Nissan gets more Grand Touring and more racy
Car made roomier, addition of NISMO model offers true high performance
TOKYO — In early 1969, Nissan released the first Skyline GT-R, a race car that went on to collect 1,000 victories before it was discontinued in 1972.
The name was revived briefly in 1973, and then again in 1989, on a car that would become known as Godzilla as it terrorized race tracks in the Group A series.
After five generations of Skyline GT-R, the decision was made to produce a standalone model. It was unrelated to the Skyline. It has been known as the Nissan GT-R since 2007.
The R35 became the first GT-R to be sold in North America.
Fans and dealers alike were happy to see the GT-R arrive in North American showrooms, but not all reviews were positive. Some felt that while the car was fast, the driving experience lacked passion. Some felt that interior quality was not up to the expectations of such a famous car, while others felt the car’s performance was not extreme enough.
Those sentiments were not lost on Nissan executives, according to Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s senior vice-president and chief creative officer, who told me that they felt that the GT-R was not Grand Touring enough and not Racy enough.
The decision was made that the R35 should be switched up a bit to improve the experience for both types of consumer.
The normal Nissan GT-R would not be softened, rather it would receive interior upgrades more fitting for a true Grand Tourer. The line up would be bolstered by the addition of a NISMO model that would offer true high performance upgrades.
Arriving in Canada as a 2015 model, the standard GT-R can be distinguished from the 2013 model by a new set of LED headlamps and rear lamps and revised fender ornamentation.
Materials have been chosen to give the interior a more mature feel. There are additional colour choices inside and out.
Special attention has been paid to chassis tuning to improve handling, stability and comfort, while the exhaust has been tuned to provide a quieter ride around town.
Cabin noise is also controlled by a new active-noise control system that is part of the Bose audio system.
On country roads near Tokyo, my right hand drive tester proved to be comfortable and quiet when all the driver control settings were set to Normal and the windows were closed. But it was much more fun to switch everything to R, lower the windows and listen to the exhaust.
The all-wheel-drive system gets all 550 horsepower to the ground and rockets the car forwards when your right foot drops.
Not just a sticker package, the GT-R version is the same as the car that NISMO test driver Michael Krumm used to set a new volume production car record on the famed Nürburgring, chewing close to 10 seconds out of the existing record, with one exception.
The NISMO version is easily distinguished from the standard car, thanks to a host of functional aero body add-ons — from front and rear bumpers, side sills and rear spoiler, all made out of carbon fibre. Even the trunk lid on the NISMO is special, as it is formed out of carbon.
The driver’s seat is a NISMO-exclusive carbon bucket from Recaro. The sole difference from the record setting car is a taller, adjustable NISMO rear spoiler that customers can have installed by their dealer. It would be fine for track days, but might be a bit extreme for around town.
Performance improvements run the gamut from extra bonding of the body shell to more stiffness, to a large capacity GT3 racing turbo and high-flow fuel pump along with a remapped ECM. These changes bump horsepower to 600.
Heading out onto the track, the GT-R NISMO feels comfortable and confident, as a high performance road car should.
Pick up the pace a bit and it takes on the savage edge of a purebred racing car. Acceleration is staggering and the massive brakes are so powerful that they slam you against the seat belts when they are applied at high speed. The car moves between steering, throttle and brake controls more as though it is a full-on racer than a street car bought from a dealership. The electronic nannies are reserved enough to allow a bit of sideways activity, but are ready for when the neophyte driver reaches the limits of his or her abilities.
The Nissan team has achieved its goal of adding more luxury without sacrificing performance on the standard car, while offering a real track-day ride for customers who want their experience to offer a bit more of a challenge.
Travel for freelance writer Gary Grant was provided by Nissan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org