Exhilarating takeoffs are the hallmark of this impressive coupe's stellar performance that, paradoxically, is not matched by the twin turbo V-Spec, which is no worldbeater on launch. The Spec-R coupe's SR20DET two-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine with an intercooled turbocharger is mated to a new six-speed manual transmission with gear ratios configured to provide hefty torque in the lower end of the gear chain with impressive turbo boost coming on at a lower tach readout than that of the venerable V-Spec.
Nissan engineers carried the Spec-R's power upgrades even down to the new exhaust system via an increase in the diameter of the internal structure to provide reduced back pressure for increased power output. The Silvia sport coupe's spirited handling and tenacious road grip over some of the winding, narrow back roads that ramble through the countryside of Hidaka, Saitama closely resembled the robust performance of Mitsubishi's rally-based Evolution VI. The tuned MacPherson front strut suspension and rear multi-link setup provides a long wheelstroke and low friction, high lateral rigidity to provide precise control as it works synergistically with the rear-mounted helical LSD and Super HICAS 4WS. Radically nimble vehicle dynamics were achieved by increasing stiffness at suspension attachment points and changing the suspension geometry to attain the highest degree of road compliance possible.
Body stiffness was also improved over the previous model by strengthening the upper hood, reinforcing the rear pillars of the all steel body, and by adding a front and rear crossbar, rear floor stays, a trunk strut tower bar and a thicker plate for the floor panel. Rounding out the powertrain assemblage, Nissan engineers carefully aligned the clutch size and gear ratios of the 6-speed manual transmission to match the power and torque curves of the two-liter, twin-cam turbocharged powerplant. And shifting is euphoric-satiny smooth, and deadly precise. No concentration needed with this gearbox. Triple cone synchronizers are provided in the first through third gears for enhanced shifting and second to fourth gears adopts an asymmetric chamfered construction to create a delightfully impeded shift feel. Darting through a series of sharp, uncambered curves of the circuitous Naguri road that snakes its way along the Iruma river, the Spec-R hit the turns aggressively maneuvering itself effortlessly through a series of tight corners as intermitent turbo boosts rocketed the coupe into and out of the transitions accompanied by the liquid-smooth synchronicity of engine braking, 2nd-gear downshifts followed by 3rd-gear acceleration bursts. Even when revs dropped below 3000 rpm, the turbo maintained its heady compliance rocketing the Spec-R to its next encounter in an agile dance accompanied by the crisp but mellow growl of its tuned exhaust at times rising to a crescendo without a hint of raucousness. And during all this you can even glance at the boost gauge which is hanging off the right side pillar well within the driver's line-of-sight for easy readouts.