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Photos: Sporty concept cars from Tokyo

Some concept cars explore ecological design, some look into creating functional space, and some are all about excitement. These concepts we found at the 2007 Tokyo auto show represent innovative ideas for fast cars. Some throw in a little luxury, but they are all sleek.

CNET Reviews staff
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The Mazda Taiki is the latest in a line of pure design concepts inspired by the movement of the natural world. Taiki follows the Mazda concepts Nagare, Kabura, Hakaze, and Ryuga. Taiki means "air" in Japanese, and we can see this inspiration in the hydrofoil-like struts over the rear wheels.
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Although the concept is pretty wild, Mazda offers some real specifications for it. Taiki's rear wheels are powered by a Mazda Renesis engine under the hood, with power transmitted through a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission. Although the car itself will never see production, we hope that the transmission finds its way into a future Mazda model.
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With the LF-Xh, Lexus seems to have taken its RX SUV and given it more of a performance character. It retains the big tires and upright seating position, but the squashed cabin gives it more of a sedan look. Lexus specifies all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain for the LF-Xh.
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With the LF-A, Lexus is aiming for territory long dominated by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The LF-A is a big, V-10 powered two-seat sports car. Lexus has a lot of room to grow in the area of performance, most recently coming out with the IS-F, its sport-tuned IS model. The success of that car should determine how far Lexus follows this path.
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Essentially a lightened up and sport-equipped version of the BMW 135i Coupe, the tii concept emphasizes the sporting capability of what should already be an amazing car. For this project, BMW replaced the hood, the mirror caps, and the intake insets with carbon fiber. A body kit and sport seats round out the concept. All it's missing are round tail lights.
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The Concept-ZT is a little more luxury than sport, but coming from the manufacturer of the Evo X, it gets a performance pedigree. Mitsubishi has been offering some excellent performance vehicles lately, using technology developed for its rally racers on down its model lineup. If Mitsubishi can build a concept vehicle that looks this good, we expect a production version to be successful.
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Although Mitsubishi specifies a 2.2-liter clean diesel engine for the Concept-ZT, that engine is mated to the new twin clutch SST transmission used in the Evo X rally car. Better yet, all four wheels get power with Mitsubishi's all-wheel-drive system, with grip helped by an electronic limited slip differential.
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Kizashi 2 is a refinement of the sport luxury crossover concept that Suzuki showed off at the Frankfurt auto show. This new concept is raised up higher, but uses the same powertrain, a 3.6-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic. Suzuki says that it is also looking into hybrid technology.
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Among the many concepts Nissan displayed at the Tokyo auto show, the Intima was the most subtly beautiful. This sport luxury concept uses sweeping external lines and nicely placed LED exterior lights. With a clean diesel V-6, it should have plenty of torque.
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Nissan took as many pains with the interior as with the exterior. The doors open suicide-style for wide open access, and the front passenger seat rotates out 80 degrees. Nissan refers to it as a hospitality seat.
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Honda seemed to be floundering a bit in its design direction at recent auto shows, but if the CR-Z is an indication, the company has found the right line. This lightweight sports car looks like it could be a good model for the next Civic Si. Honda specifies a hybrid powertrain for the CR-Z, but we hope it will be something a little less anemic than that found in the Civic hybrid.
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The rounded roof of the RC Z has invited many commentators to compare this concept with the Audi TT. While it may be derivative, it is still very good looking. However, we wouldn't want to sit in the back seats. Peugeot specifies a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine for the RC Z.

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