Tokyo Motor Show: AutoWeek selects a motorcycle!

The AutoWeek editorial staff announced today its 2009 Tokyo motor show Editors’ Choice Award winners. For more than a decade, the AutoWeek editors have walked the show floors in Detroit, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo, selecting winners in four categories: Best in Show, Best Concept, Most Significant and Most Fun. The 2009 AutoWeek Editors’ Choice Award winners for the Best of Tokyo are:

BEST IN SHOW: Honda CR-Z Concept 2009

AutoWeek editors made their decision on Best in Show in less than two minutes of discussion, in part because the pickings at this year’s show were fairly slim. Yes, we’ve seen the CR-Z before, when it was first announced at this show two years ago. And we loved it then, too. Now that it’s closer to production (this was labeled a concept as the production two-seat version we get in the states next year will be shown in Detroit in January), we love it even more. With a 1.5-liter gasoline engine fitted with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid technology, CR-Z will be the first hybrid with a six-speed manual gearbox.

"We hope that makes CR-Z a different kind of hybrid, one that returns as sporting of a driving experience as the CR-Z’s design promises," said AutoWeek Editor and Associate Publisher Dutch Mandel. "Even though this is a concept, we’d love to drive this car just as it sat on the stand, cool wheels and all."

BEST CONCEPT: Toyota FT-86

Gone are the Supras, Altezzas and MR-S models of the past, but the FT-68 Concept could be their spiritual successor if Toyota president Akio Toyoda has his way. This promising concept sports car is a two-door four-seater powered by a 2.0-liter Subaru flat four driving the rear wheels, all for less than $30,000, if and when it comes to market.

"Precious few ‘sports’ cars offer this combination of powertrain and price, so we can’t wait for the production version to deliver on this concept’s promise," said Mandel.

MOST SIGNIFICANT: Mitsubishi PX-MIEV Concept

In a show bereft of exciting world introductions, most companies at Tokyo attached a lot of significance to their work on electric vehicles and hybrids. Out of that field, we picked the PX-MIEV not just for the fact that most of what you see will appear as the next-gen Outlander, or that the PX-MIEV is essentially Mitsubishi’s Chevy Volt-like range-extender hybrid that will be on sale by 2013. More important is that the hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain telegraphed by this concept will also find its way into all future Mitsubishis, including the Lancer.

"This is the first building block to a future hybrid Evolution," said Mandel, "and that’s a highly significant development for enthusiasts."

MOST FUN: Yamaha EC-f Motorcycle

Yes, it’s a motorcycle. It’s also the first time we’ve ever selected a motorcycle as best of anything at a car show.

"The pickings were slim at Tokyo, but this thing just looks fun," said Mandel.

The colorful little Yamaha is an electric commuter bike made for easy riding, accessible to anyone of any age. Technical data was scarce, since the bike is mostly a styling exercise. But the idea of a stylish electric scooter has us thinking there must be a worldwide market for this kind of fun.