METAL STORM

EVOQUE CONVERTIBLE

Tokyo and Los Angeles motorshows delivered a brilliant mix of fresh thinking and utter head-scratchers.

Here are the highlights...

EVOQUE CONVERTIBLE

The Range Rover Evoque Convertible could stand accused of style over substance if it possessed any great quantity of the former. The fullyautomated roof can be raised in 21 seconds, at speeds up to 50km/h if you fi nd ‘designer dumpster’ isn’t a look you wear well. Given the pull of the Evoque, it’ll doubtless sell in vast numbers.

Due here? Q3 2016

TOYOTA S-FR TOKYO

Toyota’s compact sports coupe concept could open the door to the Japanese carmaker’s fi rst hydrogenpowered performance model. Drivetrain chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka told Wheels that the front-engined, rear-drive S-FR was in line for a fuel cell once in-hub motor technology, which places electric drive inside each of the rear wheels, catches up.

Due here? We wish powered

BUICK LACROSSE

Now pay attention, because the Buick LaCrosse unveiled at LA is the fi rst production-ready car we’ve seen that runs on the next-gen Holden Commodore’s platform. These underpinnings will also be used by the forthcoming Opel Insignia before sitting beneath Holden’s heavyweight. The Buick also draws heavily on design cues from the Aussiedesigned Avenir prototype. At 5016mm long and sitting on a 2902mm wheelbase, the LaCrosse is a hefty thing, so future Commodore buyers probably aren’t about to be short-changed on size.

Due here? Parts will in 2017

SUBARU VIZIV FUTURE CONCEPT

This chunky compact SUV will fi nally drive the brand straight into battle against the hot-selling Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. With one insider revealing to Wheels at Tokyo that the production version hints strongly to “… a sub-XV offering”, it gives Subaru a low-$20,000 crossover proposition for the fi rst time, but Australians will probably have to wait at least until the end of 2017 for the newcomer to emerge.

Due here? Late 2017 at best

MITSUBISHI EX

SUVs are selling their cushy, outdoorsy socks off, so it’s little surprise that Mitsubishi stumped up this, an all-electric version of a compact SUV that will one day morph into the ASX. The eX, as the concept is known, sends its battery power to all four wheels and integrates a host of driver- assist technology to keep it on the right track in what will ultimately be its natural habitat – the city. The front incorporates what Mitsubishi says is its “Dynamic Shield” design, while down the rear the eX fl ows into a shooting brake, fusing hatchback and coupe. flfl brake Due when? About 2017

VOLVO CONCEPT 26

Volvo is the fi rst manufacturer to ask, “what are people actually going to do in an autonomous vehicle?” In Relax mode, the Concept 26 (named to refl ect the average daily commute of 26 minutes) the seat reclines, the steering wheel recedes and a 13 screen rotates from under the dash.

Should you crash while immersed in the latest season of Game of Thrones, Volvo will accept liability, maintaining that car makers should take responsibility for the actions of vehicles in autonomous mode.

Due here? Nudge us if it does

TOYODA GOSEI FLESBY

Covered in fl eshy polymer padding, the Flesby, created by Toyoda Gosei, one of Toyota’s more adventurous sub-brands, can also change shape at speed to reduce wind resistance thanks to its Flexible Smart Body. This 3m-long tot can also illuminate its high-tech bean bags with LED messages to tell the people around you what you’re up to. This tiny wheeled bouncy castle is, its makers claim, a vision of personal mobility come 2030.

Due here? Take a ticket and wait

SUBARU IMPREZA SEDAN

Displayed in fi ve-door hatch guise, ahead of the four-door sedan that surfaced at November’s LA Auto Show a few weeks later, the Impreza Concept has kicked off the countdown to the production version’s world premiere at the New York International Auto Show late next March, and will also spawn yet another XV crossover spin-off, to build on the success of the existing iteration.

Due here? Not before 2017

YAMAHA SPORTS RIDE CONCEPT TOKYO

Designed with the input of ex-McLaren man Gordon Murray, the carbonfi bre Yamaha Sports Ride Concept tips the scales at an anorexic 748kg. No engine details were released, but something this light would be ideal for one of the modern breed of downsized 1.0-litre turbo triples. It’s unlikely to make series production, but this proof of concept of Murray’s iStream design process underscores Yamaha’s credentials as a contract manufacturer able to cut development cycle times on niche vehicles.

Due here? Sadly, not a chance

PORSCHE CAYMAN GT4 CLUBSPORT

LOS ANGELES

We sent Alex Inwood to drive the Cayman GT4 at Phillip Island recently and he’s been wearing a glazed look ever since. The Clubsport version of the GT4 moves things on another notch, and for those who missed out on Porsche Australia’s 100 car allocation of GT4, here’s a terminal one-upper. The track-only Clubsport gets a roll cage, single-bucket seat with six-point harnesses, and you’ll save a few tenths around a track with the dualclutch PDK transmission. The Clubsport gets 911 GT3 Cup suspension and weighs around 40kg less than the standard GT4.

Due here? Personal import only

NISSAN GRIPZ TOKYO

Nissan’s Gripz Concept, at the heart of the company’s recent Frankfurt and Tokyo motorshow stands, likely points to a variation of the next-generation Juke, rather than any sort of Z-car replacement. Traditional fans need not panic, then.

Testing consumer reaction to a niche small and sporty SUV, the company is envisaging a BMW X6-style coupe version of the Mk2 Juke due in 2018, to sit alongside a more conventionally bodied version.

Speaking to Wheels at the Tokyo show, Nissan Australia managing director, Richard Emery, said, “I see it as more Juke than Z,” adding that there is still untapped potential to be explored in the small-SUV segment globally.

Due here? Its infl uence will be

CLUBSPORT BUYERS CAN OPTION A BIGGER 100-LITRE TANK FOR ENDURANCE RACING EVENTS

TOYOTA KIKAI CONCEPT

Toyota reckoned the Kikai is designed to encourage people to appreciate the beauty of machines and the passion behind them. We’re all for the physical and tactile here at Wheels, but ADR clipboard Nazis would doubtless nuke this one from orbit.

Due here? As if

LAMBORGHINI HURACAN LP 580-2

LOS ANGELES

Rear-wheel drive, a 33kg weight saving, restyled front and rear ends and new alloys are the good news for the latest Huracan variant. The bad is that Sant’Agata sneaks a few kilowatts out the back door to preserve the range hierarchy of the pricier allwheel- drive LP 610-4 model. Weight distribution is 40:60 front to rear, identical to a Porsche 991, and this rear-driver also gets the latest cylinder deactivation tech that now runs across the Huracan line-up.

It’ll hit 100km/h in 3.4sec and run on to 320km/h, which seems adequate to us and, as McLaren’s 570S demonstrated, less can indeed be more.

Due here? In 2016, for $378,900

“THIS IS THE PUREST EXPRESSION OF A LAMBORGHINI TO DATE” – CEO, STEPHAN WINKELMANN

LEXUS LF-LC TOKYO

“It’s a Lexus-badged S-Class fi ghter,” the gathering of journalists at Tokyo Big Sight, the home of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, chorused.

“No it’s not,” Lexus fi red back, a little miffed that its luxury coupe concept could be compared so easily with a rival’s product. Say what you like, but the svelte, grand LF-LC wearing a grille not far removed from a beaming Daniel Ricciardo while he still had a mouth full of stainless steel braces, is the second recent design study pointing the direction in which Lexus styling is headed. Its tech-laden interior and fuel-cell driveline are still the stuff of fantasy.

Due here? Buy the S-Class

INFINITI QX30 LOS ANGELES

Those who liked the look of the Infi niti Q30 hatch but couldn’t countenance the stretch up to the drive-through window, salvation was served at LA in the shape of the high-riding QX30. Think of it as the Japanese Merc GLA with “go-anywhere attitude” and you’re not too far off the mark.

Here in Oz, it’s likely to share its sibling’s 1.6- and 2.0-litre turbo-petrol and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel powerplants.

Due here? Q3 2016

URBAN, SUBURBAN AND WINDING RURAL ROADS ARE IN THE QX30’s SIGHTS. SERIOUS OFF-ROADERS SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE

HONDA CIVIC COUPE

LOS ANGELES

Due here? Nope, thankfully Honda 101 tells us that cars built in Asia or the UK are good – cars built in the USA are bad. Very bad.

This bulbous frump was designed in California and engineered in Ohio and there are thankfully no plans to attempt to sell it to you discerning bunch. Engine options include a 1.5-litre VTEC turbo and a 1.8-litre fourcylinder petrol lump, mated to either six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions. We’ll have to wait until the middle of next year for a car spun from this platform, and it’ll be a Thai-built sedan. cylinder six o b nch

HYUNDAI ELANTRA LOS ANGELES

Built in plants in Korea and Alabama, the all-new sixth-gen Elantra continues its battle for Aussie hearts and minds.

Interesting bits? The seats are padded with SoyFoam, an environmentally friendly material made of hydroxylfunctionalized soybean oil. You can even fi t seat heaters and the seats won’t smell like a vegan’s emissions fail.

Due here? With us in February