Association, Inc.

Issue No. 1, 2007

Japan's New Wave Sports Cars

by Peter Nunn

Speed, horsepower and eco-friendliness. Three themes behind the sensational new wave of Japanese sports cars set to star in 2007.

No doubt about it, 2007 will be a very special year for new Japanese sports cars, perhaps the best in a generation, and the action started bright and early at January’s Detroit Show when Toyota, Lexus, Mitsubishi and Acura all had striking new sports cars to unveil. 

Some, like Toyota’s fascinating and edgy FT-HS V6 + hybrid concept, point the way to a new kind of future, one in which sports cars can be fast, hi-tech and environmentally responsible all at the same time. In the Lexus camp, we saw the IS-F, a compact new 400 plus bhp V8 saloon and first in a brand new Lexus 'F' performance series.

Mitsubishi: Prototype X

Mitsubishi, in turn, displayed the Prototype X, paving the way for the next high-power Lancer Evolution 4WD sports saloon and it surely won’t be too long before we see the next round in the Lancer’s long-running competition with the equally iconic Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Lexus: LF-A

At the very top end of the market, Lexus unveiled a revised version of its exotic 200-mph top speed, V10-powered LF-A sports coupe concept. Acura, Honda’s upscale US brand, showed the Advanced Sports Car Concept, also with a V10 engine, a dramatic 4WD show study which suggests how a successor to the legendary NSX sports car might well evolve.

Honda: Acura

In this exalted arena, Nissan will also be present in 2007 with the next Skyline GT-R that will debut at October’s Tokyo Motor Show. Car enthusiasts can hardly wait for the new GT-R which will be the first of the legendary super coupes to be sold around the world.

Nissan: GT-R

At January’s Tokyo Auto Salon show, Mazda, Suzuki and Daihatsu were among those displaying modified versions of their local range, with the Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed M’z Tune concept being one particular highlight.

Honda’s Type R is another famous performance brand and both in Japan and in Europe, Honda will unveil new versions of its highly rated Civic Type R this year.

So that’s quite a line-up, but what’s maybe even more remarkable is that these new- age sports cars are all being developed against a background of stepped-up emission regulations and customer demands for better fuel economy and improved safety.

So it’s surely a testament to the skills of the engineering teams that they can design and build these new wave sports cars and still meet these much toughened environmental criteria.

Speed, horsepower, eco-friendliness. In the new era, sports car fans have surely never had it so good.