New Horizons: Sampling The Skyline 400R

This is not a car feature per se. It’s an opinion piece, or possibly just me rambling on… But fear not, there is a reason, and it all spans from finally having a drive of Nissan’s hottest current-model Skyline.

The 400R is the Japanese domestic version of the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, and although it’s only been on sale in Japan since late last year, it’s already turned out to be a hot seller for Nissan.


More to the point, it’s been an unexpected success. The overly conservative lean that most Japanese car manufacturers take, led to the assumption that there wasn’t much of market for a 400hp sedan.



The order book filled up quickly, and the only press car Nissan had was booked solid for months. Now they have two of them on the press fleet, and I was able to secure one for this past weekend. I took it up to Tsukuba for Attack (coverage coming soon), and spent the weekend enjoying its comfort and hidden personality – one that’s there to be discovered at every enthusiastic stomp of the gas pedal.


Under the hood is where the 400R hides its party trick. The VR30DDTT is possibly the least talked about engine in Nissan’s current line up, but I don’t think it’s going to be like this for long. For me, this twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is not only an explosive powerplant, there’s a lot of potential for even greater things. The VQ is now past its sell-by date, so this is the engine that – in various states of tune – will end up powering most of Nissan’s gasoline range for years to come.


And the best thing is, if the rumormill is correct, it will end up driving the rear wheels of the next generation Fairlady Z. Four hundred horsepower – and possibly more – in a production-spec Z is not only going to redefine what the Z-badge stands for, it’s going to reinvent it completely.

Finally we’ll be taken back to those glorious boosted years when the Z32 300ZX reigned supreme, or further back still with the Z31 200ZR and its RB20DET power.


You can probably see where I’m going with this – but wait, there’s more. While this engine has been used Stateside in the Q50 and Q60 since 2016, it’s still very much new and unexplored in Japan. But with only a few months of development time, those few tuners that have given it a shot are discovering the VR30 is a lot like the VR38 – immensely modifiable.

Phoenix’s Power recently released their first stage of modifications for the 400R, an EcuTek tune that lifts power to 520hp. This is with everything stock and the injectors running at maximum duty cycle.


In the States, where tuning shops and parts manufacturers have had four years to play around with the VR30, the power figures being realized are higher. Even in stock form this engine pulls with an unrelenting pace; it’s effortless and full of torque from any engine speed. In fact, I’d say it pulls almost the same as a stock 2007 R35 GT-R, meaning that 400hp figure may be a tad conservative.

What it lacks is a good transmission. The old Nissan 7-speed feels quite outdated, with curiously-programmed shift patterns and far less response and control than what the ZF 8-speed fitted to so many cars out there manages to do. And then there’s the steering by wire. It feels like something you’d plug into your games controller; overly light with no feel or feedback. Actually, I think the force feedback in gaming steering wheels might even feel more realistic.


That said, for the 5-million yen the 400R sells for domestically, it’s an absolute performance bargain; a proper sleeper that from the exterior could be any other current-gen Skyline. It’s got enough grunt to see off some of the more powerful German performance cars, and in the process cause some confusion. That’s something I experienced firsthand during a little run in with a Mercedes-AMG C63 on the highway. Let’s just say it was very satisfying.


If anything could be improved, it’s the cabin, which feels a little too run-of-the-mill Skyline. While the quilting on the seats is a good try, it all just disappears in the sea of blackness. Seriously, would a little color hurt?

But for how much I came away loving the 400R – and yes, I know the name is slightly hard to swallow for hardcore Nissan enthusiasts – I just can’t help but think what the new Z will be like if it indeed ends up with the VR30. Let me know what you’d like to see in the next Z…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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What I'd like to see in the next Z?
Normal gauges (not a screen simulating them), no weird center console screen (looking at you, Mercedes and Mazda), and (not going to happen) a manual gearbox.


Yes, yes and yes! Having driven newer cars, I can admit to enjoying the older and simpler cars more.


I think there's still time to release a little coupe with a stick shift.
I also think they have a shot here to hit a better price point than the supra.
If this 400r is anything to go by, then it looks like they already have a 6cyl ripe for modifying.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

100% it needs to be also available in a manual, but it will have to be quite a tough on to put up with the power increases most people will end up going for if the VR30 will indeed be the motor they end up using. Hope they also strike up a deal with ZF and forget trying to catch up in the torque converter game, no real point even attempting it really. I'm a fan of digital gauges lately, don't know why, it adds freshness and class to a modern car.


Isn't it more likely that it get one of those 9G-Tronic Mercedes transmission instead of an ZF Box? As fasr as i remeber, infinity and Mercedes are cooperating. I still remeber the last time i drove an infinty Q50 with an mercedes 2.2l diesel. Sounded like on of those old /8 diesel taxi's that run forever. Interiour quaility was better put together than anythink german. Does not change the fact, that the trunk is to small and at the time the engine choice was terrible and the suspension is way to hard for most roads in Europe.


guaranteed someone RB swaps one.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Starts listing up all the Japanese drifters who will get pre production cars .... lol


Has euro/us-Infinity version luxurious interior then japan-Nissan-version of this car?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes the exterior is Japan-only as it's now badged as a Nissan. It used to be Infiniti up until this second refresh but nobody understood why as Infiniti does not have a presence in Japan. Just usual Nissan line up confusion and general muddled up product line up


For some reason the Nissan grill looks better on this than the Infiniti version.

I would like outward visibility in the new Z.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Meaning visibility in the Z34 sucked?


oh yes, definitely the rear view. I still glance over my shoulder before changing lanes and the 370Z's C-pillar blocks almost everything. Technically it only has a B-pillar because the little window behind the door is ridiculously tiny and pointless.

Firly Afianto Mahardika

hmmm i agree if next Gen Fairlady Z use this engine, and setting to 370 HP or 350 HP.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I doubt they'd set it less than the A90 Supra. That thing has 380 hp now, you so much as spit and polish the B58 powering it and it will crank out an easy extra 100 hp with a remap.

Firly Afianto Mahardika

And Supra will be rival for Fairlady Z. Sad for toyota because Supra now is below from GTR and NSX.

Firly Afianto Mahardika

Do you have rumors about Nissan S-Chassis Next gen bro?


Wow, that price is really fair and I agree, the interior looks a bit blant, that dashboard isn´t my cup of tea. With that beeing said, great car indeed ! I´m excited that we get a new Z after all, given how Nissan is doing these days. I hope it will be a driver´s focused car with a nice mechanical gearbox and a bodyshell that´s not convoluted. I want a simple design with clean lines.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I think they will nail it, for the simple reason that they can't afford not to make it as perfect as they can.


I 100% agree about the steering, throttle, and transmission. There is so much more to a car than just adding power, you have to get it all in sync with one another. I feel this was built more for the masses and because of the numbness of it doesn't come away as feeling like you drive something special. I will say it's a great start and Nissan is better for having it in there lineup. Maybe though they are fixing the short comings with the next gen Z.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The Skyline has always been a great base start point for a project car. This 400R is just that. You can refine it an improve it and turn it into a great performance sleeper. You won't be able to do much with the steering and transmission though...


I think this could have been a great platform for a manual like a RWD maxima and I know you can get a manual to hook up because i've seen a youtube channel swap a manual into a q60 coupe with the TT v6 so i think it's only a matter of if nissan will put one in the next Z car.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I'm sure the Z34 manual will mate pretty easy to it


These cars are completely slept on here in the U.S. You can get relatively low-mile used ones very cheap:

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Interesting! R31 House is about to start selling Q60 wide body complete cars. I'm due to go and test one next month. Can't wait as I've never driven the coupe


I was mildly excited about this car until the comments on the transmission - which I was expecting anyway. So close Nissan, almost built a car that’s largely unheard of currently - a powerful big body car with a good engine and a proper transmission. A ZF style box would have been cool, but we all know if this had 3 pedals everyone would be going crazy for them !

Dino Dalle Carbonare

There should be a manual and a ZF auto option. All your problems will be over


I'm dreaming but a ND miata/S2k size coupe with a high compression over-square 2.0 inline 6 would be the reset the Fairlady deserves. Compression for grunt and a short stroke for more wrap at the top end. Throw the effort into keeping the weight off, like 2400lbs wet weight. Soft springs with gentle damping for grip and comfort, a big sway bar to keep it flat maybe an adjustable sway bar. Again, dreaming.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I hear you. But I think the way Nissan is right now, the last thing they'd take on board is developing a new motor. Pretty crazy Mercedes Benz has come out with a new straight six. Damn Germans!


Steer bby


Steer by wire?

Oh hell no.

Bad enough cars don't have throttle cables anymore.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah I fail to understand it. It's the move to autonomous driving ...


I know that there are some people that may not like the new Skyline but at least it's a sporty sedan not a crossover
It does carry the heritage and has some cues from the past Skyline models like the iconic tail light
And it is really fun to drive

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah thankfully they killed the hideous Skyline Crossover thing


The Skyline 400R must be a really sporty car and really fun to drive
A manual gearbox would have been nice

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Or just a good auto


I used to work at Nissan, within Engineering actually. I have also owned 7 Nissan's and I still have my 350Z. However, I am really saddened by what is happening with Nissan right now. The body designs for both Nissan's and Infiniti's are super dated, the SUV's are more and more watered down, the Altima, Q50... most of you know. These days, their awesome history and the current production GTR is the only thing keeping them identifiable as a performance brand. But that cant last forever, an amazing history of cars will only get them so far. With Ghosn leaving and the future being electric, they have literally frozen all of their designs and work on future models to understand their place and future in the automotive industry. It may take them some time but I hope that they can still be successful. Bring back the Xterra, the Sentra SE-R and the Altima Coupe! Please for the sake of our sanity delete the Kicks and the 370Z and bring us something FRESH! Make a badass Q50 replacement with a new body - Coupe and Sedan... the list goes on for what I dream to see from Nissan.


On the upside a new Z sports car is coming soon as well as a new GTR
Hopefully a Silvia S16 also comes

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I think they will come out of this. This is their time to shine and they know it.


Dino, this looks much better than the GTR. It looks like a family sedan but under the hood you have +/- 400 hp and a mild tune should give 450 hp quite easily. Like you said " a sleeper". Thanks for featuring it on speedhunter.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Would love to build it up as a Speedhunters project car. Nissan? No? lol


its all good with the price range plus the bargain of quality and power. but for enthusiast like me, Nissan can offer a little lower the budget so we can actually buy. here in PH. not to compare but atleast toyota is trying with their 4 banger supra.


This was good stuff. A little bit of Nissan’s roots, but updated for a new generation. To easily modify the engine from 400 to 520hp is bonkers. Everyone will be buying and modifying with a big smile on their face.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Hope it kicks off a little following. They aren't marketed too well, so unless you're a die hard fan you wouldn't know it even existed and that the VR30 is as good as it is. I'd take one over an overpriced BMW/Merc in Japan, it's like less than half the price compared to anything with that sort of power.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I actually think the Z34 is a good car on its own, but it gets overshadowed by the R35. The VR30 would be a game changer for the model, that's for sure.


The new z needs to be nothing less than a 240 with new headlights and new (modernized) taillights. Nice new interior with Alcantara. NO SCREENS. Few guages. Done.


Idk if my comments went thru... Basically the new Z should just be a modernized 240z. No. Not like the 350 and 370 "tried" to do. Literally just a 240 with modernized headlight and tail light lighting. Alcantara leather. Few guages. No screens.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I agree. No better aspect to aspire to than the greatness of the original. Honest and to the point.

Toyota enthusiastic

Basically just a rebadged Infiniti Q50....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah, because Infiniti doesn't have a presence in Japan

Toyota enthusiastic

Let's take a Infiniti Q50, slap some nissan logos on it and ad a different grill........Damn Nissan was doing good too when they designed the new Altima....why do you have to flop now....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

This wasn't a full model redesign. That will be coming further down the line


Should have called it something else. Leave the 400R name to the R33 GTR 400R


Dino, you're making me browse the classifieds for Q50 Red Sports again. Still, it does sound more and more like this engine will end up in the Zed, and once it starts becoming more popular with tuners, we might have another giant-killer on our hands.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They are so affordable in the US it's nuts!


I need to get me one of these, thought the Red Sport for me due to LHD in Sweden. Eau Rouge kit and swap my CD009 over from my current Infiniti and id be all the happy i can be.




Interior needs massive overhaul. Shame the brand is almost dead now.


By brand I meant Infiniti


I just wish I could afford a new z when it comes out. That's the problem only older people and youtubers can buy new top of the line cars at least where I'm from.


Are you sure it's not a KIA?


I wonder if the VR30 would drop in a Z34....