Chances are high that you’ve probably never heard about Japan’s kei cars. This is a microcar segment, which has strict regulations in terms of dimensions and engine capacity. To a certain extent, these cars could be considered the equivalent of Europe’s A-segment city cars, though they carry a very specific vibe. And we absolutely adore them.

We’ve written about cool new kei cars many times but we’ve never seen models from this segment race against each other. Now, thanks to a new video by Carwow, we can finally enjoy a proper kei car drag race with five equally brilliant and cute models for the Japanese market. You’ll be surprised to learn how similar these models are despite their radically different looks.

Let’s start with the cars in the video. These are the Daihatsu Copen, Autozam AZ-1, Suzuki Alto Works, Suzuki Cappuccino, and Mitsubishi Minica Dangan. Each of these cars has a 660cc 3-cylinder turbocharged engine under the bonnet with a regular peak power of 64 bhp (48 kilowatts). There are differences in the torque, though – the Daihatsu has the highest figure with 80 pound-feet (108 Newton-metres), while the Mitsubishi only has 55 lb-ft (75 Nm). All other competitors in this drag race have 63 lb-ft (85 Nm) of torque. 

All five cars have five-speed manual gearboxes. The Copen is driven by its front wheels, while the Autozam AZ-1 has a mid-engine layout and rear driving wheels. The Suzuki Alto, in turn, is powered by all four wheels and the Mitsubishi has the same power delivery. The Cappuccino is RWD. The Copen is the heaviest and the Alto is the lightest. 

So, now that you know the most important numbers, which car do you think is the fastest? We are obviously not going to spoil the results but as surprising as it may sound, this isn’t a very close drag race. Even though all cars have the same output, there are serious differences in their quarter-mile times.