Nissan Skyline GT-R Z-tune

If you have been spending the past few weeks honing your skills on the latest Sony PlayStation2 game, Gran Turismo 4, you might have some idea of what to expect from this Nissan. The GT-R Z-tune is every Japanese car fan's dream, and has a specification that's more suited to a video game than the public road.

If you thought Nissan's R-34 Skyline was dead and buried, think again. It has been resurrected to create an incredible flagship. With 500bhp from a reworked straight- six engine, plus race-spec suspension and brakes, a mighty machine has been built. At £90,000 the Z-tune isn't cheap - but few supercars can match its heritage or exclusivity.

If you have been spending the past few weeks honing your skills on the latest Sony PlayStation2 game, Gran Turismo 4, you might have some idea of what to expect from this Nissan. The GT-R Z-tune is every Japanese car fan's dream, and has a specification that's more suited to a video game than the public road.

Despite being axed 18 months ago, the R-34 Skyline GT-R has been resurrected by the firm's motorsport division, Nismo, for one last fling. And Auto Express took the wheel on an exclusive drive to see what two years of development work has achieved.

The first problem to overcome was the lack of brand new examples of the standard all-wheel-drive two-door. So Nismo sought out used models in mint condition to form the limited run of 20 Z-tunes. The company then rebuilt them into road-going track cars.

And the result is mind-boggling. The normal 2.6-litre twin-turbo engine is bored out to 2.8 litres and packed full of race parts. Pumping out 500bhp at a deafening 6,800rpm and 540Nm of torque at 5,200rpm, the Z-tune provides astonishing acceleration.

Use all of the power from a standing start, and the four-wheel drive fights to retain the grip needed to launch the car forward. If the driver holds the engine in its peak torque range between 3,500 and 4,200rpm, it is hard to think of any other car that could be faster. Thankfully, technicians have also included advanced Brembo brakes which provide phenomenal stopping power and do not seem to fade, even after intense track use.

With a fully reinforced chassis, the GT-R also gets specially tuned adjust-able dampers costing an astonishing £10,000. Coupled with pin-sharp steer-ing, the suspension makes this Nissan a perfect track-day tool. But for a car that's so highly tuned, we were surprised how easy the Skyline is to drive. The racing clutch is nearly as light as the standard GT-R's, allowing easy and smooth shifts on the six-speed gearbox.

Meanwhile, the increased low-down torque also gives instant acceleration in any gear, and makes pottering around town less stressful. What's more, considering this car's race-bred character, the ride is acceptable for day-to-day use.

Inside, the part-leather seats are com-fortable but need more side support to cope with the model's superb cornering abilities. With the new 2007 GT-R set to be the most powerful yet, the Z-tune showcases the level of performance we can expect. For now at least, this is the most extreme Nissan we have ever driven.

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