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TOKYO SHOW: Nissan's GT-R shines

Rafay Ansar

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Sports car among AutoWeek staff's show favorites

We logged 6,000-plus air miles and criss-crossed the floor of the Makuhari Messe to look at the cool and kooky things on the show stands at the Tokyo auto show. Then the AutoWeek editors pulled up some chairs, opened some cans of green tea and hashed out what you want to know--the cars that made this year's show memorable. Here they are:


BEST IN SHOW: NISSAN GT-R




Among enthusiasts, much has been said and written about the car that is Nissan's answer to the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. That we have heard about it for the past six years, that collectors of the previous generation R34 have been saving their money in anticipation, that the success of video games have been dependent on its inclusion says volumes about the

GT-R. In a show field that is decidedly thin on surprises and spectacular reveals, this is the clear winner as the AutoWeek Editors' Best in Show winner.

Make no mistake: This car would likely take the title were the Tokyo field chock full of exceptional candidates. It has all the numbers to thrill fans (whether horsepower, speed, performance, capabilities or price.) More importantly, it has the visual visceral cues to set it apart from others. The GT-R will be a homerun in the U.S. and is the first of a series of collector Japanese cars to fill someone's garage.

The only thing that disappoints us: We will have to wait until next summer to enjoy its myriad pleasures on our shores.

BEST CONCEPT: MAZDA TAIKI



Mazda designers hit for the fences with this final entry in a quartet of dream cars rolled out during auto shows in the past year. Taiki draws together attributes from Nagare (“flow” in Japanese), shown at Los Angeles last November, Ryuga shown at Detroit in January, and Hakaze, which made its debut at Geneva in March. The concept revealed at the Tokyo show, designed by advanced design chief Atsuhiko Yamada at Mazda’s Yokohama design center, adds a next-generation Renesis rotary powerplant and seven-speed transmission. Mazda says the Taiki hints at a possible design direction for a future front-engined, rear-drive sports car. If even a portion of this futuristic low-drag (.25) streamliner styling makes production, we’ll look back to this line of concepts—and Taiki in particular—as key components in the effort to find a new formula for sports car design in an ever more fuel-conscious world.

Others considered: Suzuki X-Head; Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro.

MOST SIGNIFICANT: HONDA CR-Z



Here's a car that finally reintroduces passion and emotion in a legendary vehicle that's also powered by alternative sources. This CR-Z is very much the spiritual successor to Honda's loved CRX, a subcompact rocket from the past.

Others considered: Suzuki Kizashi 2; Mitsubishi Concept ZT


MOST FUN: SUZUKI X-HEAD




It's every kid's Tonka toy come to life. It's boxy, it's burly, it's bright yellow and looks as though it wants to haul stuff and through the woods. The side panel of the cargo box folds down to reveal storage space for stuff, and a power washer that hooks to a built-in water tank for a quick cleanup. Need to go camping? A sleeping pod slides into the truck bed. Need a crane? There's an X-Head pod for that, too. Neat touch: The driver's door handle detaches to work as a flashlight and a hammer. It's what happens when Suzuki builds a Hummer.

Others considered: Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro; Honda CR-Z
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