List: Top 15 Asian Cars From Winding Road's Involvement Index 2.0

By John Beltz Snyder

July 07, 2011

87

87 - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR Touring: The Evo’s amazing grip and great controls make it Everyman’s supercar. Performs even better when pushed close to its limits. Touring trim means you could live with it as a daily driver.

82

82 - Mazda RX-8 R3: The RX-8 can out-handle some of the best of them. What it lacks in acceleration, it makes up for in ability to hold speed through multiple corners. Love or hate the rotary on full song—there’s no middle ground.

81

81 - Subaru WRX STI: Not as hardcore as the Evo, but still incredibly capable, especially on loose roads. The STI loves less-than-perfect conditions. The driver has good command over the driving dynamics via in-cabin controls. Forgiving ride is a surprise plus here.

81

81 - Mazda MX-5: A joyful Japanese roadster that loves to dance. Its modest power and price don’t compromise its near-synaptic turn-in and handling. Taking it to the edge of its capabilities and bringing it back safely and easily becomes quickly addicting. Now more of a legend than the Brit roadsters it was built to copy.

80

80 - Lexus IS-F: Ferociously fast (and a little on the wild side) for a Lexus. Stunning engine sometimes let down by a confused transmission. Easy to fly under the radar when not burning rubber, but with a 5.0, rear-wheel drive, and handsome looks, who wants subtlety?

80

80 - Nissan 370Z: Svelte, raw, and athletic, the Z is better as a package than its individual qualities would suggest. This stiff sports coupe makes a great car for the track, and can still turn heads on public roads.

76

76 - Subaru Impreza WRX: Good steering, a decently powerful motor, and looks borrowed from the STI make the WRX a great bargain in the sport-compact market. The all-wheel drive does wonders for handling.

76

76 - Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart: 80 percent of an Evo MR at 80 percent of the price adds up to a sweet ride given how great (and expensive) the Evo is. The Sportback adds functionality to boot.

76

76 - Honda Civic Si: A larger, 2.4-liter four with more torque means this Si is more drivable than the outgoing car, but a little less intense, too. Pointy handling and one of the best stick shifts in the business remain.

76

76 - Acura TL SH-AWD: Strong-revving V-6 and light, confident handling make this sedan distinctly agile. Grip for days, too. Expect an involvement score a few points higher for the brilliant six-speed manual car, as the autobox is merely good.

75

75 - Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track: While we love the Genesis 2.0T, opting for the 3.8 will get you a proper muscle car. Dynamic foibles like a notchy gearbox and difficult clutch drop the Coupe’s score. Purists will love the rear-drive nature of the Genny Coupe.

74

74 - Honda CR-Z: A tossable, quick-rotating sports car of a hybrid. Electric assist gives this Honda more low-down torque than most all other sub-2.0-liter cars, too. Not incredibly fast, but its snickety manual transmission is great to use.

74

74 - Mazdaspeed3: Lovers of excess, look no further. Maniacal engine offers up thrills unmatched by anything near this price. The turbo motor offers a unique song, and catapults this car from low revs. Indelicate handling and too-numb controls hold the MS3 back, though.

73

73 - Infiniti G37S Convertible: Handling here is middle of the coupe pack, with a slightly soft nature. The drivetrain makes up for it, though, with good mid-range punch, a nice six-speed shifter, and pleasantly rorty engine sounds. Athletic when you need it, laidback when you want it.

73

73 - Lexus IS350 AWD: Nicely quick and really quite capable when dispatching curvy roads. Surprisingly fun to drive in all sorts of driving conditions. Lack of steering feel, feedback, and overall sense of specialness are the main downsides.

87 82 81 81 80 80 76 76 76 76 75 74 74 73 73

The Involvement Index Awards draw near, folks, in our upcoming issue of Winding Road. We’ve already brought you our most involving American cars, all-wheel-drive cars, and the overall most involving cars per dollar. Now it’s time to take a look at the highest-rated Asian cars that we've driven since the inauguration of the Winding Road Involvement Index 2.0.


+ WR Classic Video: Nissan GT-R