- The Nissan Skyline has legendary status in the automotive world, especially in GT-R form, and has a rich history and iconic status.
- Nissan has the potential to return the Skyline to its sporty roots, creating a mid-engine sports car that can improve handling and grip.
- Competition from the mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette suggests there is an appetite in the market for such sports cars, and the mid-engined Skyline will be a big story for enthusiasts.
There are some nameplates in the automotive world that immediately conjure up an image as soon as they are mentioned. If we say Ford Mustang, you’re probably thinking ’65 or ’67 right now, right? And when it comes to the Toyota Land Cruiser, the 40 Series is the one that pops into your mind. This rule does not apply to Nissan Skyline, such is the legendary status of many vehicles associated with the nameplate.
Truth sports car A legend, the Skyline is an icon for anyone with even a passing interest in all things automotive. From the original Hakosuka-era Godzilla to the golden age of the R32, R33 and R34, the Skyline, especially in its GT-R guise, is a true superstar in the eyes of the vast majority of transmission owners. The Skyline has lost some of its sporty identity of late, and many see the R35 GT-R as its true successor, even though the Skyline name continues to appear alongside it. But what if Nissan returned the Skyline to its sporty roots? What if the legendary Japanese manufacturer decided to disrupt the market and make a mid-engined sports car? Here’s what we think about this opportunity.
The Skyline Legacy: The Evolution of an Icon
The Skyline has become a truly legendary name in the world of sports cars since its inception back in 1957 under the leadership of the Prince Motor Company, a manufacturer that later merged with Nissan. Although the nameplate later came to be associated with the sports car category, it was originally a luxury car for the Japanese market. That changed in 1966 with the introduction of the Prince Skyline GT-R, a performance-oriented variant that laid the foundation for the Skyline we know and love.
It was in its second generation, dubbed by enthusiasts the Hakosuka era—a Japanese term meaning “boxy Skyline”—that the Skyline became a legend both on and off the racetrack. The Skyline 2000 and its 2.0-liter inline-six engine won numerous motorsport championships, earning it the nickname “Godzilla,” a name that stuck.
The Skyline name lived on through the ’70s and ’80s, but its sporty GT-R variant went dormant due to stricter emissions regulations and the oil crisis. This continued until 1989, when Nissan revived the GT-R variant with the legendary R32 Skyline, the car’s third generation. The R32 brought back the Skyline’s sporty look and became perhaps the most iconic of the nameplates. Nissan built on its success with the R33, R34 and R35 Skylines, with each generation adding to the nameplate’s iconic status in the automotive world.
The potential of the mid-engined Nissan Skyline
2024 Nissan Z Performance
The highest speed
A turning point
Front engine, rear drive
Up until now, during its long run, the Skyline has always followed the same formula, combining a sports car engine—often an inline six—with a rear-wheel drive configuration, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it always has to be that way. By the way, there are many advantages of the central engine configuration.
Starting with the earliest GT-R cars, this car has always been a strong sports car, successfully competing with other cars in its class over the years. Nissan has achieved this by providing a high power output and a well-tuned and balanced chassis, focusing on these two aspects to create a true driver’s car. The mid-engine format fits this recipe perfectly, which is why it’s been the go-to format for many sports cars over the years.
Placing the engine in the middle of the vehicle can help balance the weight distribution throughout the vehicle, improving handling and overall maneuverability. This, in turn, due to the additional weight on the rear wheels, can lead to better overall grip, and conversely, due to the lack of weight directly at the front of the vehicle, also more precise steering. All of these features are things that Nissan aimed to achieve with the Skyline of the past, so the prospect of using this format in the future is not out of the question.
In addition to this, Nissan has shown itself to be a company that has invested in the science of building a good car. No car embodies this better than the R35 Nissan GT-R. The GT-R has made a name for itself as a car built by science, and Nissan has gone to the next level in development to ensure they’ve squeezed everything they can out of the car. If the company had gone to such lengths to create a mid-engined Nissan Skyline, it would certainly be a car to behold.
A look at the competition
2024 Chevrolet Corvette Prices
When it comes to assessing whether the mid-engined Nissan Skyline will be successful, we need to look at what it currently faces in the market. One of its main competitors would be the current Chevrolet Corvette, a car that recently turned to a mid-engined format.
The Corvette has long been one of the fastest sports cars on the market, even challenging supercars in terms of outright speed and power. The current iteration of the car, the C8, packages 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, with all that power coming from its incredible 6.2-liter V8 engine mounted behind the passenger compartment. That’s enough to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of around 184 mph. As for price, the base 1LT model of the current Corvette Stingray is on the market for the price starting price $67,895but you can expect to pay more than $80,000 for the top-spec 3LT.
Whether the mid-engined Skyline can match the Corvette’s performance remains to be seen. With the R35 GT-R, Nissan proved its ability to build fast supercars, but previous Skylines were never the fastest cars, instead focusing on handling and handling. Either way, the Chevrolet Corvette has proven the appetite for mid-engine sports cars on the market right now.
What a mid-engined horizon could mean for sports car enthusiasts
Any news is big news when it comes to the Nissan Skyline name, and its re-emergence in the US market, especially as a mid-engined sports car, will be a big story for gearheads everywhere. You might be surprised to learn that the Skyline nameplate never completely disappeared. Nissan changed tack with the eleventh generation car, first released in 2001 and sold in America as the Infiniti G35. From that iteration onward, the Skyline lost a fair amount of its sporty nature, instead focusing on comfort and luxury, but the company has recently flirted with bringing back some of the Skyline’s characteristics.
The 2024 Nissan Skyline Nismo, a car that will only be released in its native Japan, is a limited edition of the high-performance version of the Nissan Skyline. The car, limited to 1,000 units, will use the same engine as the current 400R Skyline, but Nismo engineers have tried to squeeze as much power out of it as possible, now rating it at 414 hp. and 406 lb-ft of torque. Elsewhere, the Skyline Nismo has received a full performance upgrade, thanks to improved brakes, suspension and sport driving modes.
Nissan’s return to the high-performance Skyline could give fans hope for the future and a new iteration of the sports car on the plate. If the legendary Japanese brand decides to return to performance with the Skyline, we think a mid-engined location would be the most appropriate, and it would truly shake up the sports car world.