The Forgotten Face of Nissan: 1995-2000 200 SX

While browsing through some old Autocars, I found a long-term test of the Nissan 200 SX. Hasn’t Nissan changed a lot since then?

1996 Nissan 200 SX. Rather unsettlingly, this is found at www.driftworks.com
1996 Nissan 200 SX. Rather unsettlingly, this is found at http://www.driftworks.com

The proportions are spot on and the pronounced boot is thrillingly conservative. Autocar complained the available volume was too small and the hinges intruded. They decided it was more of a GT than a sports car and who am I to disagree? I had utterly forgotten this car and indeed that side of Nissan that dared to field such cars: rear drive, decidedly plain or reserved and with rear drive. You could have it with a 2.0 or 2.4 litre four cylinder (when perhaps straight six might have been better).

This isn’t really my type of car which is possibly why it has stayed off my radar for two decades. It evidently isn’t other people’s type of car either, to judge from its poor internet presence. Confusingly, the same name served for a rather horrid little FWD coupe designed to ferry American university students from campus to mall to suburbia.

Notice the uninterrupted line running from the front lamp the boot. You don’t see that any more. The pillars look slim and the surfacing is simple. It’s the proportions that lift this car and give it the appeal it has.

Not many are on sale. For €5000 you have to go to Lithuania to find this one, which has the appearance of a car messed with by aftermarket additions.

The market for this kind of car died out in the 00s and Honda gave up on the Prelude while Peugeot’s elegant 406 was not quite comparable. BMW persisted in offering a two door version of the 3-series which is where most of the coupe customers went until Audi sneaked in with their rather fine but FWD A5. It’s not the same is it?

Can we think of any other rivals for this car?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

4 thoughts on “The Forgotten Face of Nissan: 1995-2000 200 SX”

  1. Richard, you might need to ask Mr Kearne to send you to Tokyo, or at least make you watch a few drift battles. The S14 Nissan Silvia/200SX is extremely far from forgotten amongst folk who like their yaw angles maximised, suspension slammed and their cap brims dead-flat. All the small and midsize sized rear drive Nissans are drift, time attack and street racing fodder for the Fast & Furious crowd.

    I despised this car when it came out, since I was a firm fan of its predecessor, the S13 Silvia coupe. Still am. I’d really like to know who the design chief was at Nissan during that period of the mid-late 1980s. In my opinion everything went melted-edges and flabby with the S14 and its contemporary generation of Nissans. Compare the R32 Skylines with the R33s (a bigger car, sharing its platform with the contemporary Nissan Laurel), A31 Cefiro with the A32 (an FWD Maxima clone- actually that looked better as the J30 generation Maxima before the A31/32 as well), U12 with droopy-bottomed U13 Bluebird etc. Nissan itself was also melting down, until they got Ghosn.They sharpened up the S14 a bit with the S14a facelift, then brought in a sharper still S15 (the one with the GTV-alike rising feature line along its flanks) before Silvia left the Nissan lineup in 2002.

    Rivals of the Silvia at the time would have been the Honda Prelude, Toyota Curren (Celica coupe), Mazda MX6/Ford Probe, Opel Calibra, maybe something like a Pontiac Grand Prix coupe, Coupe Fiat, Hyundai Coupe, VW Corrado, perhaps an E36 BMW 318is coupe or a 916 Alfa GTV 2.0 twinspark if the prices weren’t too high. Not a bad selection to choose from.

  2. Nice to see someone write “Coupe Fiat”, not the reverse.

    One could add the Rover 200 Coupe (sometimes referred to by its codename, Tomcat) which was quite nice, a handy size, although it would need to be prior to receiving that pencil moustache of a grille.

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