JDM Is Back: A New Golden Era of Japanese Performance Cars is Upon Us, Enjoy it While You Can
Anyone who has paid attention to the auto industry knows that serious changes are on the horizon. Both automakers and governments around the world have made no secret their plans to phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years or less.
Whether or not these deadlines and mandates end up being met, auto enthusiasts will be wrestling with this changing landscape for the foreseeable future.
Better Than Ever
Yet for petrol-loving gearheads, especially those who enjoy Japanese performance cars, it looks like we are entering a new golden age. One that may turn out to be final send-off for manual transmissions, turbochargers, high-winding NA engines and some of the most storied nameplates of the last few decades.
In this mix of new cars there’s something to fit nearly price range or need. From roadsters to sedans. FWD, RWD and AWD—turbocharged or naturally aspirated. Good stuff abounds, and more is on the way.
Something for Everyone
There’s also the wonderful rally-bred GR Yaris which isn’t sold in America but will hopefully share its drivetrain with a slightly larger GR Corolla hatchback for this market.
And on the Lexus side don’t forget the new IS500 and it’s naturally aspirated 5.0L V8.
And speaking of rally-bred, a next generation Subaru WRX is about to launch, still with a turbocharged flat four and a manual transmission—and a hotter STI model should be on its way as well. And of course there’s a much-improved second generation BRZ about to launch.
Over on the Honda side, the new 11th generation Civic is here and while we haven’t yet seen the new Si and Type R versions in the flesh, Honda has already confirmed that both of those are on the way soon.
The Civic Type R in particular is one to watch, because the outgoing version is already one of the greatest hot hatchbacks ever made, and the next gen version should only improve on that.
Then there’s Honda’s luxury wing Acura. Not only is there the new NSX Type S, the twin turbo TLX Type S has also asserted itself in the sport sedan market. And now there’s also confirmation that the legendary Integra nameplate will be brought back on a new vehicle next year.
Mazda meanwhile continues to built the wonderful, niche roadster that is the MX-5 Miata, and there are ever-increasing rumors about a new high end, rear-drive Mazda coupe as well as rear-drive replacement for the Mazda6.
Lastly there’s Nissan, which just debuted a 400 horsepower, manual transmission next gen Z that’s loaded with nods to the classic Zs of the past. And as old as it may be, the R35 GT-R is still available, hopefully with a new generation to come.
The Clock is Ticking
Realistically, we probably have about five to eight years left for new high performance gasoline cars, and it looks like the Japanese automakers are sending this era out with a bang. Surely some of these nameplates will carry over to electric vehicles, and there’s a chance those will be just as good as these ones from a performance standpoint, but they certainly won’t be the same.
Hardcore fans of Japanese cars may call the ‘80s and ‘90s the golden age due to the JDM-only icons of the era, but for the North American market there’s never been a better time than this.
Let’s enjoy it while we can.
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