Perhaps when you’re thinking about the world’s high-performance cars the names Lexus, Nissan and Honda don’t come to mind, but it’s time to think again. Asian automakers don’t have the storied history of a Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston-Martin, Ford, Chevy or Chrysler. But they are making up for lost time. As one reviewer put it so vividly, “Godzilla is back.”
Acura, made by Honda, got a head start, introducing the NSX in 1992 and went out of production in 2005. The next-generation NSX is in concept stage, projected to be available in 2015. Acura’s shooting for a “synergistic experience” between man and machine, and with technology that’s come online and is in the pipeline it may succeed.
The NSX uses hybrid technology with a V6 mid-car V6 engine assisted by three electric motors – one driving the rear wheels and two boosting the front wheels. That boosts the NSX to V-8 performance of 480 hp with better fuel economy and outstanding handling. It’s projected to do 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds. And – especially interesting to Colorado drivers – it’s got all-wheel drive. The engine placement means there likely will be carrying capacity both in front and back. Projected base price is $130,000. While the NSX is a Japanese design, it will be made in the USA.
Toyota introduced Lexus 20 years ago to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW. It’s been a worthy luxury competitor. The LFA performance car debuted as a concept in 2005 and made it to full production in 2010. It’s got monster specs, and a monster price tag to match: 553 hp that does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds with a top track speed of 202 mph … all for $375,000. Lexus compares the LFA to the Ferrari 458 Italia, Mercedes-Benz SLS Class AMG and the Audi R8 5.2 Coupe quattro.
Nissan captured headlines with the Leaf electric vehicle, but driving enthusiasts are really wowed over the Nissan GT-R. It’s undergone some reworking in the three years since its debut and according to reviewers it comes close to a rebirth with more power, tighter suspension and more interior comfort. It screams: 545 hp out of a 3.8 liter V-6 twin turbo that does 0-60 mph in just under three seconds with a top speed of 197 mph. the GTR comes in two editions, the Black Edition will set you back $106,320. The Premium edition is a mere $96,820.
According to the MotorTrend.com reviewer, “our GT-R laid down numbers that put it on par with the $170,000 Porsche 911 Turbo S, $260,000 Ferrari 458 Spyder, and $387,000 Lamborghini Aventador.”
For alternative energy buffs, Infiniti’s Emerg-E is on the horizon. It showed up in concept at the U.K.’s Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer. Nissan is developing it in tandem with Lotus Engineering. Emerge-E has two electric motors – one for each rear wheel – that produce 402 hp with acceleration capability of 0-60 mph in four seconds. A three-cylinder gas engine is onboard to recharge the battery pack, but the car can also be plugged in. That may not make it a supercar, technically, but it’s not bad for an EVO.
You might wonder, where’s Korea in all of this? If you have $1.5 million to spend on a high performance car, you might put your name on the six-month-plus waiting list for a de Macross Epique GT1. It claims 800 hp and 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds with a top speed north of 230 mph. It made its debut at the Dubai Auto Show a year ago and isn’t approved for U.S. distribution yet.
So, if your choice of vehicles naturally runs to American or European supercars, check these out – you may want to go East rather than West.