Opinion

'Mazda and Subaru do things differently - even bordering on the maverick'

The Japanese brands' determination leads to some fantastic cars, says Graham Hope

I’ve always enjoyed attending the Tokyo Motor Show. It’s a great chance for the Japanese brands to showcase their cars to a home audience – and there are two stands in particular I look forward to seeing. 

I’ve long had a soft spot for Mazda and Subaru, two of the smaller Japanese makers who have both demonstrated a desire to do things on their own terms that has bordered on the maverick at times. Successfully, too, as it’s led to some great cars, like the MX-5 and Impreza Turbo of the mid-nineties.

Best cars of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show

At this year’s show, Mazda stole the headlines with the announcement of the return of the rotary engine in the RX-Vision concept. Yes, there are challenges to rotary power, not least making it more efficient, but speaking to design boss Ikuo Maeda and research and development chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara, I marvelled at their determination to overcome the obstacles and the sheer enthusiasm to retain what’s become a signature piece of technology for the firm.

I have little doubt that when the rotary engine does return in production form, it’ll be a thrilling success, and if it is housed in a body that resembles the seductive RX-Vision coupé, so much the better. 

Over at Subaru, there was another of its Viziv SUV concepts and a model that points to the next Impreza. In a chat with me, designer Hiroyuki Kobayashi on three occasions referred to the new Impreza as “solid” – an apt description for a smart-looking, but ultimately fairly generic hatchback. 

Tokyo Motor Show 2015: news round-up

Indeed, you could say the same of Subaru’s entire range – it’s serviceable, but lacking a little in star quality. The days when new Imprezas were keenly anticipated now seem a very distant memory.

Subaru might argue that this hasn’t hindered it – in the US, it’s enjoyed six years of record sales. But I for one would love a return of the quirkiness. Oh, for a Subaru that stirs the senses in quite the same way that the RX-Vision did in Tokyo last week.

What do you think about Mazda and Subaru's progress? Leave us a comment below!

Recommended

Greatest ever Mazda cars: classic and modern
Mazda

Greatest ever Mazda cars: classic and modern

We celebrate the Mazda's centenary by picking 10 hits from the Japanese firm's back catalogue
21 Jun 2020
What is Mazda SkyActiv?
Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - front tracking
Mazda

What is Mazda SkyActiv?

We explain everything you need to know about Mazda’s SkyActiv range of engines, gearboxes and other technologies
24 Mar 2020
Subaru mysterious new concept electric SUV
Subaru EV concept
Subaru

Subaru mysterious new concept electric SUV

Subaru has revealed an unnamed concept SUV, which could be based on the brand’s forthcoming all-electric underpinnings
24 Jan 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
New Honda Civic Type R 2020 review
Honda Civic Type R

New Honda Civic Type R 2020 review

We find out if the revised Honda Civic Type R can stay at the top of the hot hatch class
22 Sep 2020