Japan has produced some of the most iconic performance cars of all time, forming the backbone of whole generations of car enthusiasts both here and abroad.
Unfortunately, Europe’s tough emissions laws and buyer interest in SUVs have meant that while many of these Japanese automotive dynasties still exist, they’re no longer available for us to enjoy. Here are five of the coolest reborn Japanese icons that, alas, we won’t see on British roads.
The Nissan Z is the first on our list having been reborn for the 2022 model year, due to reach showrooms in most global markets, but not the UK or Europe for a few key reasons. Despite looking modern, the new Z is actually based on an old platform, and paired to a powertrain that is not currently homologated for Europe, it made the job of making the new Z Euro-friendly just too expensive considering the expected sales.
This is a blow for fans of the Z car range, as the 395bhp coupe looks fantastic, with a combination of retro and modern elements derived from over 50 years of heritage in this one model. Annoyingly, right-hand drive production is not an issue, and with a standard-fit manual gearbox it would surely have made some waves if it did ever go on sale here. Especially considering the new interest in stick-shifts as we get closer to an EV future.
The connection between British buyers and the Subaru WRX is a particularly intense one, driven by a direct association with iconic blue and gold-liveried rally cars driven by English and Scottish champions like Richard Burns and Colin McRae. As well as being successful in motorsport, the Subaru Impreza WRX also formed its own culture for many Brits, one that still lingers today.
Unfortunately, just not enough people actually took the plunge and bought its modern derivative to justify Subaru homologating a new-generation of WRX and WRX STI for the UK. The all-new model will be the first WRX ever that isn’t sold in the UK, and while the new model is heavier and more luxurious than before, we’re told its STI derivative will see huge gains in performance when it is revealed next year.
Lexus IS500 F Sport
The Lexus IS might not have such a deep-rooted hold on the British public as the Subaru above, but the compact sports saloon has certainly seen its fair share of success in rivalling cars like the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. In that pursuit, Lexus revealed its brilliant IS-F in 2007, a car that was short-lived and never replaced, until now.
But the bad news is that Lexus has no plans on bringing any versions of the new IS saloon to the UK. But while the mostly hybrid-engined models are nothing really to get upset about, the stunning new IS500 F Sport is a real loss, as it pairs an even more potent version of the IS-F’s Yamaha-built V8 engine to a super-subtle, yet menacing body.
Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
We’re sticking with Toyota here, but moving to the USA where its all-new Tundra TRD Pro is dominating headlines with its rugged looks. The Tundra is Toyota’s answer to the Ford F-150 in America, competing with full-sized trucks with their enormous bodies, loadbays and engines.
This all-new model is the most sophisticated yet, and comes with a range of off-roading hardware in this TRD Pro model that not only works, but looks great too. Now this sort of truck might be considered too big for the UK, but unlike saloons and coupes which have seen steady declines in popularity around the globe, trucks and SUVs are on the other side of the seesaw being more popular than ever. This popularity shows as Toyota has spent big on the new Tundra’s development. It’s just a shame we’ll never get to take advantage of it.
The final comeback of this list is the newest with Acura – Honda’s premium American arm – bringing back the Integra nameplate after 15 years out of action. Unlike the Integras that we know here in the UK, this one will have four-doors on its sleek body. This might sound like a travesty on the levels of the Ford Puma’s transformation from Coupe to SUV in recent years, but the Integra internationally has been available as a sleek four-door alongside the two-door, making this reimagination more acceptable.
There’s not really much in the way of retro-detailing here, though. Instead, Acura (or Honda) has decided to offer something entirely new, with a sharp and sleek design sat atop the excellent chassis shared with the current Honda Civic. Of all the cars on this list, this might be the one most likely to make its way to the UK and Europe, and if they decide to offer a Type R eventually too, it could be quite a loss if it doesn’t.