2003 Nissan Skyline 350GT owner review

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Review written by:
Emi
PROS
  • Price
  • Luxury
  • Performance
CONS
  • Fuel economy
  • Difficult to import bodykits and parts
  • Sometimes negligent previous owners

About the Nissan` Skyline

Emi purchased this Nissan Skyline used for $5,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2020. Emi would buy this car again because: “Whilst it is a controversial car to the JDM community as it dropped some of the previous generation Skyline’s trademark characteristics such as the straight-six engine (replaced with a V6) and turbocharging, it is incredible value for money.

The V35 I purchased came with cream leather interior, heated seats, Bose sound system, 206kW of power and many more features you wouldn’t find in a car for $5000. In my opinion they are extremely underrated and I would be lucky to have the opportunity to purchase one again.”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

Thankfully I had been lucky enough to purchase the car from someone who had taken great care of the it and serviced it frequently, so the V35 has been extremely reliable thus far.

Being completely honest, I haven’t encountered any issues at this point (touch wood) besides some common cosmetic issues inside the car including heated seat switches, electric seat switches, central locking, all known common issues with this vehicle, but as with every car owned for a long period of time I’m sure this will change in the future and common mechanical issues might become more prevalent.

Due to the desirable price tag and the even more desirable features, the 350GT is sometimes target for those wishing to pay less for a “fast” car, without wanting to keep up the maintenance involved in trashing a car.

This often results in common issues, especially those affected by low oil maintenance (thanks to the Nissan VQ engine oil chugging!). All in all, I would say reliability is situational and dependent on previous owners and maintenance, as with most cars. Assuming the car has been taken care of, they are very reliable in my (entirely unprofessional) opinion and limited experience.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

In terms of simply being a V35 owner, it has its ups and downs. As I stated earlier, because the V35 is such a controversial car in the car community, being seen as a “fake skyline”, it is often difficult to come together with members of the community without angering someone over the badging of your car, as if you named it yourself.

This has slightly affected the ownership experience for me personally. On the other hand, a majority of people can appreciate the V35’s uniqueness, and it’s nice to come together with other V35 owners and G35 owners online. Outside of the car community it is a very positive experience and the car definitely turns heads and receives a lot of compliments. For this reason, I find it a sufficient balance.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

As I said earlier, I think the V35 is excellent value for money and I don’t think it gets much better than this in the Japanese car market, in fact I believe it’s what makes the V35 so desirable. There isn’t much to say in this regard because I truly have no complaints about the price to features balance of this car.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

As with all Skylines, performance wise it excels compared to other JDM cars of its age and price bracket. It is a rear wheel drive with the Nissan VQ engine and features 276 bhp (206kW) of power at 6200rpm.

My own v35 is automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Although not entirely useful in South East Queensland, like the R32/33/34 automatics and many other Nissans, the V35 features a switch next to the shifter which allows you to alternate between Snow, Regular and Speed mode, which merely affects how much power is sent to the wheels at what time in order to cater to the drivers conditions.

I find this a nice option to have even if it’s not entirely always useful. While all of this is great performance wise, it translates to a slightly depressing fuel economy situation at roughly 400km to a tank on average, depending on the type of driving I’m doing. I wouldn’t complain though, as I see the fuel economy is the price I pay for the luxury of the performance.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

The technology in my car is great. It’d be even better if I was in Japan and could actually utilize it all of it! Unfortunately most of the technology in the V35 is in Japanese and there isn’t an option to change the language, so to the everyday non-Japanese speaking user it can be difficult to navigate between the fuel economy display, where it shows how many km until empty, your average fuel economy, average km/l, and the “pit stop” alert settings, a feature which you can set where, after a certain amount of adjustable km, it will alert you it is time to service your car, all of which are great features if you can look past the language barrier.

Maybe I just never experienced such simple features until I bought the V35, but I think this is really fun for such an old car.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

Between the heated seats, thigh support, Bose sound system and much more, there isn’t much to complain about in a ride perspective. It really has a luxury feel to it even for it’s age (not that I really have much to compare to, I did actively seek a car under $5000 after all), and every trip is a pleasant one as the owner and driver.

Sadly I have heard from my passengers that the experience isn’t as pleasant for them. Thanks to the switch issues I spoke about earlier, as well as the passenger seat not having the thigh support that the drivers seat includes, I can empathise and agree that the passenger experience would not be as enjoyable which I believe affects the ride experience, for me at least, as I want my passengers to share the same comfortable experience as me in my own car.

In terms of handling, it is always a smooth drive in the V35, so long as the driver is used to the 206kW (truthfully, absolutely terrifying since I had been driving a Mazda 2 since I’d had my learners). Although 206kW isn’t particularly a lot, it’s enough that I found I couldn’t be entirely comfortable with the handling until I became fully adjusted to the cars capabilities and limits, although I’d imagine this is the case when driving any car for the first time.

Even still, initially the v35 can be recognised to anyone as comfortable in both ride and handling and I’ve had friends who’ve driven the car agree.

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