GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1987 Nissan Skyline GTS-R (R31).

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black_87skyline.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1987-1988
Class: Sport Compact
Type: 2-door coupe

Country: Japan ```````````````````````````````````` Host: GT2, GT4, & GT5


Price as tested: $14,569 (GT2 Nissan used car lot)
                      $11,899 (GT4 historic used car lot)
                      $24,473 (GT5 used car lot)

 

GT4 Mileage: 45,254.7

GT5 Mileage: 33,186.2

Length: 183.5" // Width: 66.5" // Height: 53.7"
Wheelbase: 103.0"
Overhang: @6 feet 9 inches
Track: 56.1" [F] 55.9" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.5"
Weight: 2,954 pounds
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: 205/60R-15
F. Suspenion: MacPherson struts / coils / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: trailing arm / coils / shox / anti-roll bar / HiCAS
Brakes: vented discs

Gt4 and Gt5 cars both had oil changes before all specs & testing below. GT5 car did not get an engine rebuild


Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC inline 6
Aspiration: intercooled turbo
Fuel System: ECCS fuel injection
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.07 x 2.74"
Compression: ?

Horsepower:
GT2: 211 @ 6,600 rpm
GT4: 206 @ 6,400
GT5: 204 @ 6,500
 
Torque:
GT2: 181 @ 5,000
GT4: 180 @ 4,800
GT5: 178 @ 5,000
 
Credits per HP:
GT2: 69.05
GT4: 57.74
GT5: 122.44

Pounds per HP:
GT2: 14.0
GT4: 14.33
GT5: 14.47

Hp per Liter:
GT2: 105.6
GT4: 103.1
GT5 102.1 

GT2 Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000
GT4 Idle: 1,000 // Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,500
GT5 Idle: 550 //  Redline: 7,000   // RPM Limit: 7,500
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Differential: N/A

0-60 mph:
GT2: 7.243 seconds                 
GT4: 7.950 seconds 
GT5: 7.765 seconds

0-100 mph:
GT2: 18.872 secnds
GT4: 19.583 seconds
GT5: 19.488 seconds

0-150 mph:
GT2: no test
GT4: 1:28.316
GT5: N/A
 

Mile:
GT2: 15.864 @ 91 mph
GT4: 16.288 @ 93 mph
GT5: 16.213 @ 91 mph
 
1 KM:
GT2: 28.253 @ 120 mph
GT4: 28.919 @ 120 mph
GT5: 28.825 @ 118 mph

Test Track Lap:
GT2: 1:57.093
GT4: @2:35.xxx
GT5: (Daytona)

Brakes 100-0 mph:
GT2: 3.56 seconds
GT4: 3.83 seconds
GT5: 5.38 seconds

GT2 Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 3,050
GT4/5 Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,500

GT2 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 31 mph
2nd: 54 mph
3rd: 80 mph
4th: 106 mph
5th: 138.85 @ 7,000 rpms (RPM/tach limited)

GT4 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 37 mph
2nd: 63 mph
3rd: 95 mph
4th: 123 mph
5th: 152.05 mph @ 6,500 rpm
        150.4x mph @ 6,650 rpm (GT5)
 

87_skyline.jpg

---------------------------EXTERIOR--------------------------

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, GT4, or GT5. 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. Sedate sedans, contemporary coupes, and even some wagons. 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 "sportiest" 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 RS series. Most Skylines were still dull, boxy automobiles, but the RS was making about 150 horsepower in a land of Skylines with power rating as low as 90!, so it must have been something to look forward to. There was also a turbocharged variant which made even more: 190. An intercooled version of the Turbo RS also came out, making 205 hp. These are the R30s we can find in GT2, GT4, and GT5.

In GT2, we have the '84 Nissan Skyline RS-X, while in GT4 and 5 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 are (let's face it) rather goofy-looking. 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 motors 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 some of our games. This was a Skyline featuring it all: the 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. As GT5's info states, some people were confused by the GTS-R; why not just name it a GT-R instead?  The answer, of course, would come two years later. Big time.

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 once again. :)

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. Only in GT5 do we start to see R31s gaining in credits, but at just under $25,000, the car that's the focus of the GT5 portion is still affordable. 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. GT4 or 5 cars can only gain a rear wing, unfortunately. 

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. 

 

r31_skyline.jpg

black_87_skyline.jpg

--------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-----------------

So let's look under that hood. :grin:

Ooof. As that old lady used to say in the Wendy's hamburger commercials: "Where's the beef?" Actually, it's not that bad. With just over 200 horsepower to start (GT4 and 5 cars will need an oil change first), the '87 GTS-R makes a great car to begin either Gran Turismo game it appears in. In GT5, this one is too powerful for many of this game's A-spec events; it'll simply blow away the Sunday, the Clubman, and the '80s-era cup races. It's also too strong for the FR Challenge. I could only drive this car during this game's stupid Seasonal events, which happens to have an '80s portion.

Though the R31 is not as powerful as some modern Skylines, its engine can be tweaked straight up to 427 HP @ 6,000 rpms with three 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 and 5 has taller gears. Acceleration is similar to GT2, but there is a much higher ceiling of 150+ mph. 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; there's a surprising lack of info (other than a few generic specs here and there) on R31s.

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.
 

sandy_87skyline.jpg

----------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------



GT2
The GT2 dealer's info won't tell us, but real 7th generation R31 Skylines have a rear-wheel computer controlled system called HICAS (HIgh CApacity Steering), as well as an electronically controlled front air dam. I'm not sure if the dam is manually controlled or manipulated via computer, but Gran Turismo's aerodynamic figure of .15 for the front of the car (instead of .12) seems accurate only because it's a few clicks higher than usual for a car of this type. It's also noticeable how little understeer there is in higher-speed curves.

Under pressure, none of this makes any difference, of course! The GTS-R eventually becomes a very skittish machine in this game, even when equipped with racing slicks. The HICAS system does provide some stability if it's not being driven by someone totally ham-handed (at least, it's my opinion that PD considered the effects of HICAS, and then modeled the car in the game appropriately), but overall you need to watch for these traits:

{1}. Lots of wheelspin as the turbos near their peak torque.

{2}. Fishtailing. Squirrelishness.

{3}. Steering that feels more precise than it is at times.


...Even with a limited-slip and careful suspension settings, drive carefully. The R31 can quickly get sideways and gracelessly spin. Ignore all the 'Skyline hype' that says how great these cars are all the time.


GT4
Not much different in this game, honestly.

Understeer is minimal, even with a stock suspension, although there is some plowing. The GTS-R has great braking ability in this game...the sort of brakes which inspire confidence. It also noses into turns very precisely, even before a  single part has been applied from NISMO.

It's easy to find ourselves pushing this car just that much harder into turns of all kinds, and then *bong* there's that understeer!  But this entry-understeer (like I said) isn't that great. Nothing like the wastefulness found in some front-engine/rear-drives for sure. It's merely something to watch for, rather than something which is constantly getting on our nerves. All of this is true whether the car is rolling on N3s or S2s, although with N tires everything is just a little more drastic, of course.

But this car does many great things, zipping thru many turns and over bumpy areas with minimal consequences. It noses-in gracefully. If that little bit of understeer is avoided, it feels about 90% neutral mid-corner with just a tad of a push. Grip is solid, lift-off oversteer easy to employ.

Out of longer curves, the GTS-R takes a moment to prepare itself before it lightly throttlesteers, but this sort of action is also predictable and safe. Everything just feels so contained and intelligent! Perhaps HICAS really is making a difference in this game. 

Traction is reliable to the point of boredom (at least while power is south of Stage 2), which means that limited-slip device you just bought might wind up dozing off in the garage while the rest of the car sees action. But be careful, for as power gets raised towards R34 level (over 300 horses or so), finally the '87 Skyline GTS-R starts displaying some serious issues...somewhat similar to GT2, actually. Lots of wheelspin can show up seemingly out of nowhere.

Although the GT4 auto doesn't fishtail and 'lose it' as strongly as it did in the earlier game, neither is it as reliable and planted as before. But the good news is (well, sorta good) since power never gets too high for the R31 generation, this is about as bad as it gets. RSDs (Really Skilled Drivers) may even manage to get the GTS-R into some fun drifty moments, although personally I haven't had so much luck here!
 
GT5
As we've seen many times, the GTS-R feels drastically different from 4 to 5, and it's mostly due to (take a guess) a refurbished rear. Once again, it seems PD has taken a gander back to the earliest game this car appeared in, not to mention real-life rear-drives, and said "hey, wait a minute. Something's not right here."
 
We've now got a machine that's a bit more uncomfortable and nervous with cornering. From what I've gathered, ABS brakes were just coming into the picture during the late 1980s, and it's highly possible that the R31 did not have ABS. Type "R31 Skyline ABS brakes" into a search engine and what comes back are several sites featuring info on converting their brake systems to ABS. Therefore, I did not use ABS brakes as I drove this one during several '80s Cup Seasonals. Braking can be effective, but it must begin early, otherwise this one'll suffer a bit of snap-knifing as brakes are forced too late, and then released mid-turn.  
 
During the first race (a 6-lapper at S.S. Route 5) I'm seeing understeer during portions of this track's longer curves, like the giant lefty tunnel-turn. The front end barely hangs on, and begins to push more and more as speed is forced. Only during this track's two tighter turns, where 2nd gear is needed, will the rear of the car need to be tamed, otherwise it'll step out a bit. Not really a huge issue; we're not playing with hundreds of foot-pounds from that engine after all, but (again) it's something to watch for, especially since this series of events only allows us to use comfort radial tires. 
 
Another issue: we've got some massive leaning here!  Lateral g-forces are quite high in a few crucial areas of Route 5, and the car's weak coils feel obviously stressed as I try to start and maintain a workable line. As in GT4, the front-end still has a 'precise' sort of feel (assuming it's not pushing) but the rear tends to create some body-swaying here and there, mostly due to this car's weak undercarriage.  
 
Overall, I find myself tiptoeing (rather than pushing) this one so far. It's mostly due to cheap tires and lack of ABS,  
 
So I had the 'crew' install a better suspension for the next race at Twin Ring Motegi's East course. Didn't even bother with the fixed-sport suspension, instead I went for the height-adjustable one, which boosts those coils from 2.8 and 2.2 to 5.6 and 4.4. Yes, the car felt a bit firmer now, but since this is a more technical track (with tight areas for cornering and passing), it also suffered a lot more than it did at Route 5. Braking needs to be more precise, otherwise the front-end will start to push, and rather heavily at times, too. I expected the rear might be difficult at this track, with all its hairpins and esses and kinks, but (again) the fact that the engine's not so torquey meant the rear will only get wild if I MAKE it get wild. I try to avoid such moments in this car though, there's a hint of turbo-lag below 4,000 rpms, which means that any slipping and sliding could cause a sort of lagging with exit speed as well.
 
For those of you who want this car to be more exciting, power's gonna be needed! Yes, it will get a bit wild and drift with its stock engine parts, but this sort of behavior will usually need to be somewhat forced. But for those who want to avoid such nonsense: Assuming everything goes right: braking is appropriate, the car noses-in as it's supposed to (et cetera) it will then corner rather neutrally. We gotta baby it a lot though. Not really what I expected, but that's one of the reasons GT Car Reviews exists--to blow apart all the hype and false info out there! Not all Skylines are tops.       

Though the R31-era GTS-R will win some races, and displays some magic moments here and there, it wasn't Nissan's "Godzilla", yet!  But we can safely call it "Godzilla Junior". ;-) 


------------------------------PROS-----------------------------

1). Decent handling augmented by aerodynamics and computerized 4-wheel steering (perhaps). Understeer is rarely a problem; oversteer happens but can easily be tamed if you know what you're doing. All of this is truest in GT2 and 4, though.

2). Tires have decent traction when the car is stock. Sport tires can be used well into Stage 2 turbo tuning for GT2, and at any time in GT4 (except for those races which require racing tires).

3). Low price. Very low price for all this performance.

4). Good power from a small engine. Decent turbo & intercooler upgrades. GT2 and 5 has three of them; GT4 has Stages 1 thru 4.

5). Racing body available (GT2).

6). Not bad with fuel (GT4 & 5).

 

7). A bit unstable while cornering in GT5, but because of this the R31 can be a good drifter's car.

 

 


-----------------------------CONS--------------------------

1). Gearing limits top speed (GT2, mostly). The close-ratio "sports" and "semi-racing" gearboxes are mostly useless, even at short courses like Laguna Seca. You'll eventually need a racing-tuned gearbox.

2). Average acceleration before turbo mods are in place. Once they are bolted in, turbo-lag steps in below 4,000 rpms, the power-curve becomes incredibly short, and bursts of spooling-power have a tendency to lash out near 6,000 rpms, causing wheelspin. Sit into 2nd gear carefully as you leave tighter corners lest...

3). ...excessive tirespin can ruin otherwise mighty launches. Limited-slip differentials a must as power is raised.

4). Poor brake response, especially when trying to trail-brake into corners. GT5 is the worst, here.

5). Mushy springs in that suspension, especially when stock! This applies to GT2 and 5 a lot more than GT4, oddly. 

....At times, your steering may be perfect. You've sworn you've got this corner under your thumb. Hammer the gas and the car instantly skates sideways due to its poor stability! Countersteer...the car is now questioning your sanity instead of the other way around! Even the semi-racing suspension features low spring rates.

6). Generic '80s-era boxy looks. Look close and you'll see this car is just an elongated, second-cousin Sentra!

7). A bit on the rare side in that used car lot. I had to wait a few game-days just to find an '87 GTS-R for this review.

8). Some may expect this Skyline to be all-mighty (like some other Skyline versions) only to be disappointed that upgrades only raise power so far. Nope...there ain't 700 to 900+ horsepower to be had here, folks.

 

9). GT5: Too powerful for some events, too weak for others. Other than some Seasonal races, it's rare we'll get to mess with this one at all.

 

Originally published: July 2004
Re-edited: February 4th, 2007
Edited for GT4 content: March 31, 2010

Edited for GT5 content: December 25, 2013
 

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