Back in the nineties, Japan showed the world that you don't need massive horsepower and fancy tech to have fun, by introducing the Autozam AZ-1, the Honda Beat and the Suzuki Cappuccino. We call them the 'ABC' of kei sports cars.
However, for some reasons, after that, not much of these 660cc, little sports cars came out. Until now, here are 3 of the sportiest kei cars on sale currently in Japan that we missed out on.
1. Daihatsu Copen
There was a time when Daihatsu exported these Copens to other parts of the world. Yet for the second generation, they decided to keep these for themselves.
No idea why, but the Copen is one of the most characterful cars there is, especially with the new Copen. The new Copen featured three bodystyles which, Daihatsu would encourage you to buy different body panels to swap them out yourself. Like the BMW Z1 of the olden days, only a bit more extreme.
There's the Robe, and the Xplay which are the sharper of the trio. The Xplay especially featured some deliberately mis-matched body panels so that you can play with your colours.
Then there's the Cero, which is kind of reminiscent to the first generation of the Copen, with it's equally round headlights and tailights. Not sure why it costs a tad more than the other two, but it is what it is.
If you don't know, the Copen is a front-engined, front-wheel-drive car with a 660cc turbocharged engine. It's a different driving experience according to the press and it certainly looks nothing like anything on the road of ours.
2. Suzuki Alto Works
Suzuki loves their retro game, with the Jimny that came out a couple of weeks ago, then there's the Swift Sport, and then there's this - the Alto Works.
The Alto Works was a micro hot hatch back in the eighties and the nineties. And then for whatever reason, Suzuki shelved it just like Daihatsu did with the Copen.
The Alto Works is one-of-a-kind. Suzuki specifically developed a new set of suspension with KYB, the famous coilover company. Not only that, there is also a 4-wheel-drive for your snowy conditions. However, despite the 'heavy' drivetrain, it's still 740kg, which is very light for modern standards.
For those of you manual lovers, you're going to love that there is a three-pedal option. Not only is there a manual gearbox, it's also got white dials and a boost gauge, which sounds extra exciting. Who wouldn't want a boost gauge in their diddly box right?
If you somehow feel extra-uber-exuberant that day, don't worry, Suzuki also fitted Recaros in their Alto Works, which means you won't get hurt experiencing the giddy heights of 64bhp.
3. Honda S660 Modulo X
On yesterday's article we ran through how Honda for whatever reasons, stopped production of the S660 and put it back into production all in 3 short months. The result of those 3 months is the absolutely incredible S660 Modulo X.
With the Modulo X, you also get some 5-way adjustable springs and dampers from the factory, and some drilled rotors and upgraded brakes if you go too fast in your 3-cylinder turbocharged mid-engined roadster.
The interior also oozes fast Hondas, from the aluminium pedals, to the titanium gear knob and the body-hugging bucket seats. They look the business, and typical Honda, they are the most ergonomically-friendly seating positions in existence. It almost looks like a mini Type R in some ways. Except better.
Press and racing drivers who have drove the prototype loved how it performed on the Japanese touge, because of it's chassis tuned by the one-and-only Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as the Drift King. The Modulo X feels like it's at home on the Japanese Touge, without feeling all-too-harsh because of super stiff springs and super hard anti-rollbars.
There we have it, 3 little kei sports cars, 3 different flavours and 3 totally different styles.