Nissan Skyline GTS-R Reviews
Skyline Skyline Skyline. To some, that's what Gran Turismo is all about. Multiple versions of the 'same car'. Yet the 1987 Nissan Skyline 2000 GTS-R is not "just another Skyline"; it is an important car in Nissan's (and Japan's) history, and there's only one version, rather than 10 or 20 or 30. The GTS-R can only be found in GT2 or GT4. So let's have a look at one. Its story doesn't actually begin in the '80s. I had no idea what sort of story it had until I wrote this page, since America never imported these models.
In the late 1960s Nissan mergered with Prince Motors, a struggling Japanese carmaker. To make a long story short, Nissan took over producing some of their best models: the Skylines. Not all Skylines were Godzillas; in fact most of them were ordinary, low-powered vehicles. Sedans, wagons, and coupes. But Prince Motors wasn't interested in being just ordinary, they were involved with higher pursuits such as racing, which is perhaps why Nissan got interested in partnering with Prince.
The fastest car which evolved within the next few years was the Skyline GT-R, a coupe with a 2 liter dual-overhead cam 6 cylinder engine that took the racing world before it knew what was happening. Unfortunately, Asia had trouble during the 1970s with gas prices and insurance rates, just like America did. So for several years Nissan dropped their "sportier" Skyline.
Good news is, Nissan brought them back to production during the '80s, which pleased Skyline fans to no end. It all began towards the end of the '70s.
Skyline models from 1973 on were (overall) becoming increasingly heavier and slower. They were nothing like the GT-R that once held all the glory. However, the C210 generation of Skylines (1977-1981) did introduce the first turbocharged motors ever to be placed in Japanese production models. This would have been in the Skyline GT-ES.
What's interesting is these early turbos did not have a blowoff valve (there was an "emergency pressure release valve" instead). They were also not intercooled, which means maintenance must have been tricky!
Though the GT-ES was still somewhat slow (140 horsepower at best), it was at least a step in the right direction.
During the R30 generation, Nissan set to change this further by introducing the Skyline RS series. Most Skylines were still dull, boxy automobiles, but the RS was the first Japanese production car with more than two valves per cylinder, making about 150 horsepower, which was pretty exciting. There was also a turbocharged variant which made 190. An intercooled version of the Turbo RS also came out, making 205 hp. These are the R30s we can find in GT2 and GT4.
In GT2, we have the '84 Nissan Skyline RS-X, while in GT4 we have the '83 Skyline HT 2000 Turbo RS and the '84 Skyline HT 2000 RS-X Turbo C. Info is confusing to navigate, but it seems these models would have been the top-line R30s, built with racing in mind (rather than everyday commuting). Typical features like air-conditioning and electric windows were not included, but all R30s (even the 'everyday' ones) got disc brakes on all four wheels.
These R30s are actually a bit faster than the R31 that's the focus of this review, simply because they've got the power, but they're also several hundred pounds lighter than the R31. But they're (let's face it) rather goofy-looking cars.
The R30 was a rather boring design, not much more exciting than the Nissan Sunny of the early '80s, actually. Some have described the best R30 models as "Datsuns with a stronger motor attached". To further differentiate the top-line Skylines from the ordinary ones, the R30s in our games also received tacky lettering on their doors and fenders that say: 4VALVE DOHC RS-TURBO. Nissan obviously being proud of their accomplishments.
As the 1980s commenced and Nissan kept on winning at the tracks, the Skyline's shape began to change. The R31 generation started in 1986, and Nissan was sure to keep making sporty versions of their Skylines and Z-cars. To further keep these customers, the GTX-R coupe (powered with just 180 horsepower) was delivered in 1986. But the ultimate peak from the R31 era would be the GTS-R found in both GT2 and GT4.
This was a sporty Skyline featuring it all: the all-new RB-series 2.0 liter inline-6 was its heart, but with a dual-overhead cam system just like the original GT-R, rather than the single-cam Nissan had been using on their 6-cylinder models up till now. Just 800 of these GTS-Rs were built so Nissan could enter FIA/Group A racing events.
The '87 Nissan Skyline (R31) is similar to the '83 and '84 models (R30), except that the '87 is slightly bigger and several hundred pounds heavier. The R31 lost the R30's tacky side-lettering, but gained a small spoiler up front and a small wing on its trunk.
This car (the '87) was made during what I like to call Nissan's 'angular' period. Nissan was embracing a rather plain and boxy look for many of their models. Regular Skyline sedans and wagons from the time were completely boring; it seems to have taken a bit of a stretch to jump from these generic cars toward the mightier GTS-R. As we know, the R32 generation (which debuted a couple years later) would have a somewhat sleeker appearance, as Nissan designers attempted to think 'away' from the box. :)
Width and height of 66.5" and 53.75" are almost identical to the '84 Skyline also found in GT2's used car lot. The main difference is that the '87 car has an open grill; whereas the '84 car has a closed one (and was hence nicknamed 'the Iron Mask' in Japan).
And one thing we can't deny: the price! Hovering between $11,000 and $15,000, the R31 is super-affordable in GT2 or GT4. Inflation apparently hadn't affected the GTS-R's price tag so much from 1999 to 2004 (when GT2 and GT4 were first released). Once you finally find a GTS-R, you'll be so pleased by its price, chances are you'll barely notice it. The car's curb weight of 2,954 pounds is about 400 pounds heavier than a Silvia K's, though the Skyline comes standard with a bit of extra power of course.
Compared to newer R34-generation Skyline GTRs, the R31 is a bit more nimble, yet also prone to more skittishness. In GT2, the good news is a racing body can be had, which drops weight to about 2,550 pounds, and makes the R31 Skyline even more of a devil on those tracks.
So it seems the 1987 Skyline GTS-R was one of Nissan's steps towards the domination we all know about today. Better, stronger generations would follow, but for now let's look at what Nissan was working with so far as power goes.
Though this car is not as powerful as some modern Skylines, its engine can be tweaked straight up to 427 HP @ 6,000 rpms with 3 levels of intercooled turbocharging in GT2. In GT4, we've got even more since a fourth stage turbo is available: 466 BHP @ 6,400 with 373 foot-pounds @ 4,800. Anyways, pretty healthy eh? Turbo-lag from a fully-modified turbo system isn't as bad as some other cars, though it IS there. Mostly, you'll only notice it when the GTS-R spins out of a corner, and has to trek its way thru some grass. Lag can also show if the driver chooses the wrong gear (easy to do since wheelspin is prevalent at higher revs, especially when stronger turbos are being used).
There are 3 stages of turbos in GT2 with healthy doses of power-ups for each stage. The cost of Stage 3 tuning is an affordable $45,000 in GT2. This may seem like a lot, but this car WILL win a lot! ...Provided you can control it. GT4's GTS-R (as mentioned) gets a fourth stage, which costs almost twice the amount of a Stage 3 in GT2, so do some research first. Make sure this is something you'll really need before buying it!
GT2's gearbox was made with acceleration in mind, so that this car wound up hitting its 7,000 rpm peak over and over again at the Test Track, reaching a top speed of 138.8 mph. When tested stock, the engine reached 60 mph in about 7.2 seconds, and got to 100 in just over 18.9. I did a second test where the clutch was hammered from redline in second gear and got some better results (0 to 60 in about 6.9 seconds and 100 in 18.8).
Oddly, the GTS-R of GT4 has taller gears. Acceleration is similar to GT2, but there is a much higher ceiling of 153 mph in this game. Why? What did Nissan (or PD) do right or wrong? Was the GTS-R offered with several gearboxes in real-life? No answers could be found as I searched a bit.
Stage 3 turbo-charging and full weight reductions get the HP/weight ratio down from 14-ish to about 6, so we can see why these cars can be made to win; but to find out why they dominate, read the next section.View PhotosView Videos
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