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TG’s guide to concepts: the 2001 Nissan Skyline GT-R

The genesis of today’s R35 Godzilla was this sleek, engineless design study

  1. It’s a piece of modern automotive furniture, the Nissan GT-R. Since 2007, it’s been getting more powerful, faster, and up the noses of Porsche in particular, plus plenty of other European automotive aristocracy. And its story truly began with this styling shot in the dark: the 2001 Nissan Skyline GT-R prototype. Sleek, isn’t it?

  2. Oddly, the fetus of the GT-R wasn’t all about numbers and Top Trumps. It didn’t have any, in fact. No engine data, no acceleration times, no nothing. It wasn’t supposed to showcase the future of turbocharged V6 and dual-clutch fury. The GT-R prototype was merely Nissan’s statement of intent that its most famous badge would live on into the 21st Century. Although without the Skyline bit, as it turned out.

  3. Ironically, it was soon possible for anyone to drive the GT-R prototype. Just as long as they were prepared to do it virtually. Yup, the best Skyline tradition, you could acquire the car as a rarefied prize in Gran Turismo 4, which obviously proved popular because it returned in the fifth and sixth iterations of the eponymous driving simulator. 

  4. With the goggles of hindsight on, we can spot all sorts of cues that would return in the production-spec R35 GT-R. The quad taillight lenses, the upright and boxy grille, the teardrop roof profile and squared-off haunches. No doubt, this is an exceedingly handsome coupe, and one that looks modern and crisp over a decade and half since it shocked the 35th Tokyo motor show.

  5. The interior? Not so much. Frankly, we challenge you to spot a single element recognisably transferred from this styling buck to the GT-R road car. And you can’t cheat by saying ‘paddleshifters’, because lots of cars have those. A Nissan Micra, in fact. Nope, this is a cabin that looks far closer to what McLaren fits inside a 650S. Fans of the GT-R prototype were we, Woking?

  6. The R35 GT-R’s recently had the heaviest facelift of its life. Sharper nose, posher cabin, and obviously more power, because 542bhp clearly wasn’t sufficient. All told though, it’s in the autumn of its life, and you can bet Nissan is hard at work with its reportedly hybrid successor. Would you be chuffed if it took a few styling cues from this 2001 concept?

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