The Supra Returned—Why not a BMW-Built Skyline GT-R? A Genuine Argument for Nissan & BMW to Team Up
Wait. A Nissan Skyline GT-R built by BMW? No Way. That's absurd.
Actually it isn't really. And I'm going to tell you why it makes more sense than you think.
When Toyota brought back the Supra a few years ago, the reborn sports car was met with mixed reactions not because of its performance or styling but because it was built by BMW, sharing its platform and engine with the BMW Z4.
All while there will also be a group of purists who won't be on board with the new Supra because it's not a "real Toyota," the reality is that the Mk5 Supra is a welcome addition to today's sports car market and we are much better off with a BMW-ized Supra than without one at all.
Developing a brand new sports car from the ground up is expensive, and it's easy to see why Toyota decided to partner up with BMW for the Supra revival, and most would say Toyota has done a good job injecting its own personality into the BMW underpinnings.
And looking at both the new Supra and the astounding performance of latest generation BMW M3 and M4, I keep finding myself thinking about what would happen if another Japanese automaker partnered up with BMW to revive a legendary performance nameplate.
Reviving (Another) Icon?
I'm talking of course about Nissan and the Skyline GT-R. Nissan is a company whose financial problems in recent years have been well known, and despite those hurdles they've done an admirable job of keeping their performance cars alive.
We just got the first new Z car since 2009—although that car isn't as new as it might seem, carrying over most of the basics from Z34 with an upgraded engine and modernized styling.
But what of the next generation GT-R? The once world-beating R35 GT-R is at the end of production, and from all accounts it doesn't look like there will be a successor anytime soon. At least not one with an internal combustion powertrain.
Again, the immense cost for Nissan to develop a new generation of the Skyline given the current state of the market, emissions regulations and the impending mandates outlawing gasoline cars completely means the R35 will likely be the last gas-powered GT-R. But what if there was another option?
Why not just do what Toyota did and have BMW help build a new version of the GT-R, and maybe even an entire Skyline lineup. Once you get past the initial shock, it makes a lot of sense.
Just as the BMW Z4 was tweaked into becoming a new Supra the new M3 and M4 could very easily be made into a new Skyline GT-R. All of the mechanicals are already there, a twin-turbocharged S58 inline-six engine, rear-drive platform with available AWD and even an optional manual transmission.
And yes, with AWD the latest 503 horsepower M4 easily has GT-R level performance, with 0-60 times under three seconds and a chassis that delivers both four-wheel traction and great slide-happy driving dynamics (if you want).
Nissan could handle the body styling for their part, and we think a slightly squared off "heritage-inspired" shape based on the R32, R33 and R34 cars with four round tail lamps would be absolutely perfect.
Not convinced? The differences between the new Supra and the Z4 show just how much you can do with two cars built on the same platform.
Nissan or Nismo engineers could also put their own spin on the new GT-R's chassis, dialing in the suspension and software to give the car some more of its own personality.
With the right execution, a modern Skyline GT-R with proven BMW inline-six performance and some key "retro" elements inspired by the GT-R of the '90s could be a fantastic machine.
The Last Chance?
The partnership wouldn't even have to be limited to the flagship GT-R. There have always been great RWD Skylines that weren't GT-Rs, and the current 3 and 4-series BMWs with the fantastic B58 engine (that also powers Supra) would also make great modern "Skyline GTs."
To be clear, I have no idea how feasible such an idea is. BMW might have no interest in handing its M-bits over to Nissan, and its existing agreement with Toyota might stop them from working with another Japanese automaker regardless.
But it's definitely something worth pondering. And even if the purists have been reluctant to accept the new Supra, Toyota has proven that the idea can work.
Likewise, there's no doubt Nissan purists and GT-R junkies would have a hard-time accepting a BMW-built Skyline. But I'd guess they'd rather have a new GT-R with BMW DNA than none at all.
There isn't much time left for new gasoline performance cars of any type. And I'd wager a brand new Skyline GT-R with JDM throwback touches and BMW M-supplied performance would actually be pretty incredible vehicle on its own merits.
Now let's get that Zoom call between Yokohama and Munich going....
More From Driving Line
- Speaking of the BMW-built Toyota Supra, that car has just gotten a lot better with the addition of a manual transmission option.