“Ridge Racer-feeling” are the words used to describe the Autozam AZ-1, the Mazda-Suzuki collab that was quite possibly the pinnacle of the kei car breed. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, just death and taxes, or something like that. So in exchange for the gift of reduced vehicle registration fees and the ability to park anywhere, the otherwise unforgiving Japanese government imposed severe constraints on physical size and engine displacement kei cars. Mid-engined, twin-cammed, turbo-charged, and gull-winged, the Autozam took those constraints and made the most bonkers, futuristic sports car it could.
Very few people stateside have had the opportunity to drive one. Regular Car Reviews got their hands on one, despite the fact that the AZ-1 is not regular at all (it’s insane). Even more irregular, this particular one has the front of its platform twin the Suzuki Cara, but the rear of an AZ-1. It’s also a car that has recently become legal for US import, making it suddenly available to those who didn’t grow up immersed trying to get all gold in the Gran Turismo license test. Now automotive hipsters are absolutely busting at the seams to get one, driving the price up to $16,000. Apparently, it’s suddenly “the coolest car in America.”