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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.

New Supra in white, blue and yellow

Whether or not these deadlines and mandates end up being met, auto enthusiasts will be wrestling with this changing landscape for the foreseeable future.

Fredric Aasbo Supra Drift Car on Nitto NT555 G2 tires

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.

Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ

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.

2023 Nissan Z Blue and Yellow

Something for Everyone

Take Toyota for example. Not only do we have a second generation GR86 that improves on the original in every way—we have a new Supra as well.

2022 Toyota GR86 Red

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.

Toyota GR Yaris Red

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.

2022 Subaru WRX Off Road

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.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback

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.

2018 Honda Civic Type R Red on Nitto NT05 tires

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.

2022 Acura Integra Teaser

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.

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata

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.

2023 Nissan Z Blue

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. 

2022 Acura NSX Type S

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.

  • Want to see how the new 2023 Nissan Z compares to the Toyota Supra? We've got you covered.
  • A 400hp Return to Glory? Nissan Debuts the New Twin-Turbo 2023 Z
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