Automobiles are Japan’s largest exported product. From family hatchbacks, small crossovers, midsize sedans, to luxury saloons, we've seen them all. But there are a few notable Japanese cars that have won the hearts and minds of enthusiasts worldwide. Even in Singapore.
Some would often mistake these cars for being Japanese Domestic Market cars, or JDM for short. But not every car that is manufactured in Japan can be labelled as such. Those are vehicles that are intended for sale in the Japanese market only, and they are essentially a cornerstone of the automotive enthusiast scene. But a car doesn’t need to be a JDM product in order to be an icon. As proof, we’ve compiled a few of them.
This is a car that really needs no introduction. The infamous Nissan GT-R, affectionately nicknamed “Godzilla”. When the R35-generation GT-R was first launched, it churned out 487hp from its twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 engine. Of course, the latest versions are even more ludicrous than before, with the top-tier NISMO (pictured above) producing 600hp. With 0-100km/h times of under 3 seconds, we’re obligated to induct this into our Japanese hall of fame. And as Champan To’s character said it best in Initial D, “我要买GTR”. (Translation: I want to buy a GTR). Oddly enough, we share that same sentiment.
Subaru WRX STI
A flash of blue, yellow, gold and dirt. That was the sight that greeted many on rally stages whenever they saw a WRX. The Subaru WRX STI’s tried and tested formula of a boxer engine mated to an AWD system has withstood the test of time, enabling it to dominate rally stages worldwide. Fun fact, these cars were so good that they were popular getaway cars among Aussie crooks for a period of time. Crikey.
Honda Civic Type R
Honda is no stranger to making some fantastic machines. And this is no exception, the Honda Civic Type R. Here is a car that can pull double duties sending the kids to school, or ripping down back roads. All amid a flurry of VTEC noise and smiles. Driven in a more sedate manner, however, and it retains the civility of any ordinary Civic.