These Japanese Performance Cars Prove That Power Isn’t Everything

Power has been considered as being one of the most important parts of a car. JDM cars have often been noted for their power capabilities with vehicles like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and the Honda NSX being brilliant performers and have received favorable reviews on just how great they are.

Related: These Classic JDM Cars Will Probably Outlive You 

Whilst it’s true that power is a big part of the success of a car, there are a number of Japanese cars that are simply great despite not having high levels of power. This list highlights some of the best Japanese performance cars that really do show that power is not the be-all and end-all of vehicles such as these.

9 Subaru BRZ

Via Motor1

The Subaru BRZ was a part of the Toyota 86 family. Meaning the three main components of the car, BRZ stands for Boxer engine, Rear-wheel drive, and Zenith. The BRZ produced 197bhp which isn’t that large of power output. Yet, this amount of power really seems to be all the car actually needs.

Blue Subaru BRZ
Via Carsguide

The direct fuel injection added to the car alongside the lightweight feel makes the vehicle rather agile for the driver. Subaru managed to make the BRZ have great brakes which could manage to deal with the tiniest bit of understeer which the vehicle has. Power definitely isn’t everything in the BRZ and the agility of the car sure makes up for it.

8 Mazda Miata (NA)


Mazda launched the Miata in 1989. Also known as the MX-5 elsewhere in the world, the vehicle is renowned for being a fun drive. It is the best-selling two-seat convertible in history, and it is no surprise. The vehicle is equipped with simple mechanisms and is cheap to run.

Related: Looking Back At The First Generation Mazda Miata

Via zombiedrive

The vehicle certainly doesn’t output a high amount of power, and it doesn’t need to either. The Miata is simply successful for what it was and does what it was made to do. Despite being a little cramped, there aren’t really many complaints about the Miata.

7 Honda Beat

Via Toprank Importers

Launched in 1991, the Honda Beat was equipped with a 63bhp engine. Competing with the Autozam AZ-1, the car was a Kei car. With a top speed of 84 mph, the vehicle did not have a turbocharger equipped on the engine either.

Honda Beat
Via Bring a Trailer

Despite not having the highest power output, the Beat is a brilliant handler and truly looks like a very cute vehicle. Even so, the car is very small so is a difficult choice for taller people. Generally, though, power isn’t everything with the Beat and the car works brilliantly as it is.

6 Suzuki Cappuccino

suzuki Cappuccino
Via Suzuki

The Suzuki Cappuccino was released in 1991 and was a Kei car. Reaching 63 bhp, in line with Kei car rules, the vehicle was definitely not massively powerful. And though the engine is turbocharged, it still manages to fit into Kei car regulations.

Suzuki Cappuccino red

The vehicle looks cute too, and the engine is brilliant despite not having the high power and performance that bigger cars have. Fans and enthusiasts really enjoy the car, and there are wishes for Suzuki to release an updated version.

5 Datsun Roadster 2000


The Datsun Roadster 2000 was launched in 1967. The car produced 133 bhp, along with the competition package producing 148 bhp. Despite not being overly powerful, the car looked great and was brilliant to use in racing.


Being a consistent racer was brilliant for the 2000, and the car was equipped with a 2.0-liter engine, which was considered expensive in Japan due to taxes. A facelift was applied to the car a year after its release, which enhanced its pretty looks even more.

4 Honda S600


Launched in 1964, the Honda S600 was available both as a roadster and a coupe (in 1965). Despite being so tiny, the car had a water-cooled engine and was fast for users to drive. Perhaps not the most powerful, but the S600 definitely was reliable.

Related: 9 Greatest Honda Cars Ever Made (1 That Sucked)

Via Wikipedia

The S600 represented brilliant manufacturing by Honda, with the engine being capable of high revving. The vehicle definitely proves that to be great, a car doesn’t necessarily need to be all power and performance.

3 Toyota MR-2 (MK1)

Via Hagerty

The first generation of the Toyota MR-2 was a brilliant creation by Toyota. When launched in 1984, the MR-2 features strong handling whilst being lightweight. The engine was low-powered too, where the vehicle could reach 112 bhp in the US (and 128 bhp in the UK).

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The Toyota MR2

Via British GQ

Prior to the sale of the MR-2 no Japanese brand had ever tried to sell a mid-engined sports car. The MR-2 was more affordable, which was great for those who weren’t millionaires. Despite not having high power capabilities, the MR-2 reflects a brilliantly manufactured Japanese vehicle that was capable of great handling as well as being revolutionary in the Asian car market.

2 Daihatsu Copen

Yellow Daihatsu Copen
Via Daihatsu

Daihatsu built the Copen as a Kei car in 2002. The vehicle received a reboot in 2013 also. The first generation in 2002 was equipped with a turbocharged engine in a go-kart-like structure. The car also featured a detachable top, which meant that the car weighed about 30 kg lighter than the original vehicle.

Via Wikipedia

Even though it wasn’t filled with a high amount of power, the Copen was something fresh on the market at the time of its launch. The car was not practical, yet was an immensely fun car to drive and even though the cars weren’t specially built for long drives, they were joyful for owners.

1 Nissan Figaro

Nissan Figaro

The Nissan Figaro was an extremely cute and stylish car. Very retro-themed, the Figaro was definitely focused on style rather than being a highly powerful vehicle. The Figaro was an easy drive and was an extremely popular vehicle, with Nissan having to make more than they projected.

Weird Nissan Figaro
Via Bring a Trailer

The engine was small, and the car wasn’t fast to drive either. But, the stylish colors that the vehicle was available in and the head-turning looks of the car made it iconic for what it was.

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