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Is a 2020 Nissan Maxima Really as Fast as an R32 Skyline GTR?

The supercar’s biggest enemy isn’t another supercar: it’s time. For example, a modern hot hatch like the Civic Type R can out-pace a 90s Ferrari F40. Even Nissan’s 80s and 90s supercar, the Skyline GTR, isn’t immune. While the modern R35 can still out-accelerate Corvettes and AMGs, there are some fairly-ordinary sedans that make the same or more power than the iconic R32. One of them being Nissan’s own Maxima. But does that mean it’s faster than a Skyline GTR? Hoonigan decided to find out.

2020 Nissan Maxima vs. 1990 R32 Nissan Skyline GTR: the specs and figures

A red 2019 Nissan Maxima on a road in the rolling fields
2019 Nissan Maxima | Nissan

A match-up between a 2020 Nissan Maxima and a 1990 Nissan Skyline GTR is closer than you might think. Although the former is a front-wheel-drive sedan and the latter is an AWD coupe, their performance figures are somewhat close.

The 2020 Nissan Maxima comes with a 3.5-liter V6, rated at 300 hp and 261 lb-ft, Automobile reports. And despite its CVT, Car and Driver reports it can go 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. Plus, the SR trim features adjustable suspension with stiffer springs and a larger front anti-roll bar, Autotrader reports.

1990 Nissan Skyline GTR
1990 Nissan Skyline GTR | Toprank Importers

In 1990, Japanese automakers were still operating under a nominal ‘gentleman’s agreement,’ Road & Track reports. As a result, Nissan officially rated the R32 Skyline GTR’s 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder at 276 hp and 266 lb-ft, Hagerty reports. However, dyno tests suggest the car may make closer to 300 hp, RBMotoring reports.

Still, despite its AWD, rear-wheel steering, and limited-slip differential, the R32 Nissan Skyline GTR isn’t necessarily faster on paper. True, it weighs about 500 pounds less than the Nissan Maxima, Motor1 reports. But even so, partially due to its 5-speed manual, Evo reports the R32’s 0-60 time is 5.6 seconds.

If the Skyline GTR’s driver screws up the launch, the Maxima could take the win.

The competition layout

Determining a car’s 0-60 time isn’t necessarily straightforward. Nor is it a one-time test; publications often perform multiple 0-60 runs to generate an average figure. And also, to eliminate any potentially flawed launches.

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In keeping with that, Hoonigan ran several back-to-back drag races. The first 2 had traditional standing starts. The last one, though, was a rolling race from 10 mph. This takes the launch out of the equation and focuses purely on the engine and transmission performance.

Could the Nissan Maxima keep up with the Skyline GTR?

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Both the Nissan Maxima and the Skyline GTR had some trouble launching in the first race, though the second was noticeably cleaner. Ultimately, in both cases, the R32 beat the Maxima. However, in the second race, the margin was only about a car’s length.

But for the last race, Hoonigan decided to give the sedan the best possible chance. So, in addition to the rolling race favoring the naturally-aspirated car, the R32 raced with a passenger. As a result, the Nissan Maxima won the final race.

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So, no, a 2020 Nissan Maxima is still not quite as fast as an R32 Nissan Skyline GTR. However, there’s another way to look at this. 30 years ago, the R32’s speed was the stuff of supercars. Today, you can get a comfortable sedan with heated seats, ADAS features, infotainment, and navigation that goes almost as fast.

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