Reliable but unexciting. That's been the knock on Japanese cars in the United States since, well, always. But Toyota, Honda and Nissan -- and their upscale offshoots -- are out to change that impression with several high-performance halo cars.
Acura will unleash its NSX sports car in the first half of 2015, and sources say a Honda-badged variant may follow.
Lexus' flagship LF-LC coupe concept has the green light. The 2+2 hybrid-powered coupe, likely to cost about $120,000 when it arrives in early 2017, will compete against the Mercedes-Benz SL.
Infiniti plans a four-door coupe in 2017 or 2018 positioned above the Q70 that would go up against the Porsche Panamera. The coupe could share Mercedes' modular rear-wheel-drive architecture and be powered by a turbocharged V-6 capable of 600 hp to 700 hp.
Infiniti also is considering the Q50 Eau Rouge, which would be a low-volume $100,000-plus image car for 2016 or 2017, using the Nissan GT-R's hand-built twin-turbo 3.8-liter, 560-hp V-6 engine.
Meanwhile, a Nismo performance version of the GT-R arrives in August.
Nissan also could bring its BladeGlider electric sports car concept to market, with its nontraditional arrow shape featuring a narrower front end than rear.
Toyota and BMW are working together on a sports car architecture that will spawn the next Supra. And there will be a next generation of the Scion FR-S in spring 2017. Toyota and Subaru co-developed the FR-S and its twin, the Subaru BRZ.