2020 Nissan Silvia S16
Could the Nissan cult favorite reemerge from the shadows?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Between the 370Z and the GT-R, you could make the argument that Nissan already has a pretty solid lineup of sports cars. However, the more discerning enthusiasts out there will be quick to point out just how much more could be done. After all, the current Z car is practically ancient by modern standards given its introduction dates all the back to 2009, and at six figures, the current GT-R is just way too expensive for the average speed lover. That said, there’s one nameplate that desperately needs to be brought back into the discussion – the Silvia. The last time we saw this two-door beauty was in 2002 with the S15, and we think the time is right for a follow-up S16 generation to round out the Japanese automaker’s performance offerings. We know we’re certainly not alone in that respect, and indeed, the next-gen Silvia was expected to show in concept form at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Alas, such a creation never surfaced, but fear not, because we did a little chin scratching, drew up the above-featured rendering, and wrote up the following speculative review to help bridge the gap.
It’s been over 15 years since the S15 bit the dust, so any follow-up has a bit of catching up to do. However, we think Nissan has the right stuff to make it work. Read on for our take on it.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Nissan Silvia S16.
2020 Nissan Silvia S16
- Includes current Nissan styling
- V-Motion grille in the nose
- Raked stance
- Large 18-inch wheels right from the factory
- Cab-back profile
- Optional aero packages
- LED lighting
- “S” lightning bolt badge
- Relatively compact dimensions
- Two-door coupe, although convertible also a possibility
The S16 Silvia gets Nissan’s latest design language cues, the most obvious of which is the large V-Motion grille in the fascia
One of the things that made the Nissan Silvia so darn appealing was the way it looked, with a wide, low stance that managed to add assertive sportiness to the retrained refinement of a relatively extended wheelbase. We went with the popular two-door coupe body style for our rendering, but a convertible option would also certainly be within the realm of possibility for a new-gen Silvia. Inspiration for our rendering included the brand’s current crop of production vehicles, such as the Sentra, Altima, and GT-R, as well as concepts like the Sports Sedan study from 2014.
Starting in front, we find the S16 Silvia gets Nissan’s latest design language cues, the most obvious of which is the large V-Motion grille in the fascia. This is a common characteristic amongst all of Nissan’s latest models, and in the case of our rendered Silvia, it helps to extend the character lines in the hood deep into the front bumper with brushed metal surrounds. The grille’s fine mesh insert gets a black finish, matched by a black connecting “Vee” between the headlights.
The S16’s headlights are slim and curvaceous, and look as though they evolved from the S15’s front end. Don’t forget the requisite “S” lightning bolt badge on the nose.
Speaking of headlights, the S16 gets slim curvaceous units that look as though they are evolved from the S15’s headlights. LEDs are the technology of choice here, from the primary forward illumination, to the signature daytime running lights. Lower in the bumper, you’ll find fog lights nestled into the aero blade cutouts, complemented by a prominent lower splitter element. Don’t forget the requisite “S” lightning bolt badge on the nose.
Moving to the side, we see prominent front fenders that drop down to a hard-angle character line leading into the stretched-out side skirts. Above the side skirts is a pair of complementary character lines that are aimed down towards the front fenders to add visual rake to the car’s stance. The wheels are big, 18 inches from the factory, and come wrapped in wide, sticky summer rubber as a no-cost option. The greenhouse is placed towards the rear of the body, emphasizing the car’s hood line and the coupe-cut to the roof.
We’d expect Nissan to offer the S16 with a variety of enhanced aero packages for those enthusiasts looking for a little more visual punch.
In the rear, we would expect a small trunk space, most likely with a subtle trailing edge spoiler. A sizable lower diffuser will aid aero as well, and come with a duo of polished exhaust tips. The taillights will be slim and triangular in shape.
We’d also expect Nissan to offer the S16 with a variety of enhanced aero packages for those enthusiasts looking for a little more visual punch. Finally, we’d expect somewhat compact exterior dimensions, measuring in a little larger than the current 370Z, but not so large it ranks as a full mid-size offering.
- Layout will take inspiration from the GT-R
- 2+2 seating arrangement
- Carbon fiber, aluminum, and Alcantara
- Advanced infotainment features
- Optional leather
Note: Nissan GT-R pictured here.
While it’s uncertain what direction Nissan will take when it comes time to design the S16’s interior layout, we think it’s a pretty safe bet to look at the GT-R when searching for clues. We also think Nissan will tweak it a bit on the Silvia S16, giving it more of a comfortable, GT-style vibe compared to the tech-laden Godzilla.
We think a 2+2 seating arrangement is a distinct possibility, with the front boasting highly bolstered sports seats to keep passengers in place while putting the coupe through its paces. Carbon fiber, brushed aluminum, and Alcantara will undoubtedly make the materials list, while options will include leather.
We think the S16 will get a more comfortable, GT-style vibe compared to the tech-laden Godzilla, plus a 2+2 seating arrangement.
The infotainment gear will be impressive. In the dash will be an upgraded infotainment readout with a host of data on all sorts of performance parameters, including a g-meter, boost levels, a lap timer, and more. This touchscreen should also come with navigation options and Bluetooth support.
- Turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant
- Front engine, RWD
- Possible variable compression
- Upwards of 300 horsepower
- Both manual and automatic gearboxes
Note: older Nissan SR20DET engine pictured here.
We’d expect a four-cylinder engine with a sizable amount of boost added through the use of a turbocharger.
First and foremost, the S16 Silvia will be front engine and RWD. This is the essential drivetrain layout for the nameplate, and Nissan would be foolish to change it up. Beyond that, we’d expect a four-cylinder engine with a sizable amount of boost added through the use of a turbocharger. Engine displacement should slot in at the 2.0-liter mark, although a base model with a more economical 1.8-liter engine would make sense to help bolster the lineup.
The last few years also saw the Internet rumor mill churn out reports that the new Nissan Silvia would come with a variable compression VC-T engine, similar to what Infiniti is using for its latest QX crossover models. This would also be a viable option to the Silvia, just so long as it produced the right amount of motivation when you put your foot down.
Engine displacement should slot in at the 2.0-liter mark, although a base model with a more economical 1.8-liter engine would make sense as well.
Speaking of which, we think around 275 to 300 horsepower for the top-trim model would feel right, and 175 horsepower for the lower trim level if that turns out to be a thing. Routing it all to the rear axle will be both a manual and automatic transmission option, while an advanced limited slip differential will come as standard.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Silvia could very well be a hybrid. After all, rumor has it the next Z might be a hybrid, so perhaps the Silvia is in the same boat. If we had our choice, we’d love to see Nissan stuff the engine bay with the fire-breathing six out of the GT-R, but that’s highly unlikely.
Chassis And Handling
- Lightweight through the use of aluminum
- New sports car platform?
- Possible Nismo version as well
The original Silvia was built on Nissan’s “S” chassis, a RWD sports platform first used in 1976 and discontinued in 2002 alongside the S15. With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised if the new Silvia introduced a fresh architecture for the brand, something that would also be used for the revamped next-gen Z.
The focus here will obviously be on keeping things as lightweight as possible, while still keeping it all comfortable in the interior as well. Aluminum will pervade throughout, with additional stiffening components offered by way of carbon composites where possible. We also wouldn’t mind it if Nissan added a Nismo version with stiffer, more hardcore gear for the suspension and handling to coincide with a more aggressive exterior aero set-up.
This might ruffle a few feathers, but we’re gonna speculate the new Silvia will cost somewhere between $35,000 and $40,000.
“But wait,” you might say, “won’t that put it in the same price bracket as the Nissan 370Z?”
Indeed it would, which is why we wanna follow that statement by saying the Z will most likely become smaller, lighter, and less expensive with the next iteration, possibly even adopting a four-cylinder powerplant compared to the historical six-cylinder. In that case, the Silvia would be billed as the more premium (and faster) option between the two.
The Bow Tie brand just dropped a sixth generation for its iconic muscle car, bringing the traditionally straight-line-oriented Camaro into the modern era with new stuff to help it turn and stop, not to mention am interior with a little extra fanciness as well. Under the hood, the Camaro SS is packing all the firepower you’d expect from the nameplate, with as much as 455 horses and 455 pound-feet made by a 6.2-liter V-8. If head-snapping acceleration is what you’re after, the Camaro has the goods.
Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS.
While not yet confirmed, a next-gen Mazda RX sports car would make for a fantastic competitor to the next-gen Silvia. Like Mazda RXs of old, the new one would come proper with a low center of gravity, 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, very little curb weight, and top-notch suspension tuning, creating a RWD sports car that could hang with the best of ‘em, given enough corners. Don’t forget the triangular Wankel engine and drop-dead gorgeous Mazda styling, as well.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mazda RX-7.
Based on what came before it, we think now is a fantastic time for Nissan to revive the Silvia nameplate. The brand already has the right mix of commuter sedans and crossovers, and the GT-R is a good halo vehicle to back its performance claims. However, what Nissan really needs is a fresh face that’s accessible to more enthusiasts, especially considering the success of lightweight RWD coupes like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86.
Granted, the BRZ/86 twins are lower on the pricing pyramid than what we’ve laid out here, but that’s where a new, less expensive Z comes into play. We already know Nissan is in that right frame of mind, considering concepts like the recent IDx. The point is this – we think the demand is there. Nissan just needs to bring the goods.
History And Background
The Silvia is known as Nissan’s line of sporty coupes, with a long history and several generations attached to the nameplate. As a lightweight, front-engine, RWD two-door with a ton of power potential, the Silvia is well suited to a variety of motorsport activities. Chief among these is drifting, but touge racing and circuit racing are also high on the list. The car also appeared in the popular Initial D animated show, which helped it grow awareness and desirability among enthusiasts.
The Nissan Silvia was produced between 1964 and 1968, followed by a lengthier second run between 1974 and 2002. Nissan first pulled the sheets on the model in 1964, introducing it as the Datsun Coupe 1500 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The popular name “Silvia,” however, was taken from Sylvia, which is a scientific genus classification for a kind of bird, most likely used as a continuation from previous Nissan naming structures like the Nissan Bluebird. At the time, the Datsun 1500 Coupe came equipped with a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder making upwards of 96 horsepower.
Nissan brought the S10 to the North American market with a larger 2.0-liter engine. Stateside, the Silvia was dubbed the 200SX, a designation it would carry for decades afterwards.
As a follow up to the first-generation vehicle, Nissan introduced the next Silvia, also known as the S10, in the mid-‘70s. Offered with a two-door fastback body style, the S10 was originally only sold in Japan, equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, the same lump used in the Datsun 610 and Bluebird 180B. Later, Nissan brought the S10 to the North American market, gracing it with a larger 2.0-liter engine. Stateside, the Silvia was dubbed the Datsun 200SX, a designation it would carry for decades afterwards.
Following the S10 was the S110, introduced in the late ‘70s with both a two-door coupe and three-door hatchback body style. Interestingly, the S110 was originally designed to accommodate a rotary powerplant, but was revamped afterwards with a traditional piston engine after reliability of the Wankel option became a concern.
Once again, the S110 was sold as the 200SX in North America at this time, and came with the Z20 inline four-cylinder for buyers in California, and a separate 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder throughout the rest of the country. Peak output was rated at 100 horsepower, which was routed through either a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic gearbox.
With the arrival of the ‘80s came the S12, made between 1983 and 1988 and offered as either a two-door coupe or three-door hatchback configuration.
With the arrival of the ‘80s came the S12, made between 1983 and 1988 and offered as either a two-door coupe or three-door hatchback configuration. The 200SX nameplate continued on in the U.S., but engine options expanded to include a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a 1.8-liter turbo engine, and a 3.0-liter V-6.
Finally, in 1989, Nissan introduced the S13, a model that’s more easily recognized as a Silvia today. At the time, the S13 was sold as the 180SX and 240SX in North America, and was offered in a variety of body styles, including a two-door coupe, a two-door convertible, and a two-door hatchback.
The S13 was also one of the first models to get Nissan’s multi-link rear suspension, plus an advanced four-wheel steering system, otherwise known as HICAS-II. Some models even got a viscous-type limited slip differential for extra grip off the corners. Initially equipped with the naturally aspirated CA18DE and turbochargedCA18DET, both engines plucked from the S12, the S13 later got the venerable SR20DE and SR20DET powerplants so often associated with the nameplate.
As a replacement for the S13, Nissan introduced the S14 in 1994 for the U.S. market.
As a replacement for the S13, Nissan introduced the S14 in 1994 for the U.S. market. With a longer wheelbase and wider track, the S14 offered incremental improvements in terms of handling, while the SR20 engine got more power thanks to new cam timing and a bigger turbo. The styling was updated as well, with more angles as compared to the boxier S13.
It was around this time that enthusiasts began creating an amalgamation of the S13 180SX and Silvia, a mash-up that came to be known as the “Sileighty.”
The final Sivlia was the S15, introduced in 1999. Power got a sizable increase, with up to 250 horsepower made thanks to a ball-bearing turbo and new engine tuning. Meanwhile, the non-turbo S15 made 165 horsepower. The Silvia also got a good number of styling updates as well, giving it a much more sleek-looking appearance.
Read our full review on the 2014 Nissan Sport Sedan Concept.
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