Have you ever compared a sports car to a bird? Light and agile, swooping along mountain roads or a tight road course. The Silvia could be a very close example. The "S15" chassis was the final generation of compact performance cars based on the S-chassis. Named after a biological classification of small birds that predominantly live in the Mediterranean, the Silvia flutters like one as well.
Unlike previous S-chassis cars, the S15 was only available in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (previous generations were exported worldwide).
The model was now divided into two distinct packages, the Spec S and Spec R. In the AUDM, the name was changed to 200SX acknowledging the previous S-chassis export naming scheme. Both packages were essentially trim levels composed of specified options (Spec S being the base model and Spec R the premium with aero, sunroof, etc.) and received an SR20DET in a lower state of tune.
Following in the footsteps of older models, the S15 was very popular with enthusiasts. Aftermarket tuning companies like Greddy, HKS, 326 Power, and countless others produce parts to modify the car from the roof to tires and not leave anything from Nissan behind.
The new coupe was designed with more refined aggression when compared to the "kouki" S14 generation. Starting at the front, highlighted by projector headlamps and clean, sharp lines that flow towards the rear of the car. The redesign brought the coupe back into the compact tax bracket from its older sibling which helped sales further (the classification has a width limit of 1700mm (67 in) and the S15 had a width of 1695mm).
Besides the two door coupe layout, a new hardtop convertible option was available and known as the Varietta (only available as a Spec S). There was even a new aero kit developed as an option, which consisted of a front bumper with added foglights, side skirts, rear bumper and high mount trunk spoiler.
The Silvia was powered by two versions of a 2.0 liter all-aluminum inline four, the SR20DE(T). Naturally aspirated versions produced 165hp and 142lb/ft of torque.
The turbocharged version produced 247hp and 203lb/ft of torque thanks to a Garrett T28 ball bearing turbocharger and the addition of coil on plug ignition amongst other minor changes from the S14 "black top" version.
0-100km/hr (62mph) occurred in 6.0 seconds for N/A cars and 5.5 seconds for turbo cars. The quarter mile is achievable in 16.1 seconds or 13.9 seconds, later topping out at 234km/hr (145mph) or 244km/hr (152mph) depending on which version you choose. However, all cars available in Japan were restricted to 180km/hr (112mph) in accordance with the Gentleman's agreement.
Three transmission options were available to transfer power appropriately. A Jatco produced 4R01 4 speed automatic, an in-house designed 5-speed manual, and the Spec R exclusive 6-speed J160 manual produced by Aisin, which was later used in the Altezza, RX-8, and a few other different sports cars.
Spec S models made do with an open differential while turbo cars received a helical type limited-slip differential to help put the power down more effectively.
The Silvia was already regarded as a coupe that could handle incredibly well and that reputation continued with the S15. The front suspension was of a Macpherson strut design with a multilink setup at the rear. Spec R models also added strut tower reinforcement and larger diameter sway bars.
Front brakes were borrowed from the Z32 300ZX (like Sally), using the 4 piston calipers and larger rotors. HICAS ( High Capacity Active Steering) was also available like other performance models from Nissan. Being lightweight was the S-Chassis’ biggest advantage with models weighing 1,200–1,450 kg (2,646–3,197 lb) and having proper weight distribution.
The S15 has been used in a few different forms of motorsport, with the most popular being drifting. In the hands of drivers like Nobuteru Taniguchi (HKS Genki S15), Ryuji Miki (Top Secret S15), Yasuyuki Kazama (Kei Office S15), Masato Kawabata (Greddy S15), Youichi Imamura (Auto Produce Boss S15) and James Deane (Worthouse S15) have all had success sliding the chassis in competition winning many D1 championships.
The S15 wasn't just meant to go sideways though, being competitive in the GT300 class of JGTC against many other larger sports cars and won its title in 2001.
Tomohiko "Under" Suzuki's S15, which was built with Scorch Racing has been competing in Battle Evome and now WTAC (World Time Attack Challenge) since some time before 2011 with his S15 Silvia, breaking the record held at Tsukuba Circuit with a time of 51.127 seconds making it one of the quickest RWD circuit cars in the world.
What would you do if you had an S15?