659cc of turbocharged fury says forget what you think you know about cars
- You don't need an insane amount of horsepower to go fast. In fact, you apparently only need 64 of them. Enter: turbocharged kei cars.
The kei car era started in Japan after World War II, and by the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, had jumped to 550-660cc motors that offered a surprising amount of performance. While there was a limit on the total amount of horsepower at 64, there were no rules on HOW that power was made, so manufacturers started turbocharging and supercharging various kei cars and trucks to give the tiny cars even more of a punch in these sub 1,600lb vehicles.
This example is a 1994 Diahatsu Mira TR-XX Avanzato R, an extremely long name for such a tiny car, something like 1,440lbs. And not to throw shade on the stock car’s LSD, but the previous owner seems to have put some mild work into the car prepping it for track/auto-x, as this one has an upgraded clutch type front LSD, making it corner deeper and harder than you ever thought possible in something that looks like this on the outside.
It’s fun on a track, but also surprisingly not bad to drive for hours at a time. The interior is actually livable, which I think has to be credited to the taller roof and increase in headroom. Oh, and the Android Auto headunit, shout to the owner. The car has no problem keeping up at highway speeds and cruising along, but it really was a blast off the highway, finding some fun roads made you feel like a badass despite for the most part not really even breaking the speed limit sometimes. It’s the perfect antidote for car enthusiast malaise in the age of cars where seemingly 4000lbs+ and 700,000,000hp is all the rage; something small you can hop in, take off, and row the gears with a vengeance, and yet stay out of jail. I get the fun of super high horsepower, I do, I love it as well. But this kind of fun was an entirely different kind of driving. If you have the means, I highly recommend the experience.