Nissan Skyline GT-R

As we've heard for some time, the new R34 GT-R is built on a much smaller body shell in order to make it lighter and more nimble to handle, as the R33 was criticised as inferior to the tiny Lancer Evo V and Impreza STi IV during the last moment of its life. Comparison of the R33 and R34's dimensions is : 
R33 V-spec
R34 V-spec
Kerb weight
Engineers tried to reduce weight through using lightweight material and forged metal. The bonnet and side body panels of the front are made of aluminium. The front flat bottom tray is made of glass fiber. The rear one, which has to withstand the high temperature from the exhaust pipes, is even made of carbon fiber. Forged metal parts include suspension arms (each piece 2.5kg lighter) and the 18in wheels (each 4kg lighter than the old 17in). Nissan claimed the R34 V-spec is 93kg lighter than R33 V-spec, but from my own data it is more likely to be just 40kg. If you take other new items into account, 40kg is not too bad. However, it is no doubt that the new GT-R still feels slower than Lancer GSR Evo V or Impreza STi V in terms of low speed acceleration. This is confirmed by several journalists already tested it. 

Most people concern whether the GT-R break the 280ps voluntary upper limit. No, it is still 280ps, although engineers said its real ability is 330hp without altering the state of tune. Torque, on the other hand, rises 2.5kgm to a full 40.0kgm, still occurs at 4,400rpm. In fact, the engine is still the familiar RB26DETT twin-turbo 24 valves inline six, only with enlarged intercooler (huge air intake can be seen in the picture), revised timing and improved turbos. The R33 already had ceramic turbines, R34 adds ball-bearing to the turbine as means for minimizing friction thus improve response and reduce turbo lag. Furthermore, larger exhaust pipes reduce back pressure. 

Most changes are made to the aerodynamics : deeper lip spoiler, adjustable bi-plane wing, enlarged intake for intercooler, additional air inlets for front brakes and flat undertray. These improvement is likely to please the Europe market where high speed driving usually occurs. 

Another obvious improvement is the use of 6-speed manual box instead of 5-speed. This Getrag-made unit improves shift quality and performance. The otherwise transmission system is mainly unchanged. Items such as ATTESA E-TS PRO electronic 4-wheel-drive, Super HICAS 4-wheel-steering and active rear LSD are carried over. Brakes are still supplied by Brembo. Tyres are Bridgestone 245/40ZR18.  

In the cabin, there are a pair of new seats which have larger side supports and look very sporty. The speedometers are surrounded by aluminium panels. Most interesting is the LCD screen of the satellite navigation. It also serves as the display for information like water temperature, oil temperature, battery voltage, oil level, exhaust temperature, front / rear torque split, turbo boost pressure etc. in the form of analogue dials. 

The above report was last updated on 8 Mar 99. All Rights Reserved.

R34 Skyline GT-R versus Lancer GSR Evolution VI

Comment from Hong Kong 

As they were launched within a month's time in Japan, inevitably everybody like to compare them. Recently a local magazine did a comparison test drive, the result is quite believable to me, so let me share with you.  

The tester said the GT-R does not jump start as explosively as the lightweight Evo VI, partly because of its weight penalty of 200kg, partly because its twin-turbo straight six is arranged to deliver linear output. At the first two gears, GT-R obviously goes slower. It starts to catch up at third, and blast away the Mitsubishi from 4th to 5th. At 6th, which the magazine didn't have the chance to test, no one will doubt the GT-R will leave the Mitsubishi alone in smoke.  

As mentioned, GT-R's RB26DETT is more linear than Lancer's 4G63, thanks to the smaller twin turbo instead of single turbo. Turbo lag at low speed is noticeably smaller than R33, torque grows progressively towards high speed and fades later than Lancer's. In contrast, Lancer's unit is relatively explosive once the turbo gets full boost at around 3,000rpm.  

The chassis feels stronger than Evo VI's, thus give hard cornering more confidence. Steering feels heavier than the Evo VI, thus suit European's taste. Suspensions are tuned quite hard, but perhaps of the extra weight, it rides slightly smoother than the Evo VI. Besides, precise gear shift and the adequate weight of clutch and brake pedals made the tester felt perfect.  

The tester did not say a word about high speed cornering, which used to be Skyline GT-R's strongest point. Considering the superior aerodynamics, the 4-wheel-steering and the effort of tuning the car in Nurburgring, I strongly believe the GT-R could overshadow the Evo VI even more. In contrast, the rally-purpose Mitsubishi will feels at home on rough and twisty roads. 

Comment from UK 

Recently, Autocar tested the Skyline GT-R together with Mitsubisihi Lancer GSR Evolution VI (what a long name !) and recorded the following performance figures : 

Lancer Evo VI
Skyline GT-R
0-30 mph
1.8 sec
1.8 sec
0-40 mph
2.4 sec
2.5 sec
0-50 mph
3.5 sec
3.5 sec
0-60 mph
4.4 sec
4.6 sec
0-70 mph
5.9 sec
5.7 sec
0-80 mph
7.3 sec
7.4 sec
0-90 mph
9.2 sec
8.9 sec
0-100 mph
11.2 sec
10.8 sec
30-70 mph
4.1 sec
3.9 sec
Standing quarter mile
13.3 sec / 108mph
13.2 / 111mph
Standing kilometre
24.0 / 134mph
23.1 / 137mph
As you can see, they are closely matched until 90mph, then the Skyline stormed away with its wider power band due to the additional turbo and cylinders. Subjectively, the Lancer's single turbo engine feels more laggy, but once it get full boost beyond 2700rpm, it delivers an explosive power surge that, accompany with more noise, feels even faster than the Skyline.  

Mid-range acceleration also favours the Mitsubishi, whose in-gear acceleration of 50-70mph and through gear 30-50mph eclipsed the GT-R. However, the latter has more sound-deadening, as well as a smoother, more linear inline-6 that makes beautiful noise. The Lancer sounds too raw and unrefined, gearchange is also less slick than GT-R's Getrag unit. 

The Lancer tipped the scale some 240kg lighter than the 1605kg Skyline. In addition to its shorter wheelbase (2510mm versus 2665mm), it goes quicker on twisty roads and displays the agility that only a well-sorted rally car has. The Skyline also handles remarkably good on country roads although not yet matching the little Lancer. However, in terms of driver involvement it is superior. Steering feel is much richer, thus allows the driver to apply power slide easily. The rear-bias ATTESA-TS 4-wheel-drive provides the in-corner adjustability that the AYC of Lancer cannot match. Understeer is the essential nature of Lancer but never exist in the GT-R. At the limit, GT-R is more rewarding to drive. 

The above report was last updated on 5 Sep 99. All Rights Reserved.


R34 Skyline GT-R
Front-engined, 4wd, 4ws.
L / W / H / WB: 4600 / 1785 / 1360 / 2665 mm
Inline-6, dohc, 4v/cyl, twin-turbo
2568 c.c.
280 hp
293 lbft
All: multi-link
245/40 ZR18
1605 kg
Top speed
156 mph*
0-60 mph
4.6 sec*
0-100 mph
10.8 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

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