Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Article Comparing the R33 and R34 GT-Rs...Newer is Not Always Better?

In the Japanese press at the time of the R34 GT-R's launch, the praise was almost universally in favor of the R34 over the R33... in fact so much that to this day, people still think the R34 is a better car.

Mind you, technology-wise, the R34 SHOULD have been a better car. Then again, the chassis and the engine were essentially the same. And yes of course there are things in the car that make R32 and R33 owners envious, most obviously the MFD (multi-function display) and the revised seats.  Then there are the Gundam/Robot/sharply creased looks, which people (I am guessing mostly juveniles, or juveniles at heart? LOL) prefer over the prior two generations.  Not sure if the looks of the R34 have aged as well as the R33 or R32 though.

And I would be the first to admit that body rigidity-wise, a stock r34 will be better than a stock r33.

So it was nice to stumble across this English language article which, for whatever reason, did not have the writer drinking the R34 Kool-Aid.

Enjoy, here it is: Chris Harris on the R34 GT-R

The comments from readers are interesting as well.

I'd also love to hear your comments on this...


Matt said...

Interesting article Aki, I've often wondered the same thing. Whilst not an engineer, I do believe there are tangible technical and chassis improvements over the 32/33.

Having owned a 32GTR and jumping into the 33, I can tell there has been a slight 'softening up' even though the chassis IS stiffer in the 33.

I've driven a few 34's and it's much of the same, chassis feels solid but with the same power and additional weight it doesn't feel as fast.

The 32 felt light and nimble, the 33 feels more solidly built and sure-footed, the 34 felt the most refined (but not a big leap over the 33). I do think that only when modified does each model show its strengths and weaknesses more.

Aki said...

Very interesting analysis Matt. I have to agree, although for some strange reason I did think that the materials used in the R34 interior felt very cheap... yet had some nice touches such as the metallic side sills and courtesy lights in the doors. Have to remember Nissan was running out of money in the late 90s...

Anonymous said...

I personally prefer the styling and driving feel of the R34 over the R33. I have to say that my R33 - although 700PS - was never the favourite. In fact, I would take an R32 over the 33. Having owned all of then, R32, R33, R34 and now the R35, the 34 and 32 are definitely the model of choice!

Autodairies of a disturbed car nut said...

Interesting read - thanks for pointing us there.

An R32/3/4 driving in the wet is very tricky indeed. I have don’t a heap of track days in my current R33 GTR and 1 thing has become very apparent - the car feels foreign and plain scary on a wet track. The front seems to let go very early and the rear only tracks the slightest throttle application to send it sideways in a big way.

However, I have other friends that drive on the same conditions in GTRs and love the sliding from entry to exit! Some in particular compete in Targa events and love the wet weather behaviour of a GTR. That means they are very comfortable with the car moving around a lot full stop!

Had this guy driven the R34 on a dry track the outcome may have been different. No, make that would have been different!

I've owned an R32 and an R33 GTR. The R32 had felt smaller and changed direction better. The steering was much MUCH nicer because it was well weighted and had good feel - the R33 is awful in these departments.

However the R33 feels stronger, more taught and far more sure footed. You can apply the throttle earlier and harder in an R33 and equipped with better brakes this made them much faster.

As a note, some of the R34s a compete against have 30-40rwKw less but are the same speed in a straight line so that 6 speed box is a bloody good thing!

Aki said...

well styling is obviously a personal thing... as for performance differences each car is different, with each having physical differences...

Ibo said...

Do you know the Book :"Nissan Skyline GTr Ultimate Portfolio" from Brooklands Books.

All articles (press) of the various GTR's.
I think one article comes to the same conclusion, though not all.

Interesting to read all those articles. (I read all books of the GTR that I could find)

Interesting article and site.
Thumb up

Anonymous said...

The opinion which Harris presented in this article is quite common. Note extract from 'Evo 100 Greatest Drives' in which the R33 was presented as the best of the Skyline GTRs:

Slightly softer-edged and less aggressive than the subsequent R34, and none the worse for that, the R33 Skyline takes no prisoners. Considerable raw power drives a chassis that shares many characteristics with the current GT-R. Through a compelling mixture of prodigious push and PlayStation-esque all-drive chassis wizardry, it conjures blinding cross-country pace. "

Futhermore GTR R33 rates 4.5 star out of 5 in the quick review section at the back of Evo, versus 4.0 out of 5 stars for R34.
As the owner of a GTR R33 and having driven all in the series, my favourite for drive and appearance remains the '33.

Aki said...

All right! Some interesting opinions here!

Ibo, yes I have that book. Sadly, at least one of the articles (praising an R34 by the way) seems to have been written by a journalist who was either drunk or couldn't be bothered to check the details. But the other articles which are accurate in the facts are very interesting. And it's a good read because the articles were written contemporaneously to when these cars (R32, 33, 34) came out.

Ben - you are right, it's a matter of taste. But how many people out there only lust over and choose the R34, without having driven or even knowing about the others because they know it (R34) via video games? Nissan made fewer R34s than R33s too, so perhaps the exclusivity factor is playing a role here? (what is out of reach, appears more desirable?) Putting looks, rarity, and the lustful desires of 12 year olds aside, I still wonder how much "better" the R34 DRIVES (it's a sports car for chrissake) compared to the R33 or R32.

Anonymous - thanks for that, I was not aware and I will have to try to track down a copy!

As an aside everyone - I have met both Mr. Itoh (chief of the R32 GT-R program) and Mr. Watanabe (chief of the R33, R34 GT-R prgram). I asked Watanabe why, despite all the fanfare about the R33 lapping Nur under 8 minutes, Nissan said nothing about the R34. Was it because of poorer performance? His answer to me was "bad weather so we couldn't get the times we wanted." I followed by saying that "in other words, there was not ENOUGH of a difference in performance to justify setting a new record, waiting out the rain, huh?" to which he just gave me that knowing smile. BTW, he owns both an R33 and R34 GT-R, so he's not one to play favorites!

Mingy said...

Here in Australia, Currently if you were out hunting for a gtr in good condition the prices would look something like this.

R32 GTR = AUD $22,000 - $38,000
R33 GTR = AUD $22,000 - $32,000
R34 GTR = AUD $44,000 - $55,000

The price for a late model r32 gtr will be nearly on par with a series 3 r33 gtr. and r34 gtr starting from 44k up to 55k.

Clearly here in oz the 33 generation isn't liked either.

Aki said...

Mingy, good to hear from you.

Well, I suppose that judging by price alone it may seem that way... but on the other hand, a lower price point means more GT-R fans, many of whom will be secretly pleased at the great deal they got (vs spending more than they could afford).

And that brings up an interesting conjecture - I wonder if, because of the higher price of the R34s and some R32s, those owners have a vested interest in making sure everyone else believes that their cars are better than the others? LOL

Actually I found one Japanese language source that features interviews with Nissan engineers who developed the R33 and R34 - and they explain thinking on how the R34 was developed vs the R33.

Stay tuned - I will in my next post summarize and translate the relevant will surprise you.

Autodairies of a disturbed car nut said...

Mingy, I purchased my R33 about 12 month in Aus and prices were lower then expected for both R32 &33 GTRs. I crap R32 could be had for $12k and a similarly crap R33 for $16k. I paid around $30k for my Race Pace built R33. As a track tool the R33 wins over the R32 because it's newer and thats it.

It would have taken an extra $10k to buy a stockish R34 so that was immediately out of the question.

Tinoush said...

I think nissan had a huge effect on r34 being so popular. you have to show how good the new gtr is or people won´t buy it and stick to there old one. the 34 was the Last of the bnr/bcnr and people were thinking, after this there will be no more gtr's. So this las one is a diamond. this kept the price so high all these years. overal r34 gtr is not that much better then the other two. For example it has a weakness in downhill that other models haven't. only looks better (?).
i drive a r33 s3 imported from japan. it was tuned overe there and i have to say then know what to do. the focus was not the power but the balance of the car. I use for track days. just my 2 cents here. great website aki. found the link under your signature on gt-roc

Aki said...

Thanks very much Tinoush. It's probably true to some extent, which is why Nissan released so many limited edition R34 models too.

See you on GTROC,