Mike Stevens | May 9, 2008

Mazda announced a new minivan for the JDM market today, called the Biante. Specs are sparse at the moment but it looks to be one notch larger than the existing MPV. As you can see the styling is, um, interesting. It's taken the whole tall headlight look to a new extreme, extending them all the way up to the side glass with the A-pillar deftly hidden behind the transition point.

On the same day, Honda also revealed a new minivan, an 8-passenger hauler called the Freed. Again, details are nonexistent, and perhaps telling of the class of vehicle we're dealing with, the only teaser shot to be revealed is one of the interior.

hondafreed

And unlike Mazda, Honda already has seven other minivans in its lineup.

Ever since the late 90s, mountain carving performance cars have seen a rapid decline amongst Japan's youth. Rather than running down the Wangan or drifting in the hills, kids today prefer a slow cruise in a blinged-out van.

As sad as that may seem to Westerners hooked on JDM sports cars, the decline is understandable. For one, real estate, especially parking spaces, in trend-setting cities like Tokyo is ridiculously expensive. Unless you're loaded, you probably live in a drafty, dim, thin-walled and cramped apartment with parents or roommates. The mobile cabin of a van is like a rolling Taj Mahal in comparison. One theory even speculates that minivans have become traveling love shacks, which would explain why so many of them have seats that fold flat into a bed. Perhaps it's time to bring back the old saying, "If the van's a-rockin'..."

But hope is on the horizon. The upcoming Toyobaru AE86 successor and Nissan Silvia promise lightweight, affordable RWD cars for the masses. GT-Rs and LF-As are great, but horndog teens can't afford them. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

[source Mazda and NihonCar]

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