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If you’re searching for a sports car and want something unique, fast, and reliable, Japanese brands are the way to go. Over the years, there have been plenty of Japanese sports cars produced in the Japanese domestic (JDM) and US markets. Most of them have the type of power and handling prowess to put a smile on any enthusiast’s face. Here are five of the most popular and exciting Japanese sports cars that you find here and abroad.

1. 1990-1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse

1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse
1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse | Wikimedia Commons

Most car enthusiasts think of the second-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse. However, the first-generation model was just as fun, if not more so. The editors and Road and Track noted that the Eclipse was “lightweight and equipped with turbo engines, you could fly down your favorite backroad and lightning pace while behind the wheel.” So, while it’s fun to pretend to be Brian O’Connor, you could save some money by buying a first-gen Eclipse and getting the same type of driving thrills.

2. 1991-1996 Honda Beat

a red Honda Beat parked on the street
Honda Beat | Wikimedia Commons

The Honda Beat never made its way to America when it was new, but fortunately, you can buy it now. The 25-year importing law allows the Honda Beat to be legally transported and sold in the U.S. That means for around $5,000 to $16,000; you can enjoy the thrill of tiny roadster motoring. In addition to its tiny size, what makes the Beat, so fun to drive is its high-revving, three-cylinder engine that revs up to 9,000 rpm with the help of individual throttle bodies.

3. 2018-2023 Lexus LC 500

Lexus LC 500
Lexus LC 500 | Foldy/Getty Images for Lexus

We had to include the Lexus LC 500 on this list, especially considering we gave it our “Best Driving Experience” award. In its V8-powered form, the LC 500 is a blast to drive in a straight line and cruise around town. Additionally, its supremely exotic looks make it one of the most attractive cars on the road.

4. 1990-1997 Mazda Miata

1990 Mazda Miata black
1990 Mazda Miata | Getty Images

As we all know, the answer to any sports car-related question is “Miata.” So it should be no surprise that it’s on this list. The Mazda Miata is a small, lightweight roadster that’s fun to fling around a race track or through tight canyon roads. The Miata’s front-engine, rear-drive architecture is what makes it one of the best sports cars that will give the most smiles for miles.

5. 1999-2002 Nissan GT-R (R34)

Nissan GT-R R34
Nissan GT-R | Getty Images

Nissan has made various iterations of the GT-R over the past 30 years, but the R34 (1999-2002) model is perhaps the best one. Its advanced tech features and sporty driving dynamics create an exhilarating driving experience.

Five Japanese sports cars that are sure to make you smile

If you want to own a sports car that is quick, reliable, and cost-effective, these five Japanese sports cars are a great place to start. However, remember that the JDM-only cars could cost a pretty penny because they are imported. But if you don’t mind driving on the wrong side of the car, a right-hand-drive JDM car could be the way to go – especially if it puts a large smile on your face.