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10 Japanese Cars Every Gearhead Wants… But They Aren’t Very Good

Mazda RX8

Japanese manufacturers have built a reputation for making some of the most reliable cars on the market, and as a result have won many raving fans.

Their cars may be reliable, but they haven’t necessarily proven themselves with gearboxes that are often willing to put up with less reliable project cars. The problem with bulletproof reliability is that there will always be sacrifices in other areas.

Japanese manufacturers are known for sacrificing horsepower in favor of longevity, which makes perfect sense for budget cars, but doesn’t take much water when it comes to high-end applications. In part, this has the JDM tuner culture because it’s so easy to make more power, or at least the right amount of power.

10 Nissan Silvia

Here’s the thing with the Silvia; it is the same car as the 240SX. The only difference is the turbo engine.

As much as JDM fans will try their best to convince you otherwise, the car has average handling characteristics and little to no driver involvement. Getting the more powerful 2-litre turbocharged engines in will only exacerbate the handling problems. It’s great for drifting, but not much else.

Related: Watch This Nissan Silvia S15 Take on a Snowstorm

9 Toyota Supra

One caveat to the Supra Mk4 is the 2JZ engine, one of the best inline-6 ​​engines ever made, there’s no question about that.

Nowadays you don’t have to buy the car for that great engine, you can easily get it directly from Japan. The rest of the car is subpar, cheap interior, lifeless handling and the vast majority came with an energy-guzzling automatic transmission.

8 Nissan Fairlady Z

Another “not-quite-a-GT-R” Nissan sports car is the aptly named Fairlady Z, otherwise known as the 350Z in import markets.

While this is a great nod to affordable sports cars, that’s all it is, a nod. It’s not that affordable and not that good either. Power figures were always mediocre and had a less than great build quality.

Related: Nissan Fairlady Z Pricing Announced For Japan

7 Daihatsu Hijet

Think of this as a placeholder for any JDM Kei car that just isn’t out of place anywhere outside of big, crowded cities.

They make for practical little town runabouts, but the world has moved on and these things are built cheaply and quickly. As a result, they are prone to rusting and extremely dangerous on public roads, where a light breeze can even cause you to lose control of the thing.

6 Suzuki SJ410

Since the Jimny has taken off all over the world, something of a small 4×4 has been awakening. In the US they were known as the Samurai, and boy, do they have a backstory?

These were always really good really affordable little off roaders only they were hopeless on the road even crosswinds were a bit much and if there was a moose test to pass it would almost certainly have failed.

5 Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 is arguably the best “worst car” of all time. It was technologically advanced for the time, which unfortunately only complicates things.

Electric gremlins will now add to Wankel woes as they age, engine overhauls are required every 30 to 50,000 miles as a basic preventative maintenance measure. However, it is not the least reliable Japanese car, that honor belongs to its replacement.

Related: 10 Reasons Gearboxes Prefer the FD Mazda RX-7 Over the RX-8

4 Mazda RX-8

This is the least reliable Japanese car from any of their major manufacturers. It’s also the one most JDM enthusiasts avoid.

On the used market you can find these cars for ridiculously low prices and are incredibly tempting, unfortunately they will all require a labor intensive engine overhaul. It would be the swan song of rotating power, and while we know we shouldn’t, we still want one…

3 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

While Mitsubishi was the best in the 90s, they put a huge amount of money into motorsports, especially off-road motorsports such as rallying.

That investment translated into some great Evo models, both in the Lancer and Pajero range. By the time the Tenth Generation came out, they were still desperately clinging to those glory days but serving up something that was only “Evo” by name.

Related: 10 Fast Facts About Tommi Mäkinen

2 Subaru WRX STic

Newer is usually better, but like its old Evo competitor, the latest version may be the worst.

Between emissions restrictions and total lack of interest in funding further development of the model, these latest STi cars are just disappointing.

1 Mitsubishi Eclipse

The Eclipse is pretty much everything wrong with the 90s and 2000s, all baked into a sad little coupe that masquerades as a sports car.

Indeed, there is not much sport in these cars anymore, which now plagued by electrical problems and have become increasingly maintenance-heavy for what is essentially a front-wheel drive economy car wearing heavy makeup.



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