The Volkswagen GTI -Gran Turismo Injection– was born two years after the appearance of the first generation of the Golf (Caribbean in our country) that saw the light in 1974. This variant was created to offer sportiness from a series of modifications in: engine, transmission, steering and chassis . However, the main feature was precisely its fuel injection system. A novelty for the time.
Although this Volkswagen was not the first to use the acronym GTI (before the 1960 Maserati 3500 GTi arrived), the hatchback became of great fame and its success was such that many manufacturers repeated the formula in their own way and that included, of course, the initials. Thus, the 80s and 90s were, to call it that, a golden age in which many cars with the GTI nickname appeared, but few, managed to make a dent in the German compact.
However, there was one, which was not so popular at the time, but it put Volkswagen on the ropes when it comes to dynamic performance. I mean the Nissan Sunny GTI and its enhanced version GTI R, which today is a product really valued and sought after by enthusiasts not only in Europe, but in Japan and various parts of the world. Much of it has to do with its exotic character and the fact that it is an almost unknown jewel.
Nissan Sunny GTI, el Tsuru GSR 2000 de Europa
Based on the N14 generation of the Sunny (or Pulsar, as it was known in Japan), which in turn was highly related to the Sentra o Tsuru B13 (Do they have a certain resemblance?). This model was presented in 1990 that was intended to conquer Europe with its hatchback body. But, to achieve this, it was also necessary to stand out against the Golf and its hot hatch version, which at that time was about to release its third generation.
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And for this, the Nissan Sunny GTI, which we can well define as the Tsuru GSR 2000 of Europe and is that under the hood was a four-cylinder 2.0-liter SR20DE engine, which was capable of delivering 141 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque was coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox. Weighing around 1,100 kilograms, as well as being endowed with an excellent dynamic set-up, it was considered an agile and very neutral sports car. Just like our Nissan and yes, it was also superior to the contemporary GTI (remember that, at that time, the brand made the decision to make it more bourgeois).
But the brand’s ambitions did not end here, as Nissan wanted everyone to know it and for this they decided to participate in Group A of the World Rally Championship.
Nissan Sunny GTI-R, llámalo baby Godzilla
It is so, that Nissan got down to work, and if the Sunny GTI was a balanced sports car, the racing version would have to be a real monster. To achieve this, the brand handcrafted an SR20DET engine (with Garrett T28 turbo) that boosted power up to 227 hp and 210 lb.-ft. of torque. This power together at a weight of only 1,240 kg, as well as the use of an ATTESA all-wheel drive system, gave it an acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h of 5.4 s, while the ¼ mile achieved it in 13.5 seconds. Features more worthy of a Porsche 911 of the time than a compact.
Aesthetically, It was a really eye-catching car, as like any good Japanese car, it was distinguished by the huge rear wing, as well as the more aggressive fenders, the sports wheels and of course, the huge air intake of the intercooler that stood out in the hood. Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep the engine cool in competition, so during the championship it had cooling problems.
Recall that to enter Group A of the World Rally Championship (clairvoyant category since 1987), manufacturers had to produce 5,000 units for homologation, so, although in the championship he could not stand out, in the streets he was the opposite, earning the nickname of Baby Godzilla.
Again, there was a Volkswagen GTI at the time that even came close to performance and, in fact, the German firm threw down the Golf A59 project with which it intended to compete in the World Rally Championship.
So, yes indeed, you may Nissan may not have stood out in the racing world, but at least they were brave enough to create the Sunny GTI and Sunny GTI-R, who were a true legend and proud bearers of such mythical acronyms.