21st Century's Best And Worst Japanese Sports Cars

There have been some iconic cars of the 20th century, including the Toyota 2000GT from the 1960s and the legendary Skyline GT-R from the 1990s. By the 21st century, Japanese carmakers and their sports cars had built an impressive reputation. They have recorded many hits over the last two decades, so selecting the top five from their catalog was not easy. On the other hand, since they are not immune to making mistakes, there have been a number of missed opportunities. Here is a review of the five best and the five worst JDM sports cars of the 21st century.

Nissan GT-R Nismo

Nissan's GT-R Nismo is a track-focused, race-ready variant of the Nissan GT-R (R35) developed by the company's own performance division. Similarly, the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 in the standard version cranks out 600 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque. To improve the performance of the new car, lighter parts, a Nismo-tuned suspension, more powerful brakes, and aerodynamic upgrades were added. GT-R Nismo's striking design and well-balanced and agile handling allow it to reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds for a top speed of 205 miles per hour

Lexus LFA

The Lexus LFA was developed as a test bed for new technology-related cars, which required a decade of development. A number of concepts have been shown over the years, but the production version was presented at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2009. Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) materials account for more than half of its mass, and an exclusive 553 horsepower V10 provides power. 

Subaru BRZ

Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the BRZ, also known as the Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S, which made its debut at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. The BRZ is powered by a naturally aspirated, 2-liter flat-four engine that produces 197 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. With a low center of gravity and a 53/47 front/rear weight distribution, the lightweight BRZ is one of the best handling Japanese cars. 

Mazda MX-5

The compact and lightweight design of the MX-5 Miata has proven to be an outstanding design that has impressed buyers, critics, and journalists for four generations. It is not only reasonably priced, but also delivers pure and engaging driving fun, thanks to an efficient weight distribution between the front and rear, and a convertible body style. As a lightweight RWD roadster, the MX-5 has delivered zesty performance over the years as it has evolved in sophistication and power. 

Honda S2000

The new Honda S2000 was one of the hottest Japanese sports cars available during its 10-year production run. It was released in 1999 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Honda. Lightweight and with an output of nearly 120 horsepower per liter, the I-4 engine in the lightweight roadster is powerful enough to justify its $34,995 MSRP. The car has garnered rave reviews from top motoring publications due to its high output and high redline engine, its deft handling, and its sweet-shifting gearbox.

Mitsubishi Eclipse

Though the Eclipse was undoubtedly a decent driver's car with different engine options when it first debuted, it was recalled shortly afterward because the transfer case was locked. The first recall was over faulty brake boosters that could separate and cause the vehicle's brakes to fail completely in 2005.

Although, in 2005, there was another recall for the Eclipse due to improperly installed brake master cylinder seals that could reduce braking force. Apart from the 2008 recall over bad fuel tank mounting brackets, it was also recalled for corrosion of the ABS unit that could lead to brake failure.

Toyota Celica GT S

Toyota is one of the world's leading automakers, and it consistently builds reliable vehicles. Celica was a day one hit when it was launched in 1970, and it built a solid reputation and achieved great success for six generations. The seventh-generation Celica came in one body style with a number of problems, including faulty oil pumps and filters. In addition, its underpowered engines required far more revving than 6000 rpm to produce any kind of performance.

Mitsuoka Orochi

Mitsuoka Orochi, launched in 2006, is named after a mythical 8-headed Japanese dragon. It is classified as a 'Fashion-Super Car'. The car was created to attract attention, which has earned it a spot on numerous 'ugly car' lists over the years.

Nissan 350Z

Although the 350Z had a great power-to-weight ratio, excellent road holding, and agility, it was also known as one of the most dangerous cars in existence. Based on a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2011, frightening data from the 2005-2008 models have emerged. Based on the said study period, it ranked as the most deadly car on American roads, with 143 deaths per million registrations. As if that weren't enough, it also contributed to 90 deaths per million registrations in single-vehicle crashes during the same period.

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