• 2010 Nissan Skyline 250GT First Drive

    Most of us gravitate toward the fastest, most powerful model in any performance car range because, as we all know, speed thrills.

    Such is the case in Japan, where Nissan fields two versions of the long-running Skyline sport sedan, kissing cousins to the Infiniti G37 sedan sold in the U.S. Chances are that most of us would slap down our money on the hood of the Nissan Skyline 370GT with its 3.7-liter V6. After all, it has the most punch, the most tech as well as the most speed and, in the current universe of the Skyline V36-Series sedan, it's the hottest ticket in town.

    But wait. With a bit less fanfare, Nissan can also offer you the Nissan Skyline 250GT. The looks are just the same and it still packs a hard-edged V6 like the 370GT. It is cheaper, and while it has less power and torque, it's still more than competitive against the BMW 328i and Lexus IS 250.

    So let's think the unthinkable for a second. Could the Skyline 250GT actually offer a more satisfying drive than the more endowed Skyline 370GT? Or put another way, is a 2.5-liter V6 enough engine for this class of sport sedan?

    Well, we'll find out because the 2010 Nissan Skyline 250GT will be coming to the U.S. as the 2011 Infiniti G25, filling out the bottom end of the Infiniti model range.

    We schlepped down to Nissan's high-tech base in Yokohama right on Tokyo Bay to sample the 2010 Nissan Skyline 250GT. There, ready to roll, we came upon a rear-wheel-drive Nissan 250GT Type P, one of the top models in the extensive and rather bewildering range of Skyline models in the Japanese domestic market (JDM). Lift the hood and you find the muscular VQ25HR V6 (yes, another version of the ubiquitous VQ-Series V6) displacing 2,495cc. It puts out 222 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 194 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. It's matched with Nissan's latest seven-speed automatic transmission.

    Ah, Skyline. It's still one of Japan's great badges, symbolizing speed and hard-core driving fun. While the Skyline nameplate dates back to 1957 when it was part of the Prince car company (later absorbed by Nissan), variously exotic, high-powered, race-winning examples of the Skyline GT-R truly put Skyline on the map, starting with the classic 1969 "Hakosuka" GT-R of 1969, which was effectively the Japanese-style BMW M3 of its day.

    Nissan might be getting next-gen V6 motors from Mercedes, so this could be the last VQ from Nissan.

    Into the modern era and the Godzilla GT-R R32 of 1989, and the R33 and R34 models that followed, stunningly rewrote the Skyline legend, both in Japan and in the PlayStation world. While the sedan we're driving today is a lot less exotic than all that, it's a fact that the Skyline badge, those trademark round taillights and classic high-performance formula still get the senses buzzing.

    On the Expressway, Headed Out of Town
    Driving out of the depths of the garage beneath Nissan tech central, we swing out into urban Yokohama and soon hit one of Japan's fast overhead expressways, heading out of town. Here's the good news. It takes less than a couple of miles to ascertain that the 250GT has what it takes to qualify as a genuine sport sedan.

    It feels effortlessly fast. It's refined and the taut chassis is a peach the handling fluid and well-balanced but also deliciously sharp. Any fears that the 250GT might come over as a kind of sluggard with a poverty motor can be swiftly laid to rest. Praise be, it's not like that at all.

    Fact is, it's the same as the Skyline 370GT (the car we know as the Infiniti G37), only different. There's the same easy, natural gait on the straights and big grip in the corners, the same kind of brawny V6 performance and smooth-shifting auto box (albeit with no shift paddles in this case).

    Of course, with only 222 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, the 250GT is not on the same pace as the 370GT with its 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. But you'd be surprised. The 2.5-liter V6 produces the goods lower down the rev scale and its throttle response still feels encouragingly sharp and flexible, as the engine pulls cleanly in the low-to-intermediate speed ranges. It works.

    Unfortunately, the 250GT's DOHC, 24-valve, 2,495cc V6 is still dogged by the same flaw as the bigger 3.7-liter V6. That is to say, it becomes gruff and harsh well ahead of the 7,500-rpm redline. By the time the tachometer climbs to 4,000-5,000 rpm, old-school NVH issues have kicked in. It's a gritty trait some 370Z owners would recognize and maybe even relish, but something BMW drivers would never countenance.

    Highway Refinement
    When you're around town or cruising the highway, the little V6 is perfectly well-mannered. Rumors that Nissan might be getting next-gen V6 motors from Mercedes instead of engineering a VQ replacement mean this engine could be the last of its type from Nissan, although you have to wonder frankly if that is such a bad thing in a car of this class.

    How fast is the 250GT? Nissan in Japan won't say, as Japanese manufacturers at home shy away from giving out performance numbers, weird as that sounds. With its quick-shifting seven-speed automatic (no version of this car in Japan is available with a manual transmission), we'd guess the 250GT should crack 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. Such a number doesn't flatter the car, but the Skyline 250GT feels much better and fleeter than its official stats.

    Top marks for the Skyline's rear-drive chassis, which feels really well set up. Again, it takes just a couple of decent corners to appreciate its unusually sweet balance between ride and handling. This is an easy car to drive fast, one with a supple ride that also responds eagerly to steering inputs. There is very little roll, good turn-in and strong grip at both ends of the car.

    Want to try harder? On the open road, it takes a lot to get the 250GT to emulate one of Japan's powersliding D1 drift cars. First you must turn off the stability control, but the breakaway is telegraphed to you well ahead of time and you can correct with a bit of opposite lock.

    Packaged for America
    The rest of the 250GT package is just as the 370GT, and you'd quickly recognize it as an Infiniti G sedan. We shouldn't read too much into the price of the 2010 Nissan Skyline 250GT Type P, as the equivalent of $42,777 reflects not only local taxes but also yen-shock. No doubt the car's price would be carefully tweaked to compete with the BMW 328i and Lexus IS 250.

    What really counts is that Nissan's sport sedan still cuts it against front-line competition with a 2.5-liter V6. The 2010 Nissan Skyline 250GT has more spirit than the more polished IS 250 and can do a lot of what the 328i does for a lot less money.

    Source: Edmunds Inside Line
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Black Betty's Avatar
      Good info Mike. It's not for me, but the Mrs. might be convinced to join the G family by this model.