Tokyo Auto Salon: Japan-Only Cars We are Slightly Jealous Of


There are dozens of cars that are only available in Japan that we are slightly jealous of.

While the Honda Civic Type-R and previous generations of the Nissan Skyline GT-R are some notable models that never made it to North America, they aren’t exactly Japan-only. But kei cars typically are only sold in Japan, a category of subcompacts that include microvans and even pickup trucks. Unfortunately, they are designed to comply with Japanese government tax and insurance regulations, meaning there’s little reason to export them. And considering the Mazda2 just got killed off in North America, subcompacts just aren’t highly successful here.

SEE ALSO: 4 Concept Cars from the Tokyo Auto Salon We Wish We Could Buy

But that won’t stop us from envying some of the rad kei cars at show up each year to the Tokyo Auto Salon. This year’s show is no different and we’ve got a gallery of some of the nicely modified ones at the show floor. There’s also a wicked Toyota Prius Super GT race car that we would love to see compete in North America someday.

  • smartacus

    i’m jealous of their Suzuki Alto RS.
    No really. Available AWD and automatic would make it an ideal commuter during the week and get you to the ski slopes on the weekends

  • Jealous? Don’t be. Majority of these are based off a Kei-car or are a Kei-car (with body kit and a smidgen of fettled tuning shown). Kei-cars are a 660cc vehicle quite popular outside of the metropolitan centres due to cheap insurance, running cost and virtually no road tax etc (meaning they are usually driven by the old and extremely old = Japan has the worlds largest populous of old people and growing so Kei vs Old people spells trouble). Obviously the ones shown here are modified but the underpinnings, the kei-cars that plague the roads here in Japan, are a sheer pain …… generally driven at 30-40kmh and causing tailbacks on regular roads or just driven by people that are physically unfit to drive (old). These things are worse on the expressways with their low power/speed that then cause delays and jams as trucks have to negotiate around them. Majority of express are also only two lanes.

    kei-cars were designed to be cheap transport. They are cheap for a reason. Crash statistics are not the best (the history of them also goes back to the protective nature of the J-land automotive market for those that wish to beat the global automotive political stick).

    All in a foul car but serves a purpose for the rural masses – ironic – as they are so small they would suit cities but in the cities people buy proper vehicles.

  • Chris Daigle

    I have never once seen a single Japanese car that I think is beautiful from all angles. They are mechanically well made, but not beautiful.