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Japan Dumps 276-hp Pact 16-07-2014

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Since 1989, Japanese automakers have all endorsed at least on paper a kind of gentlemen agreement that limited their advertised horsepower to 276 on domestically produced vehicles. Their primary goal was to avoid a horsepower war in a country where the maximum speed limit is 62 mph. But in October, Honda officially broke the agreement at its Legend (Acura RL in the U.S.) press conference when it unveiled the model's 300-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. For years, it's been presumed that once an automaker stuck out its neck and ignored the 276-hp mark, the rest would quickly follow. And judging by what's in the Japanese production pipeline, it looks as if the conventional wisdom was correct. Coming on the heels of that new Acura RL will be the Lexus RX400h with an estimated 300 horsepower, and then the flood gates open Mazda will introduce a 300-hp two-seat RX-7, Acura will again cross the line with a new NSX with at least 400 horses, and Toyota will mark its territory with the supercar on page 36. Japanese engine designers, however, will readily concede that the country's manufacturers have been building cars with more than 276 horsepower. It's just that none of the automakers wanted to officially break the agreement. Its no secret that Mitsubishi Lancer Evos, Subaru Impreza WRXs, and Nissan 300ZX twin turbos have been in violation of the agreement for years, but at least in Japan, they all claimed to have 276 horsepower. The false advertising was ignored for the sake of harmony. Not anymore.
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