The Nissan S15 200SX (aka Silvia) is one of the most eligible cars for
modification. Why? Well, not only is its SR20DET turbo engine extremely
responsive to power-ups, the rest of the car – the gearbox, clutch and diff in
particular – can tolerate the biggest pounding you can give it. Sure,
rear-wheel-drive traction can’t hope to match the launch of a constant AWD car
but at least you don’t have to worry about exploding gearboxes...
Phang of Sydney owns a 2001 Nissan 200SX Spec S that highlights the appeal of
the S15. Phang decided to move up to Nissan ‘S Power’ after having owned a
Toyota Corolla and Mazda Astina that were both kitted out with some fairly
serious sound equipment. Not surprisingly, Phang says the stock S15 went a lot
better than either of his previous cars but there was a feeling that Nissan had
deliberately plugged the power output. Manufacturers do that a lot with their
The ‘one stop solution’ was to drive into Croydon Racing Developments for the
fitment of an APS (Air Power Systems) JR2 spec kit. This kit comprises a
turbo-back mandrel exhaust, high-flow air intake, replacement front-mount
air-to-air intercooler (which necessitates a compact Odyssey battery to provide
space for the pipework) and a UniChip interceptor. With the UniChip allowing
boost pressures up to around 1.0 Bar (14.7 psi), the S15 now offered a heap more
torque throughout the rev range and an at-the-wheels power figure of around 175kW.
Not bad considering the factory flywheel output is just 147kW...
The APS kit gave a tremendous performance advantage along with improved fuel
economy, increased flexibility and a notable absence of exhaust drones. The
whole JR2 kit integrated seamlessly – which is perhaps why Phang wanted more! He
wanted to leave absolutely no question that his car was a tuned hairy-chested
As we have seen in previous articles (see Airflow Meter Swaps)
the factory SR20DET hotwire airflow meter is very restrictive at more-than-stock
power levels - so Croydon Racing Developments ripped it out and slotted in a
Nissan Z32 300ZX airflow meter that boasts a substantially larger
cross-sectional area. An upsized throttle body was also installed at this time.
Phang wasn’t interested in upsizing the turbocharger just yet, so the Croydon
blokes decided to get stuck into the camshaft department. A pair of Tommei
high-lift camshafts was thrown into the 16-valve alloy head along with
adjustable sprockets. The stock fuel system was getting marginal at this level
of modification so Croydon also switched to a set of high-flow injectors, a Sard
pressure regulator and an upgrade pump. Of course, the new camshafts, bigger AFM
and injectors throw the factory ECU mapping out of whack so an A’PEXi Power FC
was plugged into the factory loom (replacing the factory ECU and UniChip).
So – with a few additions and alterations to the base APS JR2 kit – we reckon
Phang’s S15 must be one of the gruntiest in Australia that
still runs the factory turbocharger. We’re told that the car makes around 210kW
at the back wheels on a relatively mild 1.2 Bar (17.5 psi) boost. And, yes, that
is running everyday Shell Optimax. Phang is also proud to report that there have
been absolutely no mechanical woes during the 10,000km since the engine
development. Even the factory clutch is surviving – well, “it’s on the verge” at
Having scrolled past a few images you will be aware that Phang has also
graced his S15 with some cosmetic enhancements. What you’re seeing is a
combination of a Trial front ‘bar along with C-West side and rear spoilers.
Looks tough, eh? Since our photo shoot, though, a complete Vertex kit has
stepped in to replace the hybrid body kit. Phang seems content with that – for
The low reaching body kit necessitates that the factory suspension is
retained so the car maintains its everyday practicality. Phang tells us this
really is his day-to-day ride – only an aftermarket front suspension tower brace
has been required to sharpen the handling. The only other cosmetic mods are
18-inch ROH Adrenalin allows wearing 235/45 Falken GRB FK451 rubbers. Oh, and
you’ll struggle to see Phang behind those dark tinted windows.
Inside, the trim is factory Nissan except – you guessed it – Phang couldn’t
resist his natural urge to revamp the sound system. The system is headed by a
Kenwood MR3 unit working with JBL splits and a JBL 12-inch sub in the boot. A
beefy 4-channel amp drives SPLs as high as you can withstand.
Phang insists that the car will always be kept as an everyday driver but he
suggests there is a little more work to do... “I think I’ll get the suspension and
brakes upgraded so then I can go for the inevitable bigger turbocharger,” he
says. With the serious speed he’s achieved with the stock turbine it’s hardly
any wonder he wants to sort out the chassis before resuming the chase for
If you ask us, this is a very clever path to performance.