Honda reincarnates 80s Motocompo into electrified Motocompacto for modern city dwellers

Remember the cute little Honda Motocompo from the 80s designed to fit in the boot of a hatchback? The scooter is making a comeback in electric form and it’s called the Motocompacto.

In the folded configuration, the ride looks nothing more than a suitcase with wheels, measuring just 29 inches in length and 21 inches in height. Probably, the reason it was hugely popular even though it had a very short stint at the Japanese automotive production lines.

Designer: Honda

For the 21st century, the peppy commuter targeted at urban users comes with some improvements and maintains the same lightweight frame as its predecessor. To be precise, the Motocompacto weighs 41 pounds, the same class as regular bikes. That small and compact form factor comes with its set of limitations such as the measly range of 12 miles on a single charge of 3.5 hours. The silver lining though, it has a charger-ready 110V outlet, so you can plug it into any household outlet.

The ingrained idea of a Motocompo is to take it along in your car’s boot and only use it for short trips. The front-wheel drive motor of the Motocompacto delivers 490W, making the last-mile ride capable enough of climbing hills. The top speed of 15-18 mph isn’t top-notch when compared to other electric scooters, but it solves the purpose nonetheless. On the dashboard, there are two power levels, a digital speedometer and battery level indicators.

Nick Ziraldo, project lead and design engineering unit leader at Honda Development and Manufacturing of America, “Motocompacto is easy to use and fun to ride, but was also designed with safety, durability, and security in mind. It uses a robust heat-treated aluminum frame and wheels, bright LED headlight and taillight, side reflectors, and a welded steel lock loop on the kickstand that is compatible with most bike locks.”

The Motocompacto is going to be priced around $995 and will be available in November. Interested buyers can either place the order online or buy via the Honda or Acura dealerships.

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Sony x Honda E-Volve concept evolves with the riders skill level and preferred driving modes

Honda has struck a deal with Sony to create new mobility services to optimize the way consumers interact with future vehicles for a balance between manufacturing and functionality.

Now that the two Japanese heavyweights have already revealed a prototype electric sedan under the brand name Afeela, as a result of this long-running partnership, should the two-wheelers not also get the rubbing-off treatment?

Designer: Jennifer Ellison

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A motorbike with the same exploits as the four-wheeled counterparts for a unified approach towards sensible mobility. This electric concept bike is exactly what a Honda-Sony partnership would result in, and it’s aptly dubbed SonyxHonda E-Volve. The core idea of the design is freedom in style, to grow and have the flexibility that Gen-Z craves. This electric motorcycle built on a light, compact frame has a wide range of modules that can be interchanged whenever desired for real-time needs.

What’s more intriguing is the ability of the bike frame that’s initially purchased to be displayed in their homes during seasons when biking is not such a good idea. Extreme winters and monsoons for instance. The barebone frame can be fitted with the required modules focused on either style, performance, agility or both. Users can either choose the E-Volve to be a café racer or a sports racer depending on what the driving conditions are or the skill level of the rider.

The wheels on the electric bike can be customized to have a hydraulically controlled independent suspension system controlled by a dedicated motor on the inside. This gives superior ride comfort and the ability to tweak the resultant pressure level on the wheels. According to the designer, the companion app helps the rider in setting the skill level of riding so that precise recommendations can be made on upgrading the hardware. This way you only drive a bike that’s tailored for your permissible limits and nothing more for road safety.

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Honda Uni-One robotic wheelchair allows users to ride like they were walking independently

Mobility devices, designed to deliver independence to the differently-abled, often intrigue me. Whether directly or indirectly targeted at this population, these click with me and I cannot hold back but share the information/design with the audience. One such extension of – almost a decade old – smart motorized stool from Honda is the Uni-One, which is a self-balancing and easy-to-steer robotic wheelchair for the future.

Based on the Honda Uni-Cub introduced first in 2012, the Uni-One is designed to offer hands-free personal mobility to anyone with lower limb immobilization or the lazy workforce that would rather not make the effort of raising their butt from the seat to get to the meeting room.

Designer: Honda

This robotic chair can be steered by shifting the weight (in the direction you want to move) while sitting on it. The Uni-One can move naturally by detecting the rider’s body movement, much like mimicking the concept of walking in daily life. Uni-One thrives on the independence it offers, not only in case of mobility but rending the user’s hands-free for other tasks.

When you’re strapped into the Uni-One, you have your hands free to safeguard yourself in case of a trip over (even though Honda has perfected the robotic chair so no such incident occurs). Expanding a range of possibilities beyond walking and wheelchair mobility, the Uni-One aims to help people – from all walks of life – in their daily routines. The chair can be guided by either the movement of the body or using a joystick, which is essential for times when the device encounters a malfunction.

Interestingly, Honda Uni-One is ridable in two positions: low, stable mode, or raised mode, a position pretty close to that of a standing person. There is no word on the battery capacity or the operability speeds of the Uni-One, at the time of writing. The device has been exhibited and has bagged the Good Design Awards 2022; I am assuming, the information is just around the corner.

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2023 Honda HR-V Review


  • Smooth, comfortable ride

  • Roomy cabin

  • Great value


  • Underwhelming power

  • Anonymous styling

  • No Magic seats




The HR-V rides with a poise and composure that's unusual for an SUV of this size, soaking up road imperfections with no complaint or negative feedback transmitted to the driver. There's little to tell you that you aren't driving a car costing far more than this one's $30,590 as-configured price.

Sometimes, growing up means losing a little bit of magic. Your outlook on life changes along with your priorities, as might your waistline, but at the end of the day you’re still you and, in many cases, a better you. Wizened, yes, but wiser too.

With the 2023 Honda HR-V, growing up quite literally means losing its magic — well, Magic Seats, anyway. But, despite that unfortunate omission, the latest flavor of Honda’s littlest crossover SUV is a nicer-driving, nicer-looking machine than what came before. An improvement, then? Let’s dive into the details.

New Platform

The outgoing Honda HR-V, introduced in 2014 and refreshed in 2019, was based on the beloved Honda Fit. Serving as a slightly bigger, marginally more practical SUV flavor of Honda’s mini-MPV, it inherited the Fit’s great packaging and lively, if buzzy, dynamic.

This new HR-V is a very different beast. Now built on the same platform as the latest Honda Civic, it features a substantially different design inside and out, top to bottom. Certainly from the outside it looks radically different, bigger and frankly more pedestrian than before. Where the old car had an almost tall-hatchback vibe, the new one is all SUV.

That’s not a bad thing, mind, and I do think it’s a handsome looking thing. The face of the car is simpler and cleaner without the chrome nose that the old car wore, and I like the way the new facia sculpts down aggressively to a well-defined, vertical grille.

From the side, well, there’s really nothing to differentiate this from any other little crossover on the market, but from the rear there’s a bit more intrigue, with wide tail lights wrapping nicely around to to the fenders, a clear organic shape with black inserts that pair nicely with the black trim that formers a border and a base for the entirety of the HR-V’s body.

Again, I think it looks quite good, especially in the deep, greenish-blue shade of Nordic Forest, which is about as accurate a name for an automotive color I’ve ever heard. While that shade will set you back an extra $395, it works well with all the black and the few bits of silver and chrome to be found.

New Interior

On the inside, things are much darker. Much, much darker. The color scheme inside my test car was black on black on more black, a little bit of white stitching plus a few silver hints trying and failing to break up the monotony. An off-white headliner brightens things up just a little bit, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, this may not be the interior for you. (There is a light gray interior available, but only on the top-shelf EX-L trim.)

Despite the monotone look, it’s actually a very nice interior, a massive improvement both in terms of layout and features than before. And, frankly, it does look good, especially the sweeping, honeycomb vent that runs nearly the entire width of the dashboard, borrowed from the new Civic and looking just as classy here as it does there.

The 9-inch infotainment system sits perched above that, again familiar Honda-spec stuff but easy to use and responsive, and blissfully featuring a volume knob, something missing on the first HR-V. Both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on display, and the HR-V integrates nicely with them, pulling turn-by-turn directions out and adding them to the gauge cluster.

That gauge cluster, meanwhile, is half digital, multi-function LCD on the left handling tachometer duties, seamlessly blending into a physical speedometer needle on the right.

Inset in the tacho is a selection of information ranging from trip details to navigation, as well of course as all the various active safety settings, which I’ll delve into in just a moment. I find this half-digital layout a bit odd, if I’m honest, but it works well and presumably saves a few bucks somewhere along the line.

The center console in the new HR-V has been completely redesigned, shifter now sitting on an arched section that flows seamlessly back to the driver’s armrest. That arching shape creates room for a small cubby underneath, with a pair of USB-A ports sticking out at odd angles on either side. Another USB-A port is situated ahead of the cupholders and next to a Qi wireless charging pad. Rear-seat passengers, though, will have to make do without even a single USB port. (There is at least a 12-volt way back in the hatch, but that won’t help your compatriots much.)

The bigger change out back, though, is the aforementioned loss of the Honda Fit’s Magic Seats. Though the name was somewhat hyperbolic, those seats really were pretty special, folding up to make room for tall objects or folding flat to provide lots of cargo space. In the new HR-V, those seats fold only flat.

They do so easily and nicely, opening up 55.1 cubic feet of cargo space, down from 57.6 on the old car. But, when the seats are up, there’s plenty of room for rear-seat passengers. I’m six-feet tall with short legs and I had plenty of headroom and oodles of legroom, even with the driver’s seat positioned exactly where I’d have liked it.

The front seats, too, are comfortable and roomy, power adjusting on the driver’s side, manual for the passenger. Despite the sunroof there’s an abundance of headroom up front, too, and good visibility throughout.

New Drive

Buckle up, hit the Engine Start Button, slot the shifter into D, and you’ll quickly realize this feels very different. In terms of driving dynamics, there’s little here to compare to the old HR-V. Though the previous one was far from bad, this one’s very good. Mostly.

The suspension and overall ride quality are the biggest changes. The HR-V rides with a poise and composure that’s unusual for an SUV of this size, soaking up road imperfections with no complaint or negative feedback transmitted to the driver. Even on the worst roads I could find, the HR-V was perfectly comfortable, handling maybe skewing a little too far to the soft side but it’s still an engaging thing to drive.

Really, other than a bit of road noise coming through on broken surfaces, there’s little to tell you that you aren’t driving a car costing far more than this one’s $30,590 as-configured price. But, get on the accelerator and you’ll get a noisy reminder.

The 2023 Honda HR-V is powered by a 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive. CVTs and AWD systems both have a tendency to suck the life out of small-displacement engines. Saddling the poor two-liter four-pot here with both leaves it really struggling.

Try to accelerate hard and you’re greeted with more noise than thrust, transmission running up to redline and staying there until you take mercy on the thing and lift. It is, suffice to say, not a particularly engaging acceleratory experience.

That’d be okay if it were particularly frugal, but it sadly isn’t. The HR-V is EPA-rated for 25 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 27 combined. That’s down one point across the board compared to the 2021 AWD HR-V. In my mixed testing I averaged 24.8 mpg, and other than a few quickly aborted acceleration tests I was not pushing hard.

Honda doesn’t yet offer a hybrid flavor of the Civic nor the HR-V, but I think such a system would do wonders both for efficiency and driving dynamics here. There’s what appears to be room for an entire second engine under the hood of the car, so while nothing’s been announced, hopefully Honda plans to do something with all that space.

Pricing and Options

All HR-Vs come with the Honda Sensing system, which includes adaptive cruise, lane-keep, automatic emergency braking, and traffic-jam assist. On the highway the HR-V does a great job of following the flow of traffic, keeping itself centered in the lane. When it’s time to change lanes, the HR-V won’t do it for you, but standard blind-spot monitoring will at least make sure the way is clear.

There really aren’t many options. The AWD EX-L HR-V you see here had a starting price of $28,950, with that Nordic Forest paint the only option at a bargain $395. Going for FWD would have saved $1,500, while the only other options would have been different wheels and things like floor-mats.

After a $1,245 destination charge, the final price for the car you see pictured here is $30,590.

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MUJI Honda MS 01 electric bike is a no-nonsense urban commuter for minimalists

While one would consider retail company MUJI, and automotive giant Honda to be polar opposites – apparently, they still have a common ground. The two brands have joined forces to create an ergonomic and highly practical daily commuting electric bike that many will fancy for their daily riding needs.

Meet the Muji Honda MS01 electric bike inspired by the MUJI H-Type bicycle. The black and white theme on this one is a testament to the MUJI’s mellowed-down styling – in fact, the company’s artistic director Kenya Hara did most of the design bit of the bike himself. All the equipment and power of the MS01 come from the house of Honda. It is a very balanced collaboration, resulting in this minimalist two-wheeler ideal for city rides and beyond. MUJI has experience in developing automotive products, as in 2019 they launched the self-driving GACHA shuttle bus in collaboration with the Finnish tech company Sensible 4.

Designer: MUJI and Honda

You won’t get any flashy high-tech features on this electric bike – though, just enough to get you from one point to the other in the least possible time, and of course safely. The U-shaped bicycle has compact-sized pedals, classic handlebars, and the most basic headlights as well as tail lights that you could ask for. The two-wheeler powered by a 400W motor rides on 17-inch wheels, propelling it to a top speed of 25 km/h. On board is a 48V/20Ah ternary lithium battery and EBS power that gives it a range of 65 km on average.

For the rider’s comfort, the electric bike has an ergonomic three-point sitting position, with a motorcycle-level high-quality saddle. Then there are features including LCD instrument panel, keyless unlocking and aluminum alloy handlebars. As of now, the MUJI H-Type bicycle is only available in black and white colorways (the dual-tone version is not available yet), and will only be made in 5,000 units for a price tag of ¥4,980 CNY (approximately $744 USD) in the Chinese market. Release in other parts of the world is not yet announced, but we’ll be keeping an eye on any new developments.

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Unique to Japan, the tiny Honda N-Van Compo comes with a roof tent and amazingly fits 4 people

K-Campers are known for packing a lot into a tiny space. Unique to Japan, the K-Campers is a type of Kei car, a Japanese vehicle category for the smallest highway-legal passenger cars that are built with restricted dimensions and engine capacity.

Designer: Honda

The ultimate microcar, K-Campers host an array of multifunctional features that help make the tiny space feel a lot roomier. Upgrading from the Vamos and Acty vans, Honda Japan released the N-Van Compo, a Kei Van Camper that sleeps four with the help of an expandable roof.

Reaching 133.7 inches in length, the N-Van Compo is 20.4 inches shorter than Mazda MX-5 Miata, but the size can be deceiving. Converting the classic N-Van into a compact camper van, the N-Van Compo finds space with modular and multifunctional interiors. When driving, the N-Van Compo can be operated like any other motor vehicle only to transform into a sleeping space when put in park.

When camping, passengers of the N-Van Compo can create sleeping accommodations by turning the driver’s seat around and spreading the mattress modules out in line to make room for one taller and one shorter person to sleep comfortably. When it comes to the van’s interior configuration, interested buyers have three options: Style-One, Style-Two, and Cabin.

Getting the most bang for your buck, Style-One provides some overhead storage, two sinks, a freshwater tank, microwave, small refrigerator, solar panel, foldable table, and a set of screen doors. The expandable roof can be accessed from the van’s sleeping area and is also included in the van’s Style-Two configuration.

Only changing the location of the kitchen to be on one side entirely, Style-Two hosts the same array of amenities as Style-One. The final option, Cabin, gives buyers the option of keeping the expandable roof, microwave, and refrigerator, but ditches the sink to make room for sleeping and storage.

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The Best of Tokyo Auto Salon 2022

To really appreciate a car’s styling and market impact, you really have to see it—in the flesh. I mean, online car launches and briefings are good, but they cannot hope to substitute for the real thing. Seeing is believing, as they say, right? That’s why I made a beeline for the Tokyo Auto Salon last weekend— with my vaccinations, face mask, and hand sanitizer under my belt—to check out the latest offerings from the car industry.

But before we look at the highlights from the three-day Tokyo Auto Salon, we should first note that Japan’s biggest car customizing show has gained significant importance over the past few years thanks to the dwindling reputation of the more traditional Tokyo Motor Show as major foreign brands reallocate marketing budgets away from traditional motor shows, preferring to spend advertising money on brand-centric launches.

Tokyo Auto Salon is 70% customized cars and 30% new cars

On the global stage, the Auto Salon is one of the top customizing events behind America’s SEMA and Germany’s Essen shows. In the wake of the Tokyo Motor Show’s demise, the 40-year old Salon has taken on a double role—it’s a 70% world-class customizing and tuning show and 30% new car launch venue.

Spread across four cavernous halls at the massive Makuhari Messe complex some 30 minutes east of Tokyo, the 3-day Salon saw new cars and concepts debut from Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu as well as Japan premieres of the Lotus Emira and the Alpine A110 S.

As for the customizing specialists, all of Japan’s biggest names were there including HKS, Top Secret, Greddy, TOM’s, Blitz, Endless, Liberty Walk, Cusco, Autobacs, Varis, Rays and RE Amemiya among others.

To give you a flavor of what was on the salon floor, we’ve decided to focus on the highlights—so we chose our 3 best new car and concept debuts plus our 3 best-customized cars.

Three Best New Cars and Concepts

1. Nissan Z

By far the most anticipated unveiling at this year’s Auto Salon was the domestic premiere of the all-new Nissan Z, or the ‘Fairlady Z’ as it’s called in Japan. Expressing just how much this launch means to Nissan, the company’s CEO, Makoto Uchida joined champion Nissan Super GT500 racer Tsugio Matsuda, who collaborated with the car’s cockpit design, and pop star and race team principal Masahiko Kondo to give the Z the unveiling it deserved.

First launched in New York City in August last year, the Z boasts a silhouette that harks back to the original 240Z of 1969 while the tail light design draws inspiration from the rear combination lamps of the 300ZX of three decades ago. The huge rectangular grille first generated controversy when it debuted last year, but after seeing it in real life, I must say that the shape and size of the grille complement the dramatic exterior styling. However, to seemingly appease potential buyers wanting a slightly more subtle traditional front end, Nissan also unveiled the world premiere of the ‘Z Customized Proto’ concept.

Painted in bright orange, and fitted with orange 4-piston brake calipers and Dunlop tires adorned with bespoke ‘Nissan Z’ white lettering this Z was one of my personal favorites at the Salon.

Speaking with Nissan’s chief product specialist for the new Z (and the GT-R for that matter!), Hiroshi Tamura, I could quickly tell that this next-generation sports car was a labor of love for him and his team. As he explained its ‘retro-modern design’ and how the design team had leaned heavily on Z styling from the past 50 years, he also stressed that the car is a traditional rear-drive sports car that incorporates the latest state-of-the-art technologies.

Apart from its impressive 400-hp 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo matched to a 6-speed manual transmission (9-speed auto optional), the cockpit gets a new interpretation of the traditional Z-style three analog pod gauges set up on top of the instrument panel while the race car style shift-up indicator located directly above the tachometer will no doubt become a much talked about the feature when the car lands in showrooms later this year.

2. Toyota GR GT3 Concept

At the Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) stand, the covers came off another Salon highlight. Arguably one of the most aggressive manufacturer concept cars to ever feature at Makuhari Messe, the GR GT3 Concept interestingly borrows nothing from the brand’s huge range of road-going vehicles, but instead, offers a driver-focused, track-only coupe concept at first, with, perhaps, production car aspirations further down the road. Whether the car is destined for Japan’s Super GT series is yet to be confirmed, but with that “GT3” reference, you’d expect as much.

With its extra-long nose, long wheelbase, straight beltline, sharp sleek front end, huge rear wing, and a rear brake light design that resembles that of the Porsche Taycan, the GR GT3 looks more than ready for the race track as is. One aspect of the car that stood out when viewed from the side is that its proportions almost mirror those of the gorgeous Mazda RX Vision concept of 2017.

Details are slim at present. Toyota officials made no reference to a powertrain in any way, but given the fact that the car has exhaust pipes, we can expect it to pack a hybrid powertrain, most probably a V6 married to a turbo and a plug-in hybrid system that would develop upwards of 600-hp.

According to Toyota, the GT3 concept follows a pattern initiated by the multiple award-winning GR Yaris hatchback. The company plans to commercialize motorsport models first, instead of taking road-going cars and modifying them for racing. Even if Toyota does not make a road-going version of the GT3 concept, we hope that signature design elements of this awesome-looking machine make their way into production cars.

Like Mazda’s RX Vision concept, which appeared in Gran Turismo, one definite possibility is that we will see this car feature in Polyphony Digital’s best-selling driving game in the not too distant future.

3. Subaru STI E-RA Concept

As I roamed the Subaru STI stand, I noticed a BRZ STI concept and a WRX concept, but then, plonked in an obscure corner of the stand, behind the fully electric Solterra STI Concept was one of the most radical Japanese cars I’ve ever seen—the Subaru STI E-RA Concept.

While the Nissan Z was the most anticipated car of the Salon, the STI E-RA Concept was the biggest surprise. It literally appeared out of nowhere. “We told no one about it, not even Subaru of America,” said a Subaru staffer. In the world of social media and instant news and leaked teaser images, it’s extremely refreshing to see something that you did not know existed suddenly appear.

Subaru Tecnica International developed this low-slung 1,072-hp electric race car for one purpose—to set a new lap record around Germany’s famed 13-mile long Nurburgring Nordschleife race track. Propelled by 4 powerful 200kW electric motors, one on each wheel, the E-RA (short for ‘Electric Record Attempt’) is hellbent on setting a time of ‘400 seconds,’ or 6 minutes 40 seconds, according to Hiroshi Mori, STI’s general manager who green-lighted the project.

So why attempt such a radical move now? “We are a little behind with our introduction of EVs, so we decided to up the ante and create an extreme study model, and set a lap time that will help us develop fast, efficient EV race and road cars for the future,” answers Mori.

As Mori so aptly pointed out, the record STI is chasing is not the 6:05 time set by the single-seater Volkswagen ID R, but a slightly more leisurely 6:40 time for twin-seater electric cars. That ‘400 second’ that STI is however targeting a time that would outperform the two-seat Chinese NIO EP9 electric supercar that posted a 6:45 in 2017. Everything about the E-RA, from its 197-inch long frame to its 79-inch wide carbon fiber body to its perfect aerodynamic profile, huge chin spoiler, massive rear wing, roof air intake and race car tuned diffuser, all scream ultra-performance.

According to Mori, the 60kWh battery powering the E-RA should last just one lap, providing just enough juice to set one lap time. “Hopefully a record lap time,” says Mori. STI will test the car in Japan this year before heading to Germany sometime in 2023 for the record-breaking attempt.

Honorable Mentions For New Cars and Concepts

Honda revealed its next-generation Civic Type R wearing a rare camouflage. From a distance, it just looks like a generic red, back, and white covering, but up close this camouflage is a tapestry of Type R logo designs from all of the past Civic and Integra Type R models. As for engine specs, Honda was remaining tight-lipped but we can expect it to generate over 320-hp and offer a manual transmission.

Over at Mitsubishi’s stand, it was great to see their motorsport and tuning arm ‘Ralliart’ making a comeback through their ‘Vision Ralliart Concept.’ Based on the latest Outlander, the modified SUV is finished in a matte black paint job and employs a bold, muscular body kit and rear diffuser, 22-inch wheels, and 6-piston calipers.

And who could ignore the domestic launch of the Lotus Emira First Edition? Distributed by LCI in Japan, this sexy-looking coupe is powered by a 400-hp, 3.5-liter supercharged V6 with either 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Three Best Customized Cars

1. Liberty Walk Aventador SVJ Carbon Fiber Body

Housed inside a high chain-link fence-enclosed stand that seemed inspired by a Mixed Martial Arts arena, the star of internationally-known customizer Liberty Walk’s display was a dark grey Lamborghini Aventador SVJ. And the customizing had nothing to do with its 770-hp V12 engine, which incidentally is how the car comes from the factory.

Arguably one of the most extreme customized cars at this year’s Auto Salon, this Aventador SVJ’s claim to fame is that it is covered in a totally new body kit made out of dry carbon fiber. Looking like a modern-day Batmobile, Liberty Walk engineers removed the car’s body, made bespoke carbon fiber molds of every part, and then replaced the standard body parts with the newly created lightweight carbon fiber pieces.

And the cost of this car? According to a spokesman, if you take a fully optioned SVJ’s costing around $700,000 and add the full dry carbon fiber (which is more expensive than wet carbon fiber) body kit fee of just over $200,000, and then add on a few extra options, you end up with a total price tag of just over $1 million. Given the quality of the work, I was not surprised to hear that Liberty Walk has customers in the U.S., Europe, and Brazil. The specialist customizer says that it will make around 20 of these body kits and nearly half have already been sold.

2. HKS Driving Performance GR86

As we’ve seen, the Tokyo Auto Salon does double as a stage to launch new manufacturer models and concepts. But it is still basically a customizing show and a big one at that. Without a doubt, the main base car for the vast majority of customizers and tuners is the recently launched second-generation Toyota GR86. At this year’s show, I counted no less than 30 heavily customized GR86s, but the one that stood out the most was the HKS GR86 which is no surprise given that HKS is one of the best known—domestically and internationally—customizers in Japan.

In Japan, customizing, racing and racecourse time attacks at the well-known Tsukuba Circuit go hand in hand, and this time was no different. Donning a startling triple color livery, the HKS GR86 has basically been race-prepped to challenge a sub-minute lap time around Tsukuba.

While the standard GR86 is fitted with a 230-hp 2.4-liter boxer engine, the HKS GR86 has a supercharger fitted that lifts power to a rumored 300-hp although HKS did not release this detail. But that’s not all. Fitted with a full battery of bespoke HKS modified parts that include a special lightweight body kit, HKS sports muffler, and exhaust system, a HKS heavy-duty clutch, an HKS oil cooler, and air filter, HKS Hipermax S sports suspension, Endless branded brakes, and Yokohama 18-inch wheels and Advan tires, the HKS GR86 knocked out a rather quick lap time of 1:01 making it the fastest GR86 around Tsukuba so far.

3. Pandem Widebody V8 GT-R ‘Hakosuka’

Saving the best till last. This heavily modified Nissan Skyline GT-R could just be our favorite customized car at this year’s salon. Notable customizer Trail Motor Apex Racing displayed a one-off ‘Pandem Widebody V8 Hakosuka’ (with ‘hako’ meaning boxy and ‘suka’ refers to Skyline) based on a 1970 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Now while the ultra-wide blacked-out, flared fenders look totally bonkers, those fenders house oversized tires that are more than necessary for this orange beast. Why? As if those 8 suspicious pipes poking out of the hood don’t give the game away. That’s right, this first generation GT-R packs a thumping NASCAR-spec 5.7-liter V8 engine pumping out an incredible 1,145-hp through the rear wheels.

While the car cannot be driven on public roads, TMAR says they will be doing some testing in the near future with the goal of ‘racing it.’ However, exactly where and when they will race it is still under wraps.

Nissan only made 1,945 so-called ‘Hakosuka’ GT-Rs and word on the street is that around one-third of them survive today. Compared to the Pandem Widebody V8’s 1,145-hp, the original GT-R C10, which won multiple touring car races, was powered by a 2.0-liter straight-6 engine generating just 160-hp, but still considerable power for those days. Race versions of these cars today can fetch upwards of $300,000 due to their rarity and race-winning history. Just how much this one-off V8-fitted GT-R would cost is anyone’s guess.

Honorable Mentions For Customized Cars

Okay, so we’ve featured our three best new cars and three best-customized cars. But of the hundreds of other tuned models on display, these ones also impressed no end.

One of the long-time heroes of the Auto Salon is the legendary rotary engine tuner RE Amemiya. These guys normally modify Mazda rotary-powered RX-7s and RX-8s, but this year, the highlight of their stand was a specially prepared Ferrari Testarossa powered by a 4-rotor rotary engine, which incidentally is the same number of rotors that powered the Mazda 787B race car to victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24-hour race.

My jaw dropped when I saw the gold-colored ‘Rocky 3000GT’, which is actually a replica of a 1967 Toyota 2000GT, arguably Japan’s most beautiful sports car. However, in place of the original 2.0-liter straight-6, this 3000GT is powered by an inline-6 3.0-liter Toyota engine. The price on the 3000GT was unclear, but for reference, stock 2000GT’s have fetched auction prices of over $1 million recently.

We also liked the sensational-looking Impulse AE86, which is a tuned 1986 Toyota Sprinter Trueno Corolla AE86 that has huge flared fenders, a carbon fiber body kit, and a modified engine developing 200-hp. Finished in a stand-out red, white, and black paint combination, this is the model of car that hardcore drifters all over the world use for sliding sideways around race tracks.

Speaking of 86s, well-known customizers GReddy and Blitz also outdid themselves with customized versions of the new GR86 that would cause a real stir in the U.S., a place that has been screaming for more powerful turbocharged models. Tuned with bespoke turbochargers, intercoolers, aeroparts, and sports suspension, these cars would be generating over 300-hp.

And who could ignore the other three bright yellow concept cars on display at the Liberty Walk stand. The canary yellow Lamborghini Aventador, Chevrolet Corvette C8, and McLaren P1 all benefited from bespoke carbon-fiber bodywork and were the best-looking threesome of the show.

Meanwhile, the ‘Bad Taste Award’ went to a bright pink Toyota Crown with dark green seats, pink steering wheel, pink seatbelts, and Swarovski crystal beads pasted all over the Crown and Athlete G badges.


One reason for the continued success of the 40-year-old Tokyo Auto Salon is that it has a little of something for everyone. With its new car launches and over-the-top customized machines, it’s a smorgasbord of automotive titillation that never gets old. Bring on TAS 2023.

The post The Best of Tokyo Auto Salon 2022 first appeared on Yanko Design.

Honda’s all-electric autonomous off-road vehicle is a construction hauler that carries weight of up to 400kg

It’s actually the electric cars that we are chasing after. But ultimately there is going to be a day when autonomous, energy-efficient vehicles will rule our roads. Before the future lands on the road, it is in testing at the Black & Veatch’s solar energy construction site in New Mexico. In question is the prototype of an Autonomous Work Vehicle from Honda, which has been hauling supplies around the abovementioned worksite with utmost precision.

Honda has successfully completed tests of its new prototype vehicle dubbed the Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV). Designed to facilitate work at construction sites, in rescue operations, agriculture, or at mines where safety concerns would require having a vehicle to do the task without driver intervention. For autonomous movement and carrying out tasks with precision, this Honda autonomously driving mini truck features a LiDAR sensor, radar, GPS and stereoscopic cameras. Based on the Japanese automaker’s own all-electric side-by-side all-terrain vehicle platform, the AWV can also be operated using a remote over an app.

The AWV may appear like a mini truck, but the prototype vehicle has a unique design at the moment. It has a pickup-like bed with the back and its sides capable of being folded down for ease of loading and unloading the heavy equipment, constriction materials, etc. The predominantly white vehicle with a pair of round headlights on the front and a flashing blue light on the top can be easily seen from a distance. It has been tested to haul up to 400kg or tow a trailer with payload (total of 750kg including the trailer). Though we aren’t sure about the speed at which the Honda AWV drives itself, it can go up to 28 miles (48km) on a full charge, which takes approximately six hours to charge.

The prototype of the Honda AWV was tested along with Black & Veatch to tow and carry supplies from a location to a pre-set destination on the latter’s solar energy work site. The vehicles towed construction material, supplies and water to pre-set location on the worksite with on-point accuracy, which instills an interest in the Honda tech that intends to serve a range of industries with requirements for a capable off-road delivery/rescue vehicle. Honda is yet to point at a future plan for these Autonomous Work Vehicles, but there is no doubt that the prototype piques interest and we are excited for future trials and the vehicle eventually seeing the light of day.

Designer: Honda

The post Honda’s all-electric autonomous off-road vehicle is a construction hauler that carries weight of up to 400kg first appeared on Yanko Design.

Honda announced an e-scooter with a roof so people can deliver parcels even in the rain

With a canopy that provides shelter against rain or even direct sun in some cases, the Gyro Canopy e is Honda’s revamp of its popular Gyro three-wheeled business-scooter line. The new Canopy e looks rather similar to a concept Honda debuted back at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, but now features a much more detailed design that looks like the company’s serious about putting the vehicle into production. Notably, the Canopy e even comes with an electric powertrain, and more importantly, swappable batteries that allow delivery personnel to swiftly and easily swap out batteries instead of waiting to recharge them.

Currently exclusive to Japan (where it’s classed as a moped), the Gyro Canopy e comes with seating for one, with a cargo tray at the back. To give the rider stability, the moped sport three wheels (like a tricycle) while still maintaining a relatively slim profile that’s perfect for zipping through narrow streets and bylanes. If the rider finds themselves in a bit of a jam, the Canopy e even has a reverse gear to back out of traffic, potentially bad roads, and other sticky situations. Finally, as its name suggests, the Canopy e comes with a canopy that sprawls from the front all the way to the back. Sure, it leaves most of the sides exposed, but its profile is perfect to block out most of the rain that would hit a rider from the front as they drive forwards. The front of the canopy (or the windshield) even has a wiper to ensure perfect visibility in bad weather.

Perfect for intra-city deliveries (be it food, mail parcels, or even logistical use), the electric trike comes with a range of 77 kilometers (48 miles) on a full charge, with an average speed of 30 km/h (18.6 mph), which sounds about right considering it’ll be operating within city zones and catering to internal speed limits. For now, the Honda Gyro Canopy e comes in 2 color options (white and red), with a pretty sizable price tag of 715,000 yen, or around $6,295… something that may sound pretty high for the individual, but shouldn’t cost much for businesses, who will probably buy the scooters in bulk.

Designer: Honda

Honda Motocompo XL bike is a sleek café racer evolved from the cult favorite folding scooter

Honda Motocompo reviewed into a more modern café racer avatar is what urban motorbike enthusiasts would drool over thanks to the Motocompo XL bike concept.

Remember the cult favorite Honda Motocompo scooter from the early 1980s? The two-wheeler that could fit in the boot of a car? The box-shaped rectangular plastic body with handlebars, seat and foot-pegs folded perfectly into the frame for a clean look. After selling fifty-three thousand-odd units, Honda discontinued the compact scooter in 1983, but couldn’t wash away its memory with concept vehicles like the 2001 e-Dax, e-NSR and the 2011 Motor Compo electric scooter.

So, what would a Motocompo on steroids and muscle be like? Shedding away its sweet character for a hotter version of itself – undeniable metamorphosis and rising like a phoenix from the ashes of time. This metaphoric vision is soulfully represented in the Honda Motocompo XL bike mustered up by 3D artist Allan Williams. It inherits the DNA of the original Motocompo scooter in more ways than not – the boxy shape being one. Just imagine it being an XL version of the compact scooter – loaded with the mean machine racing character, the Motocompo XL is a cafe racer right out of the pop culture handbook.

The bike is an evolution from a two-wheeled scooter to a fully mature motorcycle, ready to take its rider on one hell of a ride. The electric motor of the two-wheeler resides inside the frame under the riding position and those headlights look meaner than ever. Allan chooses urban chick colors as the skin for the bike – the yellow paint job with red logos and text giving off that Kodak color scheme vibe. Would I want to ride the Motocompo XL if it met fruition someday? Absolutely yes, who won’t want to experience the nostalgic yet modern feel of driving this beautiful monster.

Designer: Allan Williams