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Top 10 1990s Japanese sports cars, resurrected in spectacular new renderings

It’s time to indulge in a bit of Japanese fantasy, and thankfully we don’t mean the type with tentacles or anime schoolgirl pillows. Good, now that the weabs have clicked off and gone back to 4chan, we have generated some renderings to revive the true halcyon days of Japanese motoring zen.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, Japan’s ‘Bubble Economy’ meant all of the major automakers threw everything they had at the wall to see what stuck. A commitment to setting build quality, performance and other outrageous benchmarks spawned some of the most iconic sports cars ever made. The cars also helped invent drifting and establish Best Motoring as one of the greatest forms of auto journalism ever published.

Honda NSX, Mazda RX-7, Nissan Silvia, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the list is vast. Since then, the world has succumbed to a very nasty global virus pandemic: SUVitis. Bean-counters and soccer mums now pull the product-planning strings, and that’s without even going into the subject of electrification. See Mitsubishi as a prime example – nothing but utes and SUVs now. A shadow of its former self, from an enthusiast point of view.

We must give credit to the new Toyota GR Supra – which is also, authentically, a brilliant car to drive and just as tuneable as its original. The new Honda NSX, by all accounts, isn’t as rare as the original, 1989 design but we are still grateful it was produced. And let’s not forget the GT-R. These are a few exceptions in this bleak new automotive dystopia.

Being the Driving Enthusiasts that we are (see what we did there?), we used the latest developments in rendering technology to reimagine a world where the icons of the 1990s still exist. Some of the renderings are great and some not-so-great. But all fly in the face of the reality that the internal combustion era is drawing to a close. But we say, why not go out with a bang?

2025 Honda S2000

The S2K featured the highest specific power of any four-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine of its time. An absolute screamer, the F20C had a stratospheric 9000rpm redline and was the ultimate expression of the VTEC capability. It developed 184kW and 203Nm, which were jaw-dropping figures for an NA four-banger. The rest of the car adhered to a rather prosaic roadster formula, with six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive and a focused interior. The design has not aged at all in our opinion.

We think we have cooked up a luscious successor that is worthy of the original. Although natural-aspiration is now a thing of the past, the current Civic Type R is a prime example of a relatively high-revving application of turbo tech. Thus, we envision our 2024 S2K as using the K20C1 engine from the new CTR, but with the 7000rpm rev limiter wound up by at least another 1000 or 2, lest it be unable to hit the high notes of its forebear.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
K20C1 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder  with 8500rpm redline 260kW/ 400Nm 6-speed manual 0-100: 4.6s

1/4mile: 14.2s

1350kg $89.990


2026 Mazda MX-5 / 2026 Mazda MX-6

While we have recently covered a scoop about the NE MX-5 receiving Mazda’s new e-Skyactiv R-EV rotary range-extender, we still wanted to include it in our lineup… with a twist. The idea of a rotary, range-extender powered MX-5 is a very intriguing one, but with Mazda’s sultry new inline-sixes powering the CX-60 and CX-90, how about a new MX-6 with the 254kW/500Nm, 3.3-litre turbocharged motor from the CX-90? Tie it to a leggier six-speed manual and we’d have something very special on our hands!

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
MX-5: 2.0-litre Skyactiv-X HCCI four-cylinder

MX-6: 3.3-litre turbocharged Skyactiv-G inline-six



254kW/ 500Nm

6-speed manual


8-speed auto

0-100: 6.2s
1/4mile: 15.0s0-100km/h: 4.5s
1/4mile: 13.6s







2025 Mazda RX-9

Mazda’s legacy to the sports car landscape is made up in no small part by its rotary-powered icons. The RX-7, and, to a lesser extent the RX-8 were true hero cars that inspired generations of tuners and enthusiasts alike, while the classic RX-2, RX-3, and RX-4 remain absolute legends.

Although the MX-30’s new 830cc single-rotor engine is primarily optimised to work as a range-extender, that hasn’t stopped rampant speculation about its return to the sports car realm. According to Engineering Explained, the new motor is lighter and offers far greater efficiency than previous 13B twin-rotor units and even the RENESIS. Imagine doubling it to make a 1.6L twin-rotor, or even tripling it for a 2.5-litre triple Dorito.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
Mazda 8C engine x2: 1600cc twin-rotor version of MX-30 powerplant NA 160kW/232Nm

270kW/ 365Nm

6-speed manual

8-speed automatic

0-100: 4.5s
1/4 mile: 12.9s0-100: 3.7s
1/4 mile: 12.1s
1190kg $110k


2024 Suzuki Cappuccino

The original Cappuccino is an amazing front-midship, rear-wheel drive roadster that conforms to Japanese kei car regulations. They are unreal and, we think, due for a revival. Not long ago, Honda was producing the awesome S660, mid-engined roadster, so now it’s Suzuki’s turn.

Admittedly, our Swift-esque, front-drive rendering looks more like a pink frappe’ than a Cappuccino, but we were able to generate a rear-driven car as well.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
R06A 660cc turbo triple 47kW/100Nm 6-speed manual, 8-speed DCT 0-100km/h: 9s

1/4 mile: 16s

850kg $33k


2024 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

In the early 1990s, the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 was one of the most advanced Japanese supercars of its time, with many firsts in terms of technology. It was the most expensive Mitsubishi and only hampered by its weight. It’s strange to think that back in the 1990s, Mitsubishi had such a complete performance lineup with the 3000GT, Lancer Evolution series, Galant VR-4 and Pajero Evolution.

The modern-day successor is arguably the V35 GT-R, so in the most cycnical effort of our renderings, we have simply badge-engineered one. It seems to be the overarching philosophy of the Mitsubishi-Renault-Nissan alliance now, anyway.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
VR38DETT 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 419kW/632Nm 6-speed DCT, ATTESA-ETS AWD 0-100km/h: 2.7s

1/4mile: 11.3s

1765kg $195k


2024 Toyota Sera

Fun fact: The ‘butterfly’ doors on the original 1990 Toyota Sera are said to have inspired the McLaren F1’s dihedral doors. An outrageous and cool concept at the time, the Sera wrapped predictable and bland Toyota mechanicals with exotic, supercar-style doors and looks to create something truly special.

Our revival is based on the GR Yaris, meaning a 1.6-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder motor, generating 200kW. It would be fun to drive and reasonable quick, unlike the original Starlet/Paseo-based slow-coach.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
G16E-GTS 1.6-litre turbocharged inline-3 200kW/370Nm 6-speed manual, AWD 0-100km/h: 5.4s

1/4 mile: 14.5s

1300kg $60k


2024 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R

The ultimate Nissan Pulsar was in the N14 generation, between 1990-1994. Featuring an SR20DET turbocharged motor, the GTI-R was a distinctive three-door hatch, created for homologation purposes to enter the Group A category of the World Rally Championship.

Subsequently, the SSS was the hottest Pulsar available, with Nissan not daring to make a GTI-R since. We think that’s a shame, so we thought we’d revisit it, with AWD technology borrowed from the GT-R and, the closest thing in Nissan’s present catalogue to the SR20DET; the KR20DDET, complete with variable compression ratio, developing 200kW and 380Nm. This would be Nissan’s answer to the Toyota GR Corolla.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
2.0litre turbocharged inline-four , variable compression ratio
200kW/380Nm 6-speed manual,
0-100km/h: 4.9s

1/4 mile: 13.5s

1330kg $42k


2024 Honda Prelude

For Honda, the Prelude was one of its earliest and sexiest coupes that established it as the Japanese BMW in the 1980s and 1990s. Honda’s image drifted into more mass-market and conservative territory since those pioneering days, and the Prelude was deleted from the lineup around the turn of the millennium.

Well we brought it back from the dead, as a racier coupe companion to the Accord, with a far more sporting bent. If the Integra can be exhumed, then its bigger brother deserves to be as well.

Our speculated specifications:

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
K20C4  2.0-litre turbo inline-four 188kW/370Nm 6-speed manual or 10-speed auto 0-100: 6.7s

1/4mile: 14.8

1540kg $55k


2026 Toyota MR-2

There has been plenty of speculation that Toyota is working on a successor to the MR-2 mid-engined roadster and it could team up with Suzuki to do so. If this materialises, then Toyota’s sports car lineup would be complete, along with GR Supra, GR86 and the GR versions of the Yaris and Corolla.

We are going to base the specs on some of the rumours, which would mean the Yaris-derived 1.0-litre three-cylinder, designated 1KR-FE. A six-speed manual and eight-speed paddle-shift DCT would be great companions, but Hybrid Synergy Drive and CVT would work too.

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price

1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo

72kW/149Nm 6-speed manual, eCVT 0-100: 6.9s 890kg $47k


2023 Honda CR-X

In 1983, a three-door cult icon was born in the form of the Honda CR-X. It epitomised the brand’s values of efficiency, precision engineering and ingenuity. An interesting fact is that the CR-X spanned Honda’s engine eras from the early CVCC (Compound Vortex Combustion Chamber – a sort of pre-ignition chamber) to VTEC (Variable valve Timing & lift Electronic Control system).

Yes there has been quite an impressive successor in the form of the CR-Z, but it could be argued that it was more of an economy-minded technology show piece than an outright sports car to revive the CR-X.

Like the original, we have envisioned a shortened Civic platform with the best engineering Honda could throw at it, while keeping it as light and aerodynamic as feasible in this age.

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price
L15CA 1.5-litre turbo 4-cylinder,   150kW/ 260Nm 6-speed manual or CVT 0-100: 6.1s

1/4 mile: 14.2s

1150kg AU$45k


Bonus : 2026 Nissan Silvia

Yes we know we have gone over 10, but can you blame us for not wanting to leave out the Silvia/200SX? The last generation, known as the S15, left an indelible mark on the tuner and drifting community, with calls to revive the mark going unanswered for decades, despite many concepts threatening a new one.

Like the Pulsar GTI-R imagined above, we are calling on the KR20DDET, as this is the closest thing to the SR20. This time, it is just pure rear-wheel drive and six-speed manual, on a shortened version of the Z’s ageing FM platform. Come on Nissan, make it happen!

Engine Power Transmission Performance Weight Price

2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, variable compression ratio

200kW/380Nm 6-speed manual 0-100: 5.8s


1450kg $45k


Note: All images are digital renderings and are not endorsed by the manufacturers and only the work of DE 

Specifications are approximations based on available data and calculated estimates

Mitchell Jones

Eccentric car nut and just as enthused by roasting an egg on the air cleaner of an old Hemi as he is hunting the horizon in a space-age electric supercar, Mitchell's passion for motoring started at a young age. He soon developed a meticulous automotive obsession for obscure facts. He joins Driving Enthusiast as a features writer and car reviewer, following a near 10-year stint at PerformanceDrive.

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