QotW: Who will win Japan’s automaker Game of Thrones, Toyota-Subaru-Mazda or Nissan-Mitsubishi?

With the news on Friday that Toyota had taken a 5 percent stake in Mazda, it was clear that Japan’s great automotive houses were gearing up for a battle of epic proportions. In one corner, we have Nissan-Mitsubishi, a federation backed by powers from a distant land (Renault). In the other corner, we have a native giant that in recent years has been accumulating allies like a forming Voltron, Toyota-Subaru-Mazda (Actually, it’s Toyota-Subaru-Mazda-Suzuki-Isuzu-Hino-Daihatsu if you want to get specific about it).

There are many ways to measure victory. With shared platforms, there is the game of sales. With combined technologies, there is game of building the most beloved enthusiasts’ car. With united motorsports prowess, there is the game of winning actual races.

Who will win Japan’s automaker Game of Thrones, Toyota-Subaru-Mazda or Nissan-Mitsubishi?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC do you need to buy now before prices get ridic?” 

Though there were a great many comments this week, the winner this week is Long Beach Mike. Keep in mind this is not an endorsement of the most correct answer, but simply the one we liked reading the most. Congrats, LBM, and we hope to see your Accord get the recognition it deserves!

I would love to see my clean 1G Accord LX 5-speed hatch double or triple but I’m not holding my breath.

So instead I will nominate the 91-92 Galant VR-4. Practical, handsome, and oh so Japanese with its all wheel drive, all wheel steering, numbered dash plaque, and with that 4G63T that says “more boost, please”. Only 3000 were imported over the two year run, insuring that clean, unmolested examples will start going up in price as soon as everyone in the JNC community figures out they are really the EVO-0.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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11 Responses to QotW: Who will win Japan’s automaker Game of Thrones, Toyota-Subaru-Mazda or Nissan-Mitsubishi?

  1. Colin Brown says:

    Mazda has this in the bag. They have been in top since 1971 with Toyota right next to the them..Add Subi and the war is over before a shot is fired.

  2. Punto8 says:

    Toyota will one out the victor since they already are. The only independent company in Japan is Honda and with their new love or hate designs it will be tough for them to surpass the giant that Toyota has become. Now that I think of it, isn’t Toyota the largest most profitable car maker in the world? Is this GOT thread even relevant at this point?

  3. Ant says:

    If Toyota-Mazda finally brings about a production S-FR – made possible thanks to MX-5-related economies of scale on small rear-drive platforms – then we *all* win.

  4. SHC says:

    I believe the Porsche/VW family is the most profitable car maker, even with the diesel issues.

    If one allowed for total worldwide “vehicle” sales (cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, ATV’s and UTV’s) you might be surprised who the real winner might be in this supposition.

  5. ahja says:

    Nissan is weak and declining. It is a vassal of French company. And they just annexed the company that has no performance cars in their remaining 4 dealerships, no plans for anything beyond a reheated line up of 2 SUVs and one electric golf cart, and an existing customer base that would fit in a moderately sized neighborhood.

    (btw, I think Toyota’s ties are both deeper and more financially interconnected with Yamaha than they are with Suzuki.)

  6. Mike says:

    The Toyota-Subaru-Mazda kingdom will emerge victorious and barely scratched by battle because they combine Toyota’s enormous production capabilities, Mazda’s nimble, efficient design philosophy, and a deep legacy (no pun intended) of all wheel drive engineering. The Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance will fall because, well, France. I take no pleasure in this prediction.

  7. Rayson says:

    Nissan Alliance clearly is no match compared to the Toyota-Mazda-Subaru……… There wasn’t a single Nissan vehicle that has worked for me the past decade. (Nissan’s interior ergonomic never worked for me, I can never find the optimal driving position in a Nissan product. This is not only limited to the budget Versa, even the fancy GT-R too! Combined with their horrible CVT has doubled down the turn off for me as a whole, legit.) And now I am assuming I will be seeing more Renault-Nissan CVT in Mitsubishi in future………

    On the other hand, a decade ago I would go “meh” on any Toyota products. But now I am daily driving a Scion FR-S, loving it every moment! I am confirm it is one of the best handling cars ever available in the market today! (People who knock FR-S is overrated, you just haven’t tried it properly!)

    People often say don’t knock until you really try first. I tried variety of Nissan products from the last 10 years, and I can knock them ALL DAY LONG! (Seriously……..)

  8. Pippin Osborne says:

    Sadly, the eventual winner, as in all Monopoly games, will be Toyota and its subsidies. They are better funded, have more advanced technology in both design and manufacturing and the Toyota family is much more integrated than the Renault/ Nissan alliance.

    I say sadly because Nissan has made so many ground breaking “Halo cars” over the decades; from the first Skyline GRT’s to the 240Z and onward to Silvias. the R34 Skylines and 300ZX. Around the time of the Renault/ Nissan “deal”, the vision of Nissan seems to have been lost. The only bright lights in Nissan’s performance quiver are the V35 GTR and 370Z. Both of them are almost a decade old.

    Consumer demand seems to not be for performance or even a car that drives nicely. I think that most people would prefer a car that drives itself so they don’t have to learn how to drive. This is not a good sign for people who love to drive.

    The battleground has shifted and it is not on performance anymore. The winner between Toyota and Nissan will be the company who can deliver to the mass consumer the driving experience that they want.

  9. Wayne Thomas says:

    Mitsuoka is The Prince That Was Promised.

  10. Tom Westmacott says:

    Over the next ten to twenty years, three transformations will leave the face of motoring near-unrecognisable; cars will become electric, will drive themselves, and will in most cases be shared, turning up to give you a lift rather than being owned. Most people don’t actually want to *own* a car, they just want to be able to go places without waiting in the pouring rain for a bus that may never come (romantically as this is depicted in Tonari no Totoro). This is the logical end-point of ‘kuruma banare’ and the population density of large cities such as Tokyo, Singapore or London.

    However, in the medium term there will still be a market of enthusiasts wanting to *drive*; effectively the car market will divide into 90% ‘taxis’ and 10% ‘enthusiast cars’. So ignoring the former, the question is which grouping will best be able to create cars that people can be bothered to drive, rather than be driven by the AI.

    While all the Japanese manufacturers have strong histories of creating such cars, nowadays there is a much clearer divide. Mazda have never wavered from the pursuit of creating cars for drivers, the MX-5 is today the only Japanese sports car with an unbroken multi-decade run – it has more “heritage” today, than the 911 did when it launched back in ’89. On top of this are their intoxicatingly crazy rotaries, hardcore n/a engine tuning (14:1 compression), and perhaps the best-looking range of any mainstream manufacturer. Almost every other company has ‘grown up’, but Mazda have stuck to their jinba ittai principles.

    Toyota, by contrast, drifted away from fun-to-drive, but seem to have had a mid-life crisis recently, rejeuvenating their range with the neo-hachiroku, GRMN Yaris, MkV Supra and concepts like the Kikai. The always-faithful Mazda and returning Toyota make a formidable team, even without Subaru who have never wavered from the engineering purism of boxer engines and symmetrical 4wd.

    In a world where only enthusiasts want to buy cars, these companies have a far stronger heritage and proposition than the rival Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which seems far more likely to end up focusing on the ‘white goods’ side of things. Nissan has some great heritage, but nearly all of it came from two very specific injections of gasoline into their veins; hiring Mr K, and taking over Prince Motor Company. Barring any further infusions of adrenaline, I see them selling a range of Leaves, with maybe a semi-autonomous GTR supercar sitting incongruously atop the range.

    So my prediction would be both companies battling it out in the commodity ‘taxi’ market, but only Toyota-Mazda-Subaru challenging the old-world heritage brands in the enthusiast market with petrol-powered, manually driven sports cars that people yearn to call their own.

  11. Ernie Szots says:

    Winter is coming…for Nissan-Mitsubishi. No amount of dragon glass can stop Toyota-Subaru-Mazda.

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