The R34 Skyline, famously driven by the late Paul Walker’s Fast & Furious character, Brian O’Connor, is something of an automotive icon. The GT-R sits atop of the R34 range but as a law abiding citizen, I am the proud owner of the closest P-Plate legal equivalent. That being a fastidiously maintained 1998 Nissan Skyline R34 25GT coupe.
Designated R34, the tenth incarnation in the Skyline series was announced in late 1997. A styling makeover allowed for several links to previous generations but eliminated the R33’s more bulbous and dated elements. Most notably, the nose was styled to be more angular and aggressive with reshaped headlamps and new air-intake vents. At the rear, once again the overall shape is noticeably sharper and the tail lights have been slightly tweaked in style and size. The overall result, externally at least, is a car that can still trade punches in the looks department amongst much more modern cars, despite being designed and built almost two decades ago.
The interior however does show its age relative to modern vehicles. Both the front and rear seats are stitched with a clean two-tone fabric but bolstering and lumber support could be significantly improved. The instrument panels and centre console are encompassed by a rather dull plastic polymer that scratches quite easily and in rare cases, can be damaged by extreme heat and sunlight. However, despite not possessing luxurious materials and exorbitant infotainment systems, the 25GT does boast a digital climate control, power windows, electric fold-in side mirrors, ABS and a digital odometer and trip computer. Additionally, it also possesses a tiptronic transmission with button shifters on the height adjustable steering wheel. Not bad for a Japanese sports car built 17 years ago.
The 2.5-litre straight-six naturally aspirated power plant under the bonnet of the R34 Skyline 25GT, an RB25DE NEO, a member of the legendary Nissan RB engine family, produces a decent 149kW at 6000 RPM and 255 Nm at 4000 RPM. These output figures allow for smooth acceleration and competent overtaking. However, it will be left behind when compared to the GT-T and GT-R variants of the R34.
Partly due to my almost unhealthy compulsion to clean and maintain every aspect of the car, aesthetic and mechanical, I am proud to say that reliability is not an issue with the 25GT and that my particular example starts up first time, every time. However, in the event of mechanical issues, there is an abundance of spare parts available locally and online due to the Skyline’s popularity. Servicing costs are moderate but can become expensive if the car is not well maintained and driven over aggressively. Fuel economy will vary according to the owner and their driving habits but overall, is not a strong characteristic of the Skyline family. From mid-1998 onwards, all RB25DE engines came with the NEO (Nissan Ecology Oriented) cylinder-head that used smaller combustion chambers and variable valve timing to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Did that make a considerable difference though? My average economy of 380-410 kilometres per 55 litre tank says no.
As many Skyline owners will attest to, there is an endless supply of various aftermarket items, suitable not just for the R34 but multiple Skyline generations, that can enhance performance, functionality and looks. Modifications are so common on Skylines that the odds of stumbling across a stock one are quite low. Such a plethora of parts and accessories enable owners to add their own unique touch to their car and set it up to their liking. My 25GT, for example, has been tastefully modified with the addition of aftermarket Volk Racing alloys wrapped in sticky rubber, stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, window tinting and NISMO indicators amongst other upgrades. This all contributes to a one of a kind car that looks aggressive but not outrageous, eats up corners at speed with minimal body roll and if provoked, can tear off your face when the brake pedal is squeezed. The suspension modifications do however give rise to some negative points. The firm setting ensures that any imperfections in the road surface jolt the spine and also results in some minor, yet highly irritating rattling noise within the cabin around the centre console.
The 1998 Nissan Skyline R34 25GT coupe, though not perfect, is a real winner. I can only hope that when the sad day comes when I part ways with my beloved car, its successor can make me feel the way I do now behind the wheel.