The 15 Best JDM Cars of All Time (List)

Image of a blue NSX

JDM cars play a key role in the automotive industry. A huge portion of cars, inventions and automotive achievements have come from here. Not only is the Japanese domestic market filled (JDM) with rich history but has also produced every gearheads dream machines. Performance, innovation and styling are key elements of JDM cars. Note that there are many more masterpieces, but the list had to be limited. So, to settle this, we have made a list of the 15 best JDM cars of ALL time.

15. Toyota MR2 (MK-2):

image of a red MR2
  • Engine: Inline-4 (Naturally Aspirated/Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 2.0 L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed manual/4-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower: 200 to 242 hp
  • Torque: 200 to 224 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5s/5.5s
  • Top Speed: 140/150 mph

The Toyota MR2 has been popular for quite some time, known for its reliability, superb handling, lightweight chassis and good performance. it borrowed styling cues from the Ferrari of that time and so is also known as “poor man’s” Ferrari. With this package it soon became popular within the youth. To this day The Toyota MR2 seems a tempting option.

14. Nissan 180-SX:

image of a red 180 SX
  • Engine: Inline-4 (Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 1.8 L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed manual/4-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower: 168 hp
  • Torque: 166 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7s-8s
  • Top Speed: 112-124 MPH

The Nissan 180-SX is a gem in the tuner culture. Known for its drifting potential, the 180sx had a sleek design, had pop-up headlights and came with turbocharged options. This all and its huge aftermarket support has made it one of the best JDM cars ever made.

13. Subaru Impreza 22B STi (1998):

image of a blue Subaru WRX
  • Engine: Flat-4 (Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 2.2L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed manual
  • Horsepower: 280hp
  • Torque: 268 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: About 4.7s
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

The Subaru Impreza STi 22B was a higher performance limited production vehicle created to celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary and 3rd consecutive win in the WRC. Its production was limited to a total of 416 cars only. It came with the iconic “rally blue: colour, had more aggressive styling with larger fenders, spoiler and was an upgrade over the standard Subaru not just in terms of cosmetics but performance too. This all coupled with its rarity has made it a legend in the Subaru and rally community. It is basically a highly sought after Subaru that you can’t buy.

12. Subaru BRZ (2012):

image of a blue GT 86
  • Engine: Flat-4 NA
  • Displacement: 2.0L
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 200 hp @ 7,000 RPM
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6,400 RPM
  • 0-60 mph: 6.7s-7.3s
  • Top Speed: 134 mph

The Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT-86, Scion FR-S, call it what you want, is a worthy contender because it is a throwback to the peak of JDM history. Where most Japanese manufacturers have resorted to boring family cars, the BRZ reminds everyone of the glorious JDM history. Other than this, the BRZ provides with good performance, beautiful exterior design, great handling and a good track car and a fun daily driver in general.

11. Honda Civic Type-R (EK):

A yellow Civic EK Type-R
  • Engine: Inline-4 NA
  • Displacement: 1.6L
  • Transmission:
  • Horsepower: 182 hp @ 8,200 RPM
  • Torque: 118 lb-ft @ 7,500 RPM
  • 0-60 mph: 6.6s
  • Top Speed: 137 mph

You might be wondering what makes this specific model more special than any other Type-R. Well legacy. The EK9 Civic Type R was the first manifestation of the Civic to rock that Type R badge. It came with many improvements over the standard EK Civic. It had a happy high-revving engine, unique styling, lightweight chassis, limited slip differential, close ratio manual transmission, more performance and track oriented-ness. All this combined with its heritage makes it a highly sought after collectible vehicle.

10. Lexus LS-400 (1989):

A Beige LS400
  • Engine: V8
  • Displacement: 4.0-Liter
  • Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower: 250 hp @ 5,600 RPM
  • Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM
  • 0-60 mph: 8s (approximately)
  • Top Speed: 130 mph

If you are or were, ever interested in luxury vehicles, than you and the LS-400 must have crossed paths. The Lexus LS-400 was Toyota’s answer to American and European markets that Toyota can do luxury, reliability and performance, all in one package while being significantly cheaper than its competitors. It had extensive insulation, strong V8 engine, so smooth that it could balance glasses of wine stacked on top of each other (while driving), climate control, premium sound system, just to name a few. It was the first production vehicle to use extensive laser welding that gave it neatness and refinement in every corner. A gem in the luxury segment for sure.

9. Toyota AE86:

A Toyota AE86 Trueno Levin
  • Engine: Inline-4 NA
  • Displacement: 1.6L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual (3-Speed Auto in some versions)
  • Horsepower: 110-130 hp
  • Torque: 95 to 111 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 8-9s
  • Top Speed: 120-125 mph

If you’ve never heard its name, you definitely would have saw it. A popular car in Japanese media such as initial D. Toyota AE86’s now-a-days go for the price of a new Toyota GR86. The reasons for its popularity are its distinctive appearance, responsive and high-revving engine, simplicity, affordability, drifting culture and raw driving experience. Definitely a must-mention JDM car.

8. Nissan Skyline GT-R (R35):

A grey Nissan GTR R35 Nismo
  • Engine: V6 (Twin-Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 3.8L
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Dual Clutch Semi-Automatic
  • Horsepower: 473 hp
  • Torque: 434 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 3.5s
  • Top Speed: 193 mph

The son of the mighty R34.The R35 GT-R made its debut in 2007 and struck fear into the hearts of its opponents. Significantly cheaper than European exotics and offered technologies that are just being introduced in cars today. It came with an improved version of the ATTESA E-TS all wheel drive system, distinct boxy design, offered a powerful turbocharged V6 with quick shifting. Over the years, small but continuous improvement has made the R35 one of the most refined cars ever made. A car worthy of carrying the Skyline legacy.

7. Honda S2000:

A WHITE s2000
  • Engine: Inline-4
  • Displacement: 2.0 liters
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower: 237 horsepower at 8,300 rpm
  • Torque: 153 lb-ft at 7,500 rpm
  • 0-60 mph: 5.8
  • Top Speed: 150 mph

Want fun? Drive a S2K.The Honda S2000 is the embodiment of pure fun and adrenaline as a car. While not excessively fast, the s2k makes up for it in variety of fields. A happy high revving engine that can go up to 9,000 RPM, genius weight distribution makes it a car with superb handling and stability. It completed the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a notable time (7m 56s). This, its driver focused interior, and convertible option, makes it a car must-try car. Sadly, they are unaffordable as of today.

6. Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4:

a red 3000-GT VR4
  • Engine: V6 (Twin-Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 3.0L
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual/4-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower: 320 hp
  • Torque: 315 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 5s
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

An underrated legend, shadowed by its popular cousin (wanna go bowling), the Lancer. The 3000GT is a car many have probably not heard of, and it’s sad that it doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. Previously it came in po-up headlights, but received a design change after being introduced in north America. It had some of the most insane, impressive and maniacal tech for a 1990s car such as active-aerodynamics, genius AWD system (the vr4 stands for viscous real-time 4WD), impressive performance and much more. The reason why it didn’t fly much was because all this tech made it heavy, about 4000 pounds.

5. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR:

A dark grey Lancer evo 8 MR
  • Engine: Inline-4 (Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 2.0L
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower: 276 hp
  • Torque: 283 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 4.5s
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

The Mitsubishi Lancer doesn’t need an introduction or explanation for why its on this list. A legend in the rallying community and representation of Mitsubishi’s potential and golden age. The Evolution VIII is the Lancer’s most refined, most potent form, and the MR edition just puts the lancer on steroids. No more words, Mitsubishi! please bring the lancer back.

4. Mazda RX7 FD3S:

a modified white RX-7 FD
  • Engine: Twin-Rotor Rotary
  • Displacement: 1.3L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual/4-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower: 252 to 280 hp
  • Torque: 216 to 231 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 5s
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

The rotary legend, Veilside, Rob Dahm, quite a lot is associated with the RX7. The FD3S is the most refined version and the last incarnation of the RX7. High revving engine, one of the most beautiful and sleek cars on the planet, driver focused interior, peak of Mazda, heating up and engine problems and beautiful sound define the rx7 perfectly. I don’t need to say more as every car interested dude’s youtube feed is filled with RX7 clips.

3. Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34):

a BLUE Nissan GTR R34
  • Engine: Inline-6 (Twin-Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 2.6L
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower: 276 hp
  • Torque: 289 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: About 5s
  • Top Speed: Around 155 mph

The father of the R35, and the Skyline representor, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is the GOAT. Genius ATTESA E-TS system, great performance, iconic design, so many wins that it was banned from certain races and all over the most well rounded car on this list. Beside the Supra, most dream of owning one, so do I.

2. Toyota Supra A80 (MK-4):

a Black mark 4 Supra
  • Engine: Inline-6 (Twin-Turbocharged)
  • Displacement: 3.0L
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual or 4-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower: 320 hp
  • Torque: 315lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 4.7s
  • Top Speed: 155 mph

There would be no difference even if I write nothing in this paragraph. Literally the most saturated car on the internet. The Supra is what you’ll hear from every 10-year-old and every 30-year old’s breath. Ridiculously overbuilt engine, insane modding potential, star of the fast and furious, the JDM representor (along with some others), iconic design, very driver focused interior etc. All that in one package, more refined than the MK3 Supra, an absolute unit, the Supra A80.

1. Acura/Honda NSX (1992):

A shiny silver gen 1 NSX
  • Engine: V6 (Naturally Aspirated)
  • Displacement: 3.0L
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual/4-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower: 270 hp
  • Torque: 210lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: About 5.5s
  • Top Speed: 170 mph

Remove the Honda/Acura badge and tell me that it is an Italian exotic and I would believe you. The NSX has set the bar so high that any car, any manufacturer will ever dream to acheive it. Time-tested, inspired by the legendary Mclaren F1, balls bold enough to challenge the likes of Ferrari and Lambourghini while being almost half the price, tested by Senna himself and refined down to atom is how I’ll describe the NSX. Also, the sleekest design I’ve ever seen on a car. The NSX is not your regular JDM car, it is something else, and that’s why in my opinion, it is worthy of the top spot.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
  • Mazda Miata MX-5
  • Mazda RX7 FC
  • Toyota Supra Mk-3
  • Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)
  • Toyota Century
  • Nissan Silvia S15
  • Nissan 240SX
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX 2G
  • Infinite G35
  • Lexus IS-F
  • Toyota Celica
  • Honda CRX
  • Mazda RX8

NOTE: The specifications mentioned may not be entirely accurate as figures vary depending on model year, version, region, etc.

ALSO READ: Why Electric vehicles are not the final solution (yet)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *