This is all great news for us small car fans who enjoy performance, too. But one question remains: Where are the Japanese hot hatches?
Toyota has the Yaris SE, but that's just a handling/trim package; it still has just a touch over 100 horsepower. Honda offers the Fit Sport, but again, it's just a handling/trim package and only makes 117 ponies. Wheres our MAZDASPEED2? Where's the Fit Si? How about the Yaris T-Sport?
In talking with my friend Ron last night (he runs Focaljet.com and FiestaFaction.com), we were remembering some of the 1980s and 1990s Japanese hot hatchbacks that whetted our subcompact performance pallets. Mitsubishi Mirage/Dodge Colt Turbo, Chevrolet Sprint Turbo (built by Suzuki), the Mazda 323 GTX, Nissan NX2000, Swift GT, and so on. We were reminiscing about how the Japanese took a chance on some of these cars—much like Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler/Fiat are doing nowadays.
You've got to wonder if the Japanese automakers will return to their '80s/'90s hot hatch roots, or if nowadays they're content selling reliable fuel misers. A Fit is still a good car and is super practical; a Yaris still gets great mileage and handles well. But add 50 to 100 horsepower and now we're talking some serious fun with that practicality and fuel efficiency. The ball is in your court, Japan.