Most popular Japanese Imports to Ireland

We take a look at the most popular imported Japanese cars in Ireland.

Back in the 1990s and 2000s, second-hand Japanese imports were a thriving business in Ireland. As well as sporty models such as the Toyota Starlet GT Turbo and Nissan Silvia beloved of boy racers, even the Japanese versions of mundane cars such as the Nissan Micra and Mitsubishi Pajero were sought after by the boatload. Japanese cars offered a much higher level of spec than Irish- or UK-market cars with luxurious features like air conditioning, automatic gearboxes and CD auto-changers being relatively common. On top of that, their condition was usually very good, thanks to Japan’s rigorous equivalent to the NCT.

After the recession, the popularity of Japanese imports fell away, though following Brexit and changes to the VAT and VRT regimes in Ireland, importing cars from Japan, another right-hand-drive market, now seems like a desirable option again. More than 30 per cent of the imported used cars registered so far this year are from Japan, despite a general fall of 43 per cent in imports. And it isn’t just Japanese cars either — European models from the likes of Volkswagen, Audi and Peugeot are also being imported from Japan, partially due to the current scarcity of used cars on the market (with consequently inflated values) thanks to the global semiconductor shortage making new cars harder to come by than before.

The most popular Japanese imports are, however, still Japanese cars and, examining Carzone’s data, here are the most popular models.

Toyota Aqua

Think of a Toyota Yaris crossed with a Prius and you’re on the right track with the Aqua. Although it was sold overseas as the Toyota Prius c, this hybrid never made it to Europe. Its chief association with the Prius was its use of the same full-hybrid powertrain and 1.5-litre petrol engine allowing for 2km or so of electric-only running. Depending on specification and condition, 2016-2018 Toyota Aquas range from around €11,500 to €14,000.

Honda Fit

Honda Fit

Known here as the Honda Jazz, the Fit is a roomy and well-made hatchback with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. The majority of Honda Fit models currently on Carzone are hybrids with a 1.5-litre petrol engine under the bonnet. Prices for 2016-2018 cars range from around the €13,000 mark up to €16,000 or so. Because the Fit was produced over several generations, there are models to suit different budgets with 2012 cars going for a little under €8,000.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage was sold in Ireland as the Mitsubishi Space Star, a successor to the popular Mitsubishi Colt as well as the Space Star MPV, though the Mirage-based model never achieved quite the same sales figures. With facelifted looks and a higher spec (including automatic gearboxes) than Irish-market Space Star models, the Mirage is powered by economical 1.2- and 1.3-litre petrol engines. Prices run the gamut from 2012 models for just over €7,500 to 2018 models for just under €13,000.

Suzuki Splash

The Suzuki Splash was sold in Europe sitting just under the Swift in Suzuki’s model line-up and was a jointly developed project between Suzuki and Opel, also sold as the Opel Agila. While there were three-cylinder 1.0-litre engines to choose from as well as the rare diesel, for the second-generation Splash, Japan only got the 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine meaning that all Japanese-import Splashes come with that willing little unit under the bonnet. The Splash wasn’t especially popular here, though there are still plenty of Irish models to be found on the market for those enticed by the cute looks. For more gadgets and automatic gearboxes though, Japanese imports are the ones to go for with prices around the €8,750 mark or lower for 2013 models.

Toyota Vitz

The Toyota Vitz has the same things going for it as the perennially popular Yaris because they’re the same car. Yes, an Irish-market Yaris isn’t hard to come by with its bulletproof engines and hybrid options but for better-equipped models and automatic gearboxes, there’s also the Vitz to choose from. The third-generation Vitz was built from 2010 until 2019, so there’s a wide range available from older models for around €8,000 to 2018 and 2019 cars for just under €17,000.