Stylish and practical family SUVs are all the rage right now, but car makers’ concepts show no-holds-barred rugged off-roaders are still very much on the agenda.
Suzuki, Toyota and motorcycle-maker Yamaha unveiled new concept 4x4s at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show last week, all of which are no-nonsense utilitarian vehicles that claim to be able to tackle any terrain.
So is this what a 4×4 to replace the iconic – and now discontinued – Land Rover Defender could look like in the new world of electrified cars?
Defender replacement: The iconic Land Rover ceased production on 29 January 2016 – this is the last version to emerge from the Solihull assembly line
The Land Rover DC100 (left) and DC100 Sport (right) are both concepts Land Rover produced to hint at a replacement for the military-derived 4X4 in 2011, but neither have received the go-ahead to be sold
The much-loved military-derived Land Rover went out of production in January 2016.
While Land Rover has teased new versions of the Defender in concept forms, there was no direct successor in place for the farmer’s favourite.
That leaves the door open for rival auto makers, if they decide they want to make a barn-storming off-roader – as the three below have hinted at.
The idea is not that these cars will go on sale imminently, but that these are the kind of vehicle that could take the mantle as the all-purpose off-roader of the future.
The e-Survivor is Suzuki’s idea of a compact, hardcore, convertible 4×4 to scale any incline
One of the wackiest concepts to break cover at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show was the Suzuki e-Survivor concept.
It’s a small, tough, convertible 4×4 that looks more like it should be sold in a Hot Wheels box rather than a car dealership in the UK.
As the ‘e’ eludes, it’s an all-electric model, though not as tradition would dictate.
It has an electric motor fitted in each of the four wheels, meaning it should be able to go pretty much anywhere with permanent drive going to each corner.
The e-Survivor features four electric motors – once in each wheel, meaning permanent all-wheel drive
The styling is more Hot Wheels than high-street Suzuki dealership
The e-Survivor takes influences from the Suzuki Jimny (left) and X-90 (right)
Compact in size, it’s marginally bigger than the existing Jimny SUV, which is one of the longest-running models still on sale, first introduced in 1970.
The acres of ground clearance and short overhangs suggest no incline or decline would be too steep for this zero-emissions all-terrain concept, and the knobbly tyres should be able to get traction on the loosest of surfaces.
Like the Japanese brand’s mid-90s X-90, it has a two-seat layout and convertible top while inside there’s a screen in the centre of steering wheel and a wide-screen display that makes up the lower portion of the front window.
Will it make production? Not any time soon, according to Suzuki, which said it could be pitched to the market in 100 year’s time.
Want a Toyota Tj Cruiser? If enough show-goers say they do, the Japanese marque says it could go into production
Toyota Tj Cruiser
Like the look of Toyota’s Tj Cruiser? Make enough noise to the Japanese manufacturer and they said they would consider putting the bruising SUV into production.
It should be super-rugged, according to Toyota, as it says this is a car designed for buyers who are willing to pay a little extra knowing that it will go on longer than rivals. Think of it as a near-indestructible family SUV.
The interior and bodywork is made from durable materials that can’t be scratched or scuffed
Tj Cruiser is a mash-up of toolbox (T), joy (j). Think of it as a fun electric screwdriver with wheels
Everything about this not-to-mess-with off-roader is about durability and go-anywhere capabilities – even the name is a mash-up of toolbox (T) and joy (j).
It comes with bodywork and interior materials that are designed to be able to resist scratches and scuffs, sliding doors to stop you from dinging other cars and a tailgate that’s big enough to protect a party of dog walkers from a downpour.
Despite being three metres long it only has four seats, but if Toyota’s arm was twisted into making it a reality it would ultimately be fitted with five.
The Japanese company suggested that it would use the TNGA platform that currently underpins the Prius and C-HR, which would ultimately mean a hybrid powertrain.
The Yamaha Cross Hub is a concept SUV from a brand that’s best known for making vehicles with two wheels
Yamaha Cross Hub
Motorbike-maker Yamaha has teased sports cars in the past, but never an off-roader.
The Cross Hub is the two-wheel brand’s first venture into the world of SUVs, and it has kept most of the details about the new flat-bed 4×4 close to its chest.
The 4.5-metre long concept has a wood-trimmed load-bay that’s specifically designed to carry two motorcycles.
The rear deck is designed to carry two motorbikes at once – as seen in this image taken at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday
Yamaha has teased four-wheel concepts in the passed, but none have ever made production
It suggests that this is the ideal transport to take a dirt bike into the middle of the desert or other difficult-to-reach locations before enjoying a day of skids and wheelies.
While it might look like a conventional commercial vehicle from the outside – like the Nissan Navara or Toyota Hilux – the interior is totally unique.
The four-seat layout isn’t your usual two-plus-two arrangement – instead the seats are in a diamond shape, with the driver having a central position in the chassis – not dissimilar to the three-seat positioning of the McLaren F1.
The man who created the McLaren F1, Gordon Murray, has previously helped Yamaha develop an electric city car called the MOTIV.e – if the Cross Hub was to become a reality, it would ultimately have to be fully or part-powered by an electric motor.
Is it likely to make production? We haven’t seen any of the other four-wheel Yamaha concepts in showrooms yet…
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