An absolute bargain for the insurance-challenged
The input shaft bearing on the gearbox was somewhat whiny when I got the car. Since then, all gearbox bearings have been replaced (under warranty) and the noise is still there. It seems that this is an inherent, but totally benign issue (a number of other Skylines I have been in have the same noise). It is not a reliability issue.
Rear spoiler-mounted brake light does not work.
Handling is THE major strong point of this car. It has a very neutral turn-in and LOADS of grip. You can keep your foot buried almost all the way through the corner and still stick to the road, with mild oversteer on the corner exit. When the tail does break loose, it is extremely forgiving and progressive, and can be brought back into line (if you really want to) very easily. Body roll is minimal, even with stock-standard suspension and bump absorption is actually better than my last car, a VR Commodore with standard suspension.
The motor is an absolute jewel, but it needs at least 4000rpm on board to be in the least bit interesting. Low-down torque it does not have. Still, it is more than willing to rev to the 7000rpm redline/cut-out and sounds brilliant all the way (I have a 2.5" aftermarket exhaust fitted). You will need to make good use of the somewhat notchy gearbox to wring the best out of this motor. I would not call it a quick car. The bottom line: it needs a turbo. However, if your insurance company says that you can't have a turbo, this is still a very nice motor.
Apart from the noisy gearbox (only really apparent at standstill in neutral with the clutch out) and the non-functional spoiler-mounted brake light (due to a blown LED), this car has had no problems whatsoever. I would still recommend replacing the camshaft belt if you are at all unsure of when it has last been changed. Don't forget that many (most?) privately-imported cars have had the odometers wound back... possibly several times.
The interior is a little dark, but the updated Series II dash has aged gracefully. The climate-control air-conditioning is magnificent! The driver's seat is quite supportive, and the width is adjustable to cater for a range of drivers.
Fuel consumption is around 11-12L/100km, but then I tend to rev the sweet-singing motor out rather a lot :) Expect better consumption with a lighter foot. 98-octane premium unleaded petrol is highly recommended.
Overall, for the price I paid (AU$20,000), it is still unbeatable value; unless you look at the GTS25 turbo...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th March, 2003