Honda Accord [Part 2]

Recap: In May of 1976, Honda started offering the Accord is a mid-size model in its lineup; with production taking place in Sayama, Japan. Like the first generation Civic, it employed CVCC technology in its engines.

The second generation, which debuted in 1982, saw a slight downsizing in terms of exterior dimensions. Also, the CVCC technology was abandoned in favor of more efficient electronic fuel injection (EFI).

The third generation Accord debuted in 1986. This generation saw the debut of the USDM 2-door coupe, which was reverse-imported from Japan.

1993 Honda Accord

The chassis code for the Accord changed from “CA” to “CB” when its fourth iteration debuted in Japan in 1989, and North America in model year 1990. For North America, the sedan, coupe and wagon were available. The fourth-gen Accord kept a relatively same fascia all throughout the generation, save for a 1992 facelift.

The fifth generation “CD” series Accord debuted for model year 1994. As before, three body styles were made available: sedan, coupe, and wagon. The LX-V6 and EX-V6 models got power from the same motor as the Acura Legend. While the CD-generation Accord kept a relatively same fascia throughout the entire generation, it received a slight facelift for 1996.

Model year 1998 saw the debut of the sixth generation “CG” series Accord, which was the USDM version built in Marysville, Ohio. Honda of Japan built their own series in Sayama, Japan. The wagon was discontinued, leaving only the sedan and coupe for the USDM.

The seventh generation Accord debuted in model year 2003. Initial engine options were a 2.4-liter and 3.0-liter, but in 2005 Honda debuted the Hybrid model. This got a different 3.0L V6 paired to an electric motor.

2016 Honda Accord

The eighth generation Accord ditched the hybrid variant and got the 2.4L and 3.5L gas engines. However, for its ninth-generation 2014 debut, the Accord came available with a plug-in hybrid variant, which got a combined 46 MPG.

2019 Honda Accord

The tenth generation Accord entered production in September 2017 for the 2018 model year in North America. The only available body style is the 4-door sedan. Compared to the previous generation’s sedan, it has a wheelbase 54 mm longer, at 2830 (111 in); and exterior length increased by 20 mm (to 4882 mm). The width was kept the same. Engine choices consist of two turbocharged inline-4s: the 192 horsepower L15B7 and the 252 horsepower K20C4. Although the K20 engine in the Accord is the same as with the Civic Type R’s K20 engine, having the same 9.8:1 compression ratio, power output is lower due to the Accord’s smaller turbocharger. This also puts torque (273 ft/lbs) and redline (6800 rpm) at lower levels than the Civic Type R. Honda Sensing is standard across the lineup as a driver assistance and safety system.

Toyota MR2

The Toyota MR2 was a mid-engine sports car in production from 1984 to 2007. The name “MR2” can stand for “mid-ship, run-about, 2-seater” or “mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seater”.

1985 MR2

The origin of the MR2 dates back to the release of the economy-conscious 1981 SA-X prototype. Later, this idea was expanded further to result in the SV-3 concept, which made critical acclaim at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show. It was this vehicle on which the first generation production MR2 would be heavily based. The first generation W10 Toyota MR2 rolled off the production line in Sagamihara, Japan in June of 1984. The MR2 found its way into the North American market for model year 1985 – one year after the debut of another compact, mid-engine sports car, the Pontiac Fiero.

Keeping to Japanese dimension regulations for compact vehicles, the MR2 measured 3950 mm in length and kept its width below the 1700 mm limit. It had a wheelbase of 2320 mm (91.4 in). The engine lineup was also kept compact: the choices for Japan were either a 1.5-liter 3A or 1.6-liter 4A-GE. As for North America, the only engine option was the 4A-GE. The AW11 MR2 was fitted with the first-generation “Blue Top” engine producing 128 horsepower and 109 ft/lbs of torque. American power sat at a lower 112 horses and 97 ft/lbs.

1986 MR2

1986 saw the release of the supercharged model in Japan. This new supercharged model was not yet available for North America, so the MR2 lineup had remained unchanged since its 1985 model year debut. The 4A-GZE engine was a supercharged variant of the 4A-GE, and could produce 143 horsepower and 140 ft/lbs of torque.

Model year 1987 saw the upgrade of the 4A-GE engine in American-market MR2s. The unit pumped 115 horsepower, versus the prior 112 horses. Also new were the revised front and rear suspensions and larger brake rotors. North American 1988 models finally gained the supercharged variant. For 1989, all models got color-coded door handles and side mirrors. The supercharged model gained a rear anti-roll bar. Up to this point since its 1985 debut, the North American MR2’s production run amassed 89,246 units.

1992 MR2

October 1989 saw the launch of the second generation W20 model in Japan. Despite remaining within compact specifications regarding its increased wheelbase (2400 mm) and exterior length (4170 mm), it appeared large and Ferrari-like. This generation of MR2 has been nicknamed the “baby Ferrari” or “poor man’s Ferrari”. The W20 generation can be split up into production cycles called Revisions. Revision 1 was the 1989 debut model. American production of the second-gen W20 commenced for model year 1991. The USDM base models got power from the 2.2L 5S-FE, an engine shared with the Celica GT and Camry.

1993 MR2

The Revision 2 model of 1993 gained a viscous limited-slip differential (LSD) for the Turbo models. The Turbo was essentially the American version of Japan’s GT-S model, which got power from the 2.0L 3S-GTE. Japanese units turned out 218 horsepower while American Turbos got 200 horsepower. These turbocharged models have the VIN code SW20.

Model year 1994 saw the release of Revision 3. Updates included a one-piece rear spoiler, color-coded trim, and an acceleration sensor fitted to the revised anti-lock brake (ABS) system. The Japanese-market GT-S amped up its power to 242 horsepower, while the USDM Turbo retained the prior turbo’d engine still producing 200 horsepower. With sales declining year after year, the USDM ceased importing the MR2 after the 1995 model year – that year, only 382 were sold. Production in Japan soldiered on…

1996 saw the release of “Revision 4” in Japan and Europe. Modifications to the MR2 included improvements to the anti-lock braking, traction control, addition of passenger-side airbags, and turn signals on the fenders. November 1997 saw a slight revision to the final series of this generation, such as clear turn signals, adjustable rear spoiler, and red interior stitching. The base model got an improvement in its new “BEAMS” 3S-GE engine, which utilized aluminum alloy pistons and compression rings made of steel and cast iron. With exhaust-gas efficiency increased, this engine now made 200 horsepower. This generation of MR2 would remain in production until 1999.

October 1999 saw the debut of the third generation W30 in Japan, and spring of 2000 in North America. Although the car stayed true to its mid-engine configuration, it was altogether very different from previous generations. For one thing, the exterior dimensions were altered drastically to provide a different stance and driving dynamics. The wheelbase was extended by 50 mm (to 2450 mm versus the W20’s 2400) and the length and width were reduced to 3886 and 1695 mm, respectively. For another, this generation was marketed differently worldwide; in Japan, it was the MR-S, and in North America, it was named MR2 Spyder. It ditched the coupe body style of MR2s past and produced as a convertible.

Power for the Spyder came from the 1.8L 1ZZ-FED shared with the Celica, pushing 138 horsepower and 125 ft/lbs of torque. For shifting gears, only a 5-speed manual was available until the addition of a sequential manual transmission in 2002. Japanese motorsports firm Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (ARTA) entered an MR-S in the GT300 category of the All Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC), which they won 1st place that year. This racing victory briefly proved the ZZW30’s worth amid declining sales figures in the US. The MR2 discontinued American production after the 2005 model year, still being produced as the MR-S and MR2 Roadster in Japan and Europe, respectively. Production halted worldwide altogether in 2007. For what it was, the MR2 was an intriguing car to ever derive from the economy-conscious 80’s into the Japanese sports-car enthusiast community.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, or “Evo“, was a turbocharged sport-compact produced from 1992 to 2016. This model was hailed as a success in Mitsubishi’s sports lineup for as long as they had been producing sports cars. The popularity of the sport compact has been rivalled and expanded in other automakers’ lineups, such as rival Subaru’s Impreza WRX/STi models.

The first generation Lancer Evolution, which sat on the CD9A/CE9A platform, debuted Japan-only in September of 1992. Production of the Evo took place at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya Plant in Okazaki, Japan. This generation (Evos 1 through 3) was relatively subcompact in stature: the car had a wheelbase of 2500 – 2510 mm (98.5 – 98.8 in) and an exterior length of 4310 mm (170 inches). The “gentlemen’s agreement” limited the number and extent of the Lancer Evo’s features. Thus, Mitsubishi stuck to installing a turbocharged 2.0L 4G63 inline-4 from the “turbo-era” Galant VR-4. This engine turned out 244 horsepower and 228 ft/lbs, and was paired up to a 5-speed manual that translated that power output into four-wheel-drive. The Lancer Evolution came in two trims: RS and GSR. The GSR was available with climate control, but the RS was stripped further of interior comforts. With considerably fewer options, the RS was 70 kg lighter than the GSR. Mitsubishi produced 5000 Evos through 1993.

January 1994 saw the release of the Evolution II. It was relatively unchanged from the first Evo, save for handling improvements from refined swaybars, struts, rear spoiler, and tires. The Evo II gained more power (256 hp), and both the RS and GSR models got the same rear mechanical plate limited-slip differential. A much improved model, the third-generation “Evolution III” debuted in February of 1995. Although structurally and mechanically, it remained the same, this model gained an aggressive body kit with larger intakes. This assisted in directing air more efficiently to the radiator, intercooler, and brakes. The 4G63 engine was updated again to provide 270 horsepower. The increase in power meant a higher compression ratio. Another issue Mitsubishi tackled was turbo lag. To counter this, a secondary air supply was installed. This type of secondary air supply system is common on rally cars participating in the WRC. The Evo 3 proved popular, with this generation selling in higher numbers than the two prior Evos. The GSR outsold the RS nearly 9000 to 1100 units, respectively.

August 1996 saw the debut of the CN9A generation, or “Evo 4“. Enhancements included an engine mounting position turned 180 degrees to counter torque steer and a moderately aggressive exterior redesign to complete the performance package. Like the previous generation, the Lancer Evo was available in two trims: RS and GSR. The GSR gained Mitsubishi’s Active Yaw Control (AYC) system, which electronically directed the necessary amounts of torque to all four wheels based on various acceleration, steering, and g-force conditions. This torque vectoring system has been installed in many later Mitsubishi models. Thanks to a new twin-scroll turbocharger setup, power output was raised to 280 horsepower @ 6500 rpm, and 243 ft/lbs @ 4000 rpm. All these options made this generation GSR heavier than previous models, weighing in at 1350 kg. The considerably stripped-down RS model weighed 1260 kg.

January 1998 saw the release of the facelifted Evo 5. Although the 5 shared many aspects with the 4, such as similar wheelbase, exterior length and large rally fog-lights, it was 80 mm wider. This made the car 1770 mm (69.7 in) wide, exceeding Japan’s dimension regulations for compact vehicles’ maximum acceptable width of 1700 mm (67 in). As a result, the Evo 5 was slapped with a larger annual tax. Official power ratings for the Evo 5 remained the same at the maximum acceptable 280 horsepower, but the torque was raised to 275 ft/lbs. Both the RS and GSR were similarly optioned as before, with the GSR available with Active Yaw Control, Recaro seats, Brembo brakes, and air conditioning.

January 1999 saw the release of the Evo 6. Mitsubishi didn’t have any intention of bringing the vehicle down to “compact” scale, as this was the final generation of Lancer/Evolution to be based on the Mirage. Thus, dimensionally, it remained the same. Besides being just a slight cosmetic redesign, the Evo 6 gained improvements in engine durability, performance, and cooling. The offset license plate mounting location allowed for a larger air intake in front, improving the performance of mechanical bits inside the car. In 2000, Mitsubishi built the Tommi Makinen Edition, or “Evo 6.5”. The Tommi Makinen Edition (TME), named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Makinen, featured a different front-end design, unique red/black Recaro seats, 17-inch Enkei wheels, and leather Momo steering wheel. Other enhancements included a quicker titanium turbine, lower ride height, and quicker steering ratio. Although some limited-edition UK-market RS models built by Ralliart got 330 horsepower, the JDM models were stuck at the legal maximum of 280 horsepower.

February 2001 brought about the debut of the larger CT9A generation, or “Evo 7“, which was subject to FIA-mandated World Rally (WRC) regulations. With the significant increase of exterior dimensions came increased weight: an active center differential was installed in addition to the improved limited-slip differential. At the time of the Evo 7’s debut, the lineup had two trims as before: the RS and GSR. In 2002, Mitsubishi debuted a third model called the GT-A. The GT-A was different from the other two Evos in that it featured a slightly different cosmetic design (for example, a smaller rear spoiler), and a 5-speed automatic transmission. This electronically controlled automatic transmission, INVECS, utilized “fuzzy logic” to adjust gear-shift timing according to the driver’s input. Although the GT-A got power from the same turbocharged 4G63, horsepower was slightly lower than for the RS and GSR models: it got 272 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

January 2003 saw the release of the Evo 8 not only in Japan, but first-time premieres in export markets, especially North America. The Evo 8 sat on the same platform as the prior Evo 7, but featured a more flared-out exterior body kit. Power for the JDM model was at 280 horsepower and handling was provided by Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks. 2004 saw the debut of the MR, or “Evo 8.5”. The MR, much like the Evo 6 Tommi Makinen Edition, was a more track-oriented model and recalled its “Mitsubishi Racing” heritage of the 1970’s Galant GTO. Besides Bilstein shocks for handling capability, Mitsubishi built the roof from aluminum, reducing weight and lowering the center of gravity. Both the standard and MR lineups each got two RS models, 5-speed and 6-speed, and one GSR model. Not featured in US-market Evos, Mitsubishi integrated Super Active Yaw Control (SAYC) in it Japanese-market variants.

The last generation based on the CT9A/CT9W platform, the Evo 9, made its debut in March 2005. Although for the most part it maintained a similar appearance to the Evo 8, it gained slight differences on its grille, front bumper intake, and more notable rear diffuser. Also new for this generation was Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control System, or MIVEC for short. This was a variable valve timing technology designed to increase engine performance, and in Mitsubishi’s other economy vehicles, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Other performance enhancements included a redesign of the turbocharger, which amped power up to 287 horsepower and 289 ft/lbs of torque. The different trim levels sold worldwide were RS (Rally Sport), GT, GT-A, GSR (Japan), MR (North America), MR GSR, MR RS, and MR Tuned by Ralliart. The GT, slotted between the RS and GSR, featured a 5-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential (LSD), and Recaro seats. The GT-A had the 6-speed automatic transmission. Similar to the Evo 7 GT-A, power was reduced to 272 horsepower. The North American MR model gained Bilstein shocks, forged BBS wheels, aluminum roof, HID headlights and fog lights, and front brake cooling ducts.

The tenth and final generation, the Evo X, released in October 2007. This version differed from all past Evos in its design, build style, and ride characteristics. This CZ4A generation was based on Mitsubishi’s global “GS” platform shared with Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen, and Peugeot. Also “global” was its engine: Mitsubishi’s 4B11T (based on the 4B1) was a project under the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA), also initiated by Chrysler. Upon the Evo X’s release in Japan, this engine threw 276 horsepower and 311 ft/lbs of torque. North American Evos got 287 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs. In Japan, the Evo X was available in two trims: RS and GSR. The RS was the base model with the 5-speed manual transmission, and the GSR came standard with the aluminum-intensive rear spoiler, a new 6-speed twin-clutch SST transmission, alloy wheels from Enkei and BBS, ventilated disc brakes, Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC), and Mitsubishi Motors Communication System (MMCS). The GSR could also be heavily optioned in other options packages with other features such as Bilstein shocks, stiffer tires with better grip, chrome mouldings, fog lights, carbon fiber, and improved air intakes.

North American Evo Xs got these trim levels: GSR, MR, MR Premium, MR Touring, and SE. The GSR was more or less identical to its Japanese GSR counterpart; the MR had the 6-speed SST, suspension setup by Eibach and Bilstein, xenon HID headlights, suede interior, and keyless entry. The MR Premium got the Rockford Fosgate infotainment system. October 2008 saw the release of the GSR Premium, also with MMCS and Rockford Fosgate audio. Power was raised from 280 to 300 horsepower.

As a bid to farewell, Mitsubishi released the Final Edition for North America in 2015 and Japan in 2016. Based on the GSR, this final model featured a black aluminum roof, red interior stitching, 18-inch wheels (Enkeis for North America and BBS wheels for Japan), and “Final Edition” commemorative badging. North America got a power boost to 303 horsepower and 305 ft/lbs. 1600 examples were produced for its final year in the US, 350 for Canada, and in 2016, only 1000 Final Editions for Japan. In its final year, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution made quite an eloquent performance impression.

Honda Integra

The Honda Integra, marketed in North America as the Acura Integra and RSX, was a compact model in production from 1985 to 2006. Typical of the compact segment, this model was front-wheel drive. The first generation released in Japan in February 1985 as an offshoot of the Honda Quint lineup based on the Civic. The Integra was available as a 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedan. Spring 1986 saw the launch of Honda’s luxury brand, Acura, in North America. Included in the 1986 model year lineup was the Integra model. Engine options for Japan included a 1.5L EW5 and a 1.6L DOHC ZC (“D” series). The latter, found the the DA1 series Integra, produced anywhere between 110 and 130 horsepower. The USDM Integras got power from the D16 series of engines, shared with other Honda models such as the Ballade, Civic, CR-X, and Domani. The 1.6L D16A1 “browntop” developed 113 horsepower @ 6250 rpm and 99 ft/lbs @ 5500 rpm. In 1988, the Integra received a cosmetic refresh. The USDM model gained a more powerful “blacktop” engine distributing 118 horsepower @ 6500 rpm. Torque rose to 103 ft/lbs. That year, Integra sales in the US reached 57,468 units, with an additional 77,423 examples for ’89. Truly DOHC was an instant hit in the technology world at the time.

April 1989 saw the debut of the second generation in Japan. The top model, XSi, was available with A/C, sunroof, and anti-lock brakes. Honda utilized their first VTEC engine, the B16A, rated at 170 horsepower @ 7600 rpm. VTEC kicked in at 5500 rpm. In North America, the 1990 Acura Integra came in three trim levels: RS, LS, and GS. The Integra lineup received a refresh in late 1991. In Japan, the ESi model was introduced. This model had a 1.8L B18A1 engine developing 140 horsepower.

Model year 1992 saw the release of the rare GS-R model in North America. The GS-R was available only in 2-door hatchback form and got power from a 1.7L B17A1 (VTEC), throwing 160 hp @ 7600 rpm. The 5-speed manual was the only available transmission. Cosmetic specialties for the GS-R included a flared-out appearance with a small, sporty rear spoiler. For the US, more than 3100 GS-R’s were produced; but that number fell to 850 examples for model year 1993. Canadian production was even more rare: 602 units for 1992, and 255 for 1993.

The third generation Integra was introduced in Japan in 1993. This new model boasted radical changes from its previous counterpart by means of slightly elongated wheelbase, dealer-installed sunroof, alloy wheels, cassette/CD player, and leather interior. The 3-door liftback body style was transformed into a formalized 2-door coupe look. Upon the North American 1994 model year debut of the Integra, three trim levels were available: RS, LS, and GS-R. The RS, which was the “regular” model, got power from a 1.8L B18B throwing 140 horsepower and featured a cassette player, rear defroster, and tilt steering wheel as standard equipment. A step up from the RS model, the LS (“Luxury Sport”) got A/C, power windows, power door locks and cruise control as standard equipment. Since the 1.7L B17A1 engine was discontinued, the GS-R got power from the 1.8L B18C1. With VTEC, this engine could pump out 170 horses. Besides alloy wheels, power windows and doors, the GS-R added a rear wing.

October 1995 saw the launch of the Integra Type R. Power for the Type R was sourced from an upgraded version of the B18C VTEC, producing 200 horsepower. Power ratings for North America and Europe were lower, at 195 and 190 horsepower, respectively. This engine was paired up with a 5-speed manual transmission. Although it was very much comparable to its GS-R counterpart, the Type R gained performance by means of polished and ported engine components, lighter windshield, reduced sound insulation, and wide 195-mm tires. Recaro racing seats and Momo steering wheel were standard equipment. These weren’t factory-installed, but rather, production of the Type R’s interior components (such as the aforementioned seat and steering wheel) were outsourced to aftermarket manufacturers. These cars were costly to build. 1998 saw a refresh to the Type R. The “98 Spec” added larger wheels and brakes, revised rear bumper, and recalibrated transmission. Tire width was increased to 215 mm. The third and final revision, the 00 Spec, was introduced in late 1999. Also known as “Type Rx“, it came with factory-standard equipment such as power-folding door mirrors, dashboard clock, carbon-paneled interior, and audio.

DC5 Generation

For the Integra’s fourth generation, Honda decided to keep the vehicle coupe-only, as well as ship it over to North America as the Acura RSX. Production of the DC5 commenced in 2001 in Japan, and model year 2002 for North America. Each model had two trim levels: for Japan, they were the Integra iS (later known as Type S) and the Type R. The North American models had the “Base” and Type-S. Canada got an extra “Premium” model slotted between the base and Type-S. The North American Type-S is unrelated to the JDM Type-S. Engine size for the entire lineup stayed at 2.0 liters. Power for the Integra iS (and the base Acura RSX) came from the K20A3, which produced 160 horsepower. The USDM Type-S got power from the 200 hp K20A2, and the top-of-the-line Integra Type R for Japan got the 217 hp K20A. Other performance additions included a stiffer suspension setup, 4-piston Brembo brakes up front, suede seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. All Type Rs had black interiors, and most of them came with red or black Recaro seats. Only the models with a blue exterior (Eternal Blue Pearl for 2002 – 2004) got matching blue seats as an option. An identical exterior/interior color combo, Eternal Blue Pearl/Ebony was an option for the base USDM Acura RSX.

In 2004, the JDM Integra was given a redesign. Among the many changes brought was the “teardrop” headlight design. The iS model was renamed Type-S. This redesign made its way over to the North American Acura RSX in model year 2005. That year, the JDM Type R and USDM Type S gained similar fasciae and body kits, including a large rear spoiler. While the US-market base model got alloy wheels, the Canadian base got steel wheels. The Canada-only Premium model got 16-inch alloys. Vivid Blue Pearl replaced Eternal Blue Pearl as the blue exterior color option. When the RSX discontinued production in 2006, Acura’s compact lineup was left with the CSX, TSX, and TL.

Subaru WRX STI: Boxer on all Fours

The Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI (more recently called Subaru WRX and Subaru WRX STI without the Impreza name) are high-performance sport compacts based on the Subaru Impreza lineup.  The WRX name can either stand for “World Rally Cross” (WRC) or “World Rally Experimental”.  In any case, this name is an indicator to Subaru’s position in the world rally-racing stage.

The WRX debuted in Japan in November 1992, hot off the heels of the then-all-new Impreza (the successor to the Leone in the compact segment).  While the Impreza was designed for a front-drive setup, all-wheel-drive (AWD) was utilized in some other models, such as the Outback wagon and WRX.  Engine options for the Impreza varied in size, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 liters.  Since the WRX was exclusive to Japan, North American Imprezas didn’t get a WRX variant.  Thus, these models were stuck with the 1.8L EJ18 (officially EJ181) developing 110 horsepower.  The Japanese-market GC8 WRX was initially installed with the 2.0-liter “EJ20T“.  In actuality, this engine was designated EJ20G, and was a turbocharged 240 horsepower boxer-4 (H4) unit.  This engine was equipped with hydraulic lifters as opposed to the Legacy’s same engine which had rocker arms.  Power was delivered via a viscous center differential and viscous rear limited-slip differential.  After the debut of a slightly-stripped variant called WRX RA, Subaru Tecnica International (STi) developed an even more potent WRX.  February 1994 saw the debut of the WRX STI, which now threw 250 horsepower.  The STi was a complete Impreza/WRX that came fresh off the assembly line, and then stripped down and modified with STi components.  This was the GC8C, or “Version I“.  November 1994 saw a power increase to 260 horsepower for the WRX.  A limited hatchback Impreza with the WRX engine, called “Gravel Express“, was produced.  The STI got a power boost to 275 horsepower and gained gold wheels akin to its rally-racing counterpart.  October 1995 saw the debut of “Version II” in the STI lineup.  New that year were the WRX V-Limited and WRX Type RA STi.  These models commemorated Subaru’s success in world rally racing, and deleted some curb weight.  Some V-Limited models got radio and AC as standard equipment.  Subaru produced 555 examples of the WRX Type RA STI Version 2.

September 1996 saw a redesign to the Impreza WRX STI.  New to the lineup was a 2-door coupe called WRX Type R STi.  The 2.0-liter boxer four was an updated version called EJ20K, which could produce a maximum of 280 horsepower.  Compared to the sedan, the Type R coupe was lighter, stiffer, and had a close-ratio transmission with a harder shell.  The Type R was a limited-time offer rather than a mainstay, and only 10,000 are estimated to have been produced exclusively for Japan.  March 1998 saw the release of the even-rarer 22B coupe, which was made to commemorate Subaru’s continuous victories in the World Rally Championship.  The 22B STi was a lower-slung widebody coupe, which utilized a unique 2.2L EJ22G, which featured forged pistons and a cylinder head similar to that on the EJ20K.  Other modifications included 17-inch wheels, Bilstein shocks, red brake calipers, and a twin clutch system.  These models sold like hotcakes until the end of the 22B’s production in August that year.

1999 Impreza WRX STi coupe

The GC8F series was introduced in September 1998.  The WRX/STi were facelifted in conjunction with the rest of the Impreza lineup.  There was also a slight mechanical change: the EJ20K (eventually to be the EJ207) was an upgraded “Phase 2” engine.  This generation saw the release of the limited-run WRX Type RA STi Version 5.  September 1999 saw the release of the final GC8G series; which, mechanically, was not too different from the GC8F.  However, the car was flared out for a slightly more aggressive appearance.  In 2000, Subaru exported 1000 WRX’s to the UK to be customized by their British motorsports division, Prodrive.  These models were the WRX P1, which were based on the JDM Type R coupe.  Performance enhancements included four-piston front brake calipers, electric Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels, and a suspension system optimized for British roads.  Meanwhile in Japan, another limited lineup, the S201, was released.  This model utilized every part of the STi parts catalog, ranging from its large front splitter to its massive rear wing.  This contributed to a truly racecar-esque appearance.  One mechanical tweak to the S201 was the 300 horsepower output from its engine – 20 more horsepower than was necessary for most typical JDM sports cars.  Only 300 such models were produced.

August 2000 saw the debut of the second generation GD.  The first performance variant of this generation was the WRX sedan, followed by the WRX STi, Type RA STi, and WRX STi wagon.  The standard WRX was powered by an IHI-turbo’d EJ205, good for 250 horsepower and 246 ft/lbs.  Late 2001 saw the release of the lightweight WRX STi Spec C, which had lighter body panels, lighter glass, increased wheel caster and wheelbase.  This drastically helped aid in handling and performance.  Another benefit to the Spec C was its transmission, which had its own oil cooler.  This first pre-facelift Impreza would retain its “bugeye” appearance until late 2002.  In 2004, Subaru introduced the WRX WR-Limited, which sported STi bodywork.  It featured an STi-inspired front bumper, rear spoiler, and gold Rays wheels.  This was similar to the US-market STi which debuted that year, right after the North American debut of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

The entire Impreza lineup received a “hawkeye” cosmetic refresh in 2005.  The WRX got the same rear-spoiler treatment as its big-brother STI, as well as viscous rear LSD; the STI and Spec C both got the same increased wheelbase and wider 8 inch (203 mm) wheel rims.  For increased stability, the Spec C was outfitted with Arai dampers, 21 mm anti-roll bars, and reinforced strut towers.  To reduce engine noise in the passenger compartment, Subaru decided to swap the metal engine mounts with those made from liquid-filled plastic.  November 2006 saw the release of the final special edition Impreza for this generation.  The Spec C Type RA-R put an emphasis on track use, and had specially designed 235/40 R18 tires as its footwear.

Own work.

April 2007 saw the world premiere of the third generation WRX alongside its base counterparts at the New York International Auto Show.  The STI variant debut in October of that year.  This generation rode on an increased wheelbase (2620 mm) and the sedan was longer in exterior dimensions (4580 mm versus the hatchback’s 4415 mm).  Power for the WRX and STI came from different sources: The WRX was equipped with the turbocharged 2.5L EJ255 throwing 225 horsepower, and the Japanese-market STI was powered by a turbo 2.0L EJ207 developing 308 horsepower.  The rest of the world got a 300 horsepower 2.5L EJ257 in their STI’s.  In 2008, Subaru produced a limited-edition 20th Anniversary Edition WRX STI based on the hatchback.  Exclusive to the Japanese market, this model featured specially-tuned shocks and springs, anti-roll bars, 18-inch aluminum wheels, Recaro seats with red stitching, and commemorative plating on the center console.  Only 300 such models were produced.  In 2009, the Impreza gained a cosmetic update for the 2010 model year.  Also new were the STI Spec C and A-Line.  Initially available only in Japan and Singapore, the A-Line was an automatic-transmission version of the WRX STI, which featured a steering-wheel mounted semi-automatic paddle shifter.  Model year 2010 saw the North American release of the WRX STI Special Edition, which resembled the JDM Spec C.  For better handling, the Special Edition was fitted with thicker stabilizer bars and 18-inch alloy wheels.  Creature comforts were limited: The interior featured only manual A/C and a four-speaker audio system.

A 2014 WRX STI at a local car show.  Own work.

2011 saw the release of the limited-edition WRX STI S206 and S206 NBR CHALLENGE PACKAGE.  Both received many STI-derived parts, but also gained Recaro bucket seats, a unique carbon-fiber roof, and carbon rear spoiler.  Just like the 2008 20th Anniversary Edition hatchback, only 300 examples of this model were produced.  In 2012, Subaru made a few more improvements on the WRX STI, Spec C, and A-Line Type S.  The STI gained some A-Line equipment, such as a premium tan interior and forged alloy BBS wheels.  The Spec C was now available as a 4-door sedan, but got a rear spoiler delete.  These models had 17-inch wheels and optional A/C.  In 2013, Subaru released their final special editions for this generation, the WRX STI tS Type RA and WRX STI tS Type RA NBR CHALLENGE PACKAGE.  Sales ended in August 2014.

A 2015 WRX at the 2015 VIAS.  Own work.

For the fourth generation, Subaru took a different turn in producing the high-end WRX and WRX STI lines. These models, with the chassis code VA, gained their own slot in the Subaru lineup. Although much of the bodywork was shared with the base Impreza, the WRX boasted other features and a more aggressive fascia unique to itself. Thus, the WRX remains separate from the Impreza lineup. The base 4th-gen Impreza (GJ/GP) began production in 2011, whereas the WRX and WRX STI debuted for 2015.

Powering the WRX is the 2.0L twin-turbo FA20F, which produces 268 horsepower and 258 ft/lbs of torque. This is the same engine used in the Forester XT (250 hp USDM) and is a variant of the naturally-aspirated FA20D used in the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86. Performance aids include the twin-turbo units mounted lower in the engine bay to help reduce the car’s center of gravity, as well as a higher compression ratio of 10.6:1. Although both the previous EJ-series engine and the FA20 have a redline of 6700 rpm, the latter has the advantage over the former in that the higher compression ratio provides a wider torque peak. Although a 6-speed manual could be paired up, Subaru introduced a new CVT with paddle shifters.

Own work.

As to be expected, the WRX STI is a much more potent version of the WRX. Besides the cosmetic upgrades such as a large rear spoiler, the STI is powered by either a 2.0L EJ207 or a 2.5L EJ257. While Japan got the smaller EJ20 unit, the North American STI has the 2.5-liter, which throws 305 horsepower; up 5 horses from the previous generation. Model year 2018 saw the release of the limited-run WRX STI Type RA. Improvements in performance include increased power (310 horsepower), recalibrated transmission, 6-piston Brembo brakes, carbon rear spoiler, and weight reduction. The driver could be seated in a Recaro seat with STI stitching embedded into it. Only 500 examples of the Type RA were sold.

Nissan GT-R: Premium Midship Godzilla

From 1989 to 2002, Nissan Motor Co produced a series of legends that would captivate the auto enthusiast community with amazement and excitement.  These were the RB-series Skyline GT-Rs; and they packed such panache so much as to have the last special edition named after a famed racing circuit.  Although at the turn of the early 2000’s the new Z-car (the 350Z) was introduced, the era of high-performance twin-turbo sportsters made by Nissan had come to an end.  Or, at least it would have, if not for the debut of the Skyline-based 2001 GT-R concept.  This concept is what lead to years of research and development for the return of the automotive Godzilla.

The production version made its initial debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, and released for the public in December that year.  North American production was confirmed in July 2008 (for the 2009 model year).  The GT-R was both a continuation of and a break from the Skyline.  For one thing, the name “GT-R” is obviously a recollection of the Skyline GT-Rs of the past.  The GT-R’s mission is to be a jet-fast high-power car.  The fastest a 2009 GT-R went around the Nürburgring was 7 minutes and 26.7 seconds, beating the Porsche 911 GT2 by 5 seconds.  This secured the GT-R in its place in the world racing stage, as well as carry on the legacy of the R34 Skyline GT-R.  On the other hand, the GT-R was a whole new lineup.  This “R35” sat on a vehicle platform unique to itself, the Premium Midship (PM).  Power for the base GT-R comes from an all-aluminum 3.8L VR38DETT V6.  Initial power has been rated at 478 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 434 ft/lbs at 3200 rpm.  Transferring all this power is done with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission, which sends power out to the electronically controlled ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive system.  Inside, the GT-R’s multifunction display was designed by Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital.  This customizable system displayed statistics such as boost, engine oil temperature and pressure, and real-time cornering g-forces.

The GT-R received positive recognition.  It won Top Gear’s Sports car of the Year (2007), Autocar’s Driver’s Car of the Year, Evo Magazine’s Car of the Year, and Popular Mechanics’ Automotive Excellence Awards in 2008.  That year, the GT-R sold 6,739 units worldwide; the majority of which (4871 to be exact) were sold in its home market, Japan.  The second largest quantity, 1730 examples, were shipped to the United States.  US model year 2009 sales saw a turnout of 1534 units.

In 2010, the GT-R gained a power upgrade (485 horsepower and 434 ft/lbs of torque) and a cosmetic update for 2011.  In addition, the GT-R gained higher turbocharger boost, more rigid carbon composite front strut bar, larger brakes, lighter and stronger wheels, and grippier tires.  In 2012, the power was amped to 530 horsepower and 448 ft/lbs of torque.  A March 2011 test by AutoGuide.com found the 2012 GT-R two seconds faster than the Dodge Viper ACR and six seconds faster than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS around the Nürburgring, elapsing a new lap record of 7 minutes and 24.2 seconds.  In 2013, the GT-R got 545 horsepower and 463 ft/lbs of torque.  In 2015, Nissan Motorsports (Nismo) debuted the GT-R NISMO.  The Nismo had a staggering racetrack-style bodykit and large rear spoilers.  Models with the N-Attack Package were equipped with a more powerful engine throwing out 600 horsepower.  Claimed Nürburgring lap time was 7 minutes and 8.6 seconds.

2017 GT-R

For model year 2017, the GT-R gained a mild facelift and more power.  The long-staying VR38DETT engine was tuned yet again; this time 565 horsepower and 467 ft/lbs of torque for base GT-Rs.

GT-R Gallery

2010 GT-R

2013 GT-R

2014 GT-R

2017 GT-R

Nissan Skyline GT-R: Godzilla of Japanese Autos

Very few Japanese cars evoke passion and popularity like the GT-R.  Of course, even lower-tier Skylines garner much attention thanks in no small part to media exposure, such as in movies, TV shows, and video games.  The GT-R dates back to an era in Nissan Motor Co’s existence under the name of “Prince Motor Company“.

When Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan in 1966, they left a lot of carried-over hardware to be re-engineered into the Nissan lineup.  When the C10 generation Skyline, the first to feature the GT-R variant, debuted Japan-only in 1968, it utilized 1.5 and 1.8 liter engines designed under license by Prince.  However, Nissan Motor Co engineered their own series of inline-6 engines: the L20 for the 2000GT, and the S20 for the 2000GT-R.  When the PGC10 Skyline GT-R released for the public in February 1969, it featured the 2.0L S20 as its powerhouse.  The S20 developed 160 horsepower and 130 ft/lbs of torque.  Typical of the era, the GT-R had an FR drivetrain layout like the rest of the Skyline range.  A popular Japanese nickname for the PGC10/KPGC10 Skyline was “Hakosuka”, which roughly translates to “boxy Skyline”.  The second generation GT-R, the KPGC110, made its debut at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show and released for the public for 1973 only.  The “Kenmeri” GT-R was short-lived due to the Energy Crisis, and as there was very little demand for high performance sports cars, the GT-R was ultimately discontinued (or at least on hiatus) from the Skyline range for many years.

In 1984, former chief engineer Shinichiro Sakurai left development of the 7th-generation R31 Skyline to his “student”, Naganori Ito.  Ito then became chief of engineering for the 7th Skyline, which was set to debut in 1985.  However, due to negative reception from Skyline aficionados, Ito gained a bad reputation.  Ashamed of the R31 Skyline, he ventured to develop the 8th-generation R32 Skyline.  Ito was determined to bring back the GT-R which had been on hiatus for 16 years.  Ito gained a good reputation when the R32 Skyline and its GT-R variant debuted in 1989.

1990 Skyline GT-R (R32)

The BNR32 GT-R started production in August 1989.  Whereas lower-tier Skylines were rear-wheel-drive, the GT-R transitioned to an all-wheel-drive layout.  Of all the Skyline GT-Rs produced, the R32 was the lowest-slung: its height was at 1340 mm (52.8 in).  Power came from a 2.6L twin turbo RB26DETT inline-6 throwing out 276 horsepower.  A limited-run Group A racing homologation special, the GT-R NISMO, released in February 1990.  Performance modifications included were improved airflow to the intercooler, front and rear bumper lip spoilers, larger ceramic turbines in place of the standard turbochargers, and ABS delete.  In addition to the limited 500 NISMO models, 60 more were produced for Group A competition; however the ABS delete was not legal under Group A regulations.  February 1993 saw the introduction of the V-Spec.  The V-Spec added larger Brembo brakes, retuned suspension and ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive, and lightweight aluminum hood.  It also featured 225/45R17 tires.  February 1994 saw the addition of the V-Spec II, which, although the same as the V-Spec introduced in 1993, featured wider 245/45R17 tires.  Production of the R32 Skyline GT-R ceased in November 1994, and public sales ended in December that year.

When the R33 Skyline debuted, Kozo Watanabe was appointed as chief engineer of the Nissan Skyline.  Watanabe worked on both the R33 and R34 Skylines.  When it released for the public in January 1995, the R33 GT-R was notably longer, wider, taller, and had a longer wheelbase than its predecessor.  It kept relatively the same drivetrain as the R32 GT-R, with exception to improved air intake and oil circulation.  Nissan Motorsports (NISMO) built a racing version of the GT-R, called NISMO GT-R LM, for competition in 24 Hours of Le Mans.  This vehicle featured a body kit unique all to itself, such as a bulkier rocker panel side skirt.  Only one roadgoing homologation special was ever produced, making it extraordinarily rare.  In May 1996, the V-Spec LM Limited debuted in the GT-R lineup.  This model should not be confused with the one-off NISMO GT-R LM which was entered for Le Mans competition.  The 1996 LM Limited was a commemorative car which featured Champion Blue as its only available exterior paint color, unique carbon front splitter with air intakes, and a carbon fiber rear wing blade.  This model was available for sale for two months only.  Also that year, Nismo built a special model called 400R.  The 400R was undoubtedly very unique in its own right, as it featured a heavily modified version of the Nissan RB engine, named RB-X GT2.  Because it was bored out to 2.8 liters, a similar engine called RB28DET was produced.  This modified engine with reinforced block and heads, along with forged crankshaft and connecting rods, had the potential to throw out 400 horsepower.  Loosing even more weight, a lightweight driveshaft and exhaust muffler were installed.  Nismo planned to produce 100 examples of the 400R, although a rumoured 44 units were built.

Autech, another in-house tuning firm, also modified the coupe-only GT-R and made a rare 4-door sedan variant in 1998.  The Autech version 40th Anniversary merged the designs of the 4-door GTS sedan and GT-R models, keeping the power train of the GT-R intact.  Some Autech GT-R sedans were converted to highway patrol use and ordered by and/or delivered to the Saitama Prefectural Police and Kanagawa Prefectural Police departments.  The R33 GT-R ceased production in November 1998, with sales ending in December that year.

The R34 Skyline GT-R released for the public in January 1999.  The new model had a shorter overhang when compared to the outgoing generation.  Inside, the R34 Skyline featured a 5.8-inch infotainment screen with such features as engine and turbocharger pressure and temperature, as well as GPS navigation.  Midnight Purple II was a limited color option available only at the time of the R34 GT-R’s launch in January of 1999.  In 2000, Midnight Purple III was made available as a sequel to the discontinued Midnight Purple II exterior color option.  Also, the V-Spec trim was discontinued and replaced with V-Spec II.  In addition, 18 variants of the V-Spec II were given an upgraded N1 package.  In May 2001, the M-Spec was introduced to the lineup.  The M-Spec was a performance package quite similar to the V-Spec II; however, it was the only model to feature aluminum construction for the hood.  By 2002, the R34 Skyline had reached the end of its production cycle.  To commemorate, a final special edition called GT-R V-Spec II Nür was introduced.  The “Nür” was a reference to the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany.  This package made the N1 performance upgrade standard, which brought power up from the advertised 276 horsepower to an admirable 330.  Auto tuning enthusiasts may upgrade this engine to above 400 horsepower if they want.  The Nür featured different interior stitching, gold valve covers, and gold VIN plates.  Production of the Skyline GT-R ended in August 2002.

When the GT-R discontinued in 2002, the rest of the Skyline range continued production without an ultra-high performance model.  In the works were two prototypes based on the Skyline, but officially distinguished as a model lineup separate from the Skyline.  These were the aptly named GT-R concepts which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2001 and 2005.  When Nissan Motor Co announced GT-R production would begin in 2007, the production variant would be based more on the refined 2005 prototype.  Also, unlike past Skylines, this model wouldn’t be exclusive to Japan.  This was an international rollout.  In essence, the GT-R, although a model separate from the Skyline lineup, proved a worthy successor to carry on the legacy of past Skylines.

Datsun 510

The Datsun 510 was a compact vehicle produced from 1968 to 1973.  Hence the name (or number), the 510 was based on the 510 series Datsun Bluebird sold in Japan.  The 510 came in two forms: the PL510 sedan and WPL510 wagon, and had a wheelbase of 95.3 inches (2420 mm).  Exterior length for the sedan was 163 inches (4128 mm).  Despite its compact characteristics, the 510 had “more fine car fitness than any car in its class” according to a 1968 promotional brochure.  The 510 was designed to resemble the BMW “New Class”, and specifically the 1600/2002 series in the BMW lineup.  Like the BMWs, the 510 had an FR (front engine, rear-wheel-drive) layout.  This gave the 510 the nickname “poor man’s BMW”.

1968 Datsun 510

In keeping with compact-car fashion, the engine to power the 510 was the 96 horsepower 1.6-liter L16.  This engine was equipped with a 2-barrel Hitachi-SU carburettor.  In Japan, the base engine was the 1.3-liter L13.  Because of the easy parts interchangeability with early Datsuns, the 510 became a very popular car among auto enthusiasts.  This even applies to swapping engines, if the desired outcome is to develop more power by substituting a 1.8-liter for a 1.6-liter, for example.

1972 Datsun 510

The Datsun 510 was also a renowned vehicle in the world of motorsports.  Datsun registered some for rally racing and SCCA Trans Am under 2.5-liters.  For instance, Edgar Herrmann and Hans Schüller drove the Datsun 1600 SSS to an 18th-place finish in the 1970 East African Safari Rally, and American driver John Morton won the 1972 Trans Am Championship in the under 2.5-liter class.

After the 510 discontinued production in 1973, it was superseded by the 610 series.  However, the 510 made a return to the Datsun brand in North America in 1977 based on the Nissan Stanza.  This other model was discontinued in 1981.  In 2013, Nissan Motor Co recalled the olden days of the Datsun 510 and debuted the IDx and IDx NISMO concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.  They featured front-engine, rear-wheel-drive like the 510s of the past (and also much like the BMWs of the present).  Because of the 510’s success in the past, there has been critical reception and petition for Nissan to enter the IDx into production.  As of yet, there is no indication of it actually doing so, but the enthusiast community still much admires the Datsun 510 as a sports legend as much as any classic BMW sedan.

Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a successfully mass-produced compact vehicle in production since 1966.  Upon its debut in Japan, the Corolla was sold at Toyota Corolla Store locations, formerly Toyota Publica Store.  In Latin etymology, the word “corolla” loosely translates to “small crown”.  The first four generations were rear-wheel-drive, but transitioned to a front-drive design in the fifth generation.

Production of the Corolla commenced with the E10 series from November 1966, assembled at the Takaoka Plant in Toyota City, Japan.  Public sales of the Corolla took place in the former Publica Store dealership chain, then renamed Toyota Corolla Store.  The Corolla’s wheelbase measured 90 inches (2286 mm), and exterior length at 151.5 inches and 58.7 inches in width.  The base engine option was a 1077cc (1.1L) inline-4 producing 60 horsepower.  An unusual feature for its class was a floor-mounted manual transmission (4-speed), which was then seen as a type of mechanical setup reserved only for trucks.

In March of 1968, Toyota Auto Store locations in Japan began rolling out fastback versions of the Corolla, called Sprinter.  The Sprinter was the 2-door coupe model in the Corolla lineup, leaving the official Corolla models to be available as 2- or 4-door sedans and 2-door station wagons.  1968 was also the year exports to North America started.  American Corollas were available with the same 1.1L inline-4 engine.  In 1969, both the Corolla and Sprinter got updated with a larger engine, the 1.2L 3K.  This engine pushed 65 horsepower.  The first generation Corolla was produced until 1970.

1974 Corolla coupe (TE27)

May 1970 saw the debut of the E20 series.  Wheelbase for this generation was amped up slightly, to 2335 mm (91.9 in).  Besides the sedan, coupe, and wagon, a van was added to the Corolla lineup.  North America did not get the van model.  Also, the engine lineup was more limited than the vast array that was available in Japan.  American Corollas got either a 1.2L 3K-C or a 1.6L 2T-C.  In 1972, two sporty models called S5 and SR5 were introduced, both with the 102 horsepower 1.6-liter engine.  The chassis code for the USDM SR5 coupe, TE27, is the same as the JDM Levin model.  Production for the second generation Corolla ceased in 1974.

In April 1974, the E30 generation debuted.  The wheelbase was extended to 2370 mm (93 inches).  “E30” is a common designation for this generation overall, as there were different models with different chassis codes.  For example, E30 and E31 denoted the two- and four-door sedan models, and the E37 was the hardtop coupe.  The only chassis North America did not get was the van, or “E36“.  Power for American Corollas came from either a 1.2L 3K-C or a 1.6L 2T-C, although during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s the smaller 3K engine was a more popular engine.

1982 Corolla hardtop (E72)

Although the E30 generation hadn’t finished production yet, in March of 1979, the E70 generation debuted.  The difference between it and the E30 was the wheelbase; it was extended to 2400 mm (94 inches).  It was also more powerful.  All-new were the 1.6L 4A-C and 1.8L 3T-C engines for North America.  However, Japan got the Corolla Levin with the 1.6L 2T-GEU, producing 115 horsepower.  The new design for the Corolla reflected a trend towards being more economical, aerodynamic, and aesthetically pleasing.  Trim levels ranged from Standard, DX, DLX (wagon), and SR5.  In 1982, a rectangular two-headlight front end design was implemented as the mid-cycle facelift.

1985 Corolla GT-S (AE88)

1986 Corolla (AE86/88)

May 1983 saw the debut of the fifth generation (E80) Corolla, and to that end, the first generation to feature front-wheel-drive.  This generation retained the 2400 mm wheelbase from the previous generation.  Most notable about the E80 generation was the “go-fast” AE85 and AE86 variants, nicknamed “hachi-roku” (“86” in Japanese).  Unlike the base lineup, these were rear-wheel-drive; the last Corollas in history to be rear-wheel-drive.  The Japanese-market Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno got power from a 1.6L “red top” 4A-GE throwing 128 horsepower at 6600 rpm.  The North American models in the “AE86” range each got different VIN codes and less power than the Japanese version.  The three trim levels were DX, SR5, and GT-S, and power to each of these came from as follows: both the DX (AE85) and SR5 (AE86) got 87 horsepower at 4800 rpm, and the AE88 GT-S threw 112 horsepower at 6600 rpm.  Undoubtedly, the power figures of the GT-S are much closer to those of the Japanese version.  Transmission options for the “AE86” were either the T50 5-speed manual or the A42DL 4-speed automatic.  This AE86 series was produced until 1987, coinciding with the end of the production run for the E80 Corolla overall.

The sixth generation E90 Corolla made its debut in May of 1987.  In addition to the Japanese production in Toyota City, as well as worldwide production of the Corolla lineup, there were other production locations for different markets.  For example, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) built Canadian-market models in Cambridge, Ontario; and New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) built US-market Corollas and the GM-Toyota joint-venture Geo/Chevrolet Prizm in Fremont, California.  Likewise, in Australia, the Holden-Toyota alliance built the Holden Nova in Dandenong, in the state of Victoria.

Out of five body styles available for Japan, North America got the sedan, coupe, hatchback, and wagon.  North American Corollas did not come in the hatchback; however the captive-import Geo Prizm model was available as a hatchback.  The AE92 sedan came in Standard, DX, and LE trims.  There also was a 4WD sedan with the AE94 VIN code.  The coupe was available in SR5 (AE96) and GT-S (AE98); however they remained front-wheel-drive along with the rest of the Corolla lineup.  These were virtually the same with the Japanese-market AE92 Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno coupes.  Besides the front-wheel-drive DX wagon (AE94), there was also a 4WD version (AE95) called All-Trac, or simply “4WD“.  This model was equivalent to Japan’s Sprinter Carib model.  The engine lineup for North America consisted of variations of the 1.6L 4A, with power ranging from 95 to 135 horsepower.

June 1991 saw the debut of the E100 series in Japan.  The base model in the lineup was the Corolla FX, available in 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon, and van.  Coded AE101, a two-door coupe called Corolla Levin returned to the lineup, and new for 1992, two “pillared-hardtop” sedans called Sprinter Marino and Corolla Ceres debuted.

In model year 1993, the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California started production of both the US-market E100 Corolla and the second generation Geo Prizm.  The Corolla was available in four trims: Standard, CE, DX, and LE.  Both a 4-door sedan (AE101/AE102) and 5-door station wagon (AE102) were available across the lineup.  The Geo Prizm was available only as a sedan.  Motive power for the Corolla came from the 1.6L 4A-FE and 1.8L 7A-FE.  The 4A-FE turned out between 100 and 105 horsepower, and the 7A-FE between 105 and 115 horsepower.  In 1996, the Corolla gained a refresh, featuring clear turn signal lights in the taillight cluster.  In 1997, the DX wagon was dropped, and in June 1998 in Japan, both the Sprinter Marino and Corolla Ceres hardtops discontinued production.  Also, the Detroit-based Geo brand was defunct.

May 1995 saw the debut of the E110 series in Japan.  Body styles included the E110 and E111 sedan, wagon, FWD Sprinter Carib, and 2-door Levin coupe.  Also available in the lineup were the 4WD Sprinter Carib and 4WD sedan.  The engine lineup consisted of a 1.3L 4E-FE, 1.5L 5A-FE, 1.6L 4A-FE and 4A-GE, 2.0L 2C-III, and a 2.2L 3C-E.

In 1998, the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California and TMMC plant in Cambridge, Ontario started production of the North American market E110.  This vehicle was available only as a 4-door sedan.  Available trim levels were the VE, CE, and LE.  To make this car lighter than the previous generation, an all-aluminum 1.8L 1ZZ-FE engine was installed with a timing chain.  This yielded higher fuel economy and power ratings.  From 1998 to 1999, the 1ZZ-FE turned out 120 horsepower.  Very similar in regard to this model, the third generation Prizm debuted; albeit this time a Chevrolet model.

In 2000, the Corolla was facelifted and given an upgraded engine.  The 1.8L 1ZZ-FE was now fitted with Toyota’s Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which brought power up to 125 horsepower.  The VE was dropped and replaced by the S model, and the CE shared its “base” designation in the lineup.  In Japan, the Sprinter model was discontinued; and in 2002, the Chevrolet Prizm ended production.

August 2000 saw the debut of the ninth-generation E120 Corolla in Japan.  This model was based on Toyota’s global “MC” platform, used for compact and mid-size front-wheel-drive vehicles.  The Corolla came available in four body styles: 4-door sedan, 3- and 5-door hatchback (Corolla RunX), and a 5-door station wagon called Corolla Fielder.  Filling in the segment gap left by the discontinued Sprinter was a new model called Toyota Allex.  The Allex was significantly similar to the Corolla RunX, but was considered more upscale and in its own lineup.  The highest trim level on the Corolla RunX was the RunX Z Aero, which, hence the name, featured a notable aero kit on the exterior, and the 1.8L 2ZZ-GE engine as its power source.  This was the same motor to be employed in the second generation Lotus Elise sports car, making 190 horsepower.

The E120 generation made its debut in North America in early 2002 for the 2003 model year.  Although it was available only as a 4-door sedan in CE, LE, S, and XRS trims, Toyota in partnership with GM developed both the Corolla-based Matrix and Pontiac Vibe 5-door hatchbacks.  Both shared the same 102-inch wheelbase, and engine options.  The Pontiac Vibe was produced by New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) in Fremont, California as a successor to the long-discontinued Chevrolet Prizm; whereas the Toyota Matrix, although heavily sharing much architecture with the Pontiac, was a niche vehicle all its own in the North American Toyota lineup.

Throughout its entire production run, the North American E120 Corolla had the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE as its base engine for the CE, LE, and S models.  This unit turned out 130 horsepower.  For the 2005 model year, a sporty model trim called XRS was introduced.  The XRS added a more potent 170 horsepower 1.8L 2ZZ-GE engine, a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and an aggressive body kit.  The XRS was a corresponding model to the Matrix XRS and Vibe GT.  The Corolla XRS was produced for only two years.  Production for the E120 Corolla ended production in 2007 in Japan, and in 2008 in North America.

October 2006 saw the debut of the tenth-generation (E140) Corolla in Japan.  It was available in both the Corolla Axio sedan and the Corolla Fielder wagon.  The RunX hatchback was discontinued, and replaced by a new model all its own lineup, called Toyota Auris.  Also based on the Auris, a replacement for the Allex, called Blade, debuted in the Japanese Toyota lineup.  Both the Auris and Blade rode on Toyota’s “New MC” platform, which was an updated version of the existing MC platform.  This Japanese lineup is considered the “narrow-body” in the tenth generation Corolla lineup, as it was narrower than its international counterparts.  The JDM Corolla measured 1695 mm (66.7 in) wide, versus the international Corollas’ 1760 mm (69.3 in).

The North American “wide-body” E140 debuted for the 2009 model year.  It featured significantly larger Camry-like styling, and came available in 5 trim levels in the US, and 4 trim levels in Canada.  The top-of-the-line for both markets was the XRS, which, like the previous generation XRS, featured an aggressive body kit.  Power came from a 2.4L 2AZ-FE producing 158 horsepower and 162 lb/ft of torque.  The rest of the lineup was powered by a 1.8L 2ZR-FE.  Also that year, the second generation Matrix and Pontiac Vibe debuted, both featuring the same powertrain options (1.8L 2ZR-FE in the base models; 2.4L 2AR-FE in the Matrix XRS and Vibe GT).  In April 2009, General Motors filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the failing Pontiac brand.  Although marketed as a 2010 model, the second year of the second generation Vibe ended production in August 2009.  The Pontiac brand was shuttered in October of 2010.

After the discontinuation of the Pontiac Vibe and the Pontiac brand altogether, the lineup was left only with the Corolla and Matrix.  2011 saw a cosmetic update to both.  In the US, the XLE and XRS were discontinued, but the XRS continued in Canada.  In 2013, the Matrix discontinued American production, with Canadian models still selling into the 2014 model year.

The eleventh generation Corolla debuted differently in Japan and internationally.  Japan got the “narrow-body” E160 in Axio sedan and Fielder wagon forms.  The international wide-body (including those sold in North America) had the chassis code E170.  The JDM E160 rode on Toyota’s subcompact B platform, while the E170 rode on the New MC platform.

The Japanese-market E160 Corolla debuted in May 2012, rolling off production lines in Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures.  In 2013, a hybrid system much like what was found in the Prius c (called “Toyota Aqua” in Japan) was introduced to the Corolla lineup.  Although continuously variable transmissions (CVT) were commonplace throughout the lineup, the Hybrid model featured an E-CVT to assist its 72 horsepower 1.5L 1NZ-FXE engine.  An August 2013 article by Green Car Congress states that the Corolla Hybrid could achieve a fuel economy rating of 3.0L/100 km (77.6 mpg US) under the JC08 test cycle of MLIT (Japan’s ministry of transportation).  In April 2015, the Axio and Fielder received a facelift, as well as a new collision safety system called “Toyota Safety Sense”.

2016 Corolla sedan (E170)

January 2013 saw the debut of the Corolla Furia concept at the North American International Auto Show.  It featured notably aggressive exterior styling and larger stance.  In August 2013, the production version based on the Furia concept debuted for the public.  Initially available only as a 4-door sedan, the Corolla came in four trims: L, LE, LE Eco, and S.  All models except the LE Eco got Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) with the 1.8L engine.  This produced 132 horsepower.  The S model got a CVTi-S, which simulated a sporty shift-feel.  Other features available on the Corolla included a smart key/push-button start, power moonroof, and a backup monitor.

2016 Scion iM (North America)

The production version of the Scion iM hatchback, based on the Toyota Auris, made its North American debut at the New York Auto Show in April 2015.  It was intended partially as a replacement model for the discontinued Scion xB, but probably more to the likes of the Toyota Matrix.  Power came from a 1.8L 2ZR-FAE, producing 137 horsepower – 5 more horsepower than the Corolla.  Unfortunately, for the iM, both the hatchback and the Scion brand were not very successful.  Toyota’s February 2016 announcement concerning Scion’s fate came true in August that year, with some 2017 models transitioning into the Toyota lineup.  After the iM’s 2016 season, it became the Corolla iM in the Toyota lineup.

2017 Corolla sedan

2017 Corolla iM

2017 saw a huge update to the Corolla lineup: it was given restyled front and rear fascias, Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P), and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.  Also featured in the lineup were the upgraded Eco LE and a limited-run 50th Anniversary Special Edition.  The Eco Le now produced 140 horsepower from its 1.8L hybrid engine system.

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is a compact car in production since model year 1973.  Upon its introduction in July 1972, it was intended to be an economy car much like the N600/Z600 subcompacts and the short-lived 1300 sedan/coupe it slotted in between in the Honda lineup in Japan.  The Civic debuted at the right time during the automotive industry’s history: 1973 had wrought a very sufferable energy crisis.  This placed heavy demand on automakers to develop efficient economy vehicles, many of them being compact hatchbacks with options kept to a minimum.  Thus, the Civic was Honda’s answer to this energy crisis, and proved to be a popular seller for many years since its launch.

1977 Civic

The first generation Civic was available as a 2- or 4-door sedan, 3- or 5-door hatchback, and a 5-door station wagon.  The initial engine offering was an 1169cc (1.2L) inline-4.  A 4-speed manual transmission was standard, but the Civic could also be had with the 2-speed Hondamatic, Honda’s first ever automatic transmission.  To further ensure utmost compact-car economy, the Civic’s wheelbase was at 2200 mm (86.6 in); and its exterior length was kept to 3551 mm (139.8 in).  Curb weight was at a very light 680 kilograms (1500 lb or 3/4 tons).  1974 saw a slight upgrade to the US-market Civic: a slightly larger 1.2-liter inline-4 and 5-mph safety bumpers.  The bumpers increased the Civic’s exterior length to 3731 mm (146.9 in).  A new emissions-reducing technology called CVCC debuted in the 1975 Civic.  CVCC stood for “Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion”, and it later found its way into the Honda Accord.

1979 Civic wagon

Before the debut of the second generation Civic for model year 1980, the Civic got a cosmetic upgrade for 1978 – 1979.  It retained the standard 1.2-liter and 1.5-liter CVCC engines as before; albeit with added power.

1982 Civic hatchback

The second generation Civic debuted in July 1979 as a 1980 model.  Motive power came from either a “1300” 1.3-liter or a “1500” (1.5L) CVCC.  1982 saw an upgrade; namely, an addition of larger black plastic bumpers and more rectangular lights.  The Civic kept this Prelude-esque look until 1983.

September 1983 saw the introduction of the third generation Civic.  The Civic lineup now consisted of a 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan, and a 5-door wagon now called Shuttle.  In the US, the Shuttle was called Wagovan.  The wheelbase of the hatchback measured at 2388 mm, while the sedan measured at 2438 mm.  Model year 1984 saw the debut of the Honda Ballade-based “Ballade Sports CR-X“.  This was a 3-door hatchback, which launched in North America as the “Civic CRX“.  This special model had either an economy or sport variant.  The economy variant, hence the name, had an emphasis more on economy: it was equipped with a 1.3-liter CVCC engine.  This unit threw out 60 horsepower.  The sport model had a 1.5-liter engine.  1985 saw an update to the sports model, which included a trim level called Si (“sports, injected”).  The Si had a fuel-injected 1.5-liter, which gave 91 horsepower.

1986 saw a facelift to both the standard Civic and CRX models.  The headlights were changed from the recessed type to flush mounted.  The Civic/CRX would be little changed for 1987.

1989 Civic hatchback

September 1987 saw the debut of the fourth generation Civic.  The wheelbase had been extended to 2,500 mm (98.4 in).  Likewise in 1988, the second generation CRX debuted, its wheelbase over 2,300 mm, making it 100 mm longer than the first gen CRX, but 200 mm shorter than the standard Civic.

1990 CRX

1991 Civic Si

Also that year, the sporty Civic Si hatchback debuted with a 1.6L D16A6 inline-4 as its power.  At first, it threw out 105 horsepower, but was increased at 108 horsepower a year after.  In general, the fourth generation Civic would last in production through August 1991.

September 1991 saw the introduction of the fifth generation Civic.  This generation could be had in 2-door coupe (EJ1/EJ2); 3-door hatchback (EH2/EH3); and 4-door sedan (EG8/EH9).  The EG8 line consisted of the USDM DX and LX, and the Canadian LX, LX “Special Edition” (1994-1995), and EX.  All these models were powered by a 102 horsepower 1.5-liter D15B7.  The EH9 was the USDM EX sedan, which was powered by a 125 horsepower 1.6-liter D16Z6.

The VIN codes for the Japanese hatchbacks were EG3 and EG6, but North American hatches were numbered EH2 and EH3.  The EH2 lineup consisted of the USDM CX, VX, and DX.  While both the American and Canadian CX got their own versions of the 1.5-liter D15 engine, the power output was different for each.  The USDM mill threw out 70 horsepower, while the Canadian CX was more powerful, at 102 horsepower.  The DX got the D15B7 with the same 102 horsepower in both markets, while the VX got the D15Z1 with VTEC-E.  The VX hatch could be had only with a manual transmission.  The EH3 was the Si hatchback, which could be had with a 1.6-liter D16Z6 VTEC engine good for 125 horsepower.  The Canadian Si hatch was produced 1992 to 1993 only.

The EJ1/EJ2 comprised the coupe lineup.  All DX models including the “Special Edition” got the same 102 horsepower 1.5-liter D15B7, while the USDM EX and EX-S got the 125 horsepower 1.6-liter D16Z6 VTEC.  The Canadian counterpart of the US-market EX was the Si (the sport model).

The fifth generation Civic would remain little changed until the end of its production run in 1995.

September 1995 saw the introduction of the sixth generation Civic.  This car came in coupe, hatchback, and sedan forms.  The EJ6 was the DX/LX sedan and coupe, as well as the CX hatchback; the EJ7 was the USDM HX coupe; the EJ8 was the EX sedan and coupe, as well as the Canadian Si coupe; the EJ9 was the 1.4L SOHC sedan; the EK1 was the 1.5L SOHC VTEC-E hatchback; the EK2 was the 1.3L hatchback; the EK3 was the 1.5L SOHC VTEC-E hatchback; the EK4 was the SiR/VTi hatchback; the EM1 was the 1999-2000 Si/SiR coupe; and the EN1 was the USDM GX sedan.

August 1997 saw the introduction of the Japanese-only Type-R (codenamed EK9).  Assembled in Suzuka, Japan, this was the hatchback model with 182 horsepower 1.6L B16B inline-4 paired to a 5-speed manual transmission.  The interior featured red racing seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.  For 1999, the Civic was cosmetically updated.  This was the year the Si and SiR models were introduced into the coupe lineup.  In 2000, Spoon Sports modified the Type-R to a “racing version” which had a higher engine-revving redline.

Model year 2001 saw the debut of the seventh generation Civic.  While this car came in sedan, hatchback, and coupe forms, the coupe was available only in North America.  December 2001 saw the debut of two Civic variants: the Civic Hybrid and the second generation Type-R hatchback.  The JDM Hybrid was assembled in Suzuka, Japan, while the EP3 Type-R was built in Swindon, England by Honda UK Manufacturing (HUM).  The Type-R was equipped with a 2.0L K20A producing 200 horsepower for the European version, and 212 horsepower for Japan.  The “Type-R” also found its way into North America in the form of the Si and SiR hatchbacks.  However, power was detuned to 160 hp from its K20A3 unit.  Spring 2002 saw the introduction of the Civic Hybrid in the US market.  The Hybrid was equipped with a 1.3L LDA inline-4 paired to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT.  Model year 2004 saw a facelift for the Civic lineup.  This time it had gained sharper headlights and differing style taillights.  This design was retained until September 2005, the end of its production run.

September 2005 saw the introduction of the 2006 model year Civic.  The wheelbase of the sedan was at 2700 mm (106.3 in), while the coupe sat at a shorter 2649 mm (104.3 in).  In addition to the standard Honda Civic model, Canada received a rebadged version of Japan’s Civic Sedan, the Acura CSX.  This model, which shared the same fascia with the Japanese Civic, remained in production for the length of the production of the eighth generation Civic itself (that is, until 2011).  The Hybrid model remained in the lineup also.  It retained the 1.3L LDA inline-4 engine found in the prior Hybrid model, but this time paired to a more powerful electric motor for better mileage.  It won 4 awards in 2006.

For North America, the Civic Si remained as the top-of-the-line performance model.  It was available as a coupe (FG2) and sedan (FA5).  Motive power came from a 2.0L K20Z3 i-VTEC throwing out 197 horsepower, and was paired to a 6-speed manual transmission.  In 2007, Canada got the identical Acura CSX Type-S, employing the same 2.0L K20Z3 powertrain.  Both the Acura CSX (for Canada only) and the Civic Si were assembled in Alliston, Ontario by Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM).  Model year 2009 saw a mid-cycle refresh for the entire Civic lineup, including the Canadian-market Acura CSX.  The eight generation Civic ended production in 2011.

The ninth generation Civic debuted at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2011 and went on sale that spring as a 2012 model.  The wheelbase for the sedan sat at 2670 mm (105.1 in), and the coupe sat at 2620 mm (103.1 in).  Exterior length for the sedan was 4525 mm (178.1 in), and the coupe at 4472 mm (176.1 in).

The Civic Si (FB6 sedan and FG4 coupe) gained a new motor.  A 205 horsepower 2.4L K24Z7 powered the car, and was paired to a 6-speed manual transmission.  The Hybrid also gained an upgrade: its powertrain now consisted of a water-cooled 1.5-liter i-VTEC with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA).  Rowing the gears in the Hybrid was done by a CVT automatic.  2012 saw a facelift to the North American Civic lineup, and again in 2014.

In 2015, Honda UK Manufacturing (HUKM) in Swindon, England started production on the European-market Type R hatchback, codenamed FK2.  This model was powered by a 2.0L K20C1 (turbocharged) throwing out 306 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque.  Japan received approximately only 750 such models.

2015 saw the end of production for the ninth generation Civic, and the end of the Civic Hybrid lineup.  Following this year, 2016 would see no production of a Civic Hybrid.

2016 Civic coupe

2017 Civic hatchback

Honda Motor Co debuted a Civic coupe concept previewing the tenth generation model at the New York Auto Show in April 2015.  The sedan was previewed in September 2015, and the production coupe debuted at Los Angeles in November.  Both the sedan and coupe started production and sales in model year 2016.  The hatchback joined the lineup for 2017.  Exterior length for the hatchback was 4519 mm, and width at 1799 mm.

In 2017, Honda of Canada debuted the Civic Si, based on the sedan and coupe.  Production took place in Alliston, Ontario, and power came from a 1.5L L15B7 (turbocharged) good for 205 horsepower.

2017 Honda Civic Type R

The fifth generation Type R debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2017.  This model was built by Honda UK in Swindon, England, and got power from a 2.0L K20C1 turbo.  In Europe and Japan, power was at 316 horsepower, while the North American Type R threw out 306 horsepower.  The exterior dimensions for the Type R compared to the base hatchback were radical: the Type R was 4557 mm in length (compared to the base’s 4519), and 1877 mm in width (versus the base 1799mm).