There is something deeply satisfying about driving a fast wagon. Jump into any version of the Audi RS6 Avant or the Hemi-powered Dodge Magnum SRT8, and it’s an experience like no other. Ferocious pace aside, the joy comes from the fact that it’s a wagon—a grocery-getting family hauler that kicks butt.
Hugely popular at the turn of the Millennium, sports wagon sales have faded in recent years. With buyers opting for high-riding crossovers, there are now very few to pick from. The SUV craze is still in full swing. Vehicles such as the 2022 Nissan Juke are set to dominate sales. But don’t despair, as the secondhand market holds the answer for those who want something different.
Yes, you could buy German. There are several high-speed wagons from the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz that would scratch the itch. They’re perfectly capable machines…but they’re also boring. For the ultimate expression in speedy wagons, there is only one true answer: buy Japanese. And if you’re buying a JDM rocket, aim for one of the best, the Nissan Stagea. But don’t stop there, scroll right to the top of the model tree and prepare to be impressed. Here are nine things we just learned about the Nissan Stagea Autech 260RS.
9 The Vanilla Nissan Stagea
Produced from 1996 to 2007, the Stagea was Nissan’s answer to the Subaru Legacy. With four different versions to choose from, there are also several specifications. Each is well-built and reliable and offers acres of interior space and a very comfortable ride.
Labeling the Stagea as a Skyline with a huge trunk is accurate but short-sighted. Available with similar power plants and drivetrain, the Stagea drives much differently. A more relaxed approach could be felt from behind the wheel. It felt far more mature than its sibling.
8 Tuning Experts Autech
Much like the M Division is to BMW, Autech was the tuning arm of Nissan. With a history than runs back to 1986, Autech has worked on some impressive projects, having tuned Skylines, Pulsar GTIs, and Silvia’s, to name just a few. It also modifies disability vehicles.
Subaru had already set a high benchmark with the awesome Legacy GT-B. Their twin-turbo creation was ballistically quick and very capable. So, it was prudent for the tuning experts at Autech to take a Stagea and unleash something faster and much meaner.
7 The Ultimate JDM Wagon
If the heralded Nissan Skyline GTR is the King of Japanese performance cars, then the Autech 260 RS shares its throne. Autech crammed all the components that made the R33 Skyline GTR a legend into a wagon—a wagon that had so much attitude, it was almost unreal.
That means the iconic RB26DET engine lurks beneath the hood and the ATTESA E-TS drivetrain sticks it to the road, while a limited-slip differential aids drivability—all the ingredients to make a superb wagon. It’s a recipe that delivers a fantastically tasty outcome.
6 Ferocious Performance
The 2.6-liter twin-turbo engine delivers an underrated 276 hp. Many believed the true figure to be over 300 hp. Linked to a 5-speed gearbox, the 260RS can hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. A true wolf in sheep’s clothing, it dishes out 260 lb/ft of torque. It’s a very quick machine.
To keep an eye on the pace, a full array of GTR gauges was added. Bolstered seats also ensure the driver is kept in place. Other key features are the Brembo brakes, BBS alloys, and strut bars—all there to ensure that the Autech 260RS is the best JDM wagon ever.
5 A Mighty Sleeper
There were only 1,734 Autech 260 RS wagons ever made. They are so rare that coming across one on the highway is an event. But then, to most, the Autech 260RS is an unknown factor. Only true gearheads would know what hides beneath the hood.
Unloading its full salvo of horsepower, this wagon induces a grin. It also surprises those who don’t know what it is, leaving them in its dust.
4 Highly Practical
The Autech 260RS has other abilities besides taming blacktop and humbling muscle cars. The interior passenger space is very generous. The seats are comfortable, and the equipment levels are decent. It makes for a great travel companion for those seeking adventures.
With the rear seats up, the load space is generous. With them dropped, it becomes cavernous. The permanent AWD system provides safety and reassurance when the weather turns foul. The Autech 260RS is a wagon that offers so much and delivers much more.
3 Two Versions Available
The series one cars were manufactured from 1996 to 1998. During this two-year window, 986 cars were made. Based on the Nissan Stagea RS Four, all cars were heavily revised by Autech. Only visual aspects separate the two versions, but mechanically, they are identical.
The series two cars are based on the later Stagea design. 784 of these were made. The most notable change is the addition of a dual headlight in the center grille. The interior also has a higher quality feel to it. Both cars are blindingly fast and worth seeking out.
2 A Worthy Alternative
The Nissan Skyline R33 GTR is now an iconic classic car. Prices have risen dramatically in recent years. Unmolested examples are highly-prized, with modified cars even commanding a premium. An average model will run to circa $60,000.
Offering everything a Skyline R33 GTR can and more, the Autech 260RS is a bargain. At roughly half the price of the R33 GTR, it dishes out the same thrills in a more sensible package. They are also set to rise in value, so mark them out as a decent investment.
1 A Timeless Tuner
Having absorbed all the good bits from one of the greatest cars ever, the Autech 260RS has more to give. In standard form, it is fast enough. But Japanese cars are allergic to staying standard. Getting 1000 hp from a 260RS is just a matter of parts for a tuner.
Upgrading, enhancing, and making the Autech 260RS an unstoppable force is simple: just apply whatever rules a Skyline GTR has for modification. Bigger turbos, better brakes, full-on engine swaps—the 260RS welcomes them all. It’s a do-it-all super wagon, after all.
For the price of a decent R33 GTR, why not simply buy a pair of 260RSs. One to keep in the garage and the other to be driven like it was intended. Plus you won’t have missed out on any fun. Jumping into an Autech 260RS also refreshes the mind. In a sea of SUVs and Crossovers, it reminds a gearhead about fast wagon fun that comes from embarrassing sports cars. It’s a reset button for modern motoring.