JDM Engines

The Best Sounding JDM Cars and Engines

Japan has produced some incredible-sounding cars throughout the years. Most folk really only know about the “GT-R” engine (RB26DDET) and “Supra” engine (2JZ-GTE), and fair-play since those are some really good sounding engines. But unbeknownst to most, there are more hidden gems hidden in the secret corners of Japan. Let’s discover some of the best-sounding JDM cars to have come out of Japan.

Nissan GT-R R32, R33, R34 – 2,568 cc TT I6 (RB26DDET)

Like the Supra, the Nissan GT-R is a legendary vehicle. At the time, the GT-R broke records that were fought to be unbreakable. It was so far ahead of the competition that it was eventually banned from certain racing series because it was so far ahead of everyone else. The GT-R had many good things going for it, but perhaps the most noticeably one is the engine, the RB26DDET. There is a reason the same engine was used for three generations of the GT-R.

Like most JDM engines, the RB26DDET is very tuner friendly. And really, already from the research and development of the engine, the engineers had in mind that this was an engine that should be modified, and tuned. So, they designed for that. What I am trying to say is, that the RB26DDET was overbuilt. The internals is capable of withstanding a lot more than the stock power.

Basically, a nicely modified RB26DDET doesn’t necessarily be loud, it just makes a nice sound. Sure, you could modify the RB26 to make it sound ridiculous, or you could keep it tame – it sounds good regardless.  

Toyota Supra – 2,997cc TT I6 (2JZ-GTE)

Let’s kid no one, we would be fools if we left out the Toyota Supra from this list.

The Supra is a great, good-looking, nice performance. But let’s talk about the engine, the 2JZ-GTE.

The 2JZ-GTE was a lot thing, reliable, durable, powerful, and produced an undeniable good sound. In standard form, the 2JZ-GTE is quite restricted, given what it is capable of. However, if you do release its full capabilities, you’ll have yourself a dragon in the form of an engine.

The sound of a slightly tuned Toyota Supra with an aftermarket exhaust could possibly be best described as demons trying to escape from hell – its quite an unforgettable sound really.

Now there is the non-turbo version, and while that is also a nice sounding engine, it has nothing on the twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE. And really, any video doesn’t do it justice, but here is one nonetheless.

Toyota Soarer/Lexus SC400 – 3,968 cc V8 (1UZ-FE)

The Toyota Soarer and Lexus had two engine choices. Either you could go with the famous 2JZ engine (also good sounding), or you could opt for a not-so-usual JDM V8, the 1UZ-FE.

The Toyota/Lexus V8 was basically produced to be put into luxury sedans such as the Lexus LS400 and Toyota Crown. But don’t let that fool you, the 4.0L V8 was very capable and was in production all the way to 2013, long after the Soarer and SC400 had been decommissioned.

What made the Soarer and SC400 so special was that there had not really been a JDM sports car with a beefy V8 before. When people saw a Japanese coupe on the streets, the last they’d expect is a muscle V8 sound coming out under the bonnet.

Honda Beat – 656 cc I-3 (E07A)

For most people this is a hit or miss, some love it, and some don’t. Personally, we love it.

The Honda Beat doesn’t use a regular four-banger which is to be expected. Rather, the Beat has an Inline-three, and it makes for quite a cool sound.

The 656 cc Inline-three was naturally aspirated produced just 63hp and was limited to 135 km/h (84 mph) the engine could rev all the way up to 9,000 RPM!

With a few small aftermarket upgrades, you could make your Honda Beat sound like a racing bike. But even completely stock the Beat produces a fantastic noise. Quite honestly, the Honda Beat is a very underrated car overall and does deserve more praise. Listen to this!

Mazda RX-7 FD – 1,308 cc Rotary (13B-REW)

The Mazda RX-7 likely has the most distinct sound of any other car on this list with its famous Wankel rotary engine.

The Wankel engine skips your ordinary traditional cylinders and pistons and instead utilizes a triangular rotor that circulates and allows for combustion. This does not only make for a unique design, but also for a very unique sound.

The engine of the RX-7 FD, the 13B-REW is a complex, but impressive piece of engineering. By utilizing a sequentially “twin” turbocharged version of the 13B, the 1.3L Rotary engine produced an impressive 280hp (209kW).

The sound of the RX-7 FD is hard to explain with words. But imagine combining an old-school muscle car with a high-revving sports bike. The RX-7 has the idle of the muscle car and the high-pitched noise of the motorcycle.

Lexus LFA – 4,805 cc V10 (1LR-GUE)

This could very likely be the best-sounding road-legal car to ever be produced. The Lexus LFA was special, not only due to the limited production of 500 cars but also by the extremely intensive research of development. Lexus put a lot of money into the car, and even at a ridiculous price of $375,000 Lexus lost money on every single car.

And to be fair, the Lexus LFA was not produced to make money. It was to prove to the world that Lexus could create a supercar so good, that the name Lexus would forever be written in the history books of sports cars.

To make this work, Lexus teamed up with perhaps the best engine manufacturer in the world, Yamaha. Together they created a masterpiece of an engine, the 4.8L V10 (1LR-GUE) with a 9,000 RPM redline. From a standstill, the 1LR-GUE engine could go from idle to maximum RPM in less than 0,6 seconds – that’s quite impressive.

The Lexus LFA was fitted with a titanium silencer as well as equally long exhaust headers which in turn transformed the noise from the engine into a bird song. The Lexus LFA sounds almost identical to an old-school formula-One car. And is, therefore, number one on the list of best-sounding JDM cars.

Take a listen!

E. Lindgren

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