What are we lookin’ at here? A run-of-the-mill S15 200SX R-spec GT with nice pearl white paint and a slick set of rims? Well, that’s it on face value - but this is one of the most deceptively quick machines on the road! Big cams, an upgrade turbo and programmable management take care of that...
The car’s owner, Sam Devita, says one of his aims during the car’s build-up was to achieve an attractive and relatively restrained appearance. It was important not to attract unwanted police attention because the first thing the constabulary does when they pull over a modified 200SX is pop the bonnet.
And that can mean big trouble!
But check out the under-bonnet of this S15. Not much to look at, eh? Well, you haven’t noticed the HKS intercooler kit. You’re totally oblivious to the K&N panel filter and secondary intake on the bottom of the standard airbox. And you sure as hell can’t tell there’s a pair of Tommei Stage One cams fitted together with upgrade valve springs and rocker stoppers!
A magnifying glass is needed to reveal that the standard turbocharger has been replaced with a GT28 RS unit - a turbo which is great for improving power while giving very strong low to mid-range torque. The GT28 RS is also a direct bolt-on job which means there’s no ugly modification to oil and water lines. The turbine breathes through a whisper-quiet 3 inch mandrel exhaust with a pair of mufflers – there’s nothing anti-social about it.
With the upgrade turbocharger huffing air into the belly of the SR20DET, the standard fuel system struggled to keep pace. Solving the problem is a stealth set of C-N-J high-flow injectors teamed with an upgrade fuel pump and the whole caboodle is tuned with an Autronic SMC programmable ECU. The Autronic unit has its internal MAP sensor, so the factory airflow meter has been replaced with a flared pipe that connects the airbox to the turbo inlet pipe. You wouldn’t pick it if you didn’t know your S15s.
The deception is also carried over to the boost control system. There’s no fancy ‘dancing light’ boost controller here - you’ll find the standard boost control solenoid controlled by the Autronic ECU. Boost pressure can be flicked between 14 and 20 psi using a switch on the dashboard. Simple, effective and almost undetectable.
With all mods and tuning performed by C-N-J Motorpsort in Brisbane, Sam’s S15 can now push out 192kW at the wheels on low boost and 218kW with the pressure bumped up. Reliability remains 100 percent and fuel economy is virtually the same as standard – so long as it’s driven sedately...
Interestingly, Sam retains the standard Nissan clutch – but it is working v-e-r-y close to its limit and requires a respectful driving style. The 6-speed gearbox also remains standard – complete with the whine that comes standard in many S15s.
Sam hasn’t yet taken his Nissan to the track but a G-Tech acceleration test has shown easy sub 13-second 400m performance. And, in addition to its quarter mile prowess, the car has great throttle response and goes at all revs - it’s a terrific set-up for a street driven SX.
Interestingly, Sam says the car gets its power down well for a modified 200SX. By retaining the standard rear suspension, he’s avoided much of the camber problems associated with low-rider SXs. The only suspension modification is Pedders lowered front springs. Brakes remain stock but a set of high-performance pads are planned.
Inside, the Spec R GT boasts leather trim and an assortment of chrome trim pieces. Sam has added a head-banging audio system that integrates with the factory trim and hides mostly out of view. At the head of the system is a JVC DVD unit with an integrated flip-out screen and there’s a large LCD screen mounted on the underside of the boot lid.
Take a look in that boot and you’ll find a custom sub-woofer enclosure and trim (performed by Hamish of MV Audio). The enclosure contains a pair of 10 inch Alpine S-type subs as well as a pulsing light which is triggered by bass beats – the light adds visual effect through the transparent section of the enclosure. An in-boot 600W amp powers up the subs while a smaller four-channel amp feeds the in-cabin speakers.
The original doors map pockets have been ripped out and in their place are a pair of Nakamichi-type speakers (two in each door). These speakers are neatly integrated using modified metal speaker grille - a very nice touch to complete the system.
Sam keeps his S15 looking showroom new at all times and has added some extra appeal with a sweet set of polished 19 inch Rodney Jane Racing rims. These wear big-as-can-fit 235/35 19 tyres. The body carries the standard S15 GT body kit with the addition of a Trial rear ‘half bar’ which covers the lower section of the standard bumper. The Trial unit also wraps around under the fuel tank and is said to improve under-car aerodynamics.
Having previously owned a Honda Integra Type R with a few mods, Sam says the S15 has turned out a great choice. It’s more stable over B-grade roads, has heaps more power and torque and it has the potential for plenty more. But where do you draw the line?
Sam is understandably reluctant to chase more power because it will probably come at the expense of all-round torque and drivability. Big power is easy - but big power with useable torque is a much more difficult proposition.
If you ask us, this car has already achieved the impossible - kick butt performance with reliability, fuel economy and a hassle-free factory under-bonnet appearance. Why spoil an already perfect combo?