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Motorsports: Lexus RC F GT500 is the Super GT car Daft Punk fans will appreciate [w/video]

01/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Japan, Videos, Lexus, Tokyo Auto Salon, Racing

Lexus RC F GT500

Lexus Racing's booth designers at the Tokyo Auto Salon clearly loved a certain French electronic music duo when they decided to promote the new Lexus RC F racecar from the Super GT series. The Daft Punk-inpsired race team appeared ready for a pit stop in this promo photo, wearing custom double-breasted suits made from race gear as well as top hats, headphones and reflective sunglasses.

Lexus Racing showed the car in the summer when it was known as the LF-CC, but the Tokyo Auto Salon gave the public the first chance to see the renamed RC F in full race trim. It replaces the aging Lexus SC 430 GT500 car with a sharper, more aggressive racing weapon making 500 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The RC F, Nissan GT-R and Honda NSX form a trio of new models in the top-spec GT500 arm of Super GT, as the class goes through one of its biggest changes in its history. The GT500 class and DTM in Germany are unifying their rules for the new season. The cars have the same limits on exterior dimensions and weight. The only major difference between them is that the GT500 cars are using 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and the DTM is using naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8s in its cars.

Super GT begins its eight-race season at the Okayama circuit on April 6. Scroll down to check out a video of the RC F testing on track. A turbo four-cylinder might not seem exciting, but it certainly sounds good.

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Official: Bonkers Honda Vezel headlines Mugen's lineup at Tokyo Auto Salon

01/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Honda, Tokyo Auto Salon

Mugen Vezel Concept

Japanese automakers and their tuning divisions have descended upon the Makuhari Messe in Chiba City for the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon. And for Honda, it's all about Mugen.

Honda's Japanese Domestic Market tuning division brought a series of modified concepts and racing cars to the salon this year, including the CR-Z hybrid touring car it fields in the Super GT series, the SF13 single-seater from the Super Formula series as well as customized versions of the Fit, Odyssey and N-WGN. But the prize for the most outrageous of them all surely goes to the modified Vezel you see above.

Modeled on Honda's new Fit-based crossover, the Mugen Vezel Concept goes further than the versions we've seen until now. It features a bonkers body kit, dual exhaust, brake upgrade, sport suspension, intricate 20-inch alloy wheels and an upgraded interior. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're feeling still interested, you can check it out in the gallery above, along with the announcement below and the specs on Mugen's website.

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Official: Toyota reveals brace of customized concepts at Tokyo Auto Salon

01/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Concept Cars, Toyota, Tokyo Auto Salon

Toyota Harrier G Sports Concept

The Tokyo Auto Salon kicked off this weekend, filling the slot in the Japanese car scene that SEMA does in North America or Essen does in Germany with tuned and modified versions of domestic automobiles. Of course, Toyota wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to show just how far its JDM models can be taken, and to that end brought no fewer than 34 customized vehicles to the Makuhari Messe in Chiba City.

Among the highlights is the Harrier G Sports Concept, a modified version of the new crossover that debuted just a couple of months ago at the more mainstream Tokyo Motor Show, with a blacked-out snout that makes it look like a Lexus RX with a bloody nose. There was also a similarly modified Vitz RS G Sports Concept, fitting sports seats and a firmer suspension to the hatchback better known on this side of the Pacific as the Yaris.

Toyota's Japanese in-house tuning division GRMN modified the domestic Mark X sport sedan, replete with 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed manual, with an optimized suspension, brakes and Torsen limited-slip differential. It was joined by the GRMN 86 Concept that brings Gazoo Racing's experience on the Nürburgring to the streets of Japan with a lower curb weight, enhanced powertrain and a firmer suspension.

Alongside the modified Harrier, Vitz, Mark X and GT86, Toyota brought in custom rides from Gazoo Racing, G Sports, Modellista and TRD, the full extent of which you can read about, along with the full specs on those four centerpieces, in the press release below.

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Report: Nissan working on bringing bizarro BladeGlider to dealerships?

01/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Government/Legal, Nissan, Tokyo Auto Salon

Nissan BladeGlider Concept

It's a rare thing for pie-in-the-sky concepts to make production relatively unmolested. Edges are usually softened, mirrors made bigger and wheels shrunken into something that will be less backbreaking and easier to see out of on public roads. And while the essence of many concepts can still find their way into production, the wackier parts found in their concept forms often end up as nothing more than flights of fancy.

That makes news of the strange Nissan BladeGlider being considered for production rather interesting. You'll recall that the BladeGlider Concept debuted in November at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, featuring a McLaren-esque three-seat V layout, an electric drivetrain and a narrow front track like the DeltaWing and ZEOD RC. Understandably, perhaps, Nissan has been touting it as "reinventing the performance car." Everything about it screamed "concept."

Now comes word from Car in the UK that the car may actually make it to production. Quoting Nissan vice president Andy Palmer, "It's in our mid-term plan." "Our intention is to do it," he says. Now, Palmer has plenty of sway, but this should hardly be taken as an absolute confirmation that the triangle-shaped car would be coming. It is, however, a very promising sign. Palmer evidently sees the BladeGlider as a way to cajole young people into becoming car enthusiasts, which suggests Nissan might try to make it inexpensive. Alternatively, the BladeGlider could form the basis of a small-volume racecar, but it isn't clear what racing organization would have it.

Either way, before the BladeGlider can be green-lit, the Japanese company's lawyers need to sort things out with Don Panoz. The American businessman turned car builder is suing Nissan due to a striking similarity between Panoz's DeltaWing racer - which Nissan helped campaign at Le Mans - and the Japanese automaker's ZEOD RC and BladeGlider Concepts. Panoz has already filed a cease-and-desist letter and is apparently targeting full intellectual copyrights.

If Nissan ends up besting Panoz in court, though, it seems there's at least one powerful voice in Nissan that wants to see this car happen. Would you consider a production BladeGlider or would Nissan be better off building a more traditional sports car? If the BladeGlider did make production, do you think it'd retain its pure EV setup or run a conventional engine? Let us know in Comments.

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Teased: Gazoo Racing hints at Toyota GT86 concept for Tokyo Auto Salon [w/video]

01/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Japan, Videos, Scion, Toyota, Tokyo Auto Salon

A teaser image of the rear of a Toyota GT86 concept by GRMN

Gazoo Racing has teased a new take on the Toyota GT86 (our Scion FR-S) that it is bringing to next week's Tokyo Auto Salon. Having only posted a picture of the coupe's rear wing and backlight on its Facebook page, we have no idea what the rest of the concept will offer. If last year's introduction is any guide, there should be plenty more bodykit and power to go along with that wing.

Speaking of last year's concept, Gazoo has released some new track footage of its twin-charged GRMN Sports FR Platinum Concept from last year's Salon. It will return to this year's show alongside the new car, and you can watch it drift deliciously in the new video below.

Continue reading Gazoo Racing hints at Toyota GT86 concept for Tokyo Auto Salon [w/video]

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Official: Honda customizing Vezel to headline Tokyo Auto Salon lineup

12/26/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Japan, Honda, Tokyo Auto Salon

Honda Vezel Modulo

With the Tokyo Motor Show now behind it, the Japanese automotive industry is gearing up for the next big event. That'd be the Tokyo Auto Salon, Japan's equivalent to SEMA or Essen, set to take place at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. Subaru has already announced what it has in store for the tuner expo, and now Honda has followed suit.

Most interesting of all the tuner concepts Honda has lined up are a pair of modified Vezel crossovers. The one pictured above is kitted out with parts from the Modulo catalog, while a second one is being prepared by Mugen (similar to the one recently leaked). Both look pretty sharp and hint at the possibilities in store for the Fit-based crossover that'll come to these shores with turbo power.

Honda N-One Modulo Concept

Honda is also displaying Modulo and Mugen versions of a number of other vehicles, including its N family of Kei cars, the new JDM Odyssey and the Fit. There's an N-WGN kitted out like a cookie delivery truck, an N-Box+ modified to look like an Element, a series of Ninja Turtles-inspired Grom motorbikes and an array of racing machinery. Check 'em all out in the gallery above and the press release below.

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Official: Subaru to showcase five customized Levorg concepts at Tokyo Auto Salon

12/23/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Wagons/Estates, Japan, Subaru, Tokyo Auto Salon

Subaru Levorg Concept

Last month, Subaru unveiled the Levorg concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, previewing what could be the next Legacy wagon. But that's not the end of the story for the concept car.

With the Tokyo Auto Salon - Japan's equivalent to SEMA - approaching next month, Fuji Heavy has announced five customized versions of the Levorg. One is being prepared by Subaru itself with a focus on luxury (including new alloy wheels and a burgundy interior), one by Subaru Tecnica International (with strut brace and aero kit) and one each by aftermarket Subaru tuners Corazon, Syms and Prova.

Subaru will also display a pair of racecars based on the BRZ: the Super GT300 version we've already seen and a new STI NBR Challenge racer aimed at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Details in the press release below.

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Report: 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo to pack 595 hp, lap Nurburgring in 7:08

11/18/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Nissan, Tokyo Auto Salon

2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo

With two major auto shows taking place this week on different sides of the globe, the amount of news being posted across the internet is reaching a fever pitch. Naturally, things happen, trigger fingers get itchy and stories get leaked, which is apparently how we came across this spate of premature pictures and information on the eagerly anticipated Nissan GT-R Nismo.

Packing 595 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque from its twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6, the Nismo-fied GT-R should be a serious kick in the pants when run hard. The new power is thanks to a number of donor parts from the GT-R Nismo GT3 racecar, bits that include larger turbochargers, revised intake and exhaust systems and new ignition timing.

Thanks to the engine enhancements, and, we imagine, a few other tweaks to the chassis, brakes and aerodynamics that have yet to be published, the GT-R Nismo is said to blitz the Nürburgring in just 7:08, a mere 11 seconds slower than the $845,000 Porsche 918 Spyder. For a car that is rumored to cost well under a quarter of the price, that performance is just immense.

We'll have the full array of details on this white-hot Nissan when it drops at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show later this week.

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Official: Nissan gets racy at Tokyo Auto Salon [w/video]

01/10/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Minivans/MPVs, Sports/GTs, Japan, Crossovers/CUVs, Nissan, Tokyo Auto Salon, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style

Nissan Juke Personalization Concept

Nissan NV350 Caravan Rider TransporterNissan is headed to this year's Tokyo Auto Salon with a spate of custom hardware, including tweaked versions of the company's Juke, Note, Fairlady Z and GT-R. Even the humble Leaf EV and hefty NV350 have received a little love from designers and engineers. The Juke Nismo will share the stage with creations like the Leaf Nismo Performance Package and the GT-R Nismo GT3. That last beast debuted in 2012 and boasts more engine output and enhanced aerodynamics while still complying with FIA GT3 regulations.

But our favorite of the bunch has to be the NV350 Caravan Rider Transporter. Custom-built for TAS, the commercial van was penned to toe the line between a hard-working commercial van and a luxurious leisure machine. We dig it.

Nissan is also showing off a number of race cars, including the Motul Autech GT-R of Super GT fame and the company's wild DeltaWing. Check out the full press release and videos below for more information, and be sure to take a look at the full gallery for a glimpse of the models in attendance.

Continue reading Nissan gets racy at Tokyo Auto Salon [w/video]

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Official: Chevrolet headed to Tokyo Auto Salon with Sonic, Captiva concepts

01/02/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Coupes, Japan, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Chevrolet, GM, Tokyo Auto Salon

We're piecing this together as best we can from the original Japanese with the help of Google Translate, but it seems Chevrolet is headed to the Tokyo Auto Salon with three special vehicles. Embracing the customization of American metal through the themes of cool, fun and freedom, the showpiece will be a Camaro Giovanna Edition but there's no information on it. Based on its name, though, we would not be shocked if it's fitted with Giovanna aftermarket wheels.

It will be joined by the Chevrolet Captiva Freedom Rider in Carbon Flash Metallic hue and the Chevrolet Sonic Street Icon Package in red. The "stylish and playful" Sonic is all about skateboarders and "the street generation," while the Captiva works the two-wheeled crowd with its Thule bike rack and painted-to-match bicycle.

The Salon goes down from January 11-13. We'll be looking forward to that Camaro and to see whether that Captiva grille really is as meshtastic as it looks in the above picture.

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