A truly awesome driving machine
Nothing, starts without even touching the accelerator.
The tyres were pretty worn when I got the car, I haven't got round to changing them yet... to my regret. I accelerated round a roundabout and went into a powerslide which was awesome fun, but when I tried to steer into my exit I completely lost the back-end and did a 180. The ABS brakes kept me on the road, and there were no other cars about, but please, please, PLEASE do NOT mess with rear-wheel drive until you know how to handle it, it's great fun, but you could end up wrapped around a lamp-post if you don't know EXACTLY what you're doing. I learned this the easy way, I'm begging you to do so too. Get an experienced friend, get him to teach you, take a supercar course, whatever. Until then, accelerate only in a straight line.
If something does (God forbid) go wrong, don't bother with Nissan, shop around, and you will get better parts for cheaper prices (Turbo Technics, Supertune, TDI etc).
The pop-up headlights are very eighties/early nineties, but they have a certain old style charm to them. The front profile is beautiful, the bonnet bulges in a rather muscular way. Open the bonnet and you get an idea where the car gets its power from, every square inch is taken by up by the engine.
Side profile is very attractive, although again slightly dated looking. The car looks best when viewed from an angle, standing at one of the corners and taking three or four steps back. Then the sleek aerodynamic lines take on a menacing undertone, which is strongly enhanced if you choose a darker colour. I selected dark metallic grey (anthracite to be pedantic), which I feel suits this car the best. Red's a bit tacky, dark blue is okay, but doesn't go well with the red tail light panel, and black looks like a Knight Rider attempt (Although I was tempted by the idea of getting a black one and installing a red strobe in the bonnet).
The interior is very nice, by no means luxurious, but definitely comfortable. Superb driving position, excellent bucket seats which hug you round corners, and loads of leg space for the passenger and driver (I'm 5'11). The back is roomier than most 2+2 coupes, and I can fit two reasonably big people, but I wouldn't recommend it for long journeys. Cool dashboard display, fantastic air-con, excellent general layout, an ash-tray that just begs you to smoke etc.
Okay, on to the main part:
Driving & performance. Below 3000 rpm, the car purrs innocently, smooth drive, soft clutch, quick but gentle response to a touch of the gas. As soon as the needle hits three thousand revs.... all hell breaks loose. You hear a sound like an aircraft engine which is the turbo coming in, and the car just blitzs forward, sucking you back into those superb seats. Parkers guide wasn't kidding when it described this car as "boy racer's delight, explosive acceleration and turbo", you will SLAUGHTER everything else on the road (including the BMW Z3, MGF, Mitsubishi FTO, Integra R-Type, Prelude V-Tec... the list goes on). Only cars of the Supra/Skyline/Porsche class are beyond your reach. First gear's got the most G-force, but second and third gear is where you do most of your accelerating. By that point, all the other cars are tiny specs in your rear-view mirror, and you're going about 95. You can break the national speed limit in second gear - if you're so inclined. When you think that this engine was designed ten years ago, you appreciate what wizardry Nissan have at their disposal. Gear changes require a bit of practice, but once you gain that are incredibly smooth. The clutch is very soft, the throttle potently responsive, and the brakes superb.
One of my favourite things about this car is its understatedness. It looks mildly sporty, but very few people are aware of the monster hiding beneath the bonnet. And when you blitz off into the horizon, they're like WTF?!
There are quicker cars, yes. But there is no better mix of performance, comfort, and reliability for anything near the price. The amount of fun I'm having for a paltry £2500 - it doesn't get much better.
This is also an excellent learning car, with its turbo and rear-wheel drive providing an excellent stepping stone onto more advanced machines. After about a year, I may move onto to its bigger brother the 300ZX, or perhaps a Skyline or a Supra. But for now, the 200SX is more than adequate to terrorise the roads with.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th January, 2001