View Full Version : Square Japanese Cars

aly in underland
04-09-11, 10:41 AM
So, here's something I've been wondering since I saw the state of the Japanese streets... why is it that the Japanese are so big on square cars? Sure, you do get the Cube and that Toyota here, but they're more enthusiast cars, not a mainstream choice. In fact, a Japanese person I talked to was amazed that we hardly have any square cars in Australia, and instead we get what's considered the sporty end of the Japanese small-medium car market...

Clarkson once said that in automotive design we desire "something that excites the ancient part of our brain; something that makes us a little bit frightened" and that "the square simply isn't a frightening shape" - and I'd agree, but does this difference come from...Culture? Marketing? The value and emotional significances we place on our cars?

Discuss =]

Fig. I: Suzuki Lapin with lots of other square cars in a parking lot

Fig. II: Honda Mobilio Spike

Fig. III: Daihatsu Tanto

Philip Lee
04-09-11, 02:32 PM
2 out of the 3 pic you showed are Kei cars. they have dimension restriction so to maximise space (to carry 4 passengers + a boot) they are more tend to be in a box shape.

typically for Asian countries where parking is at a premium, many people can only afford 1 car so they tend to buy the most practical car they can. so box shape cars and mini van are popular.

05-09-11, 12:12 PM
^ hit the nail on the head.
Its all because of size restrictions, and maximum interior room from a restricted exterior size. Basically, the complete opposite to a chrysler 300C. The sides are flat so they dont cut in on headroom, and the roof is high wih upright seating, as people take up alot less space when theyre in a chair-like seat, not awesomly reclined..

aly in underland
05-09-11, 01:09 PM
*nods* All this makes great sense, but then in Europe where parking and space is at a premium and petrol is expensive (just like in Japan), the supercompact cars are essentially standard hatchbacks with upright seating and high roofs, yet square cars haven't caught on at all in any segment. =/

Fig. IV: Toyota Aygo
Fig. V: Opel Meriva
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/04/Opel_Meriva_B_1.4_ECOTEC_Innovation_front_20100907 .jpg/250px-Opel_Meriva_B_1.4_ECOTEC_Innovation_front_20100907 .jpg
Fig. VI: Renault Twingo

Especially given that the Rest Of The World seems to shy away from shoebox-cars because they're considered aesthetically boring (and the above cars seems to be doing everything to make them look not-square), what is it about the JDM market that still makes it about the only place that "square" is a popular design concept? Is the cliched idea that the Japanese value practicality over style, or that they think of cars as mere appliances actually true?

Philip Lee
05-09-11, 02:34 PM
but you do realise that Kei car has restricted size of around 3500mm length, 1475mm width and 660cc engine?

Twingo has a size of 3600mm length and 1655mm width. that's 10cm longer and 18cm wider, with an engine nearly double the capacity.

however the best selling car in Japan in 2010 (http://henk-bekker.suite101.com/list-of-the-top-20-best-selling-cars-by-model-in-japan-2010-a331172) wasn't a box shape car. (pls note they had tax incentive for Hybrid so Prius was top selling but argubly the first of the domestic box shape car is Honda Freed (5th)).

i don't think even in japan, other than Kei class box shape is that mainstream.

05-09-11, 03:30 PM
I was expecting 80's Chasers and whatnot when I clicked on this thread. Am disappoint.

05-09-11, 05:02 PM
I was expecting 80's Chasers and whatnot when I clicked on this thread. Am disappoint.