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MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION: If the WRX had a perfect match in the gladiatorial showdown for best Nipponese muscle sedan, it would be the Lancer Evolution. Bred along the same race-lines as the WRX with all-wheel-drive and a rip-snorting turbocharged engine, this model is new to the U.S. in ‘04. More garish in appearance and personality, the Lancer ”EVO” (in street parlance) was the choice for Paul Walker’s hero car in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 2! (MSRP: $28,987)

MAZDA RX8: The masters of zoom-zoom-zen and the legendary RX7 have done it again. Nothing looks or feels quite like the RX8, a coupe that just so happens to have four ”suicide” doors for easy back seat access without the bloated or boxy look of a sedan. Taking a page from, well, nowhere, Mazda has equipped this rear-wheel-drive stormer with taught, muscular lines and an industry-exclusive rotary engine. With only 1.3 liters, this high revving motor sounds like nothing else and can easily keep up with most sports cars. If you are looking for a car in a category of one, the RX8 is, well, your only choice. (MSRP: $23,274-26,680)


Blame the EPA and those scaredy cats at the Department of Transportation, but I’m sad to say that we in America do not get Japan’s best. These two legends have been around for decades but have a slim-to-none chance of gracing our shores.

TOYOTA CENTURY: Also called the Emperors’ car, the giant limo-like Century is Japan’s answer to the Lincoln Town Car and Rolls Royce combined. It’s the car for Politicos, Industrialists and Japanese pop stars. To get a good look at the super sedan, keep your eyes peeled in LOST IN TRANSLATION for the big black car that chauffeurs Bill Murray around Tokyo. With a world class V-12 engine (a Japanese 1st) and a smooth-as-silk ride, the Century is the rarest and most expensive car ever built by the island nation. With only 200 hand-built a year, don’t expect to ever see one stateside. / Issue 39 - September 4074
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