Is Japan the car crazy country it used to be? It’s an interesting question to consider. Expensive taxes, stricter environmental regulations and a struggling economy, have forced most Japanese to reconsider their motoring needs. That coupled with a younger generation that would rather use public transportation than get a driver’s license, leaves many of us in doubt.
Mitsubishi has already called for hybrid power. The brand is working towards shifting its efforts (and image) into producing more eco-friendly vehicles. The Evo remains all but extinct in its current form.
Honda has entered the eco-performance realm with the CR-Z and rumors of the NSX followup, have claimed it too will be a hybrid, with multiple electric motors. Toyota continues to expand their Prius range and ventured into hybrid motor racing with the TS030. The car had an unsuccessful campaign at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, but was successful in giving consumers a look of where the brand is headed.
Even Subaru has shifted their focus to more of a luxury market. After canceling their WRC program, the Impreza has continued to become heavier and more tame. It makes us wonder if there’s any point in having an STi at all and how long we have until it faces a similar fate to the Evo.
Today there’s been rumblings that Nissan could be reconsidering the GT-R, a car that renewed interest in a brand that had been quiet for years. Sure the Fairlady Z has always been around, but the newer iterations have never quite lived up to their ancestors. The GT-R was the car that broke the mold and showed us all where the future of performance motoring, might be headed. But now a new GT-R has yet to be approved and it begs the question of whether we could bare witness the end of an era.
However, all is not lost. Subaru and Toyota have shown us that there’s still fun to be had, with the BRZ and 86. As predicted, the collaboration has been a massive success and renewed consumer interest in compact sports coupes. It makes no claims to be anything but a driver’s car and it’s refreshing to see Japanese manufacturers having a bit of fun again. Hopefully the car’s success will inspire competitors to follow similar paths. We’ve all be waiting for the next S-Chassis and now Nissan has more of a reason than ever to meet the demand.
Eco-friendly motoring is an unstoppable force and there’s really no going back. The Japanese are at the forefront of this movement and we can only hope that exciting, affordable Japanese sports cars aren’t completely engrained into the pages of history.