This week in Jalopnik: Tokyo motor show, part ni. Carmakers take Tokyo really seriously these days, using the show to launch their most high-concept and technology-focused prototypes. Automotive Armani, signer Giorgietto Giugiaro celebrates 50 years in the biz with a Ferrari concept; Volkswagen shows a high-mileage diesel-powered roadster; Hyundai spurns the eco-crowd with a crossover-SUV concept that showcases its new V8; Mercedes twirls its propeller cap and comes up green; and Lexus shows off a new all-wheel-drive flagship concept, sporting a V8 hybrid, that will likely show up, as is, in the US.
Giorgietto Giugiaro has been designing cars since Ferrari's prancing horse was just a colt. But where most people would celebrate their golden anniversary in the business feasting on all-you-can-eat shrimp, Giugiaro instead designed a Ferrari prototype. The Ferrari GG50 concept is a four-seat coupe built using similar mechanicals as the $250,000 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti - powered by a 540hp V12. If reports are correct, the design will likely inform a new model to replace the company's aging 575M.
Volkswagen's EcoRacer concept is two-seat roadster with a body constructed from strong, lightweight carbon fiber and a new diesel engine boosted by both a turbocharger and a supercharger. The supercharger provides thrust at low revs, the turbo kicks in at higher revs, and the whole 1.4-liter pressure cooker gets around 69 mpg, propelling the EcoRacer from zero to 60 mpg in an entirely respectable 6.3 seconds. Remember the old Rabbit diesel from, oh, around 1979? That was a really long time ago.
Consider Hyundai's new Neos III crossover concept an art-house version of the redesigned Santa Fe SUV the company will introduce to the US audience next year. Still, despite their incompatible taste in sheetmetal, the two Korean brothers will share a dirty little secret in common — that is, Hyundai's new 4.6-liter V8 engine the company hopes will help it compete in the horsepower-drunk American SUV market.
It's not much to look at - unless your calendar has pictures of disco-era roller skates on it - but Mercedes-Benz's F600 Hygenius concept is built not to please the style council, but as a showcase of its fuel-cell technologies. Well, maybe designers were thinking a little about style, considering Mercedes bid them to design the entire car around its fuel cell.
Lexus unveiled a concept car, the LF-Sh that offers a peek at the replacement for its top-of-the-line LS model in 2007. The Toyota luxury brand is serious about competing with the big boys in the highline market, like the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series battleships. So serious, in fact, that the company launched the LF-Sh concept with a new hybrid-drive system that rests its laurels on a big ol' V8 gas engine. Forget about saving the planet; that "h" is really for horsepower.
[Jalopnik's The Week in Cars appears every Thursday]