Japan is famous for producing some of the most celebrated performance cars of all time. From the ever-popular ‘Godzilla’ to the rowdy rotary of the RX-7, these are the five most iconic Japanese performance cars.
1. Toyota Supra (fourth generation)
The fourth-generation Supra delivered the power and dynamics which had been sorely lacking in previous models and it quickly gained a cult following. Great weight distribution and a powerful 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine were some of the highlights of this last generation Supra and for tuners, the engine can produce some truly ridiculous numbers.
Unfortunately, in 1996, Toyota decided to ditch the manual transmission and provide an automatic only – and not long after that the Supra disappeared. But it’s rumoured the upcoming road-going Toyota FT-1 concept may finally bring back the legend.
2. Mazda RX-7 (series III)
Light and quick, the RX-7 combines a finely-tuned chassis with screaming power and an absolute assault of noise from its roaring rotary powerplant. It was the third-generation RX-7 which proved most potent, however, when it arrived in 1992 with Japan’s first-ever mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharged engine. In its last year of production in 2002 that engine produced an impressive 206kW and 314Nm from just a 1.3-litre capacity.
We’re still waiting patiently for its true successor.
3. Honda NSX (first generation)
Perhaps one of the most iconic cars to ever come out of Japan, the NSX wasn’t particularly quick by supercar standards but it was revered by virtue of its splendid steering, incredible chassis response and lucid connection with the driver.
The car was a demonstration of engineering prowess from Honda and delivered a legitimate, if not better, alternative to some of the best from Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini. Its mid-mounted 3.0-litre V6 engine and rear-wheel drive layout isn’t as quick as the latest hybrid iteration, but its driver enjoyment is second-to-none.
4. Nissan GT-R Nismo
For almost 50 years ‘Godzilla’ has been terrorising the streets and it was in 1991 at the Bathurst 1000 that it gained its movie moniker and reputation as a weapons-grade rocket.
The latest GT-R Nismo is, however, the quickest yet and its twin-turbocharged V6 produces an incredible 441kW and 652Nm - enough to catapult it 0-100km/h in just 2.7sec. It has some of the most advanced handling technology of any modern car and is so finely tuned it provides grip at levels of lateral acceleration which would see most other cars simply spinning out.
5. Lexus LFA
Not the quickest of the five Japanese monsters on this list, the LFA is perhaps one of the sweetest sounding, with a 4.8-litre V10 that produces an electrifying soundtrack in its upper reaches of almost 9000rpm.
Not just a V10 tenor to listen to, it’s been engineered on a lightweight chassis that holds a precision drivetrain derived from Toyota’s F1 development team. But at a price of almost $1 million new and with only 500 built, it’s near impossible to enjoy one.
Looking for tyres for your Japanese import? Bridgestone sets the bar for street performance tyres, check out our Potenza range here.
What do you think, think we’ve missed an obvious inclusion to this list? Let us know in the comments section or join the conversation on Facebook.