Six Japanese Cars That Should (Or Shouldn’t) Make It To The UK
Car buyers in Japan have all the fun. Even ignoring the fact that they can still snap up the Mitsubishi Evo, they’ve got far more models in their showrooms to choose from than us.
Admittedly, about 50% of these are squared-off, sub-1.0-litre CVT-geared wardrobes-on-wheels that would look laughable anywhere but the streets of Osaka, but we reckon there are one or two that the British arms of Suzuki, Toyota and Honda should think about importing.
So here’s three Japanese cars we’d like to see on our streets, and just to spice it up, three we definitely wouldn’t.
Want: Daihatsu Copen
C’mon, hear us out… It weighs virtually nothing, has a electric drop-top and a revvy little engine with more than enough power to have some fun. There’s even the option of factory-fitted Recaro seats, BBS alloys and (if our Japanese is anything to go by) a limited slip diff. Daihatsu is no longer with us in Europe, but we reckon parent company Toyota could pull a few strings… Right? Right?
Do Not Want: Mitsuoka Himiko
If Cruella DeVille had designed the MX-5… Well, here you go. Effectively a stretched and ruined version of Mazda’s sweet-handling two-seater, the Himiko follows a long Mitsuoka tradition of taking ordinary production cars and ruining them with chintzy ‘retro’ addenda. Get it the hell away from us.
Want: Suzuki Alto
Mmm, we never thought we’d group those words together either, but Japan’s version of the Alto is strangely alluring… Unlike the Indian-built spartan model we’re used to, this one actually looks – dare we say it – quite cool, and even the interior looks quite pleasant. It’s super-lightweight too, and there’s rumours of a sportier turbocharged model arriving soon. Please Suzuki – take back the Celerio, let us have this instead and we’ll call it quits.
Do Not Want: Toyota Spade
We like to call a spade a spade here at SuperUnleaded, and this is definitely… yeah. In its defence, there’s plenty of interior space, but that’s not enough to save it. We’re pretty sure there’s nobody at Toyota GB weighing up bringing us the Japanese equivalent of a Peugeot 1007, so we’ll leave this and move on.
Want: Toyota Century
Not feeling the kei car love? No problem – how about this? With a 5.0-litre V12 engine, seat covers made of wool (it’s quieter than leather, don’t you know) and distinctly classic looks, it’d fit right in around Kensington. Or local residents would mistake it for a minicab. One of the two.
Do Not Want: Mitsubishi Mirage Hello Kitty Edition
Some ideas really don’t translate well across the Pacific. This is all of them. Presumably built to celebrate some sort of Hello Kitty anniversary, Japanese buyers can opt for a £600 option pack that endows the Mirage with Hello Kitty seats, Hello Kitty dashboard trim, Hello Kitty wheel trims and – you guessed it – Hello Kitty stickers on every conceivable exterior panel. We can’t put our fingers on why, but it’s just not doing it for us.
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