We have a bit of a hobby; we like to search on Auto Trader (and the web) for cars that have something a little bit different. Last week, I was looking at mint condition Ford Escort RS Cosworth’s when I had a brain flash about another 90’s hot hatch that was actually faster than the RS, and today, commands an equally high premium.

I am talking, of course, about the Nissan Sunny GTI-R. And due to its awesomeness – and forgotten status – I thought I’d write a blog post about it.

The Nissan Sunny GTI-R

The Nissan Sunny GTI-R was, and still is, an absolute weapon even by today’s hot hatch standards. When it launched in 1991, it became the fastest hot hatch on sale and one of the most eye-catching hot hatches to boot.

Powered by a 2.0-litre transversely-mounted turbocharged petrol engine with 217 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque in European spec (it was called the Pulsar GTI-R outside of Europe – which had 227 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft of torque), the Sunny GTI-R also had a version of Nissan’s Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain all-wheel-drive system, and a power-to-weight ratio of 0.083.

The result of that configuration was startling: 0-62mph happened in 5.0 seconds flat, and it would go on to a limited top speed of 144mph.

For the sake of comparison, the Nissan Sunny GTI-R went from 0-62mph 0.7 seconds faster than the fabled Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Or, if you want a more-modern comparison, the Nissan Sunny GTI-R is still 0.1 seconds faster to 62mph than the new Volkswagen Golf R with a 6-speed manual gearbox. That awesome turn of speed is even more incredible, when you consider that there’s 26-years between those cars.

So much more progress, eh?

While the exact number of Nissan Pulsar GTI-R’s built isn’t confirmed, the consensus among experts is that only 12,000 to 15,000 were ever made. And, in the European Sunny GTI-R spec we are talking about, only around 1,000 cars were ever made. That makes this hot hatch one of the rarest production hot hatches ever made.

Sadly, that means you’ll probably never see one on the road. You’re more likely to see one at a car show. And, if you do see one on the open road, then even that will probably be one of the more common Pulsar GTI-R’s. These can be imported into the UK, although the taxes are high for doing so. The website ‘How Many Are Left’ shows just 20 Nissan Sunny GTI’s (it won’t show data for the GTI-R model, so it’s not clear if that’s the same car) on the road today, which is 451 less than there was in 2001. Which is a crying shame, but it’s good news for owners, who can price their cars as high as £30,000 should they want to sell up.

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