The Ja­panese tun­ing scene, all un­der one roof


Tokyo Auto Sa­lon 2016 Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show 2016

TAS 2016 was a bit of a re­nais­sance for me. It was the 10th con­sec­u­tive time I’d vis­ited the event since ar­riv­ing in Ja­pan in 2005. And whilst I wished for things to be to­tally dif­fer­ent, I am glad that much of what I’ve come to know and love hasn’t changed at all, whereas many other things have un­der­gone trans­for­ma­tion.

That’s not to sug­gest the Tokyo Auto Sa­lon is stale in any way, but you do get used to the rhythm and tempo of the event af­ter hav­ing vis­ited it so many times. The same faces, the same names — all in fa­mil­iar lo­ca­tions but cru­cially, in a con­stant state of flux.

A dras­tic evo­lu­tion is what the Ja­panese scene is go­ing through right now. Yes, there was a del­uge of Rocket Bunny and Lib­erty Walk over-fend­ered ma­chines present, but that would be tak­ing away from the head­line. The 2016 event was ex­actly what it needed to be. Po­tent.

With­out need­ing to recount the en­tire back­end of dis­cus­sions I held with those in­side and on the fringes of the in­dus­try dur­ing my four days there, I can ad­mit that the event high­lighted the fact that things in Ja­pan, de­spite the naysay­ers, are very much alive and well.

Nat­u­rally, the newly re­leased ND Mazda Road­ster was quite pop­u­lar this year, with GReddy/Trust show­cas­ing an early prototype ap­pli­ca­tion of a bolt-on turbo kit that is due to go into pro­duc­tion in the sec­ond half of 2016. Sources we spoke to within Trust claim the kit is good for up to 250 horse­power at the crank, which comes from the 1.5-liter en­gine, so we can only won­der what the Amer­i­can 2.0-liter will pro­vide.

The over­rid­ing theme, echoed by mu­tual col­leagues, was that the Tokyo Auto Sa­lon has be­come some­thing of a bolt-on fes­ti­val where true ar­ti­san­ship has been usurped by off-theshelf ap­proaches taken by the big­ger fish in the game.

While I don’t per­son­ally as­pire to this view, nor did I see it be­ing pre­dom­i­nant from my per­spec­tive, it is very true that Ja­pan was, is and will con­tinue to be a plug and play par­adise for JDM en­thu­si­asts ev­ery­where. If there was one over­ar­ch­ing theme to echo my col­league’s sen­ti­ments about the show, it would be that ease of use, prac­ti­cal­ity and

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