If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

The 2015 Tokyo Auto Show: My Top 3

1. The Mazda RX-Vision Concept. This futuristic RX-7 tribute represents Mazda’s future entry into the lightweight, front-engined, rear wheel drive coupe market, which is currently dominated by the GT86, of course. Rotary powered automobiles are notoriously unreliable and inefficient, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on this car’s drivetrain. GT86 customers are buying into legendary Subaru reliability and 30+ highway MPG when they make their purchase. Thus, Mazda has big shoes to fill if they’re planning on entering that market.

The RX-8 was a blast to drive. Short, precise shift throws, that rotary buzz, and extraordinarily communicative steering made the RX8 one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven. The hour I spent behind the wheel was enough to convince me that yes, rotaries do live up to the hype, and so does the RX8’s chassis. In short, driving dynamics are not a concern here. The real issue is long-term reliability and fuel consumption. RX8s get 20 MPG highway if you’re taking it easy, which means that most of the time, you’re getting worse mileage than a 460 horsepower C7 ‘Vette. I think Mazda needs to squeeze at least 30 MPG highway out of this new motor to make the RX nameplate viable again. Sports car buyers aren’t necessarily looking for fuel economy, but it’s still an important statistic.

Reliability is important too. RX8s are outrageously cheap because their motors self-destruct shortly after 100k, or well before then if they aren’t maintained properly. The automatics are the worst, as their drivetrains rarely see high-rpm use, which leads to carbon buildup issues that can nuke the delicate engine. This new rotary needs to be idiot proof. If it can’t make its way through 2-3 owners without suffering catastrophic engine failure, it just won’t sell. There are just too many lightly used BRZs and 370Zs out there to justify buying a ticking time bomb.


2. The Dihatsu Noriori Concept. At first glance, the Noriori appears to be yet another over-the-top concept car, an outlandish answer to a question nobody asked. The doors are massive, bright green, and they open up to reveal an attractive veneer covered ramp. It’s extremely low to the ground, and a wood floor lines the inside of the cabin too.


The funny part about the Noriori is that it’s actually extremely practical. The low ride height has nothing to do with stance. It’s for wheelchair access. That explains the doors, the floor, and the handrails in the cargo area too. The massive rear door is also wheelchair friendly, and it looks like one could park a wheelchair in front too, next to the middle passenger seat.

You won’t see anything like the Noriori driving down the street anytime soon, but in a few decades, once autonomous car laws have been sorted out, I bet automobiles like this one will be all over the place. This vehicle is the perfect solution for city dwellers with mobility issues.


3. The new Impreza 5-door. If the production version looks like this, I bet they will sell well! Subaru’s styling department has been on a roll lately. The new Legacy wears the ubiquitous superman grille well, and the same can be said for this new hatch.


We can assume that for the production version, the wheels will shrink, and recede into the footwells. That said, it’s hard to to point a finger at anything else that wouldn’t work in the real world. Maybe if we ask nicely, STI will work their magic on this chassis. An updated STI hatch would give the GLA 45 AMG some serious competition. If Subaru can conjure up a sumptuous interior, they would have that market cornered.

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