-in hybrid. The grouping of the power window, interior door handle and other switches in a single touch panel has reduced the number of individual parts in the interior and contributes to its clean and uncluttered layout.

In terms of environmental performance, an Eco-Drive selector switch on the center console that conserves engine output, transmission and air conditioning power consumption together with an indicator in the instrument monitor that displays Eco-Drive status and effectiveness help the driver to minimize energy consumption. Other environmentally-friendly features include the use of Mitsubishi Motors' own "Green Plastic" plant-derived resin technology in various items of interior trim throughout the cabin.

Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System
Selection of drive modes delivers smooth and comfortable performance over all kinds of roads
The new Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System that powers the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV maximizes the strengths of the EV: zero drive-time CO2 emissions*, powerful road performance with the gutsy torque inherent to an electric motor, and very quiet operation. The new system also incorporates a high combustion efficiency 1.6-liter MIVEC gasoline engine that is used either to turn a generator and supply the motors directly with current or charge the car's lithium-ion drive battery or, at higher vehicle speeds, to augment the motive power supplied by the motors.

The result is a major increase in cruising range. The Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System features Mitsubishi Motors' new MiEV OS (MiEV Operating System) that constantly monitors the charge and discharge of electrical power depending on driving conditions and the remaining energy in drive battery and selects the optimum drive mode through integrated control of the EV components and the gasoline engine. Minimizing power consumption, the system delivers road performance that is comfortable, safe and reassuring at the same time.

At low to middle vehicle speeds the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV runs in all-electric mode with the drive battery supplying current to its motor(s). When the remaining energy in the drive battery falls the system switches to series hybrid mode, automatically starting the gasoline engine to turn a generator that supplies the motor(s) with electrical power. At higher vehicle speeds the system switches over to parallel hybrid mode adding the gasoline engine with its higher combustion efficiency at high revolutions to provide more motive power to the wheels. This means that depending on circumstances, at higher vehicle speeds the system can add motive power to the motors, increasing road performance. When decelerating, the system switches over to regenerative mode, using the motors as generators to charge to drive battery. In these ways, the Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid System switches between three drive modes depending on driving conditions and remaining energy in the drive battery: all-electric EV mode; on-the-move generating EV mode; and Motor + Engine mode.

The system also incorporates the ECO mode found in the i-MiEV production model that reduces motor output and increases the amount of kinetic energy reclaimed when decelerating to provide low-consumption and environment-friendly performance. In ECO mode the system also controls the operation of the air conditioner compressor to minimize the vehicle's overall power consumption.

*: CO2 emitted during the generation-to-charging process is excluded.

EV mode
At low to middle vehicle speeds the vehicle operates in all-electric mode with current from the drive battery turning the front motor which rotates the front wheels. When driving on snow, in the rain or in other low surface friction situations where maximum vehicle stability is required, the system automatically switches to 4WD by feeding power to the rear wheel motor as well when sensors detect any wheel slip.

Series hybrid mode
When the remaining energy in the drive battery falls the system automatically switches to series hybrid mode and starts the gasoline engine to power the generator and use the electricity generated to turn the motor. As in EV mode, the system switches to 4WD when circumstances so require.

Parallel hybrid mode
At higher vehicle speeds the gasoline engine, with its high efficiency at high revolutions, supplies additional motive power to assist the front motor. When the driver makes sudden lane changes or other maneuvers requiring maximum vehicle stability the system switches to 4WD by bringing in the rear motor to drive the rear wheels. When overtaking at higher speeds or in other situations requiring faster acceleration the system uses both the front and rear motors and the gasoline engine to supply motive power.

Regenerative mode on deceleration
When the vehicle is slowing or descending a long slope and the driver has his/her foot off the accelerator the system switches to the regenerative mode in which the front and rear motors serve as generators driven by the kinetic energy reclaimed from the drive train, converting it to electricity which is then stored in the drive battery.

Charging mode
As with the i-MiEV production model, the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV features a 3-way battery charging system that uses either a 100-volt or 200-volt domestic supply or a high power quick-charging station. The system also incorporates a Wireless Charging Program feature that allows the owner to start charging the battery or start the air conditioner at a preset time even when away from the vehicle.

Normal charging:
In normal charging, the driver simply connects the charger cable to a standard domestic outlet and then to the
socket on the vehicle. The charging process starts and stops automatically. An on-board charger converts the
domestic supply voltage to the voltage required to charge the battery.

Quick charging:
For quick-charging when away from home, the driver plugs the vehicle into a quick-charging station provided at shopping centers and other facilities into the quick-charge connector on the vehicle. Charging takes about 30 minutes and stops automatically when the battery reaches 80% of full charge.

Wireless Charging Program Feature:
The system incorporates a Wireless Charging Program feature that allows the owner to start charging the drive battery or start the air conditioner at a preset time even when away from the vehicle using a two-way remote controller.

Charging timer:
The owner can preset the time for charging to start, allowing him/her to make use of times when electricity rates are cheaper (i.e. night time, depending on power company rates).

Preset air conditioning:
The driver can preset the time the air conditioning is activated so that the car interior is at a comfortable temperature before entering the car.

Power supply mode
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV also subscribes to the "Smart Grid" concept that calls for maximizing the effective use of electrical power and which is currently attracting attention in the fight to combat global warming. When the vehicle is stationary, the electrical energy stored overnight in the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV 's drive battery can be used to power electric home appliances during the day when domestic electricity consumption is highest by connecting them to the charging socket on the car. The battery power can also be used as an emergency power source in the event of a natural disaster and the system will start the engine to generate electricity when the energy remaining in the battery drops. The 100-volt AC auxiliary socket in the rear luggage compartment also allows the drive battery to be used for a variety of non-vehicle uses including powering cooking or lighting equipment and other appliances when camping or engaged in other leisure activities.

S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control)
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV uses Mitsubishi Motors' proprietary S-AWC advanced vehicle handling control system that regulates torque and braking at each wheel individually to deliver on-demand handling and outstanding vehicle stability. S-AWC exercises integrated control over the following system components: ASC (Active Stability Control) and ABS (Anti-lock Brake System); E-4WD (Electric-powered 4WD) which electronically controls front and rear motor output; and E-AYC (Electric-powered Active Yaw Control) which electronically controls rear wheel torque split at the rear wheels.

Like the AYC system on the Lancer Evolution X, when required by driving conditions E-AYC controls traction and vehicle stability by generating a torque difference between the left and right wheels. However, while AYC employs a wet multi-plate clutch arrangement to transfer drive torque between the wheels and generate a torque differential, E-AYC uses a differential motor located between the rear wheel drive axles. The use of a differential motor provides a high-efficiency, high-response system that reduces torque transfer losses and that can reclaim energy.

E-AYC control modes
Controlling understeer:
When the S-AWC system detects that the car is understeering, the E-AYC differential motor increases the speed difference (revolutions) between the inner and outer wheels and transfers torque from the inner wheel to the outer wheel. The resulting change in torque difference generates a split-second reverse wheel rotation, controlling understeer.

Controlling oversteer:
When the S-AWC system detects that the car is oversteering, the E-AYC differential motor reduces the speed difference (revolutions) between the inner and outer wheels and transfers torque from the outer to the inner wheel. The resulting change in torque difference generates a split-second reverse wheel rotation, controlling oversteer. When it operates in this way the rotational speed of the differential motor slows, allowing torque energy to be converted to electrical energy and reclaimed by the battery.

Electronically-controlled air suspension
3 ride heights maximize vehicle stability over poor surfaces and at higher speeds and improve access to the vehicle
At the turn of a switch the driver can select from three ride height modes, allowing him/her to choose the optimumheight for road surface and other driving conditions and thereby maximize vehicle stability and facilitate access to and from the vehicle.

Auto (normal ride height)

Auto height adjustment maintains the ride height at a fixed level regardless of the number of occupants or amount of luggage carried to deliver a comfortable ride and optimum vehicle stability on the road. At higher vehicle speeds the system automatically lowers the ride height to improve aerodynamic performance and vehicle stability.

Selecting the High setting raises the ride height of the car and provides additional vehicle clearance over poor road surfaces. As vehicle speed increases ride height is lowered automatically to the Auto height.

When the vehicle is stationary the driver can select the Low setting to lower the ride height and facilitate passenger access to and from the car and also loading and unloading of luggage. If the driver starts off with Low selected, the ride height will automatically be raised to the Auto height as vehicle speed increases.

Comfort / Interior Environment
Proposal for fun and pleasantly comfortable interior space
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV provides an interior space that is friendly to both occupants and the environment and that, with special attention to operability and visibility, can satisfy anyone with its comfort and driving pleasure.

cocochi-interior : new technologies package
Clean, Stress-free, Safe & Reassuring
Mitsubishi Motors has been introducing in its production cars the cocochi-interior which embraces occupants in a pleasantly comfortable cabin environment developed to a "Clean, Stress-free and Safe & Reassuring" theme. The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV adds to the cocochi-interior technologies already found in some of its production models a number of new technologies still under development to provide a cabin environment that is as healthy as it is comfortable.

Upholstery deactivates allergens, breaks down VOCs and offensive odor molecules, sterilizes bacteria
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV uses seat upholstery that incorporates an antiallergen agent and a visible-light photocatalyst. The application of an antiallergen coating to the upholstery deactivates the allergenic activity of ticks, pollen and other allergens and prevents allergic reactions caused when these agents come into contact with the skin or enter the body. The visible-light photocatalyst is activated simply by visible light even while the vehicle is fitted with UV blocking window glass and is therefore able to promote the action of visible light in actively breaking down and decomposing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and offensive odor molecules and in sterilizing bacteria.

Cabin heat load reduction
Total vehicle heat management improves AC energy efficiency
To reduce the heat load entering the car from outside, the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV uses a heat reflecting windshield and infrared blocking glass in the door windows. The body coloring also uses paint with high heat reflective properties. Inside the vehicle, heat insulation of the head lining has been upgraded, the four seats are individually air conditioned and cabin humidity is regulated. The adoption of these heat load reducing technologies allows efficient climate control while reducing power consumption to the absolute minimum in realizing a very comfortable occupant space.

Heat reflecting glass reduces build up of cabin temperature
The windshield uses glass with an external coating of metal oxides and with an organic laminate interlayer. This provides a significant reduction in the amount of heat energy transmitted into the cabin because the radiant heat caused by the rise in the temperature of the glass is lower than for conventional heat absorbing glass. Restricting the rise in cabin temperature reduces power consumption because less use of the air conditioning is required. The heat reflecting glass meets the CARB (California Air Resources Board) Cool Car standards due to be enforced in 2012.

Individually air-conditioned seats
Under each seat is a fan that directs a flow of air to the neck, back and rear of the thighs to effectively enhance occupant comfort. Sending dehumidified air over the human skin directly affects the person's sense of temperature and allows the air conditioner level to be lowered, thus saving power while achieving optimal occupant comfort. Each seat fan can be individually controlled to suit occupant preference.

Advanced Technologies
Switch and control operability/viewability enhancing technologies
Ergonomic design for maximum safety, peace of mind and smooth operation

Mitsubishi Motors continues its research into switch and control operability and viewability along ergonomic lines. The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV uses a new-generation steering wheel-mounted switch and control layout that offers outstanding usability and viewability. Some audio, navigation, and climate control switches are grouped together on the steering wheel while switch status indicators are located in the instrument cluster where they require very little eye movement to be seen by the driver. With the switches and controls positioned so that the driver can operate them without having to take a hand off the wheel, the new layout provides outstanding operability and viewability for greater safety, peace of mind and comfort.

Driver Monitoring System
Linking man and car interactively for better safety, greater peace of mind
Mitsubishi Motors is actively seeking to make its cars safer and less stressful to drive by linking driver and car in an interactive manner. One example of this research is the Driver Monitoring System in which a camera mounted in front of and facing the driver monitors his/her eye movements to determine his/her level of concentration while driving. If the system detects a decrease in their concentration it issues not only audible but visual and vibrational warnings and also emits a distinctive fragrance to alert him/her to the situation.

New Multi-around Monitor
Camera images of vehicle perimeter give driver all-round vision
The Multi-around Monitor superimposes images taken by cameras located at both front end corners, on both sides and at the rear of the vehicle to produce a bird's eye view of the area surrounding the car. This is displayed on the monitor and allows the driver to check the full vehicle perimeter. In a world-first, the nose-view camera, which covers a field of 190 degrees with a single lens, now uses image processing to provide the ability to detect approaching objects. At intersections and other points where visibility is restricted, the system operates to detect approaching cars and bicycles from either side and warns the driver of their presence by highlighting them on the monitor screen and sounding an audible alert.

Vehicle-infrastructure driving safety support systems DSSS (Level II) and ASV4 information exchange support systems
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV is equipped for the Driving Safety Support System (DSSS) currently being promoted by the Japanese National Police Agency. In this advanced vehicle-infrastructure communications system an on-board receiver picks up signals transmitted by roadside optical beacons and the system urges the driver to take extra care when other vehicles or pedestrians have been detected by roadside sensors and cameras at intersections and pedestrian crossings.

Employing a system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle wireless technology to ascertain the position of other vehicles and warn the driver when their proximity so requires, the MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV also supports the Advanced Safety Vehicle 4 (ASV4) project being promoted by the Road Transport Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The system boosts the driver's awareness of an approaching object by displaying images from the nose-view camera as well as a simplified image of the object.

DSRC capability
New intelligent transportation system employs ETC wireless channel
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV is fitted with a Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC*) system and employs the road-to-vehicle communications capabilities used in Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) to determine the position of the vehicle and whether it is parked or not. This system can be configured to sound an alarm if the vehicle is being or has been stolen. Research is currently ongoing to equip the system for automatic payment of charges for using quick-charging facilities.
*: 5.8 GHz band two-way wireless communication channels specifically designed for automotive use.

Reinforced Crash Safety Body
Steadfast safety technology that provides peace of mind
The MITSUBISHI Concept PX-MiEV uses the same structural modifications for protecting the drive battery system as the i-MiEV production model. Using Mitsubishi Motors' own RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) crash safety body, the drive battery pack and the rest of the high-voltage components are mounted under the floor and inside the body frame. The specially strengthened battery pack is further protected by a special cross member that also improves multidirectional impact protection for reassuring crashworthiness. Safety is also enhanced by a high-voltage circuit breaker which immediately interrupts the drive battery and other high-voltage circuits when a deceleration sensor detects an impact.