Japan’s New Supercars

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Ever since the first Fairlady Z rolled off a Nissan production line in 1969, Japan has had a thing for small, smart, sporty cars. They’ve taken their cues from Americans and Europeans, but developed their own unique gearhead heritage. There’s always been some skepiticism about Japanese sports cars though – the perception that they lack the muscle of the ones from Detroit, or the technical nous of European engineered cars.

But those in the know, understand that they’ve been coming of age these last twenty years, and aren’t just ready to compete with their European cousins – they’re ready to outdo them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the new crop of Japanese imports already on our shores.
 
 

Lexus LFA

Leading the pack is Lexus’s LFA. First debuted as a concept car in 2005, the car has been in development since as early as 2000, and is part of Lexus’s effort to be taken seriously as a carmaker. Well it looks like the plan worked. The LFA uses a custom 4.8L V10 engine, which weighs even less than the V6 used in the Camry. Lightweight seems to be the order of the day, with 65 per cent of the body made of carbon fibre, including the roof. As a result, it goes from zero to sixty in 3.6 seconds – putting it firmly in Lamborghini territory. 
 
 

Acura NSX
The Honda NSX remains one of the gearhead’s most beloved sports cars – not least of all because the chassis on the first model was tuned with feedback provided by the late, great Ayrton Senna. But all good things must come to an end, and the original NSX was discontinued in 2005.

Honda’s Acura marque is now developing the new NSX however – and readying it for a 2015 launch. A concept was shown at 2012, but is still short of what Acura hopes to put on the road. The projected specs for the finished car include a V6 engine, which staggeringly enough, will be supported by another three environmentally-friendly electric motors. 
 

Nissan GT-R
Nissan first cut their sports car teeth on their Fairlady line back in the 1960s, and they’ve only been growing since then. The last beast you might remember is the street racer’s favourite – the Skyline GTR from the 1990s. The new GT-R is a continuation of that car’s legacy. First prototyped in 2001, the design was meant to be inspired by Japanese design – rather than trying to emulate European designs. The finished beast definitely shows it, with smooth lines unlike any on a car seen before.

Sporting a 4WD system like in previous Skyline models, and a twin turbo, 545 horsepower, V6 engine, the GT-R boasts a zero to sixty of 2.6 seconds, and has a recorded top speed of 195 miles per hour. And for real import fans, the GT-R is easily modifiable, if you know the right engineers. Specialists have been able to get the 2014 GT-R to go up to 233 mph with some modifications.

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