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Nissan Skyline (R32)



Year: 1989-1993
Class: Sport Compact
Type: 2-door coupe
Country: Japan ``````````````````````````````` Host: GT1 GT2 & GT3
Price: Varies
Length: 178" // Width: 67.7" // Height; 52.1"
Wheelbase: 102"
Overhang: @ 6 feet 4inches (
Track: 57.5" front & rear (varies)
Ground Clearance: 5.7"
Weight: 2,777 to 3,306 pounds
Layout: Front Engine / Rear or All-Wheel Drive
Tires: 205/60R-15 to 225/50R-16
Suspension: Multilink / Coils / ARB / All-Wheel Steering
Brakes: Vented Discs
Engine: 2.0 or 2.6 liter DOHC inline 6
`````````GTS25 Type S ```GTS-t Type M````GTR V-spec
Horses:188 @ 6,600 ``````214 @ 6,400````300 @ 7,000
Torque: 170 @ 5,000 `````196 @ 3,000````261 @ 5,000
Aspiration: Normal or Intercooled Twin Turbo
Fuel System: EGi
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.3" x 2.9"
Compression: Varies
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
Top speed at Redline



In a departure from my regular method of reviewing cars, I've decided to discuss several 8th-gen Skylines (also known as R32s) simply because there are so many of them.
Unlike earlier Skylines from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, the R32 generation looks more polished. The wing on the trunk looks like it was designed WITH the car, not added as an afterthought; and their general style seems more aerodynamically-sensible, and not as boxy. In my opinion, R32 has lost a bit of personality, though.
Some things R32 Skylines have going for them are: relatively light weight (well, the weaker rear-drive ones, anyway) balanced body-work, and not too much overhang. The interesting thing about any of them is that they're not really sports cars at all; they are 2-door coupes with sedan-like bodies, yet many of them can be made to behave like sports cars if they don't do so already. There is very little ego attached to this R32 generation: no giant wings, no fender flares or hood scoops, no crazy paint jobs. There is nothing intimidating about these machines when bought from the dealer (unlike the R32's racing versions). It's like having a rock star show up to your party wearing a Lacoste button down shirt and Levi's Docker pants. ;-)
The racing paint jobs from the first 2 games look sharp, but these cars could look so rad with just a wing & spoiler kit, don't you think?  Maybe that's some Forza-thinking, there. Look at it this way: with the R32s, we've got a bit of a plain canvas. Real-life owners have come up with some pretty wicked designs & body work to further customize their cars. Too bad we can't do this till GT4 came out; and even then--only to a limited extent.
Despite their average looks, the R32 is usually ready to slay. Many of them can eventually bend the Ai to your will, provided you have better-than-mediocre driving skills. Even the low-powered GTS will dominate any beginner's event it'll enter. Skylines don't have the reputation they boast for no reason: they have been winners since the early 70s. I'm not going to go into their history, because it's already been well documented in other reviews, but suffice it to say that you've just made a great choice for a racing car.
Since the full spectrum of R32s is mostly here in any game (except GT3): GTS to GT-R to V-spec to Nismo-tuned devils, it's always interesting to fantasize just how far you'll be able to go. Some of these are comfortable with well over 600 horses GT2, 900 in GT1, and over a thousand in the 3rd game! The R32 generation was the first to earn the nickname "Godzilla", as they trounced their real-life competition to the point that they were banned from certain championships.
But let's stay focused. We're not at the race track yet; we are still haggling with the dealer, who has just informed us there's no hurry to get some weight off if we're cash-strapped. But if you choose to do so, you can get the rear-drive GTS models to about 2,400 pounds or lighter. Even the heavier all-wheel drive models display plenty of might and maneuverability once they're racing in all their glory, despite their final weight (in GT2) from 2,691 pounds (the '89 GT-R) to 2,943 (the Mine's-tuned R32.5).
In GT2, R32s are all in the used car lots: perhaps they were once owned by Japanese hipsters who got real jobs and kids. But one thing we can count on: they are cheap and affordable! The credit per horsepower ratio will always be low, too: as low as 25 cr. per horse in some cases. A bargain you can't refuse (unless you hate Skylines, of course).
--------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-------------
Though their looks are average, their engines are special, and we have a couple to choose from: a 2.0 liter and the mightier 2.6. Doesn't sound like much, but youll be amazed at the wizardry Nismo-parts is about to perform.
Most any Skyline engine can be modifed thoroughly, and they even accept displacement increases. I barely touched Skylines in the first game, and in the second I've only raced a handful of these, so I'm not a super-expert on them, but this is okay: the Skyline (any generation) is the most-discussed Gran Turismo automobile and there's already plenty of info out there, do we really need more?
Okay, we don't. :-) But here's my 2 anyways...
Most any R32 will accept 3 or 4 steps of turbocharging. Some of these Skylines (rear-drives, especially) don't seem so powerful with full upgrades, especially when compared to the 900hp+ Stage 4 turbos found in some games, but their lower figures will also make them good for an intermediate fan of Skylines, who isn't ready for a rocketship.
Performance-wise, you may find some R32s disappointing, and others phenomenal. My GTS-t Type M, for instance, made 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, and  0 to 100 mph in about 19.* I managed to get 7.6 and 20.64 in a GTS25 type S which has less power, but this is just a matter of timing. Why?
* 4/1/15 Note: these are horrible figures. Not sure which game I got these numbers in, and when, but they seem really high.
The tires on these rear-drive cars aren't so grippy at first, which unfortunately kills off-the-mark speed. It's a good idea to rev these cars at about half-throttle (@ 3,000 rpms) at the start of most races. Don't add full throttle till you're in 2nd gear; otherwise, the rear wheels will spin mercilessly. As power gets raised, you can skip 1st gear entirely and simply launch in 2nd. Actually, it'll never be so simple...
Anyways, there are, of course, more race-worthy Skylines. Allow the dealer to show you some of Nissan's finer models, like the GT-R Vspec, and things get downright righteous. If you can't get 13-ish quarters in these...well....you'd best not show your face when it comes to the actual races! ;-)
The all-wheel drive cars (all the GT-Rs basically) have a rear-wheel drive bias. This allows you to take corners with more tail-swinging oversteer at times, while allowing the front-end to lend a hand with stability should things get bad. No, the system is not perfect, and yes, you'll still need to know how to drive (despite what some cheaters say) but there are times when you're in that corner....a Viper on one side, a Supra on other, when you'll happily nail the gas with confidence. You know you're about to hand those arrogant AI their asses, and your driving line suffers only minimally!  Perfection!!!
One of the rarely-discussed drawbacks about Skyline engines is turbo-lag. Ugh. Well, it's here despite the air-to-air intercooler and ceramic twin-turbos, and it only gets worse with upgrades. Unless you're driving a car from GT1, you'll only have to worry about it if you're driving a manual-shift gearbox. In later games (where Polyphony Digital didn't program lag to be so drastic) you'll only notice it if you choose the wrong gear....and then it doesn't always feel like lag; it feels like a loss of torque. Like I said, automatic-gearbox users will rarely notice this tension.
And how about that gearbox? Well in the first 2 games, the main fault is you'll be shifting a 5-speed, and 5th gear is usually a bit tall. In later games, an extra gear gets added with some after-market boxes, which takes better advantage of the turbo's action for sure. Since peak power tends to present itself up to 1,000 rpms before the redline, automatic transmissions are useful most of the time, making these Skylines even more driver-friendly.
--------------CHASSIS / DRIVETRAIN--------------

In earlier games that feature suspension specs while the car is still stock, you'll notice the R32's unmodified multilink suspension is rather tame, with spring rates typically calculated no higher than 2.7 kg/mm, even for the Nismo models. Save up and buy semi-racing equipment. This will help solve the vague bounciness you'll encounter from this car over bumps, once you get it set up correctly.
The brake contoller should also be an early purchase with rear-drive cars, but experienced drivers shouldn't need suspension or brake upgrades, differentials, or super-grippy tires until they're in some advanced racing. Why? Well here's a complicated answer, because there is a vast difference between rear-drive and AWD cars, of course.
By the time Nissan unleashed the R32 generation, they were completely infatuated with technology. I mean, go back to 1971 when the original GT-R was racing, and even then, Nissan was often several steps ahead of the game, so far as new-fangled gadgets and tricks were concerned. >>> Now fast-forward to 1989: Nissan is now over-the-top...developing systems like HiCAS (4-wheel steering) and ATTESA (a system which detects wheelspin hundreds of times per second) to keep the clever Skylines driving like no other cars from the times. They also added an electronic differential system designed to keep power headed to the rear wheels, unless they lose traction. All of this packed into one otherwise ordinary-looking coupe.
Do they work? You tell me. All I can say is I have noticed I can tackle some corners in these cars (especially the all-wheel drives) in ways not possible in other cars; these AWD Skylines maneuver in a way that is different from anything else we can race. I can't tell you how many times I've just about flown into a corner, braked on a sideways angle, then have kicked into a mean-sounding power slide. Hit the gas. Suddenly, the AWD electronics take over, and I can't be sure whether the car is understeering, oversteering, or simply gripping the road! Feels like a combination of all 3 behaviors...mostly grip with about 30% oversteer, and 10% understeer, to keep from getting too crazy. All I know is a bit of magic occurs and I'm typically out of that corner with a big ol' grin on my face! ;D

1). Some R32s possess some solid middle-weight (@2,700 pounds) which can be lowered 400 pounds in GT2...even more in the first game. GT-Rs weigh several hundred more, yet handle their extra weight well. Very well.
2). Yeah it's only 2.0 or 2.6 liters, but typically you can get lots of muscle out of these guys. Engines can be fully-modified for a fair price, and often with all 4 turbo upgrades.
3). Good sounding engine/exhaust sample. With upgrades, the sound of the GT-R's 2.6 liter dual-cam 6 can be downright frightening as you near redline!
4). Well-balanced bodywork and weight. In GT1 and 2, I believe all but the Mine's versions can be race-kitted.
5). Low priced, and ready to move out the door! Plus, there's always one or more available in the used dealership in those first 2 games. Even the higher-performance versions rarely cost more than 35,000 cr.
6). Sure all-wheel drive Skylines understeer, but check out the speed you'll need to be going before it really gets bad!
7). Excellent front-end grip matched with a rear stability, thanks to Nissan's 4-wheel steering, electronic torque-sensing differentials, and rear-drive bias.
8). All-wheel drive Skylines...great acceleration. First gear is completely useful here. No need to drop the clutch in 2nd gear...unless you've got mega-loads of power. Rear-drives aren't tops, but they can post some respectable numbers on occasion.
9). You will snag some major top-end speed, despite the lack of any 6-speed transmissions. 5th is usually geared for the stratosphere.
10). High redline-area. Peak power is usually accessible, even with automatics.
1). Ordinary looks. Sorry but it's true. From the used lot in GT2, only the rare '90 Nismo GT-R approaches what I'd consider "sporty".
2). Most rear-drive Skylines from this generation suffer poor acceleration launches. Prone to wheelspin and fishtailing.
3). Suspension could use some stiffening up in many models.
4). That long long list of Skylines (any Skylines) in any GT game....it really is too many. The R32 generation in particular features many models which wind up weighing the same with full reductions, and powered exactly the same with full engine upgrades.
5). GT1 and 2: 5-speed transmissions the norm. Even some of the close-ratio boxes feel a bit tall (especially from 4th to 5th gear).
6). Turbo lag. In GT1 it can be horrendous as power gets raised. In later games...it's there, but you won't notice it unless you're in the wrong gear.
7). Despite all the trickery underneath these Skylines, there are times when you (finally) feel how heavy some of them are. By then, you're typically deep in some corner and it's usually too late!
8). Finally, Skyline-haters have a point when they criticize the gadgetry associated with these beasts. A real car leaves all the driving up to YOU!
Published: May 28, 2004
Re-edited: February 7th, 2007
Again on April 1st, 2015