STANDING STILL, the 1987 Nissan 200SX/SE is irreverent and uppity. Moving, it is an obscene gesture.
If ever there were a car designed to taunt police into giving tickets, this is it.
Do not drive this machine if you’re already in danger of losing your license. It’s so flashy and sassy, it’s bound to attract the wrong kind of attention.
Consider: The 200SX/SE’s front end is aerodynamic styling gone wild. It’s more like a flying wedge. And the rear? Ha| What a tart, this upraised, rounded thing.
Apparently not satisfied with those provocations, Nissan has added another tease to this model: a shiny paint job best described as arrest-me red.
Ah, and it moves. I didn’t want to get out of it; but common sense prevailed. You can only drive something like this for so long before, much to your chagrin, you’ll see those red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror.
Outstanding complaints: No real rear- cabin passenger space.
Two 12-year-old junior high girls had great difficulty fitting into the rear of the 200SX/SE; and a 16-year-old senior high boy, barely 5-foot-3, had to scrunch up his legs and bow his head to fit back there. This is carrying the fetal position a bit far, don’t you think?
And this: The adjustable steering wheel in the test model is a cumbersome affair and lacks the sophistication of many other competitive models.
Outstanding praise: Va-va-voom For the driver, this car is total fun. Nissan stuck its 3-liter, single-overhead-cam, V-6 gasoline engine into this one. It’s the same engine used in the bigger Nissan 300ZX in 1983. The result is terrific zoomability, 160 horsepower at 5,200 rpm.
Also, the 200SX/SE is a remarkably stable car. Handling is superior, and the thing stops with pinpoint accuracy on dry roads. Wet-road braking is excellent, too.
Overall craftsmanship in this model is superior. Every single thing fits. Quality vinyl and cloth interior. A verytight package.
Thoughtful touch: An easily reachable fuse box with easily reachable, push-pull fuses. Spare fuses are attached to the fuse-box cover. This seemingly minor design improvement can become a big deal on some dark and lonesome highway when one of the fuses blows.
Head-turning-quotient: Drive it only at night, or get a lawyer.
Sound system: AM/FM stereo radio and cassette with 100-watt power amplifier, by Nissan. Lots of boogie.
Mileage: About 22 to the gallon (14-gallon tank), combined city-highway, running driver only and with minimal use of the climate control system most of the time.
The test model is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, which helps to improve fuel efficiency.
Price-as-tested: $15,744, including $750 for the optional air conditioner, $250 for the two-tone paint job (metallic grey rocker panels on the test model), and $225 destination charge.