Are Japanese Automakers Having A Midlife Crisis?

Infiniti is the latest Japanese automaker to reveal a new performance car which challenges the luxury perception of the brand.

Over the past two years, nearly every Japanese automaker has debuted either a production or concept sports car. This comes after a relatively long span of time since models like the NSX, RX-7 and Supra were taken out of production. For a time these automakers intensely focused of the mainstream end of the market continually refining models like the Civic, Accord and Camry. Strong consistent sales of bread winning models couldn’t last though and quality issues eventually tarnished brands like Toyota. The earthquake also played a part in inconsistent manufacturing and delivery schedules which affected sales. So why exactly the move back to producing flashy performance cars? Is it purely a marketing exercise? We asked that question to Phil Patton, a contributor to the Wheels blog on the NY Times.

The Japanese brands especially need performance vehicles as Halo cars to combat the transportation as appliance image.

And that is possibly the perception that crept back over the past decade, that cars from Japan were soulless.

Here’s a roundup of the latest performance models starting with the Infinity EMERG-E concept which will debut next week at the Geneva Auto Show. We don’t know many details about it other than it will be powered by a mid-mounted range-extending drivetrain, a first for the brand.


Lexus LF-LC: A concept which debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. No confirmation on production plans.

Lexus LFA: 2-door sports coupe currently in production.

Acura NSX Concept: A production version will likely go on sale in 2014.

Scion FRS: Sports coupe more on the mild side in contrast to the Acura, Lexus and Infiniti.

Subaru BRZ: A sister car of the Scion, this is powered by Subaru’s iconic Boxer engine.

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