Surely, with its boxy look, the R30 series was not a masterpiece in terms of styling. But while the R31 series basically kept its predecessor's outward appearance, Nissan finally decided to solve this problem with the introduction of the R32 series in 1989.
The new car featured smooth and round bodylines and as a result appeared much more nimble than earlier versions. Similar to its predecessors, the front is dominated by a large cooling duct incorporated into the bumper. Slick, canted headlights and a low-slung bonnet make for a much sportier face in comparison to the R31. On the rear, the characteristic round lights prevail. After all, the Skyline looked like the sporty car it had always been.
The R32 sedans were offered with four-cylinder and inline-six engines. The base engine in the GXi was the CA18i, a normally aspirated 1.8-literl 4-cylinder with 91 hp at 5,200rpm. Next was the 2.0-liter SOHC 6-cylinder RB20E in the GTE with 125 hp at 5,600 rpm. The GTS was powered by the DOHC RB20DE, a 2.0-liter normally aspirated inline-6 with 155 hp. Top of the bunch was the turbo-charged RB20DET, with 215 hp at 6,400 rpm and 194 lb-ft (263 Nm) at 3,200 rpm of torque, which worked in the GTS-t and GTS4 models. Later, the GTS25 also got the RB25DE, a normally aspirated 2.5l inline-6 with 180 hp at 6,400 rpm and 170 lb-ft (231 Nm) at 4,800 rpm.
4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual transmissions were available. The automatic even came with a so-called “power”-mode, in which the box holds the lower gears until about 5,000rpm, instead of the usual 3,000, before shifting up a gear. For the first time in a Nissan Skyline, power was fed either to the rear via a viscous limited-slip-differential, or to all four wheels on GTS4 versions. On the passive side, ventilated disc brakes in front kept this power in check, as did vented discs in the rear on all GTS models; ABS was available as an option.
The performance model among the sedans is the R32 Skyline GTS-t, featuring rear-wheel-drive and an improved version of the RB20DET already known from the R31 GTS-X. New over the R31 are ball-bearing turbos, which kick in at a tad over 3,000rpm and help the engine provide a maximum output of 215 hp at 6,400 rpm. Also very much in contrast to the R31, the two-liter turbo pulls quite eagerly all the way to the red line. Even though, the limited amount of displacement means the engine has to rely on this form of forced induction and is far less ambitious before the turbo comes to help. Still, in correspondence with the low kerb weight of 3,000 lbs. (1,320 kg) this powerplant is good enough to accelerate the car from standstill to 60mph in about 6.3 seconds.
In comparison with its predecessor, the R32 Skyline features a totally new suspension, with a double-wishbone setup in front and a multi-link setup at the rear. Springing for the GTS-t sedan is similar in stiffness to that of the coupe, i.e. much harder than on previous Skyline sedans. Some versions even came with HICAS, the Nissan's four-wheel-steering.
In effect, the R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-t Sedan shines with sharp turn-in and a well-balanced chassis. The stiff setup really encourages the driver to throw the car into a corner, where it remains composed and follows its line, without the desire to get the tail out. Oversteer comes in only when provoked, and is perfectly controllable then. Just during very high-speed cornering does the rear-end feel a bit light, despite the rear-wing. Despite the newly gained sportiness over the R31, ride quality remains good.
On the inside, the R32 Sedans convince with good ergonomics and comfortable front seats. Headroom is limited in the rear, because of the descending roofline and trunk-space could also prove a problem, if the car is used as a full-time family car.
Considering there is hardly any sedan out there to keep up with the Skyline this side of the BMW M5, the R32 GTS-t offers superb performance for a superb price. The other R32 sedan versions may not be as powerful, and the all-wheel-drive versions also not as tautly handling, but in effect, all R32 Sedans offer lots of performance for the money; and the same everyday usability as a Primera or Altima.