The model years of second and third generation Cefiros in Japan differ from those in the United States. The Cefiro was also a grey import that was popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Russia. With each incarnation, the Cefiro was marketed more toward the executive segment, losing some of its sporty zeal.
Released in September 1988 to the Japanese Domestic Market, it ceased production in May 1994. The A31 series included many hi-tech features, such as HICAS 4-wheel steering, sonar-controlled electronic damping, automatic headlights, and an automatic electric rear view mirror, many of which were seen later on the R32 Nissan Skyline, released one year later in 1989.
The A31 Cefiro was similar to the Nissan Laurel. The Cefiro is something like a luxury Nissan Skyline although these two were produced at the same time as the Cefiro. Mechanically, it was closest to the Nissan Skyline and Nissan Laurel, as they all had the same floorpan; but it shares its MacPherson strut front suspension with the S13 Silvia with the exception of the 4WD version which shares the same front and rear suspension as the GT-R and GTS4 Skyline.
The A31 Cefiro featured several versions of the RB-series straight-6 engines including the intercooled turbo RB20DET, although it was slightly detuned in the Cefiro. It also was not fitted with a re-circulating blowoff valve like the RB20DET powered Nissan Skyline.
It was also, together with the Nissan Skyline, one of the first Japanese cars to have a 5-speed automatic transmission in the 2.5 litre and the very last of the 2 litre models. All 2 litre turbo versions with automatic transmissions used a 4-speed transmission.
Unlike many new car designs at the time, the A31 Cefiro was rear wheel drive, with all-wheel drive models being available as well. Unlike the future versions of the Nissan Laurels and Nissan Skylines, the Cefiro would become a front wheel drive in all models following the A31 Cefiro.
At the beginning of its production it was mostly overlooked as just an ordinary family sedan compared to the Nissan Skyline but in later times it has become very popular in the drifting scene. Spurred by the relatively cheap price of the car compared to other drifting vehicles in Japan, some enthusiasts bought the Cefiro for use in drifting. As a result this car has gained cult status in Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia as a drift car due to the interchangeability of parts with other performance models and highly tunable nature of the chassis design. It is also a relatively cheap car outside Japan as it is exported second hand.