Association, Inc.

Issue No. 4, 2007

2007's New Models

by Peter Nunn

As 2008 gets under way, we can surely look forward to another busy and productive year from the Japanese car industry.

New models will flow thick and fast, as they always do in Japan, filling just about every segment. Even so, the coming year will have to go some to top 2007 which will go down as one of the all-time classic years for new Japanese cars.

In a heady list of more than 30 all-new models released in Japan, it’s fair to say sports and high performance cars grabbed plenty of the limelight.

The Nissan GT-R, a stunning remake of one of Japan’s top sporting icons, was certainly one of the most eagerly awaited introductions of the year. Unveiled at October’s Tokyo Motor Show, the hi-tech new GT-R truly is a world-class supercar.

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R

More mainstream but also very exciting was Mitsubishi’s new Lancer Evolution X (=Ten), with its long time turbo 4WD rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI also comprehensively relaunched around the same time.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

For enthusiasts, Honda’s Civic Type R, Nissan’s Skyline Coupe and Lexus IS-F were three more performance standouts in this truly remarkable year.

Honda and Toyota led the way in the best-selling compact class with redesigned versions of the Fit (which won 2007-2008 Japan Car of the Year) and the ist. Mazda’s new generation Demio with its innovative lightweight body was another of the year’s headliners in this super competitive 1.3-1.5-litre class.
Honda Fit

Honda Fit

Japan has long been a strong market for minivans and 2007 saw Mitsubishi introduce a completely redesigned Delica and Toyota unveil new versions of its Voxy/Noah vans.
In the traditional saloon segment, Mitsubishi’s Galant Fortis was a key newcomer. Honda unveiled a new Inspire based on the US Accord and Toyota introduced brand new versions of the Premio and Allion. Subaru’s Impreza switched from saloon to hatchback body in 2007 as it underwent a dramatic full-model change in mid-year.

For buyers moving out of saloons, the year brought a rash of cool new crossover SUVs. The Honda Crossroad, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Vanguard and Nissan Dualis all combined rugged off-road style with car-like driving dynamics.
At the top of the tree, meantime, the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 surely set a formidable new high for full-size 4x4 capability.

From big…to little. In Japan’s unique 660 cc minicar sector, the Daihatsu Tanto minivan was redone. Nissan launched the Clipper Rio, a one-box mini wagon, and unveiled the Pino, a small specialty model targeting young female drivers.

Toyota broke new ground with the Mark X ZiO, a crossover blend of saloon, minivan and SUV, while the hybrid-powered Lexus LS600h and LS600hL models set powerful new luxury-class benchmarks for economy and environmental performance.

Toyota Mark

Toyota Mark X ZiO

So, almost an embarrassment of riches for buyers on the new product front in 2007: proof of the underlying strength and vitality of the Japanese car industry at a time when the pressures of global competition have surely never been so high.