On any trip to Japan, where I am now, you simply can't miss the ever-present baby cars (known here as kei cars) that line every street and sit shoulder to shoulder in every car park.

The space-saving logic of their boxy proportions, high roofs, straight sides and super-efficient engines is irresistible - but what struck me on this visit (if you forgot the different architecture) was how similar Japan's narrow roads and limited parking places are to many suburban streets in London - where we insist on parking overlong and over-wide saloons, MPVs and estates and are willing to suffer the consequences every morning.

What encouraged these radical thoughts was a brief drive through inner Tokyo in the new Nissan kei car, the funky-sounding Dayz Highway Star. It's the latest boxy creation for this thriving micro car market that collars 40 per cent of car sales in Japan, and rising.

For £6000, taxes paid, you get the 45bhp, non-turbo, three-cylinder, 659cc version of this style-less yet oddly attractive little car; it's just 3.4 metes long but tall and skinny at 1.64m x 1.48m.

And pretty light at 820kg, considering it's a safe and modern structure with the ABS and chassis stability gizmos now considered essential. If you're prepared to invest £8750, you can have a full-house version with a 63bhp turbo engine, climate control, colourful sat-nav, one-shot windows and all the rest.