Japan is one of the best car manufacturers in the world. Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan have been at the top of the industry for years, making some of the best-selling cars in the world. However, while JDM cars are incredibly popular in all parts of the world, they are often considered inferior compared to European cars.
For the past ten years, Japanese automakers have tried to change that by building fantastic cars that compete against European equivalents and win. Let’s take a look at some of the best Japanese cars built in the past decade.
10 Lexus LFA
Lexus sees itself as a Japanese competitor to the European top brands. So, after years of competing with Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the luxury car space, Lexus decided to take on Lamborghini and Ferrari in the supercar space with the fantastic LFA.
The LFA impressed everyone when it debuted in 2011. It had a fantastic design and a mighty V10 engine under the hood. With an output of 563 hp, the LFA is one of the largest V10-powered sports cars ever.
9 Nissan GT-R Nismo
The GT-R is by far the greatest Japanese sports car of the 21st century. Excellent design, power, all-wheel drive and affordability are unmatched. However, Nissan’s tuning department Nismo still felt like something was missing, so they built the GT-R Nismo in 2013.
Equipped with a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 591 ponies and 481 lb-ft of torque, the GT-R Nismo is incredibly fast. In fact, the GT-R Nismo was so fast that it broke the Nürburgring lap record for mass-production vehicles.
8 Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ
Toyota and Subaru are two of the largest Japanese car manufacturers. So when they got together in 2013 to build a new sports car, everyone was excited. The result of this collaboration was a pair of identical sports cars; the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86.
There is a lot of love for both sports cars, starting with the design. They may not be as powerful as many gearboxes would have liked, but they’re affordable enough to leave plenty of room for performance upgrades.
7 Nissan 400Z
The Nissan Z car range is as iconic as it gets. The first Z car — the 240Z — debuted in the 1960s and was a huge hit, prompting Nissan to make it into a series. The series is incredibly popular which is why it is still in production to this day.
In 2021, Nissan unveiled the latest generation of the Z car: the 400Z. The 400Z looks cool and is powered by a 400 horsepower V6 twin turbo engine, making it super fast.
6 Lexus LC500
The LC is a grand tourer that has been produced by Lexus since 2017. The LC replaced the SC and was the first Lexus to use the modern GA-L platform.
There are two types of LC: the LC500 and the LC500h. The LC500 comes with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque, mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. On the other hand, the LC500h uses a hybrid powertrain, producing a total of 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. With a top speed of 255 mph, the LC500h is one of the fastest hybrids.
5 Honda Civic Type-R
The Civic has been a huge success for Honda since its introduction in 1972. It has sold millions of copies and is still one of the most popular vehicles in the US. The Civic isn’t popular for its performance, but if you buy the Type-R version, it will blow you away.
The last Civic Type-R was introduced in 2017. It was based on the tenth-generation Civic hatchback, but looked a lot cooler thanks to a new body kit, huge rear wing, carbon side skirts and special badging. It was powered by a four-in-line turbo engine rated at 316 horsepower, making it a joy to drive.
4 2016 Acura NSX
In the early 90s, Honda shocked the world when it was unveiled the iconic NSX† Suddenly Honda had a supercar that gave Ferraris and Lamborghinis a run for their money. Many gearboxes thought Honda couldn’t build a worthy successor, but the automaker proved otherwise in 2016 when they unveiled the second-generation NSX.
The 2016 NSX didn’t cause as much hype as the first, but it was fantastic. It is powered by an advanced AWD system consisting of a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that powers the rear wheels and a pair of electric motors that power the front wheels.
3 Toyota GR Supra
The Supra needs no introduction. Since the fourth-generation Supra in the Fast and Furious franchise, it has gained a cult following that is growing every day. Gearheads have been begging Toyota to build a new Supra since the early 2000s, and in 2019 the automaker listened.
The first generation Supra debuted in 2019 as the GR Supra, and many gearboxes loved it. Things got better for Supra fans recently, when Toyota introduced one with the coveted manual transmission.
2 Subaru WRX ST
The letters WRX and STI have been appearing on Subaru Imprezas since the 1990s. However, in 2014 Subaru decided to make the WRX and WRX STI standalone models, forcing them to abandon the Impreza name.
The 2014 WRX STI was equipped with a 2.5-liter EJ257 four-cylinder engine with an output of 305 horsepower, giving it great performance. It also has firmer suspension, bigger brakes, bigger air intakes and a lowered ride height.
1 Mazda MX-5 Miata
In 1989 Mazda introduced a new sports car aimed at buyers who could not afford the most powerful sports cars of the time, but still wanted fun behind the wheel. Also known as the MX-5 Miata, this little roadster impressed many with its driving sensations and the fact that it cost less than half of what most European sports cars cost.
More than three decades later, the Miata remains one of Mazda’s most popular models, retaining the same formula that made it the best-selling two-seat sports car ever.