Japan is home to some of the most legendary performance cars ever made from the Toyota Supra to the Nissan GT-R and the Honda NSX. Many Japanese cars have triumphed in the world of motorsport and tuners have turned them into absolute monsters.
To celebrate Japanese performance, we have created a list of some of the fastest Japanese cars of all time. This list will not be covering vehicles modified by 3rd party tuning companies or race cars. Carry on reading to find out about some of the fastest Japanese cars of all time (note: this list is not in order).
The Lexus LFA is one of the most impressive vehicles to ever come out of Japan. It featured incredible performance and Jeremey Clarkson himself said it was one of the best vehicles he had ever driven.
Development of the LFA began in the early 2000s and prototypes were regularly spotted testing at the Nurburgring. The car was designed to sit at the top of the Lexus/Toyota range and was inspired by the 2000GT of the sixties (watch our video about the 2000GT here).
The LFA concept made its first official public appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Following the unveiling, development time was lengthened and production was pushed back due to a switch from an aluminium frame design to a carbon tub one. The result of this switch was an increased power to weight ratio and more performance.
On October 21, 2009, Lexus unveiled the production version of the LFA at the Tokyo Motor Show. The car was introduced by Akio Toyoda, who confirmed that the supercar would be limited to 500 production units.
Lexus LFA Performance and Specifications
The final production LFA was powered by a 553 hp 4.8-litre V10 engine with Dual VVT-i. Maximum power was delivered at 8,700 rpm and its maximum torque of 354 lb ft (480Nm) was delivered at 6,800rpm (although 90% of that was available from 3,700rpm).
According to Lexus, the LFA’s engine could rev from idle to redline in 0.6 seconds and an analog tachometer needle could not track the car’s changes in engine speed. Additionally, Lexus claims that the V10 engine is lighter than the company’s own 2GR-FE V6 power plant.
With a power-to-weight ratio of 2.67 kg/hp, the LFA could go from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).
Lexus created a Nurburgring package for the LFA. This gave the car an extra 10 hp (now at 563 hp) and the transmission was recalibrated to make shifts 0.05 seconds quicker. They also added an aerodynamic package and lightweight alloy wheels. Only 50 of these cars were produced.
In June 2011, the Nurburgring Package LFA set a time of 7:22.85 at the Nurburgring, making it the tenth fastest production car around the track. Later that year, the LFA set a time of 7:14.64, making it the fifth fastest production car.
Nissan GT-R R35
While the Nissan GT-R R35 may be getting a bit long in the tooth these days, it is still one of the fastest cars money can buy. When it launched, the R35 GT-R stomped all over its competition and was easily the fastest car to come out of the land of the rising sun.
The first R35 GT-R concept was displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2001. This concept was a preview of a 21st century GT-R and retained the Skyline badge. Four years later, at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan displayed a redesigned concept dubbed the GT-R Proto. Nissan officials said that production car would be 80 to 90% based off the second concept.
The production model of the R35 GT-R made its debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show and launched for the Japanese market on December 6 of the same year. Nissan dropped the Skyline name for the R35 and it was based on the company’s Premium Midship platform, an evolution of the Front Midship that featured in the V35 Skyline.
Nissan GT-R R35 Performance and Specifications
When the R35 GT-R first launched the VR38DETT 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine produced around 479 hp at 6,400 rpm, however, a number of car magazines discovered that the car actually produced more than what Nissan specified.
Carrying on the tradition of the three previous GT-R cars, the R35 featured a clever AWD system which was labelled ATTESA E-TS. The car was also fitted with a six-speed BorgWarner dual clutch semi-automatic transmission that was built by Aichi Machine Industry.
Over the years, the R35 GT-R has received a number of power upgrades and facelifts. Power for later models sits at around 544 hp and 612 Nm (451 lb ft) of torque. Various changes have been made to the R35’s suspension, brakes and body over the years as well.
The original production R35 GT-R is capable of going from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as little as 3.2 and on to a top speed in excess of 300 km/h (186 mph). With the changes made to the R35 over the years, later models can hit 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds and go on to just shy of 330 km/h (205 mph).
For those who want even more performance, Nissan created the Nismo R35 GT-R. Power was increased to just shy of 600 hp and 652 Nm (481) lb ft of torque. This meant that the Nismo could go from 0-100km/h (62 mph) in 2.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph).
The Nissan GT-R R35 is one of the fastest production cars in the world to lap the Nurburgring. Its fastest time of 7:08.679 was set in 2013 by Michael Krumm in a test conducted by Nissan. This made it the fastest road-legal production car around the track at the time. The car used in this test was the Nissan GT-R NISMO N-Attack model.
Honda/Acura NSX Second Generation
While the first generation Honda NSX is undoubtedly the most famous and arguably the most loved, the second gen is definitely faster. The second generation NSX story starts not long after the production end of the first one.
In 2007, Honda America’s CEO, Tetsuo Iwamura confirmed that a V10 sports car was in development. However, the joy was short lived when the next year, Honda’s CEO, Takeo Fukui stated that the project was cancelled due to poor economic conditions.
As the world’s economy recovered, Honda decided to dive right back into the world of performance cars. They unveiled the Acura NSX concept at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
This concept retained the two-door, mid-engine layout of the original, but this time Honda fitted the car with an all-wheel drive system. Power came from a 3.5-litre V6 engine that sent its power to the rear wheels and electric motors that could send their power to the front wheels.
The production version of the second generation NSX made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.
Second Generation NSX Performance and Specifications
Mechanically, the second gen NSX was radically different to the first gen. The twin-turbocharged 3.5 litre DOHC V6 engine produces around 500 hp and the combined power output with the electric motors is around 573 hp.
The second generation NSX is capable of going from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.9 seconds and on to a top speed of around 307 km/h (191 mph). It can run the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds and uses a lightweight space frame design for the body.
Toyota Supra Mk5
While there are some insanely modified Mk4 Toyota Supra’s, the Mk5 is undoubtedly faster when it comes to comparing the stock production versions of each car. When the Mk4’s production ended, fans were crying out for a new version of the car.
The first inkling of a new Supra came in 2007 in the form of the FT-HS (Future Toyota Hybrid-Sport) concept. Then, after a number of years Toyota unveiled the FT-1 concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. This concept would feature the same front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout of the previous Supra models.
A number of teasers were released over the next few years and finally, at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the production version of the Mk5 Supra. The car is a collaboration between BMW and Toyota and is based on the Z4.
Toyota Supra Mk5 Performance and Specifications
A number of engine packages are offered with the Mk5 Toyota Supra with the most powerful being a 335 hp turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six cylinder engine. Additionally, when motoring journalists finally got their hands on the MkV, they found that the car produced 339 hp and 578 Nm at the rear wheels, a four horsepower increase over what Toyota claimed was at the crank (wheel power ratings are always a bit lower than crank ratings.
The 3.0-litre Supra is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as little as 4.1 seconds, 1.1 seconds quicker than the fastest Mk4. The top speed is electronically limited to 249 km/h (155 mph) and the car can complete the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds at 182 km/h (113 mph).
Subaru Impreza 22B STi
Throughout the 1990s, Subaru achieved great success in the world of rallying. Colin McRae won the 1995 Driver’s World Rally Championship in his Subaru Impreza 555 and Subaru won the Constructor’s Championship in 95, 96 and 97.
To celebrate this success and the company’s 40th anniversary, Subaru created one of the most insane vehicles to ever come out of Japan. The Subaru Impreza 22B STi was essentially a widebody version of the WRX STi coupe and was limited in production. All 400 Japanese units were sold in the first couple of days and an extra 24 cars were produced for the export market (most were destined for the UK).
Subaru Impreza 22B STi Performance and Specifications
The 22B featured a 2.2-litre EJ22G engine that officially produced 276 horsepower and 363 Nm (268 lb ft) of torque. This combined with its relatively low weight of 1,245kg meant that the car could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds (some claim it can do it in as little as 3.9 seconds) and on to a top speed of 252 km/h (157 mph). Impressive for a car that was built 20 years ago and it could still give most performance cars today a run for their money.
Mazda RX-7 FD
The third and final generation of the Mazda RX-7 is one of the most loved sports cars of all time. It was Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1993 and Road and Track claimed that the RX-7 FD was one of the ‘most exhilarating sports cars in the world’.
Following the end of the RX-7 FC’s (second generation) production, Mazda launched the FD. The car was a radical departure from the second generation and returned to the design philosophy of the original RX-7. Its smooth flowing lines were in complete contrast to the boxy shape of the FC and its low weight greatly improved driving dynamics.
Mazda RX-7 FD Performance and Specifications
The FD continued the RX-7 tradition of using a rotary engine, but this time the Hiroshima based company fitted the car with twin-turbochargers. The engine was 1.3-litres in size and was mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
Depending on the model and where it was sold in the world, the RX-7 FD produced anywhere from 237 hp to 276 hp (for later models). This combined with a low bodyweight of around 1,300kg meant that the car could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in just over 5 seconds and on to a top speed of around 260 km/h (160 mph).
Toyota Supra Mk4
No list of the fastest Japanese cars produced could be complete without the Toyota Supra Mk4. The car was made famous for its incredible tunability and for appearing in the movie The Fast and the Furious.
With the launch of some incredible Japanese cars during the late eighties, Toyota new they needed to create something special for the fourth generation Supra. To do this, they took great inspiration from the 2000GT of the sixties and ditched the boxy lines of the previous generation Supra.
The story of the Mk4 starts in 1989 when various different design, product and engineering teams started developing a new Supra. The final concept design was completed by the middle of 1990 and the first prototypes were assembled by hand in 1991. Toyota started testing pre-production models the following year and mass production began in April 1993.
Toyota Supra Mk4 Performance and Specifications
With the redesign of the Supra, Toyota placed great emphasis on producing a more serious-high performance vehicle. The car came with a both a naturally aspirated and a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six cylinder engine. The turbocharged 2JZ-GTE engine officially produced around 276 hp in Japan and 326 hp in export markets such as North America and Europe.
With all that power, the Mk4 Supra could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as little as 4.6 seconds and could complete the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds at 175 km/h (109 mph). The Mk4 Toyota Supra could hit a top speed of around 285 km/h, however, Japanese models were limited to 180 km/h (112 mph) and 250 km/h (155 mph) in other markets.
Nissan GT-R R34 Z-Tune
The Nissan R34 GT-R is undoubtedly one of the most loved and admired Japanese cars ever produced. It has appeared in numerous different movies and tuners have really gone to town on the car. However, while the standard version was special, the real star of the show was the Z-Tune version of the car.
A couple of years ago a Nissan GT-R Z-Tune sold for more than HK$500,000, making it one of the most expensive Japanese cars ever sold.
The Nissan GT-R Z-Tune was designed and developed at the end of the R34 Skyline’s production life. To create the Z-Tune, Nismo took existing R34 GT-Rs and upgraded them. They redesigned the bodywork, fitted a new Brembo brake system and gave the car a more aggressive suspension setup. Nismo also stripped the cars down completely and rebuilt them, reinforcing the chassis and adding carbon fibre to lighten the vehicle.
Although Nismo planned to create 20 Z-Tunes, they wound up only producing 19 (including two prototypes).
Nissan R34 GT-R Z-Tune
The Z-Tune GT-R was fitted with a concept 2.8-litre RB26DETT ‘Z1’ engine that was based on the power plants found in Nissan’s Le Mans GT2 and GT500 racing cars. With 500 hp on tap, the Z-Tune GT-R could go from 0-100 km/h in as little as 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of over 325 km/h (201 mph).
Honda NSX Generation 1
The first generation Honda NSX challenged the view that supercars had to be unreliable and impractical. It was the ‘everyday driver’ supercar and would go on to become one of Japan’s most famous sports cars.
The story of the first generation NSX starts in 1984, when Honda decided to create a concept that would embody a future sports car. They enlisted the help of Pininfarina to create the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental) concept.
The HP-X concept evolved into the NS-X (New Sportscar eXperimental) and featured a 2.7-litre SOHC V6 engine. However, after testing Honda found that the 2.7-litre engine wasn’t good enough and replaced it with a new 3.0-litre V6 unit.
Honda’s own motorsport division was heavily involved in the NSX project and Formula One driver Aryton Senna played a major part in setting up the car’s handling and chassis.
The first generation Honda NSX was unveiled in 1989 and went on sale in 1990. Following this, Honda launched a more performance orientated version of the car in 1992, known as the NSX-R.
Major performance upgrades were made to the NSX in 1997 and the car received a much needed facelift in 2002. Another version of the NSX-R was launched in 2002 and was available exclusively for the Japanese market.
Generation One Honda NSX Performance and Specifications
The NA1 Honda NSX featured a 270 hp 3.0-litre V6 engine and could go from 0-100 km/h in around 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph). Honda improved the acceleration of the NSX-R at the expense of top speed by moving the car’s shift points closer together. Official power figures for the NSX-R were the same as the standard car.
From 1997, Honda increased the displacement of the NSX’s engine from 3.0-litres to 3.2-litres. The car also received a number of other performance modifications, which increased power to 290 hp and 305 Nm (lb ft) of torque. This power increase meant that the updated NSX could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.5 to 4.8 seconds depending on the model. The top speed of later NSX models was around 274 km/h (170 mph).
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII & X FQ-400
The Mitsubishi Evo has always been one of Japan’s most recognisable sports cars. While Mitsubishi may not produce the most exciting vehicles anymore, they did create two of the most bonkers Japanese cars of the 2000’s.
The Mitsubishi Evo VIII FQ-400 and the Evo X FQ-400 were two of the fastest cars to come from a Japanese company at the time. They were available in the United Kingdom and received significant upgrades over the standard Evo.
To create the Evo VIII FQ-400, Mitsubishi UK enlisted the help of performance specialists Rampage, Owen Developments and Flow Race Engines. Only 100 models were produced and at the time of launch, the Evo VIII FQ-400 was the fastest Mitsubishi road car to ever be released in the United Kingdom.
Five years after the launch of the Evo VIII FQ-400, Mitsubishi UK released the Evo X FQ-400. Like the Evo VIII FQ-400, the Evo X version sat at the top of the Evolution range and was priced just shy of £50,000. It received a number of upgrades over standard FQ cars and was given more aggressive bodywork.
Evo VIII and X FQ400 Performance and Specifications
The Evo VIII FQ-400 was based on the Lancer Evolution VIII MR FQ-320 and featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that produced 405 hp at 6400 rpm and 355 lb ft of torque at 5500 rpm. With all this power, the Evo VIII FQ-400 could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in around 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed in excess of 281 km/h (175 mph), not bad for a four door saloon.
The Evo X version of the FQ-400 featured the same 2.0-litre MIVEC engine that was fitted to the rest of the Evo X range, but turned up to eleven. Power sat at around 403 hp and 387 lb ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful four door production cars available at the time. The Evo X FQ-400 could go from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
The Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO was one of the most technologically advanced production cars ever created when it launched in 1990. It was designed to be the company’s flagship motor vehicle and was designed to take on the likes of the Nissan 300ZX, the Toyota Supra and the Mazda RX-7.
Mitsubishi based the car’s chassis and overall design on the Eclipse. They then worked with Chrysler’s Highland Park International Design Studio to create a more aggressive car that featured more power bulges, air ducts and scoops. When it launched the 3000GT/GTO was one of the most striking cars to ever come out of Japan.
The top spec VR4/Twin Turbo model featured a number of upgrades over the more basic packages. Early cars were fitted with an active aerodynamic system and all years came with all-wheel drive and a four-wheel steering system.
Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO Performance and Specifications
The most powerful VR4/Twin Turbo models came fitted with a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged DOHC V6 engine. Earlier models produced around 300 hp and 307 lb ft of torque, while later Twin Turbo models manufactured from 1994 onwards produced 320 hp and 315 lb ft of torque. This meant that the GTO/3000GT could accelerate from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as 5.1 to 5.5 seconds (depending on the year) and could hit around 247 – 257 km/h (153 – 160 mph).
Honda Civic Type R FK8
The FK8 Honda Civic Type R has proved to be a formidable beast and is one of the fastest front-wheel drive cars ever created. Honda unveiled the first FK8 prototype at the 2016 Paris Motor Show and the production version at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.
The Type R is based on the standard Civic hatchback, but with a whole host of performance and aerodynamic upgrades. Visually, the Type R is very different to the standard Civic and is much more aggressive in its appearance.
Honda Civic Type R FK8 Performance and Specifications
The FK8 Type R uses the same turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that is found in its predecessor. However, Honda increased the power of European and Japanese models to 316 hp, while other markets still sit at 306 hp. With all that power, the Type R will do 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds and can hit at top speed of 272 km/h (169 mph).
The Type R’s biggest achievement came when it set the lap record for the fastest front-wheel drive car at the Nurburgring. It achieved a time of 7:43.80, seven seconds quicker than its predecessor.