Top Gear - Nissan Skyline 350GT

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Road Test
    [December 22 2003]

    Tonight we are a very long way from home. To be precise, we are 5,956 miles from home. It looks it too. From the smoked-glass window of a 30-storey-high hotel, Sky Bar Tokyo fair takes your breath away. Far below our feet ebbs an endless electric lake of shimmering yellow.

    Way off in the distance huge skyscrapers stand impossibly tall. Their red aircraft-warning lights blink slowly; on and off, up and down. When it rains you just can't but help think... Blade Runner. That final scene when the Rutger Hauer's android replicant decides not to kill one last time, but instead, reflects back on his life. "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark..."

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    Time to drive. Down below - way, way, down below - our very own attack ship awaits. A smoky grey wedge of rear-wheel-drive, 300bhp Nismo-tuned Nissan Skyline 350GT.

    It isn't on sale in the UK and it isn't going to be. When you turn the key it talks to you. A cute feminine cartoon voice sings out in Japanese. We're not sure what she's saying, but settle for: "Welcome most honourable gentlemen drivers. Attack the night with speed and valour." We're off, off across the city. Carefully at first. Gently at first. Then we come to the first inner-city highway tollbooth and there's just something about handing the 1,000 yen note to the graciously polite, tidily uniformed, tollbooth operator - something that feels a bit like paying for a carnival ride on a Friday night.

    Squeeze the Skyline's accelerator pedal and instantly the V6 responds from no revs at all. Off into the night it slices with enough thrust to bounce an unprepared, unbraced neck against the back of the sports seats. Rear tyres scrabble for grip before the traction-control plays catch-up. There's always certain amount of giddiness brought on by misbehaving in a foreign land. Lace it with a little jet-lag and a firm conviction that laws are for locals and it's game on.

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    It feels a bit like being in a game. And do you know why? Amongst the many, many stickers adorning the Skyline, there's one that says 'Concept by Gran Turismo'. This car has been reverse-engineered from virtual computer plaything to hard-core reality by Nismo, Nissan Motorsports International.

    Outside the city skyline flashes by while inside, the 3D-effect navigational screen keeps pace with eerie precision. It almost leaves you wondering which world is real. At least there is reassurance from the feel of the Nissan. As the speeds build on the two-lane highway, it swiftly proves itself to be a substantially engineered thing. There's certainly nothing virtual about the feel of the well-weighted steering; nothing not- quite-there about the way it hunkers down on its lowered suspension and wide Bridgestone rubber. It feels totally locked in to the job in hand, which is tracking down Tokyo's famous street-racing Midnight Club.

    We've done this before, of course - spent half the night hunting down street racers in LA without success. But this time we've got a guide. Our man approaches them warily, carefully. Much bowing goes on. It makes us think back to when the Nismo guy handed the car over and, with a grave face, warned us to be careful. "If the car is stolen," he said, "you pay."

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    Happily our 4,683,000 yen (£25,668) is safe, for the night's proceedings are conducted with much honour, but no little strangeness. We have three categories of modified car to sift through, the oddest of which has to be VIP tuning. This involves taking a car a bit like a Nissan QX - in this case a Cima - and making it look like, wait for it, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class! It's hardly at the heart of hot-rod, rock'n'roll rebellion; tricking your car up to look like something some 55-year-old corporate dude would ride around in the back of.

    Easier to get our heads round is the more conventional approach taken with rear-drive coupes, a fine example of which is a giant-winged 400bhp Toyota Supra piloted by a youth who must be all of 18. Are there never any difficulties with those honourable officers of the law? Apparently not. Apparently they're all "good boys who obey the law and never speed." I see.

    There's newer stuff as well, including a gorgeous R34 Skyline and, rather unfortunately for our Skyline, a modified 350Z. Visually the 350Z does slightly rain on the Skyline's parade. In many respects they are quite similar, but the 350Z is sleeker of face up front, and the Skyline's larger lights and big grille look slightly fat, slightly American. But, hey, the 350Z is called 'Fairlady Z' in Japan. How uncool's that?

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    Tonight a great honour has fallen to us. The whole of Tokyo's most famous 'drifting' team, Team REMAKE, is assembled in one place, seemingly a most rare occurrence. The noble art of drifting is performed legally on tracks and illegally on the street. To participate, you want something rear-wheel-drive with a limited-slip diff, a roll-cage and knackered rear tyres.

    The second-best thing about the drifter cars is that their owners don't get overly fussed about cosmetic issues. After all, why bother? It's going to end up in the armco sooner or later. But the best thing about drifter cars are their fantastic mission statements emblazoned across the front windscreens in English. This one was on a very tatty Nissan 180 SX: 'Under the starlit sky staring at your soul wates in smoke. As part of team REMAKE. Not as yourself. Setting higher than a dark sky. It's a time to fly high in heaven'. See what I mean about feeling like Blade Runner?

    At two o'clock we decide it is time for us to fly high in heaven and drive back to the hotel. But on a night like this it seems most dishonourable to sleep, so we grab toothbrushes and sunglasses for the morning and head back out.

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    The Skyline slips across town easily. Its firm ride isn't going to lull anyone to sleep, but it isn't horribly crashy either. A manual gearbox would be more fun than the five-speed auto unit and, although there is the option of changing manually, its response in full auto mode is hard to beat. The brakes are bang on - standard ventilated discs uprated with Nismo pads - giving plenty of feel and stopping power.

    Out of town traffic is light, so the accelerator gets more of a work out than the brake pedal. The 3.5-litre V6, the same as the one fitted to the 350Z, sounds bristly at low revs, with a deep bass note thanks to the Nismo exhaust system. It looses none of its aural attitude as the revs rise. The engine mods aren't massive and consist of a new ECU unit, a set of plugs and an air filter which boosts the power to nigh on 300bhp. Slow, it certainly is not.

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    Accelerate, brake, tollbooth. Accelerate, brake, tollbooth. All night long, till I'm sure this is the same tollbooth cropping up over and over again. When the man in the cap starts singing Bring Me Sunshine in English I really think I'm starting to lose it!

    We get our sunshine. We get our sunshine when we come to the promised land. It's just after dawn when we enter Hakone National Park and start climbing the mountain road. We meet a couple of Evo VIs coming down fast, scuttling for home I assume, now that the cover of darkness has been lost. But I'm wrong. The clans are only beginning to gather.

    They come in the type of machinery the kids of team REMAKE can only dream of. Evos are entry level, Skyline R34s staple diet and 911s and Ferrari 360s not that uncommon. Along with scores of bikers they come to attack the mountain, yet, as fresh tyre marks and recently roughed up shrubbery testify, not every run is successful. Much honour could be lost here, not to mention the Skyline's front and rear aero kit.

    Hands sweaty and grimy on the leather steering wheel, the Skyline does OK. Up to a point, and a reasonably far one at that, it's tidy, precise and pointable. But at the end of the day there's no hiding the weight of the front-mounted V6, no matter how far back it is placed. There's no getting away from the fact that this Skyline is one little letter short of full glory. It is, after all, a GT, not a GTR. But as a rapid, hard-core GT, it does exactly what it says on the bootlid. It has acquitted itself exceptionally well and if it is not the perfect attack ship for the mountain, that's fair enough. Besides, we've brought one of those as well. After all, it would be a shame to travel 5,956 miles and only drive one car.

    Angus Frazer

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  2. Homan

    Homan Unconquerable OT Supporter

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  3. incubimmer

    incubimmer New Member

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    :eek3: shit, even id drive that and i hate asian cars:bigthumb:
     
  4. Homan

    Homan Unconquerable OT Supporter

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    "Welcome most honourable gentlemen drivers. Attack the night with speed and valour."

    that is almost as good as bomex's phrase

    "Pray to the god of bomex, I hope your speed over the rival"
     
  5. stillspiraling

    stillspiraling Would you like some making fuck, BERSERKER

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    350Z with exhaust and a bodykit :dunno:
     
  6. Ecko

    Ecko SeaTownMafia

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    G35
     
  7. pixel804

    pixel804 yabba dabba do

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    IBsomeone says it's gay cuz it's auto
     
  8. Z7

    Z7 New Member

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    Make mine a 6 speed with AWD and Turbo please, wait, that would make it a GTR that will never come to North America
     
  9. L7

    L7 Mr Negativity

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    No 6 speed, no turbo, no care.
     
  10. Roshambo

    Roshambo Yes, I'm a Marine. No, I haven't killed anyone.

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    Cool car.. but not worthy of the Skyline name methinks.
     
  11. BarbaraWaltersPegleg

    BarbaraWaltersPegleg Irish Guido

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    G35 and the Z is different, trust me.
     
  12. Topicless

    Topicless I got nothing

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    Yeah, why are they calling it a 350?
     
  13. ideeosinkruhcee

    ideeosinkruhcee With time and tons of food, I'll someday upgrade t

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    no vid no care
     
  14. Derek173

    Derek173 Analyst and Therapist

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    yea where is the VID, I want to see a review of my car, will someone explain to me are top gear the british TV show and these articles the same company?
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Yes, same people.
     
  16. Mischief

    Mischief OT Supporter

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    :eek3:

    we need it in the us
     
  17. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    :werd:
     
  18. turdburglar

    turdburglar chicken curry with naan

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    they're not

    it's called the skyline 350GT

    kinda like saying skyline gt-s, gt-m, gt-r, etc
     
  19. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    And OT raves about foreign automags. :mamoru:
     
  20. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    You know better. :slap:

    UK >>> Aus >= US
     
  21. 2DR Vette

    2DR Vette We don't freestyle the Eyes of Texas, Big Boy.

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    :ugh:

    Only 300hp?
     
  22. smell my finger

    smell my finger strive nonetheless towards beauty and truth,

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    super, 20 more hp and a body kit :rolleyes:
     
  23. Derek173

    Derek173 Analyst and Therapist

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    so there has to be a vid somewhere
     
  24. 2DR Vette

    2DR Vette We don't freestyle the Eyes of Texas, Big Boy.

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    Man- I'm thoroughly disappointed. That VQ motor must be pretty clsoe to maxed if Nismo didn't recam, work the heads, bolt on headers and an intake manifold, etc. and really work it over.
     
  25. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

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    :dunno: nothing special there...still cool but...:dunno: meh...
     

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