Japanese Sports Cars: A Dying Breed?

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.

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2 comments

  1. I disagree with your view, change… It is the inevitable way of life whether we accept it or not everything changes. If not for an Eco direction we will have no gas, oil or even earth to race on. Eco will no longer be he antithesis of sport, the two are simply merging out of necessity. Think tesla and although its not like the 90’s golden era of supra, gtr, nsx, teggy, rx7, dsm, 3000gt, etc. these companies are rolling with the punches and still trying to provide. Lfa, isf, nsx, evo10 although heavier has more power stock and better tech then it’s predecessor, is alive and well / while the Evo 11 will more then likely be a technological master piece in its own right (it’s like jayz said,”niggas say they like my old shit…buy my old albums”) get a 8 if you don’t like mivec and a 9 if you want all out power and a 10 to handle better have more amenities and a more mature look/feel. The imiev is an awsome car as will be the tech from it enfused into the evo 11. I hated the idea at first also but instant tq with 350 hp and evo handling and tech whats not to love. Its not extinct its EVOLVING the Brz/frs speak for themselves , Sti’s came with the awesome sedan after mixed hatch reviews even when the hatch grew on everyone, gtr is the pieta for Japanese engineering, possible new supra on the horizon, 370z is lighter and more powerful then it’s predecessor. Infiniti has its ipl line. Mazda’s speed line is still here and growing with sky active, Look deeper, our beloved Japanese brands are fighting to bring us what we love we just have to stay loyal! I love my Evo 10 and I’m 30 years old and when I was 20 and saving for an Evo everyone had 8’s/9’s now all the guys in my neighborhood (mostly Asian hood) switched and got 335’s m3’s I could have done the same but I stayed true. BMW makes something for everyone and they do it well…but we have to buy Japanese sport cars and support if we want them to stay around! BMW had nothing that could compete with modded evos and supras shy of spending 50-60k back in 98′ now their copying the Japanese and paying attention to CAFE and turbo’ing everything. I just test drove the 2013 335 and it’s amazing and tempting but I won’t fold, after I pay off my 10 I’m putting a 2012 gtr in the garage next to it. If we all do our part, the cars we love will never die.
    And if there is a demand for it, Japan will answer.
    -Bj

  2. Agreed. It has evolved, but so have all cars. Look at the M cars of today vs. the originals. It’s not all bad, but I don’t lust after most modern cars. It’s all about numbers now, hp, g’s, Nurburgring lap times. That’s exactly why I like the BRZ/FR-S, they went back to the drawing board and focused on the driving.

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