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It's not a secret that a few of us here at Autoblog have a crush on Japanese Kei cars. The diminutive sizes and cheeky looks of most of the segment are certainly endearing factors, but it was the sporting Kei cars of the 1990s that made for the most delicious forbidden fruit.

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Caterham is lowering the price and adding lightness to its newest entry-level Seven, with a sub-17,000-pound ($26,061) window sticker and a new engine from Suzuki, a 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder mill that will produce less horsepower than the current 125-hp entry level model (it was not mentioned if the Suzuki-powered Seven will replace any models). The new, lightweight engine complements a re-engineered chassis featuring major suspension revisions.

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Subaru is walking away from minicars. According to Just-Auto.com, parent company Fuji Heavy Industries is looking to concentrate its efforts small and mid-sized vehicles moving forward. While Japan still enjoys a thriving kei car market, the vehicles aren't as profitable as their larger counterparts and require the same level of engineering commitment. Fuji will focus on the company's drivetrain development as well as improving vehicle safety with the cash it saves from creating new minicars.

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Toyota is looking to get bigger... by going smaller. The Japanese automaker is looking to enter the kei car market, a popular segment in its homeland. Kei cars are small vehicles with restrictions on length (11.15 feet), width (4.86 feet), engine size (660 cubic centimeters) and power output (63 horsepower). Currently, Toyota is the only Japanese automaker not producing vehicles for this segment, but that is set to change, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

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Regular readers know we tend to be big fans of modern diesel engines. All the past demons that had plagued oil-burners over the years have been exorcised, including rough running, nasty smells, loud operation and narrow power bands. But sadly, modern clean diesel powerplants have never taken hold in the United States.

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Regular readers of these pages know that we tend to be big fans of modern diesel engines. Most of the past demons that had plagued oil burners over the years have been exorcised, including rough running, nasty smells, loud operation and narrow power bands. Sadly, though, for whatever reason, modern clean diesel powerplants have never taken hold in the United States.

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Mazda has just launched it's latest "Kei-class" car in Japan with the redesigned AZ-Wagon. The "Kei" cars are built to specifications defined by law in Japan that place limits on size engine displacement and power. Kei cars are limited to 660 cc of engine displacement and 63 hp along with a maximum length of 3.4 m. The new AZ-Wagon is claimed to beat current Japanese emissions standards by 50-75 percent. All of the engines get variable valve timing and normally aspirated versions with a manual t

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Click the image above for a hi-res gallery of the Nissan Otti and Moco

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Click image for a high-res gallery of the turbocharged Mitsubishi i

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Click image for photo gallery

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