While the best sports cars in history tend always to come from Italy, Germany, England, and the United States, the land of the rising sun cannot be left out in a discussion about the best performance cars of all time. One thing that keeps Japan in the market is that they make pretty reliable cars affordable to almost every enthusiast.
Particularly in the sports car segment, Japan has made some of the most iconic models over the years. These included the first-generation Acura NSX, Mk IV Mazda RX-7, Nissan Skyline GT-R, and Toyota MR2, which have guaranteed decent power, precise handling, and supreme driver engagement. On that note, here is a peep of some of the best JDM sports cars in the market today.
10 Nissan GT-R
On top of the list is the Nissan GT-R – one of the most iconic models Nissan has ever made. Since its launch in 2007, as the successor of the Nissan Skyline GT-R, the Godzilla has continuously proven to be a formidable opponent in the world of sports cars.
The Nissan GT-R is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 turbo engine that’s paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox and puts out a thrilling 565 horsepower. Moreover, the GT-R sprints from 0-60 mph in just 2.9 seconds. In all, the GT-R is one of the fastest all-wheel-drive sports cars and also one of the best Japanese sports cars of all time.
9 Acura NSX
Over the years, Acura’s flagship, the NSX, has proven to be a perfect balance of performance and elegance. The NSX is among the most beautiful Japanese cars ever made. The first generation was introduced in 1990 and was in production until 2005. Honda put the NSX project on hold before reviving it in 2016.
The Acura NSX comes with a twin-turbo V6 engine that, combined with a battery pack and electric motors, puts out 573 horsepower and delivers a blistering acceleration. The car provides joy on track and proves technology and thrilling performance can happily coexist.
8 Toyota Supra
Some would claim the Supra is not a Japanese sports car. But it is – it’s a Japanese performance car bearing a Toyota emblem and BMW parts. Toyota first introduced the Supra in 1978 as a trim level on the iconic Toyota Celica. Fast-forward five generations later, the Supra has become better than ever. The current generation was launched in 2019.
This Japanese exotic comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six that delivers 383 horsepower. The new Supra is a fantastic car that promises to be one of the fastest Japanese sports cars for buyers on a budget.
7 Nissan 370Z
Ever since the Nissan 370Z graced the streets, it has built a cult-like following among enthusiasts due to its dashing looks, decent powertrain, and outstanding handling. And although it lacks captivating interiors and modern safety amenities, the Nissan 370Z has posted solid numbers. The current 370Z generation debuted in 2009, and it has since proved to be a great car.
Under the hood, the rear-wheel-drive sports car hides a 3.7-liter V6 that cranks out a decent 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. This performance coupe offers better value, especially for drivers who love the raspy exhaust note.
6 Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ
In 2012, Toyota and Subaru collaborated to produce an affordable rear-wheel-drive sports car that provided fun driving on a budget. The end-product was the Toyota 86 which sold as an FR-S under Scion and 86 under Toyota.
The current GR 86 comes equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, it sprints from 0-60 mph in just 5.4 seconds.
5 Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is popularly known for its lightweight, superb handling, and infinite headroom. And while the MX-5 might not be the most beautiful, most potent, or biggest car on the list, it is an icon that has won the hearts of many.
The MX-5 comes powered by a 2.0-liter SKYACTIV petrol engine that puts out 181 horsepower, enough to deliver a stirring acceleration of 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. This decent power is fed to the rear wheels via an easy-to-shift manual transmission. In general, for a car whose heritage roots back for more than 30 years, the Mazda MX-5 is an icon.
4 Subaru WRX STI
Time and again, Subaru has proven that it makes some of the best rally racers in the world. And although its cars might not be as technologically advanced as their competitors, Subaru cars are the favorite cars among rally drivers.
The Subaru WRX STI is equipped with a potent 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four engine that pumps 310 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, it revs at 4000 rpm and sends this incredible power to all wheels via the six-speed manual transmission. In all, the WRX STI is an excellent sports car worth a mention among the big players.
3 Honda Civic Type R
Over the years, Civic models have gotten bad raps, particularly for their front-wheel-drive powertrains. However, the Honda Civic Type R depicts an entirely different picture. This head-turner hatchback is designed to dominate both on-road and track.
The Honda Civic Type R comes powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that delivers a decent 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This power is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and pushes the Type R to 60 mph in 5.15 seconds from a standstill. While the Type R may not be the quickest Honda Civic, it’s genuinely one of the fastest sport compacts.
2 Lexus RC F
Lexus is Toyota’s luxury division and one of the best-selling Japanese premium brands. The Lexus RC F model was designed to rival some of the world’s best sports cars, including the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 and the Audi RS5. The aggressive sports coupe is equipped with Brembo six-piston brakes, an adaptive suspension, and a limited-slip rear differential.
At the heart of this exotic coupe is a massive 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the RC F sprints from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. That said, the RC F is a fast, fun, and loud offering that is crammed in a segment filled with storied nameplates.
1 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
The new Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is the high-performance trim of the Infiniti Q60 lineup and the sportiest Japanese grand tourer ever. It comes with a twin-turbo V6 engine that delivers 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The Red Sport 400 uses a seven-speed automatic transmission to send power to the rear or all wheels.
Performance-wise, this beautiful coupe accelerates from 0-60 mph in a remarkable 4.5 seconds. In general, the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is an excellent car that deserves a spot on the list as one of the best Japanese sports cars.
To celebrate this often-overlooked time in car history, here are some of the coolest Japanese cars of the 1990s.
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