Getting to grips with Godzilla on road and track
Godzilla –a fearsome giant, created in Japan with the ability to crush anything in its path in an orgy of power and noise. A fitting nickname, then, for Nissan’s mighty GT-R, which has been tearing up road and track with its staggering abilities now for decades.
Here we have the 2017 model – which promises the biggest changes since the release of the first R35 back in 2007.
Nissan say that everything has been improved – looks, performance, refinement and features.
Alterations to the bodywork have tweaked the appearance and improved cooling without compromising its aerodynamic properties, allowing the engineers to extract even more power from the updated 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6.
A 20bhp increase over the outgoing model means the latest GT-R produces 562bhp. While Nissan won’t reveal an exact 0-60mph time the previous model was clocked at 2.8 seconds and this latest version is unlikely to have slipped back from that.
Nissan GT-R Prestige
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: Six-speed DCT
Top speed: 196mph
Fuel economy: 23.9mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 275g/km
Sublime to ridiculous
Whatever the exact figure, it is mind-blowingly quick. Above 2,500rpm there is a relentless wall of power that hurtles you forwards, reeling in the horizon with staggering speed. Corners are handled with equal disdain for the laws of physics thanks to the sophisticated four-wheel-drive system. Nissan’s talk of yaw-rate sensors, lateral acceleration and torque bias may sound like scientific waffle but it amounts to a car able to hold a cornering line at even ridiculous speeds.
Around Thruxton racing circuit the wizardry of that four-wheel-drive system was made abundantly clear. At the point where I felt I should be stamping on the brakes to avoid disaster a dab of the throttle instead sent more power to the wheels and pulled us back into line, slingshotting us on towards the next corner.
Stay classy, Tochigi
Nissan say that along with even better performance the latest model offers a more comfortable and sophisticated drive than ever.
It’s ostensibly a 2+2 but the rear seats are really just nicely sculpted, nicely upholstered luggage holders. Even a child would struggle to fit in them. Front passengers are better accommodated but it’s still a snug cabin for larger drivers.
The good news is that the cabin is a big improvement over previous versions. The dashboard is far less cluttered – down to 11 switches from 27 – and the controls are clearer and easier to use than before. The materials, too are better than ever, with a solid, positive feel to all the controls and, in our Prestige trim test car, leather covering every available surface.
The seats have also been upgraded. Pure and Prestige cars get new lighter seats which offer enough support and cushioning to be comfortable even on long runs. The Recaro trim offers more figure-hugging sports seats which were fine for a short blast around a track but possibly won’t hold up so well over long distances.
A true GT
The improved cabin is matched by on-road refinement that means the GT-R could now conceivably be used as a grand tourer. With the suspension set to comfort it smooths out rough surfaces nicely, and wind and road noise are well subdued even cruising on the motorway. This refinement along with the comfort offered in the cabin and the large (if awkwardly accessed) boot make it a realistic option for long-distance runs.
The GT-R is available in three standard trims – Pure, Recaro and Prestige – ranging from £79,995 to £83,495. The only difference is the seats, with sportier, grippier pews in the Recaro and comfier, full-leather touring ones in the Prestige.
All three trims come with 20-inch alloys, LED headlights, heated seats, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry and start. There is also an eight-inch touchscreen which houses the NissanConnect sat nav and entertainment system featuring the usual DAB, USB, Bluetooth and CD functions.
Above these three there is a Track Edition which slots in below the Nismo Edition, due next year. The £91,995 Track Edition adds a carbon fibre spoiler, wider front bumper, Nismo alloy wheels and carbon fibre-backed seats.
The changes, however, are more than cosmetic. That wider front bumper is to accommodate a wider track, offering sharper turn-in. Aiding that are Bilstein dampers tuned by Nismo engineers to offer a sharper, more responsive drive than the standard car.
The car has also lost 20kg and undergone the same body bonding process the top-of-the-range Nismo edition gets to improve rigidity.
If that still isn’t performance-focussed enough for you, the full-fat Nismo edition will be along next year with 592bhp and a carbon fibre bodykit that will offer an extra 100kg of downforce.
While those two models may be most likely to entice the many track enthusiasts who seek out the GT-R even the standard model offers staggering performance on road and on track. Combined with the improvements in comfort and refinement it makes for a realistic multi-purpose car, as at home on a long cruise to the Continent as it is tearing up a racing circuit.