1997 Nissan Stagea RSFour

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1997 Nissan Staga RSFour
RCR Stagea Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Nissan
Model Stagea RSFour
Year 1997
Owner Patrick
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season United Kingdom
Air Date July 10, 2017
Credits u/Hullian111

We drive a NOT Skyline Wagon. Raaaagh! This is a review of a Nissan Stagea, just a Stagea. Just a Stagea. Is this a meme? I have to take a big RSfour in the bowl. It's Monday.

This review is followed by the unscripted, extra video entitled Learning About a Nissan Stagea RSFour.


INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!)
An old Nissan Stagea,
The one [unintelligible] practical,
But not every engine block is magical…
I need peace and quiet from your Nissan auto-fellatio talk. I’m gonna go back to the AT for a bit.

*Looking at a sign reading ‘WINTER PRIVY // FOLLOW RED BLAZES’ somewhere in America, birds chirping*

*Looking at a farm with a farmhouse*

*Looking at a distant highway*

*Mr. Regular sits on a log amongst the trees*

*Looking at ‘the AT’ behind some trees*
(singing) Love Shack, baby Love Shack…

*Mr. Regular walks into the shack and closes the door. We hear Mr. Regular’s breathing, birds chirping and a breeze, while we see a wooden shack, a green bench with a bag and some boxes being lit by what looks like a skylight. Mr. Regular walks over to a bare bed, then lies down.*

*Mr. Regular is lying down straight*

Aeugh! Stop doing that move where you pull your cock up and roll on it! Yeah, there’s one girl at the sleepover and you do what you do to get by, I get it, but knock it off.



[TEXT: Bullmaster]

Fine. The poverty-spec and middle-shelf Nissan Skylines did have the RB25DET, but never the halo Skyline GTR. Saying the Nissan Stagea is a Skyline wagon is like saying a Toyota Cressida is a four-door Supra. The Toyota 7MGE is a fine 3-litre double-cam inline six, but it’s no 2J. If I were following that logic, then a Buick Roadmaster Estate is a Corvette wagon, 

[MOCKING TONE:] …because it has a GM LT V8, same as a C4!


[TEXT: Not the same!]

Manufacturers cross-pollinate engines all the time. Look, if one car has the same engine as a better car, it doesn’t make the lesser car the same as the better car. Engine blocks aren’t magical.

[TEXT: Engine blocks aren’t magical.]

I think it’s people trying to pump up the resale value of their second-share autos by association. If that’s the game we’re playing, then I’m gonna call my AW11 a mid-engined AE86 when I sell it, and gleam some of that sweet sweet tofu tax.

Nissan Stagea RSFour: a 90s oddity that somehow stuck around longer than anyone expected. Sort of like Barenaked Ladies or Waffle Crisp Cereal.

The RSFour comes with a 2498 cubic-centimetre or 2.5 litre straight six single turbo petrol engine with a maximum output of 235- PS?

[TEXT: 235 PS??]

-at 6400RPM. This is also a Series 1 of the Stagea, and there were both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive version. Mods of this Stagea include a Japanese-standard turbo timer, which allows the engine to keep running for a set amount of time after removing the key from the ignition, and lots and lots of brochures. Pay attention, because this is the icing on the cake if you sell something on, uh, Bring a Trailer – all the literature that goes with the car. Man, entire magazines just devoted to the Stagea? This Engrish on the back window? That’s real.

Nissan described the Stagea as a “prestige touring wagon”. The Stagea features pillarless doors; reclining rear seats; a pull-out mat to protect the back bumper during loading and unloading of cargo; handle-folded(?) seats from the trunk; a rear power outlet, and a dual sunroof option. This is starting to sound expensive, but one of the more striking bits is the relatively-minimal amount of exterior badging, and the badging that is there is Stagea badging, rather than Nissan itself.

And look at that badge. Seriously, the Stagea badge looks like that really-weird S that everyone drew on their notebooks in high school*; no-one remembers where it came from, no-one knows where they learned it, and no-one knows who started it. It’s just something that’s embedded into our brains at birth, like hatred of… like hatred of sitting next to crying babies on public travel – yes, I get it, they’re babies. They cry. That’s what they do. But taking a hard duke and wiping with handfuls of [unintelligible] fiberglass insulation is something that I just do, but you don’t see me doing it in BUSINESS CLASS!

It rides stunningly quiet, like a church after someone objected to a wedding. Steering is also firm like an old man’s pill-assisted erection. I wanna say it drives like a boat, but my expectation of driving like a boat is the Buick Roadmaster sedan Estate. No, wait, that’s the wagon. The Stagea feels like the demonspawn of a Volvo wagon and a Honda Odyssey – it tries to be a sports wagon and it says it’s a sports wagon, but this is a big car, it’s a heavy car, and it’s ginormous by UK standards. 

It was meant to compete with the Subaru Legacy Touring Wagon in Japan, which I don’t know if we got here. I think the highest version of the Subaru Legacy we got was the Outback Legacy GT, or maybe the L.L. Bean Edition. Competing with Subaru in the wagon department was a tall order by anyone’s measure, and even taller for Nissan, and this is without even getting into the tariffs on Japanese imports which made cars more expensive than they were actually worth.

Now, you can argue that this had an appeal beyond the standard sports wagon, because it was generally bigger than something like an Audi A6. But it’s still hard to justify the cost. Because when you import a vehicle to the UK from Japan, which this is – this is a JDM import – the cost is determined by ‘Her Majesty’s Customs’ (sic, actually ‘Her Majesty’s (HM) Revenue and Customs’) or the HRMC. (sic, actually ‘HMRC’)

Once you tell them the car you’re importing, they get sassy with you and say stuff like, “Well, why do you need this car?” Then, they’ll tell you if you have to pay Value Added Tax or any duty fees, according to the HRMC (sic) website. These fees are determined by the total cost of the vehicle plus any accessories you bought with it and any delivery and extra charges.

Now, the rates of the HRMC (sic) charge are determined by the type of vehicle and where it was imported from. Either way, you’re probably going to be hit with some pretty hefty fees. Duty is 10% on used cars and 22% on pickup and commercial values, while the VAT, which is the Value Added Tax, is 17.5% of whatever you paid for the car. Then, there’s the ownership tax, that’s based on not just CO2 emissions, but on the axles and overall weight of the car. Then, you need a whole slew of documents before the car can even clear customs, such as the Bill of Landing; the Purchase Invoice from the supplier; deregistration certificate and the Trader’s Unique Reference Number for any commercial transactions.

[TEXT, IN ASCENDING ORDER: Duty 10% or 22% if pickup/commercial // V.A.T. (Value Added Tax) 17.5% // Ownership tax -weight and axles? // TPS Reports // Bill of Landing // Purchase Invoice // deregistration certificate // Trader’s unique reference number]

However, the Japanese import scene in the UK remains thriving, in spite of costs, because the restrictions aren’t as severe as they are in North America. Doug DeMuro had a good video on the process for legally importing Japanese cars to the United States, and an accompanying article to go with it. It’s more of an annoying bureaucratic process than anything else, but in the UK, as long as the car can pass the MOT, and you have enough cash to pay the fees in taxes, it ought to be good to go, as opposed to the United States where IT’S 25 RULES MEANS 25 RULES MEANS YEARS MEANS 25 FEARS.

[TEXT, HIGHLY TRANSPARENT: 25 Rules // 25 Rules // 25 years // 25 fears]

I could dig owning something like this in the United States. It is big enough for Americans, but its too hip. There is a weird way that Japanese try to have all their cake and eat it at the same time, like Goku eating a meal after a fight. This is sporty and luxurious, and it’s high class but it has street cred. It’s a rich man’s car for poor people. It’s a street racer’s car for dads. *sigh* And it’s none of these things.

In the United States, we’d go crazy for this engine, but the owner says, “No, no, they made a lot of RB motors, and this is one of many”. As I said in the beginning, it’s not magical, and it’s not a Skyline wagon, even though it kinda looks like it if you squint your eyes. The closest thing it resembles from a Yankee’s perspective is a BMW station wagon. That’s what it feels like. But on the inside, it’s very very Nissan Maxima in here. Eugh, very Maxima. 

But is the Stagea car you want to go through all that trouble for? When they become legal in the United States, I don’t know if I wanna go through that rigmarole. I can’t imagine saying yes to all that personally. But this is the car for which the phrase “to each his own” is invented. I mean, a lot of people in the UK didn’t get my fascination with the Peugeot *butchers pronunciation* 206. Everyone said, “Why did you wanna drive that?” and I said, “Because memory, and that commercial I saw on eBaumsWorld back in the day”. 

But with the Stagea, people liked it, and Tom, our fixer, loved it. I remember him looking at the Stagea in the rear-view mirror of the Abarth and said, “Ooh, that looks so imposing, I love it”. And it does. The Stagea has an intense face. Everyone has interests that can be difficult to explain, but I think passion does a lot of the legwork. Sure, when people see that you love something, it makes them more curious to find out why. But sometimes passion itself is enough. That’s all the explanation you need. 

It’s sort of like having a relationship that none of your friends understand, but they see that you’re happy, so they don’t question it. Maybe they’ll whisper behind your back about how you could do better, but if they’re really your friends, part of them will see your happiness, and hope that you won’t ever need to do better again. 
Stageas… aren’t super expensive because they’re rich cars for the poor, and [unintelligible],
You’ll realise… that the badging looks like the S from 7th Grade,
RSFour is so retrograde… what’s your petrol grade?


*For a quick nostalgia trip, the "really weird S" is 'officially' known as the 'Super S Stussy', becoming so popular throughout the 1990s that it was banned by schools, due to misinterpretations that it was a gang sign. Exact origins of the symbol, as Mr. Regular states, are unclear, however it can be sometimes attributed to either graffiti artists or the 'Stussy' clothing brand's logo.[1]


  1. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/super-s-stussy