10 Underrated Japanese Sports Cars You Should Buy Before It’s Too Late

Over the last two decades or so, gearheads have finally realized that Japanese sports cars are just as good as their European and American rivals, if not better. As a result, Japanese sports car prices are going up. For instance, gearheads are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for iconic Japanese sports cars like the Mazda Cosmo 110S, Datsun Z432R, and Toyota 2000GT.
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However, while some Japanese sports cars have seen their prices rise to astronomical levels, the vast majority of them don’t get the recognition they deserve and are still massively underrated. Let’s explore ten underrated Japanese sports cars that gearheads should snap up before prices inevitably start going up.

10 Suzuki Cappuccino

Let’s kick off with one of the greatest Kei cars ever made – the Suzuki Cappuccino. The Kei car rules were introduced to provide middle and low-income Japanese people with cheap, small cars perfect for city life. However, Suzuki took advantage of the laws in the early ’90s and created an ultralight sports car instead.

The Cappuccino was powered by a tiny turbocharged three-cylinder engine, producing just 63 hp. This isn’t much by sports car standards, but the Cappuccino weighs just 1,598 lbs.

9 Mazda MX-6

When asked to name Mazda sports cars, most gearheads immediately think of the RX-7 and the MX-5. Not many will say the MX-6, even though it was just as fantastic. The MX-6 is a front-engine coupe that Mazda introduced in 1987, two years before the MX-5.

There’s a lot we love about the MX-6, starting with the design. We also love its engine – a 2.5-liter V6 producing 164 ponies.

8 Honda Prelude

Introduced in the late ’70s, the Prelude is a superb two-door coupe Honda built to compete with other Japanese sports cars from Toyota and Mazda. The Prelude was based on the Accord, but had a much sportier design and more power under the hood.

There are multiple generations of the Prelude to choose from, but our favorite is the fifth and last one. The fifth-gen Prelude has a modern design and lots of power to play with – 217 ponies coming from a 2.2-liter VTEC engine.

7 Mitsubishi Starion

The Japanese sports car market was heating up in the ’80s, with top automakers like Toyota, Mazda, and Honda competing for glory. Mitsubishi didn’t want to be left behind, so it developed the Starion.
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There was a lot to love about the Starion. For one, it had an eye-catching wedge-shaped design and pop-up headlights. It was also a blast to drive, thanks to its 2.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing over 200 hp.

6 Subaru SVX

In 1985, Subaru introduced the wedge-shaped XT to take on European sports cars. Unfortunately, the XT ended up flopping, but rather than give up, the Japanese marque went back to the drawing board and came up with a worthy successor – the SVX.

The SVX was a huge improvement over the XT. For starters, it looked a lot better, as it was designed by Pininfarina. It was also faster, thanks to a 3.3-liter six-cylinder producing 230 ponies.

5 Mazda Eunos Cosmo

Most gearheads have at least heard of the Mazda Cosmo 110S – Mazda’s legendary halo vehicle and the first car to use a Wankel rotary engine. However, not many know about the Eunos Cosmo. The Eunos Cosmo was introduced in 1990 to compete in the luxury coupe space.

The Eunos Cosmo was praised for having many advanced technologies, including a climate control touchscreen and a built-in navigation system. The Eunos Cosmo was also fast, thanks to a triple-rotor engine cranking out 309 hp.

4 Mitsubishi FTO

Introduced in 1994, the FTO is a front-engine FWD coupe Mitsubishi built to take on the entry-level sports car market. Mitsubishi initially wanted the FTO to be a JDM exclusive, but its popularity as a gray market import forced them to ship it to other countries.

The FTO was such a huge hit that it won the Japanese Car of the Year award in 1995. People loved its design and engine – a powerful 2.0-liter V6 paired with a five-speed manual.

3 Toyota Celica GT-Four

Toyota has built many awesome sports cars over the years, but few are as successful as the Celica was. The Celica was in production for over three decades, during which it spawned multiple generations and variants. Of all Celicas ever built, the GT-Four is our favorite.
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Toyota built the GT-Four in 1986 to meet the World Rally Championship homologation requirements. The GT-Four had a powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and an all-wheel-drive system – the perfect recipe for a fun car.

2 Honda CRX Si

The Honda Civic has been used as the basis for many awesome cars over the years. The CRX Si is among the best. The CRX Si is a front-wheel-drive compact car Honda produced from 1983 to 1991.

Although the CRX Si was based on the Civic, it was an entirely different car. For starters, it had a unique exterior and interior design. It also had a much better engine – a 1.6-liter VTEC four-cylinder unit generating 148 hp paired with a five-speed manual.

1 Nissan Skyline R31 GTS-R

When it comes to the legendary Nissan Skyline GT-R nameplate, most gearheads only care about the R32 and subsequent generations. Older generations don’t get much love, even though they were just as good. One particular Skyline GT-R model that has remained under the radar for the longest time is the R31 GTS-R.

The GTS-R was the best-performing version of the R31 Skyline. It was introduced in 1987 to satisfy the homologation requirements for Group A Touring Car racing, which is why it was equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 220 hp on tap.


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