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Why Modern Japanese Sports Cars Aren't Living Up to Expectations


Japanese sports cars were undoubtedly, at one time, part of the upper echelon of the sports car world. In the late 80s, going into the early 2000s, almost every one universally agreed that the Japanese were onto something.

Nearly every brand had an amazing car(s) to offer. Mazda had the RX7 and Miata, Mitsubishi had the Evo and 3000GT VR4, Honda have the NSX and VTEC boiis, Subaru had the WRX, Nissan had the skylines and Zs and Toyota had the MR2 and the legendary Supra.

If you recognized those names, then you probably know those car's heritage, mods, and community that revolves around them. Yet, there's no denying that something changed. Today, Japanese car culture seems to be centered solely on the past. Namely the 90s.

Go to any car meet and you'll see a plethora of modern American and Euro cars alongside classics but the Japanese legends of yesteryear still standby with few modern Japanese cars in between. So are the modern Japanese cars not living up to expectations? Only time will tell.

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Date: September 17, 2022

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43 thoughts on “Why Modern Japanese Sports Cars Aren't Living Up to Expectations

  1. Car market in general has grown stale. Sure it started with the Japanese (mainly Mitsubishi) but America's line up is also following suit, with less and less desirable cars, and more Karen commuter crossovers on every lot. Ford's trimmed down their lineup significantly, Dodge got rid of the Viper, GM is dumping the Camaro next year, and Pontiac's been dead for a while.

    Then you look at the Euro scene where both the UK and Italy only sell desirable cars at the price of a house. Anything that's actually affordable is both uninteresting AND unreliable junk, such as the Mini and Fiat 500. France still sells some good hatchbacks like the Megane, but that doesn't matter as they don't sell them globally.

    The only two countries out there that are still doing as good, if not better than before are South Korea and Germany. The Kia Stinger made waves on the car market, and Hyundai is on an opposite curve to Japan, going from making just bland undesirable cars, to making cars like the Veloster and Genesis to compete with the auto makers up north.

    In Germany's case, they have it all. VW owns basically everyone and only needs to sell its one signature hot hatch, And the luxury trio of Audi, Mercedes, and BMW all have very broad vehicle lineups, are dominating motorsport, and basically have the affordable performance sedan market in their palms with the new C-Class, M2, M3, and A4.Their sports cars like the Audi TT ($51,000) still suffer the same unjustified inflation as Japanese sports cars, but these brands aren't abandoning their vehicles nor bastardizing their names by slapping them on electric crossovers. They're the only brands that still do everything; from petrol, to hybrids, to electric, sports cars, performance sedans, crossovers, off-road SUVs, luxury sedans, super cars, utility vehicles, there's no box left unchecked.
    Most of what they sell is unfortunately, not to my taste, but I respect them more than any US or JA company on the modern market. Everyone else is trying to be a quaint little family friendly business, because that's where the money's at, meanwhile these three powerhouses are thriving on the competition of one another. A competition that Japan has unfortunately thrown in the towel for, and I'm afraid the US may walk out on as well. I don't want my 2016 Charger to be the last generation of its kind.

  2. It's been slow but Japanese manufacturers have been stuck and somewhat set in their ways.

    Subaru has been doing the same thing for years.

    Toyota has been making boring cars for so long the owner got tired of it.

    Nissan has been struggling financially

    Honda is the only one still out there in a sense. They got the Type R, they got the Si, the still have Acura going and they have the NSX. They're trying still.

    But they're all figuring it out now. The 400z looks sick, 400 hp twin turbo, 6 spd manual, rumor has it it'll cost less than 40k. That's a good deal.

    Toyota has been doing more with the supra and the lexus gs f is supposed to be coming to america soon.

    Subaru is finally retiring the EJ series and is making new engines, hopefully with a power boost as seen in the new 2022 BRZ/FRS

    They're slow to change, but they seem like they hear the message.

  3. I think a big problem (for the Japanese manufacturers) nowadays is the fact that the German manufacturers, whose new performance compact cars sell like hot cakes, have come from the high-end part of the market. So, there is brand recognition and even if the cars are worse than the Japanese ones, German cars will still be bought. Japanese cars, on the other hand have come from the bargain-basement type of market where the focus was on reliability and simplicity. And since the people nowadays want a car of a high-end brand with lots of tech, Japanese automakers fall behind in terms of sales. Plus, with all of the additional equipment that is being put into the modern Japanese cars, it is hard to keep them as reliable as they once were.

  4. It's interesting why is Japanese made products are almost irrelevant now.
    They were so strong till the early 2000s but then it seems they just gave up of some sort.

    South Korea are the new Japanese now, they outdoing anything what Japan are doing in Household stuff, Electronics and Cars.

    The new KIAs and Hyundai's cars are way more attractive and modern then Mazda, Nissan, Toyota or Honda is doing at the moment.

  5. also, its DEALERSHIPS and their sleazy salesmen that look like mr no neck from 90 day fiancé who ruin them with markups. Now that it's 2021, you said the corvette was a bargain… but we all knew that wasn't to be. The BASE MODEL is at dealerships for 100,000 dollars… uh huh… 55-60 grand??? what??

  6. they weren't affordable in the 90s… you like many others only remember these cars on craigslist USED in the 1000s to 30,000 dollar range.. They were JUST AS EXPENSIVE as they are today – and ultimately sold low volume because of it then just as much as now. The dollar amount is higher, but inflation value is pretty much the same, bar the NSX which doubled in price. it was a still an 80-100,000 dollar sports car in the 90s. GT-R skylines in japan weren't $25 grand econoboxes.. they WERE the king cobras of japan asking top dollar brand new. over $60,000 equivalent in todays money. (that's base R34 GTR from the dealership money… Nismos and higher fetched well north of $70,000 in 2002 money) Same goes for the supra. The MR2 turbo was another car fetching Type R MSRP (again equivalent in todays money). the 240SX WAS as expensive as the BRZ/gt86 today and mocked for most of the same reasons then. The only car that's actually got stupidly high in price for no reason (of all cars) is the one that survived – the Miata… For no reason at all it went from a cheap roadster to an over $30,000 dollar toy in the last couple generations – all while never actually being discontinued. The 350Z was the only car that went backwards and was oddly cheap. the 370 not so much and went the other way again.

  7. Imo they are too expensive now the median income in America right now is around 30,000. From a financial standpoint you shouldn’t spend more than 1/3 of your annual wage on a car. That’s around 10,000 for the average American. Next big issue for me is they hardly make standard transmission anymore.

  8. Hi, me from the future. Still disappointed with the supra. Especially with the 2021 four banger. I have a cobb tuned ecoboost with a broken converter and I still put half a car from a dig with a person in the car while the guy had new tires and used launch control. For a car that costs that much to lose to a basically stock eco and perform about the same on the track, like .2 seconds difference… That's just sad to me.

  9. My only problem with this cars is that they are a little overpriced, and this is from somebody who lives in a country where EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING IS OVERPRICED (would you pay 200K for a Corvette C8?). I wish that a new MR2 will be released at an affordable price

  10. The other reason, and arguably the most important or, is that new Japanese sports cars spit on their heritage. Look how much difference between the new Supra and the old one, or the new NSX versus the 90's wet dream one.

  11. Honestly I hate almost all new cars. Its the looks and the tech. I don't want steer assist, brake assist, always on traction control and a bunch of other luxuries in sports cars. They were never about comfort or ease of use. The Nissan z and supra dont look as good as their predecessor the 400z kinda has the new retro look but they wont age well

  12. It's not economically viable. Sports cars as a whole is a shrinking segment. Also Toyota couldn't financially justify making an all new platform for a low volume seller. Also they were expensive back in the day and now just seem not as expensive because of inflation. Also no matter what they do, fan boys will find any reason to complain.

  13. It's not economically viable. Sports cars as a whole is a shrinking segment. Also Toyota couldn't financially justify making an all new platform for a low volume seller. Also they were expensive back in the day and now just seem not as expensive because of inflation. Also no matter what they do, fan boys will find any reason to complain.

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