Have we stepped into a brightly lit and chirped time machine and returned to the past decades, when Japan made great sports cars as easily as peeling peas?
The shiny MacBook I’m typing on rules out that fanciful notion. But when you look at some of the hottest new cars, you might think the future has come full circle.
They say this is how fashion works …
At the same time I write these thoughts down, I am streaming the world premiere of the new Nissan Z. The car we all mistakenly assumed would carry the 400Z. Mea culpa.
I’m a ’90s kid who learned to drive a 350Z and who has longed for a 260Z, so it’s perfectly clear that this car is pushing the limits of my objectivity.
But what auto enthusiast would deny that it’s damn good to see a Z that isn’t as dated as cargo shorts that are making the rounds? When it hits Australia in 2022, get behind these guys.
It’s pretty apt too, the Z’s retro design has hints of 240Z in its size profile, 300ZX in the back, and 350Z in the nose. The mint symbolism is a bit like a Frankenstein monster.
Of course, a car is not a trend.
The new Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins of the second generation, two vehicles that made the flames flicker in their first incarnations, are also due to come onto the market from next year.
This time the twins take on high-torque naturally aspirated engines and more amenities. But at the core, they remain cheap, lightweight, rear-wheel drive and manual coupes for the humble enthusiast.
In addition to being happy with one option, Subaru will be whipping the covers of its latest generation WRX rally car for the road every day, despite the New York reveal being postponed due to COVID issues.
What about Honda, you ask? Well, there’s a brand new Civic Type R set for 2022 with a screaming VTEC turbo, a stupid-cool grand piano and three pedals. We saw the spy pictures.
And on that subject, Honda’s US luxury division, Acura, promised to bring back the long-dormant Integra nameplate just last week – though we somehow doubt it will turn out quite as insane as the Integra Type-R or S2000 of the early 2000s.
Now all we need is Mitsubishi to bring the Evo badge back, and possibly not just on a twin-engine crossover PHEV (although that’s cool in its own way, I’m not a troglodyte).
Mitsubishi may have said it will bring the Ralliart brand back in May this year, but if it’s just a Triton with stickers that won’t cut it …
In a macro-economic sense, the auto business runs on trends and refined schedules, so things sometimes flow together. But this situation takes on new meaning when put in the right context.
The world is quickly switching to electric cars and is now producing crossover SUVs after crossover SUVs. That’s what the rules are, and that’s where customer demand goes. Japanese brands are no different.
Which makes the trend of 2022 one last breath for achievable performance cars as we know them. An anger against the dying of light or at least the beginning of a new method of lighting.
Consider me a hopeful enthusiast.
MORE: Nissan Z 2023 confirmed for Australia
MORE: From Z to Z, A History of the Nissan Z-Car