best japanese sports cars

 2014 Nissan 370Z

The 2014 Nissan 370Z draws on the heritage of the Datsun / Nissan Z line to produce a compellingly-styled and intriguingly-quick two-seat coupe.  The Nissan 370Z is unquestionably a performance vehicle, with its rear-wheel drive layout, its 332 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 (that also produces 270 lb-ft of torque) and its six-speed manual transmission with available auto rev-matching.  You can get a seven-speed automatic gearbox with the Z, too, but for the life of us we can’t understand why you would want to.  Opting for the NISMO trim introduces an aggressive body kit and ups engine output to 350 horses.

 2014 Subaru BRZ

The 2014 Subaru BRZ can be thought of as a more affordable alternative to the Nissan 370Z.  The Subaru BRZ is also lighter, and better-balanced, giving it a natural flow on a road course that is very difficult to duplicate at its price point.  The BRZ coupe is motivated by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, and it can be paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.  The Subaru also comes with a vestigial backseat, one that’s suitable only for short trips (or for folding

The 2014 Lexus IS F is in its final year of production, and this four-door muscle car has flown largely under the radar during its short time on the market.  The Lexus IS F is built on the bones of the standard IS sedan, but adds Brembo brakes, an extensively re-worked suspension system, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and unique exterior body work to go with its hulking 5.0-liter V-8 engine.  416 horsepower and 371 lb-ft of torque allow the IS F to hit 60-mph in just 4.7 seconds, and handling is aided and abetted by 19-rims wrapped in performance rubber.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a callback to the Little British Cars that used to dominate the affordable sports car space – that is, until the Miata appeared on the scene and put them in their place with its excellent reliability and supernatural handling capability.  The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a roadster that has somehow managed to stay inexpensive since it was first introduced in 1989, and it’s also managed to keep the pounds off, too, making it one of the lightest Japanese sports cars around.  This means that the 167 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood doesn’t have to work as hard as one might think to bring the Mazda up to super-legal speeds.  Enthusiasts can choose between either a six-speed or five-speed manual gearbox to manage the Miata’s 140 lb-ft of torque, while cruisers can opt for a six-speed automatic unit.

2014 Honda Civic Si

The 2014 Honda Civic Si might not be as frenetic as its predecessors, but there’s still a lot to like about the quickest compact car in the Japanese brand’s stable.  Available in coupe or sedan body styles, the Honda Civic Si features a high-strung suspension system, a limited-slip front differential, and a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.  The Si is the only member of the Civic family to feature a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that has been tuned to provide 205 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, and the vehicle can also be identified by its rear spoiler, 18-inch rims, and carbon fiber trim throughout the interior.

2014 Scion FR-S

The 2014 Scion FR-S is essentially the mechanical twin of the Subaru BRZ, as the cars were co-developed by Toyota and Subaru in order to help keep costs down.  This means that the Scion FR-S features the same 200 horsepower, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the same six-speed transmission choices, and an identical rear-wheel drive layout.  Where the FR-S differs from its cross-town sibling is in terms of styling, with the car wearing unique front and rear fascias, as well as in price: there aren’t any options to be had with the Scion, which makes it a little more barebones, and slightly cheaper when compared to the Subaru.

 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X wraps rally heritage in a compact four-door sedan package to create one of the most boisterous sports cars ever to leave Japanese shores.  An advanced computer-controlled all-wheel drive system shuttles the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X’s 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to all four wheels on an as-needed basis, while either a five-speed manual (GSR models) or six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (MR models) transmission takes care of ratio changes.  Ultra quick and more raw than one might expect, the Evolution X is the last of its breed and will soon be bowing out of the automaker’s U.S. line-up.

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