1997 Nissan Silvia Review

1997 Nissan Silvia Q's SE SR20DE from Australia and New Zealand

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission SR20DE Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired128000 kilometres
Most recent distance132000 kilometres
Previous carToyota Starlet

Summary:

It's an affordable, fun and classy sportscar

Faults:

It makes loud rattling noise at start up. Researched carefully and got it inspected by a mechanic. Replaced the chain tensioner and cleaned the oil sump, costing NZ$350. They were not the problem; it was the variable valve timing. It is a very common problem for SR engines, but mine is just a bit noisier. It would cost about $1100 to replace it, $950 to import the part from Japan and the rest for labour. However, the unit is still functional so I might just push the dealer to pay for the part. If not, I'll just live with it.

Nothing else :)

General Comments:

I bought this car as my daily driver to get to work. I've considred getting a Toyota Levin BZ-G, but decided against it as this one offered more fun being RWD, 2.0L and more classy.

1. Straight-line performance:

To sum it up quickly, this car has not been built for straight-line performance. If you want neck breaking acceleration, I suggest you look at EVO's or WRX's instead. However, being a sportscar, it does accelerate better than most cars. It's very "normal" below 4000rpm and above that you can go reasonably fast. In other words, it is practically fast, as I don't see myself hitting 7000rpm red line very often anyway. It's got enough grunt to comfortably overtake at any speed as well. Bear in mind that at 100km/h, it's running at around 3000rpm already. Even without any modifications, it sounds rather nice above 4000rpm.

2. Cornering and handling:

This is where the car shines. It's got a very lovely weighty feel in the steering. I just love that :D Steering is initially quite light, but as you gain speed it becomes progressively weightier.

While it has a very neutral handling characteristic, it has a very high tendency to break the traction at the back. It means, you need a LSD (and probably wider tyres as well) and not all Silvia's come with one. I feel that if I install a LSD and much wider tyres, I'll be able corner much faster. Right now, I can't be too confident when cornering, even at the best of conditions.

3. Running cost:

To say the least, it is very low for a sportscar. It manages to get 11km/L, which is impressive given that I do thrash it when I can and I drive during peak hours. Insurance cost is obviously much much lower than its turbo charged brothers. Nissan is also known for building reliable cars. It hasn't had any problem apart from those mentioned and I don't expect to see any problem any time soon.

4. Appearance:

It's got a nice aggressive and sleek feel. But it really needs to be lowered a bit and have larger rims fitted to look menacing. Once done, they look magnificent; matching that of a well presented S15 in a different way. I quite like the look, but stock definately has room for improvement.

5. Comfort:

It's comfortable enough for a long trip, at least for those in the front seats. I pity those that sit at the back, but hey, I didn't ask them to sit there :P The backseats are there for emergency use only.

6. Conclusion:

It's a great affordable sportscar with all the good characteristics that a sportscar ought to have. It handles very nicely and nimbly and goes hard enough when you push it without breaking your neck. It doesn't declare you bankrupt either.

7. Future:

I'm not sure. On one hand, I want to keep the car and modify it. Give it some good suspensions, wheels, exhaust, intake and maybe a new paint job (I love black Silvia's). It would look and go very nice. But I fear that investing lots of money into a Q's would end up costing me much as there is a price cap: S14 K's. No matter how nicely modified a Q's is, its resale value would probably be limited by its turbo charged brothers.

So I've been thinking. Maybe drop in a SR20DET or RB25DET? It'd cost me nearly the purchase price of the vehicle and lots of effort to make it happen. Actually it will cost me more than selling my car and buying a S14 K's! I am undecided ;)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th June, 2006

Average review marks: 7.8 / 10, based on 1 review