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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jan 17 2012, 2:40 PM

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Hinting at a possible tuner version of the new March/Micra sub-compact, Nissan has revealed a NISMO concept model at the Tokyo Auto Salon. Standing alongside similar NISMO-tuned versions of the Leaf and Juke, the March NISMO Concept gets the expected goodies.

Included in the package are lighter forged wheels and an upgraded (and lowered) suspension, not to mention a custom aero package with a rear spoiler. Inside the car gets sports seats and an upgraded steering wheel, while outside it’s coated in a pearl white paint with red highlights.

Similar packages were revealed for the Juke NISMO and Leaf NISMO which were unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in December. The Leaf NISMO is transformed into somewhat of a futuristic jellybean in the process, while the aero kit and lowered suspension make the Juke a mean looking sport-cross.

Check out all the cars below, as well as the Leaf NISMO RC race car and find AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon coverage here.

GALLERY: Nissan March, Leaf and Juke NISMO Concepts

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GALLERY: Nissan Leaf NISMO RC Race Car

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 |  Jan 17 2012, 8:30 AM

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Perhaps the most bizarre of Honda‘s show cars at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon is the Flash Box. Based on the brand’s new N Box Kei car, there’s a matte-gray paint job, reflective decals and an excessive use of LED lights – inside and out. And let’s not forget the custom rims that look like steelies.

The N Box recently launched at the Tokyo Motor Show as Honda’s new city car offering. Designed as the perfect vehicle for those living in urban centers, it’s obvious through this show car that Honda wants to push the car with the younger crowd.

Other Honda models on display include a Mugen-tuned CR-Z Race car as well as two Mugen CR-Z RR Concepts.

See AutoGuide’s complete Tokyo Auto Salon coverage here.

GALLERY: Honda Flash Box

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 |  Jan 16 2012, 1:30 PM

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Officially, Toyota will tell you that the future is in hybrid powertrains. But unofficially, well, they’ve built an electric sports car, which was revealed at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon.

Based on the chassis of a Toyota Sera (a rare sports car built from 1990-96), the TES-ERA EV shares that car’s gullwing door concept, though the car is altogether more modern looking. While tiny (roughly 10 inches shorter in length than a second generation MR2), it’s certainly not cutesy looking thanks to plenty of angles and a wide stance.

A proper rear-drive machine the TES-ERA EV makes roughly 165 hp and produces 247 lb-ft of torque.  Weighing in at 2,500 lbs it’s not going to be a rocket ship, but should produce some modest smiles.

Built by the Toyota Engineering Society (hence the TES in its name), the car is part of an annual skunkworks project made up of volunteers within the automaker and isn’t even technically an official Toyota concept car.

Created in 1947 to explore organic new ideas and actually move ahead with them, last year’s TES project car was the TES Concept T-Sports, looking at a baby Scion FR-S.

See videos of the TES-ERA EV in action below:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 16 2012, 12:45 PM

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To say there’s a strong tuner car culture for hybrids in Japan might be a bit too generous. Oh, there’s no doubt the Japanese love to modify the cars, but perhaps the term “customization” is more accurate.

At this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon there was the usual selection of Prius model with wild bodykits and big wheels. And while most take a step towards the extreme, the Lumiere Prius Hybrid Interceptor police car still looks pretty mean. At the opposite end of the we’d-drive-it spectrum is the DAD Prius v, complete with oversized wheels blinged out with Swarovski crystals.

Along with conventional Prius models, the aftermarket has expanded to include the new additions to the Prius family, like the Prius v wagon and even the smaller Prius c.

See all the cars below:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 16 2012, 9:45 AM

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Love Nissan GT-Rs? Then you most certainly would love the Tokyo Auto Salon. Featuring the latest tuning trends and most amazing race cars, much of the content on the show floor was GT-R related this year – although to be honest, the show is GT-R heavy every year.

On display were plenty of modified GT-Rs from tuners like Kansai Service, JUN and even Tommy Kaira. And let’s not forget the race car content, with the outrageous Kondo Advan GT-R GT500 race car, as well as the Motul Autech GT-R (above), which won five of the eight races in Japan’s Super GT series last year.

Check out all the GT-R hardware from this year’s TAS below:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 15 2012, 7:30 PM

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Ever wonder what the next Toyota Supra will be like? So do we.

Could it be some sort of high-tech hybrid, using all-wheel drive with an electric motor for the front wheels and a gasoline or gas-electric hybrid drive for the rear? We suppose so.

You know… something like the GRMN Sports Hybrid Concept II (above)? Um, well, yea. But let’s not start any rumors. OK?

First unveiled at the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in the summer, Toyota has recently displayed the hybrid sports car concept at both the Tokyo Motor Show and now at the Tokyo Auto Salon, hinting just how serious they are about keeping it in the public’s eye.

When it was first shown Toyota said it, “has long conducted active research on applying hybrid technologies to racing and sports cars” and said the GRMN vehicle is, “the next step in the evolution of these efforts.”

Just exactly when the next next step will be is anyone’s guess. Whatever Toyota decides to build and whatever they call it, knowing the company’s hybrid expertise and newfound passion for performance cars, we bet it’ll be supra…. er… super.

GALLERY: Toyota GRMN Sports Hybrid Concept II

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 |  Jan 15 2012, 6:30 PM

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We’ve seen a lot of strange things come out of Japan’s aftermarket over the years, but this might be the most ridiculous thing yet. Relax Cabin, a Japanese aftermarket company, specializes in camper conversions and apparently thought Toyota Prius owners would have a demand for such a thing.

We guess there’s a remote possibility that someone that owns a Prius would be interested in something like this, but given that the conversion adds over 20-inches to the length of the car and 22-inches to the height, we’re guessing all aerodynamic tweaks Toyota made to make the Prius as fuel efficient as possible has gone out the window. The massive structure is made from reinforced plastic, and we reckon that it isn’t light, further killing the mpg the Prius is made for.

But those that are interested in giving their Prius a whole new world of versatility also has some options available to them. The Prius’s back seats can drop down to make enough space for a double bed while the top compartment can also house another double bed. If that wasn’t enough, you can add a retractable coffee table or side sofa to your Prius camper van.

We never thought those three words would be used legitimately in the same sentence. Prius. Camper. Van. Sigh.

GALLERY: Relax Cabin Toyota Prius Camper Van

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GALLERY: Relax Cabin Toyota Prius Tokyo Auto Salon 2012

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 |  Jan 15 2012, 3:25 PM

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Subaru recently launched the limited edition WRX STI S206 Challenge Package model in Japan, a higher performance version of the already impressive STI. It’s existence, however, is directly related to this car, the S206 racer.

On display for the first time (as far as we know) since winning the SP3T class at last year’s Nurburgring 24 Hour race both the street and race cars share some attractive performance goodies. Along with an up-rated version of the factory 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine with 316 hp (not to mention a long list of suspension modifications and a retuned ECU on the street car), both vehicles get a carbon fiber roof and a massive carbon rear spoiler.

See all the pics of the racer below and check out AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon coverage here.

GALLERY: Subaru STI S206 Nurburgring Racer

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 |  Jan 15 2012, 2:30 PM

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With the launch of the CR-Z, Honda wanted to emphasize that hybrids can in fact be sporty, now the automaker is continuing to promote the idea in its home market with the Honda Sports & Eco Program.

Essentially an amateur racing series it lets drivers compete using spec CR-Zs (outfitted with Mugen wheels and an aero kit) on track. Each car also features a complete roll cage and Recaro driver’s seat with racing harnesses.

Running at Honda company tracks like Suzuki and Twin Ring Motegi, drivers get to feel just how much fun driving green can be. Exactly how fuel efficient a CR-Z at wide-open-throttle is, well…

GALLERY: Mugen CR-Z

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Click here for AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage

 |  Jan 15 2012, 12:30 PM

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The automotive aftermarket and motorsports have a lot in common, so it’s no surprise to see both celebrated together at venues like the Tokyo Auto Salon. On hand to cover the latest tuning trends from Japan, AutoGuide decided a closer look at the numerous race cars on display, from Formula cars to custom machines and plenty of hardware from the world famous Super GT series.

See below for extensive galleries on some of the most jaw-droppingly amazing race cars:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 15 2012, 10:25 AM

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First unveiled at the LA Auto Show late last year the Subaru BRZ STI Concept is no longer just a hint at things to come. Just a month ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Japanese automaker officially drew back the covers on the production BRZ (while Toyota did the same with its GT 86).

An already impressive machine (read our review of its sibling, the Scion FR-S here), the BRZ makes 200-hp, has an amazing weight balance and a low center of gravity. The STI concept takes the car’s performance a step further with custom aerodynamics, larger 18-inch wheels, a light weight carbon fiber hood, custom exhaust and a carbon fiber roof – further lowering the car’s center of gravity.

GALLERY: Subaru BRZ STI Concept

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Discuss this story at SubaruBRZForum.com

 |  Jan 14 2012, 4:00 PM

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The Tokyo Auto Salon isn’t just about Japanese cars. On the contrary, there’s a large selection of European models, especially thanks to the growing trend for RAUH-Welt Begriff modified Porsches.

Originally a company that modified Toyota AE 86s, founder Nakai-San took his passion for unique style and applied it to classic air-cooled Porsches. So what does the founder of the RWB movement drive? The answer is this machine.

A classic cabriolet model, the Spearmint Rhino car is, understandably, topless. It’s features the usual ultra-wide-body stance, though without the massive rear wing and has been finished in a pristine matte white finish. And even if you’re not a fan of the RWB movement, you simply have to love those wheels.

GALLERY: RWB Porsche

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage here

 |  Jan 14 2012, 3:00 PM

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Known for modifying wagons like the Honda Odyssey and Nisaan Stegea, Japanese tuner Takero’s recently expanded its product offering to include the Honda Fit – with impressive results. First came aerodynamic components, followed by suspension parts, now Takero’s has revealed a wide body kit for the Fit at the Tokyo Auto Salon, plus a turbocharger setup.

Head-on the Takero’s Fit still looks impressive, but the widebody sub-compact looks a little absurd from any other angle. The obvious advantage, however, is the ability to fit wider tires for more grip, with some massive 225/35/18 rubber on this machine. And that extra tire is no doubt necessary to help put down the extra power generated by the new turbocharger setup. Unfortunately, Takero’s hasn’t released any specs on the kit, but we’d expect something close to the 180 hp mark.

GALLERY: Takeros Honda Fit Turbo

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 |  Jan 14 2012, 1:00 PM

As popular as drifting has become in America, the sport’s home will forever be in Japan and a quick demo out at the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon gave us a reminder why.

While we have plenty of fun listening to V8-powered Ford Mustangs and Chevy Camaros go at it sideways, this year’s TAS played host to a Toyota GT 86 doing tandem with an old school AE86, only to be outdone by a Lexus LFA Roadster.

And as cool as it was to see the new Toyota GT 86 going sideways alongside its classic predecessor, what’s even more interesting is the fact that the LFA Roadster isn’t even supposed to go on sale until 2014, so how did someone get their hands on one? Either it’s a pre-production model or someone decided to chop the roof on theirs themselves. But leave it to D1 to put on yet another demo to whet everyone’s appetite for drifting, despite how controversial the series is out in Japan.

Check out the video after the break with various cars putting on a drifting demo.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 14 2012, 11:00 AM

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At Japan’s annual Tokyo Auto Salon, they’d call our list of the Top 10 Worst Cars of SEMA tame. Sure we documented some atrocities during our time at North America’s largest aftermarket expo, but it’s hard to compete with a diorama of an army soldier apparently shooting baby dolls on the tonneau cover of a pink pickup truck. And have those babies been run over, or are those supposed to be tattooed?

Like you, we can’t resist gawking at a good train wreck. Just remember, once you’ve taken a look, these car’s can’t be unseen – no matter how hard you try.

GALLERY: Crazy Cars of the Tokyo Auto Salon

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Seethe rest of AutoGuide’s Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage Here

 |  Jan 13 2012, 1:57 PM

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Toyota’s motorsports partner Gazoo Racing had several machines to show off at the Tokyo Auto Salon, but none as impressive as this Lexus LFA. Prepped for race duty, the car has already seen competition, with an automotive CEO behind the wheel no less.

Akio Toyoda? Nope. Try Dr. Ulrich Bez, the man in charge of Aston Martin and a long time racer.

How exactly the CEO of a competing automaker wound up behind the wheel of the Lexus supercar is the result of a friendship that has grown between Dr. Bez and Mr. Toyoda – a friendship that started when the two shared garage space at the Nurbrgring 24 Hour endurance race a few years back.

The two automakers have volunteered to share space ever since and this past year even shared cars, with Bez getting behind the wheel of the LFA, while Akio Toyoda had the opportunity to pilot Aston Martin’s Zagato V12 race car.

GALLERY: Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA

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 |  Jan 13 2012, 1:27 PM

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Built by Honda‘s Mugen tuning division in Europe, the on-again-off-again CR-Z RR concept is, at last word, off again. So weren’t we shocked then to discover not one, but two of the cars on display at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

As much as we’ll miss its good looks of the CR-Z RR with its wide body style, the bigger loss is the supercharged 1.5-liter hybrid engine that makes an impressive 197-hp while retaining much of the Honda’s fuel economy thanks to several different drive-mode settings.

The good news, however, is that we may miss out on such a Mugen model because Honda is planning one itself. Recent reports indicate the CR-Z Type-R is moving ahead with a Honda rep hinting to AutoGuide that the supercharged 1.5-liter hybrid engine is in the pipe.

GALLERY: Mugen Honda CR-Z RR Concept

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 |  Jan 13 2012, 11:51 AM

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One of numerous Mazdas on display at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, the Demio (sold as the Mazda2 in North America) Smart Stylish, delivers as promised with a classy look that adds some luxury appeal to this sub-compact.

Based on the new ultra-efficient Skyactiv 1.3-liter model, the Smart Stylish gets a complete aerodynamic overhaul, with new front and rear bumpers as well as side skits and some large BBS wheels. Bringing the package together is a lowered suspension.

To see the rest of Mazda’s Tokyo Auto Salon lineup, see AutoGuide’s complete show coverage here.

GALLERY: Mazda Demio Smart Stylish

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 |  Jan 13 2012, 7:03 AM

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Build by Toyota motorsports partner Gazoo Racing, the GRMN iQ Supercharger is just the sort of concept car that’s too wild to ever become a reality. Right? Wrong!

To the surprise of, well, everyone, Toyota has announced it will offer a limited production of the car, which was unveiled in its second-generation prototype stage today at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

Based on the 1.3-liter version of the iQ (it’s largest engine option), GRMN engineers have strapped on a supercharger to increase power output from a factory 94 hp, up to 130 hp, while torque increases from 89 lb-ft to 133.

Additional upgrades include the widebody seen here, an upgraded suspension and brake setup, larger 16-inch wheels with 195/55R16 tires and a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission – much unlike the CVT offered on the North American Scion iQ (read our review here).

Inside the car gets custom sports seats and new gauges that go all the way up to 200 km/h (124 mph), a speed the standard car most certainly cannot achieve.

Set to go on sale this summer, the GRMN iQ Supercharger will be built in extremely limited quantities with just 100 cars being made.

GALLERY: GRMN iQ Supercharger

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage Here

 |  Jan 13 2012, 6:35 AM

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Racing a Prius might sound like the start of a joke, until you see this. Unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon in Japan, this Toyota Prius is fully prepped and sporting its race livery. Significantly wider and lower than a factor model, this Prius is designed to compete in Japan’s Super GT racing series starting this year.

Regulations in the series are loose, so there’s little left of the original Prius here, although the original’s sleek aerodynamic shape is still obvious. Also of note is that the car appears to retain a hybrid drivetrain with the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive logo on the back. Another hint is the massive sponsorship by Panasonic, which supplies the batteries for the road car.

Exactly how this hybrid racer will do remains to be seen and we’ll have to wait for the first round of the Super GT series in March to find out.

GALLERY: Toyota Prius Race Car

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See AutoGuide’s complete Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage Here

 |  Jan 13 2012, 2:30 AM

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Aftermarket wheel manufacturer TWS Forged obviously liked what they saw when Toyota unveiled the Nurburgring Edition Lexus LFA. Sporting a more track-oriented aerodynamic kit and a functional rear spoiler, that package (even in its shocking orange paint scheme) now looks tame compared to the modified LFA on display at the TWS booth at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

Along with that huge spoiler out back the LFA gets a custom set of TWS wheels, as well as an ultra-aggressive rear diffuser setup to further improve aerodynamic flow over and around the supercar.

GALLERY: Lexus LFA by TWS Forged

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage here

 |  Jan 13 2012, 1:30 AM

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If you’re looking to make 53 mpg look a little cooler then Toyota in-house tuning division Modelista has you covered. The style-oriented arm of Toyota has just announced a new lineup of accessories for the Prius c, which is sold as the Aqua in Japan.

Already looking like a slightly-cooler Yaris, the Prius c gets a new aero kit, complete with a front lip, rear lip and side skirts with chrome detailing. In addition come new wheels, not to mention a mild roof spoiler.

GALLERY: Modelista Toyota Aqua

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See AutoGuide’s complete Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage here

 |  Jan 13 2012, 12:50 AM

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Living up to its name, Subaru tuning company and race team Prova has unveiled its “Black Edition” BRZ sports car at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The wild tuner-car-meets-race-car gets matte black ground effects with orange pinstriping, matched out back by a significantly-sized matte-painted spoiler.

Also of note are huge 19-inch Enkei wheels with sticky Michelin tires, which house enormous 6-piston front brake calipers. Other add-ons include twin hood vents to keep the car’s namesake cool, while custom fender gilles add some added Subaru flare.

One final feature worth pointing out is the dual center-exit exhaust – a look that’s sure to catch on.

GALLERY: Subaru BRZ Black Edition

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage here and discuss this story at SubaruBRZForum.com

 |  Jan 13 2012, 12:15 AM

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The GT 86 will spawn a new legion of fanboys for the Toyota brand – a result it was purpose-built to achieve. And if there’s one thing die-hard automotive enthusiasts love more than spouting off engine and chassis codes, it’s factory performance parts. In this case: Toyota Racing Development… or TRD for short.

With Toyota unveiling its new GT 86 sports car at the Tokyo Motor Show in early December, the automaker has now rolled out the TRD version at the Tokyo Auto Salon – Japan’s largest aftermarket event. Available TRD accessories for the GT 86 (sold in North America as the Scion FR-Sread our review here), include a new front lip and rear trunk-lid spoiler.

Also available are larger 18-inch TRD wheels, which can fit wider 225 tires, plus a TRD brake upgrade. Adding a slight dose of extra power is a TRD exhaust system, while a suite of suspension components will also be offered.

Toyota has yet to confirm as much, but it will offer a long list of TRD goodies for the Scion FR-S in North America.

GALLERY: Toyota GT 86 TRD

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage here and discuss this story at FR-SForum.com