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

1073bhp Subaru STI E-RA electric race car to take on the Nurburgring
Subaru STI E-RA concept - front
Subaru

1073bhp Subaru STI E-RA electric race car to take on the Nurburgring

Subaru says the STI E-RA Concept is a preview of environmentally friendly motorsport, and aims to achieve a 6 minute 40 second lap time at the Nurburg…
14 Jan 2022
New 2022 Subaru Solterra EV fully uncovered in walkaround video
Subaru Solterra - front
Subaru

New 2022 Subaru Solterra EV fully uncovered in walkaround video

Subaru has finally unveiled the pure-electric Solterra’s styling in full, and confirmed the EV will be available in the UK from mid-2022
14 Dec 2021
New Mazda CX-50 revealed with rugged looks and electrification
Mazda CX-50 - front
Mazda

New Mazda CX-50 revealed with rugged looks and electrification

Mazda has unwrapped the CX-50, a US-only SUV that gives an idea of how forthcoming UK SUVs will look
16 Nov 2021
New Mazda CX-60 and CX-80 plug-in hybrid SUVs confirmed for the UK
Mazda badge
Mazda

New Mazda CX-60 and CX-80 plug-in hybrid SUVs confirmed for the UK

New large SUV duo will offer up to seven seats and will come with plug-in tech and six-cylinder power
7 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
10 Jan 2022
What are 4D number plates and are they legal?
Ross Hollis at perfectlyprintedplates.com
Tips & advice

What are 4D number plates and are they legal?

Everything you need to know about so-called ‘4D’ number plates, including whether you’re allowed to have them on your car
25 Jan 2022
New 2022 Range Rover gains plug-in hybrid P440e and P510e options
Range Rover PHEV
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover gains plug-in hybrid P440e and P510e options

The new seven-seat Range Rover luxury SUV gets a variety of powertrains, including two PHEVs and a 523bhp V8
27 Jan 2022