When Nissan quietly ushered in its new sleeper, the turbocharged Silvia Sports Coupe Spec-R, word quickly spread that this new road scorcher was a force to be reckoned with. Could the Spec-R be a potent challenger to its progenitor Skyline GT-R V-Spec, the "Big Daddy" and high lord king of all it surveys among Japan's ubiquitous array of turbo wonders?
The four-cylinder, rear-drive hotshot boasts an entirely new model change that evokes elegance and raw power artfully combined into one of the most attractively designed cars that has ever borne the Nissan logo. The coupe's low slanted nose is set off with an S-shaped emblem designed with a blade motif to emphasize the sharp frontal image that's rounded off by narrow, elliptical headlight housings. Twin air intakes below the hood add a refined aggressiveness to the coupe's look that's emphasized by the bold sweep of its rear fenders and forward rake of the rear pillars. And tasteful character lines flowing along the Silvia's side panels boldly emphasize the car's overall wedge-shaped image. The Spec-R's interior image is formidably matched by a 250 bhp turbocharged mill that outjumps the GT-R V-Spec and is endowed with superior low-end torque and considerably less turbo lag than its six-cylinder flagship icon.
Although a bit sparse, the driver's compartment is nonetheless efficiently and attractively arranged to provide easy access to all controls. Visibility is excellent and instrumentation is sensibly decked out with three-large analog gauges that provide all necessary engine functions. Hitting the scales at 2928 pounds, some 460 pounds less than the GT-R, the lightweight road rocket boasts the same Super Hicas four-wheel steering system as the GT-R V-Spec.
The 4WS setup encompasses yaw rate feedback control to provide steering response faithful to the driver's expectations and enhances stability to achieve the highest level of road performance under all conditions. This leading edge technology is similar to that used by the latest jet fighters and incorporates a model-following control procedure among other applications. Actual data coming into the system based on independent wheel speeds and steering wheel input is compared with preprogrammed target values and discrepancies are corrected via the precise degree of rear-wheel steering. This procedure provides more accurate, fine-tuned control for enhanced tracking performance and improved convergence against external disturbances.
Although the Silvia sport coupe lacks some of the sophisticated electronics found on Nissan's GT-R twin-turbo icon, its unique torque-sensitive helical limited-slip differential (LSD), working in concert with the Super HICAS 4WS system, provides the coupe with an incredible handling capability and cornering prowess exceeded only by the GT-R. And it rates as one of the most important features of the Spec-R. Working in combination with a tuned suspension setting designed to further improve front-wheel grip, the Spec-R's helical type LSD enhances traction and reduces understeer in high-cornering situations, all in real time, while upgrading the performance of active yaw control. Compared to viscous coupling-type limited-slip differentials, helical LSD's offer a more responsive, proactive torque transfer that provides exceptional traction during hard cornering. And you can feel this improved traction at work not only when exiting tight corners, but also on slippery or uneven (undulated) road surfaces. The helical LSD also offers better pedal response and a more extreme level of maneuverability over other types of mechanical LSDs.