There are companies throughout the world that have got their finger in the automotive pies. There are companies in Britain, America, Germany, and Italy. And each country has produced many incredible machines and stamped their name in automotive history. Who can forget names such as Ford, Ferrari, and Jaguar? One of the best countries when it comes to cars, however, has to be Japan.
Japan has one of the largest car industries in the world. Just look at Toyota City. Built just because of the Toyota car company. And of course, Toyota is not the only company to come out of Japan. You have Honda, Isuzu, and Mazda, all producing some of the best automobiles out there. But of course, not every car that you can make is going to be a great one.
It may be a bit of a surprise, but Japan does indeed have an odd slip up when it comes to producing cars. Whether that be purely JDM cars or cars that are sold for export as well, there have been some truly tragic cars to come out of Japan. And what you have in this list is some of the worst cars to have come out of Japan, some are of course worse than others of course but each one has their own unique features.
22 Mazda MX-5 (present model)
Okay, let's start off by addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, the MX-5 is actually a good car. It is one of the best small sports cars on the market and certainly worth a purchase. But what isn’t worth a purchase is the hype this car has. For years it has been hyped to death and beyond, and for me that is what has ruined this car. Especially when a better machine, the Honda S2000, is out there despite no longer being produced. As well as that, the MX-5 has become rather ugly since the early days, and I certainly do not find its looks or proportions appealing.
21 Honda CR-X
There's nothing wrong with the looks on this car. The CR-X has quite revolutionary looks, and if anything does look quite futuristic despite being from the 1990s. But the CR-X sadly did have a few problems that curtailed its usefulness. The engines were not up to standard and were a lot more unreliable than Honda had hoped. Not only this, but its size meant it was rather unpractical and it only ever found a use when it came to car modding, which if anything was done out of necessity and not just down to wanting more speed to come from the car.
20 Nissan 350Z
The Nissan 350Z could perhaps be a more tentative car to add to this list, as it is by far not the worst car that is featured here. It looks tidy and indeed does everything that a sports car needs to do. But one thing that you have to factor in with a car is how good its safety ratings are, and the 350Z hasn’t got the best record, with 143 fatalities per million registrations in just three years from 2005-2008. Along with this, the car has not aged particularly well when compared to a few other sports cars, including such classics as the Mazda RX-7.
19 Mazda Xedos 9
Mazda very much had their own mind when it came to designing cars, and they very much persisted with the famous rotary engine for over 20 years which proved to be a big success for them. But the Xedos, or the Millenia, was not a great success. A car aimed at taking on the likes of the Mercedes E Class and BMW 5 Series, it ultimately didn’t achieve the success that Mazda had envisioned. Sales figures were really not good despite a nine-year production one, so ultimately Mazda scrapped the car in 2002, and had indeed failed to really take on Mercedes and BMW.
18 Datsun F10
Now, beauty is quite a subjective thing, and the majority are very much in the ballpark that the Datsun F10 is not the greatest looking car in the world. Now, I personally am not that resistant to its looks but I will admit to it being a very odd looking machine. But that is essentially why this car has not done particularly well in Japan and indeed amongst car lovers around the world. Whilst looks can often hide the fact that a car is very good, not many people really want to drive a car that is ugly so that is very understandable.
17 Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is certainly an interesting car, and it is rather remarkable that it's now in its fifth generation. The minivan was conceived in Japan in 1994, but immediately there were problems. The car was born in the wake of Japan’s economic crisis of the 1990s, and this resulted in constraints being put onto the vehicle. Its size was reduced and the overall concept as well was changed from what had been originally planned. As such, the car became useless outside of Japan, and especially in the main markets of the United States and Canada which certainly hampered the car's sales.
16 Suzuki Samurai
A little SUV, and Japan’s version of a Jeep. But without the quality. Ever seen that bit in Top Gear where the Reliant Robin rolled over? Yeah, this could roll too. It was very wobbly in strong winds and, unlike a lot of Japanese cars, the thing was not built to the highest standards. Kids in school could probably build something that was stronger than this car. Nothing wrong with the appearance, and it is kind of cute. But it was a bit pointless and Suzuki could have saved themselves so much time and effort. Still, it’s not as bad as their awful X90.
15 Suzuki X90
There aren’t many reasons to like this car. I mean, just look at it! With the added bonus of not being able to tell which was the front of the car or the back of it, the Suzuki X90 was an absolute flop and, as expected, did not sell at all well. Why Suzuki thought this was a good idea is beyond us. An open-top 4x4 on paper doesn’t sound bad and it isn’t. But it is when it isn’t executed properly. It was built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Tracker, and they didn’t half mess it up did they?
14 Mazda Capella
The Mazda Capella was produced for many years, from 1970 to 2002 and ran through six different generations of models in its rather long lifespan. The Capella actually sold in solid numbers, with over four million going worldwide but there were a few issues with the machine. And these ultimately stopped it from being a very good car. The automatic transaxle was awful, with clunking, random shifts up and down and Mazda was unable to fix this rather fundamental issue. Not only that but the car tended to suffer numerous alternator failures, which again did nothing to help the car's reputation.
13 Mazda Rotary Truck
The Mazda Rotary Pickup is an incredibly beautiful little pickup truck and something I would love to drive around as a classic vehicle. But the one big problem is the little detail in its name. A rotary engine is quite a wonderful invention, especially in a sports car. The Mazda RX-7, for example, is a beautiful car and a wonderful sports car when performing at its best. But the rotary engine is not suited to a pickup, not able to provide enough grunt and torque to move a good load on something a bit heavier than a sports car. So the rotary pickup, whilst being a gorgeous classic, just is not up to the jobs that many would require it to do.
12 Scion IQ
Remember the Aston Martin Cygnet? Well, this awful machine here is what inspired AM to make the Cygnet. There is no point talking about anything other than the aesthetics with this car because I think we can safely say, this is one of the most repellant and ungainly looking cars that you could ever lay eyes on. People think the Datsun F-10 was bad but this car really does make you appreciate the Datsun’s looks a bit more. It would no doubt be a good car in cities such as Tokyo, Paris and perhaps London due to its size, but would you really want to be seen in this car? Scion, which is a division of Toyota, has a motto of “Weird, right?” Well, that is very true indeed.
11 Datsun 280ZX
The Datsun 240Z was a great car and universally loved, so they decided to improve it and create the 280ZX which was a great idea. But unfortunately, no one told Datsun that a great idea also has to become a great product. The 280ZX was fat, heavy, and slow, and nowhere near the same league as the 240Z. It had more power granted, but it took the advent of a turbo before it could even think of taking advantage of that extra grunt. It is not a horrible looking car, as not many Datsun’s were (including the F10), but it was nothing compared to its predecessor.
10 Subaru XT
I’m really unsure what this car is meant to be. I’ve heard many machines described as cheese slabs but this really takes it to a whole new level. The XT was built in the 1980s when everything could be a bit odd at times, but you have to wonder who at Subaru took one look at the prototype and went “yes, this is a truly magnificent car.” It looks like it’s been carved out with a cleaver. It also has the most ridiculous steering wheel ever to grace a car from the 1980s. Thankfully, it is a minor blot on Subaru’s copybook.
9 Eagle Talon
Partly made by Mitsubishi and a cross between a Chrysler and a Mitsubishi, the Talon was a car that made its owners walk. Because so much could go wrong with this car you would have been better off buying a bicycle. Everything from the air-conditioning, to the turbo to the gaskets, the talon was plagued by a multitude of reliability issues. Styling-wise, it really isn’t bad and has a sleek sort of look to it. But not every car that looks good performs good, and the Talon is one of those cars.
8 1976 Honda Accord
I will admit to having a soft spot for old Honda Accords, but this one does have a few little issues that need to be talked about. Perhaps the worst is how fast this little gem would rust up, which is something that a fair few cars of the era would suffer from to be fair. The car was also advertised as a three-speed, yet only had two forward gears, which was a tad confusing at the time. What you can’t dispute is how lovely the Accord looks and I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one.
7 Nissan Cedric
What’s wrong with this car? Well, let's start with the name. I can’t exactly get excited about a car that is called Cedric. Nor can I get excited about a car that is so monumentally boring looking as this one. Now the Cedric wasn’t actually a bad car, but Nissan tried quite hard to make a car that had similar styling to that of a Rolls Royce, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the gravitas or appeal of a Rolls Royce and like I said, it has a dull name and also looks very dull as well. The quality wasn’t there compared to a ‘Royce either.
6 Mazda 626
Mazda is well-known for making particularly good cars, but the 626 was not the company's finest hour. Indeed, you would not associate the words 'quality' or 'lifetime' with this car. When new, the 626 handled quite nicely. But as the years went by the 626 slowly started to show its age, and reports came through that the car would randomly start to downshift whenever it felt like doing it. Warning lights would also flash at random and the car quite literally developed a mind of its own. The baseline was solid enough but Mazda simply failed to capitalize on what they had at the beginning.
5 Subaru Tribeca
Right. Okay. I think you know exactly where this is going. I have seen some ugly cars in my life, and seen some very ugly cars, but this really does outdo pretty much all of them. I always feel that this car has a face that effectively is the car realizing how ugly it actually is having just seen itself in the mirror. As expected, the car didn’t sell all to well, and it was nowhere near being the best SUV that you could buy at the time. It’s surprising to see a company from Japan produce something so damn ugly. Not Subaru’s finest hour, it's safe to say.
4 Isuzu Stylus
The Isuzu Stylus is interesting in that it was also called the Gemini. But that is where the interest in this car really ends. Isuzu built the car until 1993 and the title was retired by Honda in 2000. The Stylus had various issues. The second version of the car was a mess, the front wheel drive never really catching on in the market and the car was woefully unreliable as well as being quite bad to look at. So for those reasons, the Stylus never really had a chance and there weren’t many people that were unhappy to see the car vanish for good in 2000.
3 Subaru Leone
Another Subaru to make this list, the Leone never really stood a chance like the stylus thanks to its awful looks and that it was nowhere near as strong as a load of other cars that were around at the time. The Leone featured a boxer engine and was Subaru’s top model until 1989, when the Legacy appeared. But this engine in the Leone was very unrefined, as well as being awfully loud and the head gaskets caused a multitude of problems both for owners and the company itself. Boxer engines are hard to access and replace, and it really wasn’t worth it seeing as all they could produce was around 90 bhp.
2 Toyota Paseo
Now we come to the Toyota Paseo, an unusual name for sure. And if you want to translate the name, 'paseo' in Spanish means to walk or stroll. And this isn’t 'stroll' as in Lance Stroll, the fast F1 driver. This is leisurely stroll territory. And unfortunately, this is all the Paseo could really do. It was a sports car-styled machine, but it wasn’t a sports car, it was an economy car. And that was a big mistake on Toyota’s part. The car had no power and featured innovative leaking radiators, which of course is going to be a problem. As such, there wasn’t much good about the Paseo.
1 Infiniti QX56
This ugly thing is also dull. And much worse than the already pretty boring Cedric. The QX56 was an attempt by Nissan/Infiniti to compete with Range Rover, but they failed big time. The brakes would apparently wear out after less than 3,000 miles and it would need constant oil changes. The car was overweight with tiny brakes, which meant it took a lot of braking power to stop the thing which of course, is going to knacker up said brakes. Recent models have become much better and rather respectful. But in its origins, the QX56 was a nightmare so it is no surprise that it has featured on this list.
Sources: The News Wheel, Motor1, Wikipedia, Bring a Trailer, Stephs Stuff