QotW: What’s the greatest front-wheel-drive JNC?


Light weight combined with a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive architecture is a potent combination. It is the very reason why many of us love JNCs in the first place. Sometimes, however, our love for FR cars can give the appearance that we dislike front-wheel-drive. Nothing could be further from the truth!

What’s the greatest front-wheel-drive JNC?

Of all the Japanese automakers, Honda is the most stubbornly nose-biased. Imagine the utter dominance they’d luxuriate in if their phenomenal engines and chassis dynamics had been applied to FR platforms beyond the S-series roadsters. The mind boggles. Instead, Hondas have proven to be incredible performers throughout the decades, regardless of which wheels motivate the car.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the best second JNC for your garage?” 


This week’s winner is DerrickS, who wins the argument with a surprisingly practical choice.

My vote goes to a Toyota 4×4. Everyone needs a truck for daily driving duties, and to bring home all of that stuff you need to keep your house other JNC in shape. Those early 4×4 trucks were do-it-all machines. They were small, economical, could go anywhere, were dead simple, and tough as nails. And It’s so much easier (and cleaner) to haul a transmission in the bed of a truck, rather than in your wife’s Mazda3 GT. As an added bonus, if you live where it snows, you can spend those months pulling full size American trucks from ditches.

Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!



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19 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest front-wheel-drive JNC?

  1. Jdmrx2 says:

    I’m no too sure if it is the greatest, but it is definately the sexiest…..by a long shot….having been put off of front wheel drives by a near death experience in a Mitsubishi Colt, I have sworn that the only front wheel drive that I would ever own would be the absolutely stunning Bertone styled Mazda R130 Luce. To have curves and style like that I would look past the fact that it is front wheel drive…..

  2. Nigel says:

    Toyota FX16, if you have seen one, you will likely want one.
    (Nissan/Datsun Cherry comes to mind also).

  3. Alvin says:

    Honda CRX Si. The obvious choice- light, easy on gas, great handling.

    What more needs to be said? It’s a car not even the CR-Z can touch today, no matter how hard Honda tried.

  4. E-AT_me says:

    Honda Coupe 9. Because that air-cooled engine of beauty..

  5. invinciblejets says:

    Everyone’s going to say Honda’s…….but my pick is the fourth gen 86-89 st162 celica gts

    3sge engine ….tvis…. handles amazing for a fwd too.

    And just looks so 80s makes me want to cry I miss my st162….anyone who’s owned one knows what I mean.

  6. Tremayne says:

    I second the FX16. Swift GT seems good too.

  7. j3wman says:

    3rd Gen Civic/CRX platform commonly known as the EA platform. It was available only in FWD (AWD wagon only), and was the Civic that made the Civic known in the performance community. whooping nearly all the cars in the next class up in Super Taikyo races, taking one of the most archaic suspension platforms and still be able to dominate autocross courses across the U.S. and being the basis for the first 10 second Honda ever are all performance achievements it has under its belt.

    Its awkward 80s styling with damn near a perfectly square hood that can be used as a coffee table, flip up headlights that look like they should be static headlights, the CRX button OEM wheels which are so gross you love them and a silhouette that was designed with a ruler make this car beautiful.

    And the collectability you just cannot f with. The trim level of the Si being legitimately the only fuel injected trim level makes it actually mean something. And in 1984 to celebrate Ayrton Senna winning the F1 season they released the CRX F1 which had a very unique interior with a steering wheel button that said F1 on it. And any Honda enthusiast knows this car had damn near as any different options as the EF which was known for around 60,000 interior options if you combine all the parts available in different countries.

    It was also a groundbreaking car in that Honda pioneered Fuel Injection in this chassis, the wagon was given their famed RT4WD system, Honda began to experiment with different interior gadgets to keep their buyers happy and this was considered the last classic civic before you got to the more modernized EF, EG, and EK Civics and this is the Civic that made people modify those.

  8. Matt says:

    I would have to argue that the 5th gen Celica was a fantastic fwd platform, fun to drive, it handled amazingly and the looks were great. The power in the 5sfe was a little weak, but I was always able to find enjoyment in driving it none the less…not to mention mine was virtually maintenance free at 180k.

    I love my Legacy, but miss my celica still.

  9. Ace says:

    2nd gen CRX for sure. Short wheelbase, light, agile, double wishbones on all 4. If you had the Si it came with rear anti sway bars which cut down on understeer. 90,91 Si version you got 4wheel disc brakes. Interior visibility is amazing and the same could be said about the interior space. It was also a remarkable car in that it got great mileage across all the the models offered with the hf besting even some of the current hybrids out now. If you are lucky enough to own an SiR/1.6i-VT model it was the second car in Honda’s lineup to receive the then new B16A VTEC engine. Sure its not the fastest car and people will argue the Integra and the Celica to be better, but having driven both, they just never put a big enough grin on your face. Its that tossable feeling you get when you drive a CRX that is almost the same feeling you get when driving an old Mini, by the numbers on paper these cars just aren’t suppose to be as fun as they are but there is something else in there. Its one of the great mysteries in life. 🙂

  10. Jesse Risk says:

    The R130 Luce was at the forefront of its generation. a 13A engine with 94kw and 174nm of torque made in the late 60’s was an engineering master piece, mated to a FWD chassis and unique water-cooled oil cooler and front disc brakes. The body was designed by the famous Giorgetto Giugiaro, of Bertone notoriety, and the car both heralded the end of the 60’s ‘Italian era’ of j-tin, as well as propelling Mazda into a long history of rotary-powered coupes, all under the watchful eye of Tsuneji Matsuda in his 19-yeear reign at the top of the Mazda company. Albeit not of top-level racing pedigree, the R130 Luce is one of the rarest and most sort after FWD’s of all time, and thats why it gets my vote.

  11. Drew says:

    Surely it’s the Honda 1300 Coupe 9 is the greatest front-wheel-drive. It was the final car developed by Soichiro Honda himself, and he didn’t seem to balk at finishing his career with an especially unusual and innovative car.
    The 1300 engine is air cooled, dry sumped, dual walled and finned like a motorbike engine to create a greater surface area for cooling. The Coupe 9 model wears a single Keihin carb over each of the four cylinders. All this amounts to 116bhp, and a redline the far side of 8000rpm.
    The distinctive grill, black on black interior, and particularly the dash and wide steering wheel are a bit of a hat tip to American muscle cars of the era, and more than one critic noted that Mr Honda was a Pontiac owner at the time of the development of the 1300.
    The car is in no way as practical a choice as the robust and in every way more conventional Civics that followed the 1300, but for a collector the 1300 is the obvious choice for a front driver.

  12. Dave says:

    It’s the Honda City Turbo for me. It’s one of the first outright high-performance Hondas, complete with the red accents on the bumpers, “Hyperturbo” stickers, and the blister fenders on the later Turbo II. It was a harbinger for Mugen and had its share of time on the race track. It was chock full of gadgets like a digital speedometer nested within a tach, seats that vibrated with the stereo, and the coolest gadget of them all, the Motocompo folding scooter in the trunk. All so very ’80s and very Japanese. It was also pretty sophisticated for its time, it’s engine having not just CVCC but also Honda’s then-cutting edge “PGM-FI” fuel injection. Of course it’s one of the very few turbo’d Hondas, with the Turbo II gaining an intercooler as well. And they didn’t leave out the characteristic JDM lingo; aside from “Hyperturbo,” the engine was dubbed “COMBAX,” which stood for “Compact Blazing Combustion Axiom.” All this aside, the City Turbo was just a cool car, full of personality and humor, one of the most charismatic and unusual Hondas ever sold. I want one of these more than I do a CR-X.

  13. JoeyZ says:

    Nissan Pulsar with the interchangeable rear hatch lids, the super awesome diagonal slash tail light covers and the 1.8L twin cam motor.

  14. Andrew says:

    I am going to choose the Honda 1300 Coupe 9 S, because it looks really sexy (The nose shape is really nice, unlike anything else), and from Gran Turismo experiences, the car is very fun to drive, and handles much better than you might expect an FF car to handle.

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