Nissan GT-R

Nearly a decade on, Nissan delivers a more refined, more luxurious, more likeable GT-R

TOBY HAGON

SPECS

Model Engine Max Power Max Torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Fuel economy Price On sale Nissan GT-R 3799cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 419kW @ 6800rpm 637Nm @ 3300-5800rpm 6-speed dual-clutch 1752kg 3.2sec (estimated) 12.0L/100km $180,000 (estimated) September FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE FOR the first time since the R35 Nissan GT-R was introduced, new buyers are now given a visual indication the brand new model they are paying nearly $200,000 for is different to its older siblings.

The MY17 GT-R is the biggest update to Godzilla since the R35 was introduced in 2007, though it’s hardly an impressive engineering feat, with merely an extra 15kW, plus a new grille and bumper design shadowing years of marginal power increases.

But at least the worrying interior sounds are fixed.

“A lot of the motorsportinspired noises have gone,” confirms R35 program director Bob Laishley. He is half-smiling at his off-the-cuff response to questions about whether this update addresses concerns the R35 could feel or sound like something was going to go bang as it approaches old age. Think clunks and clangs, the sorts of things that made earlier versions of the mighty GT-R more about the ‘R’ than the ‘GT’.

Indeed, it’s refinement that is most obvious with the MY17 version of Japan’s fastest car.

There’s still some mild whining from the gearbox, and you can catch the six-speed dual-clutch out when reapplying power at low speeds. But things mesh more elegantly, and the noises are less intrusive, with the exception of tyre roar on coarse surfaces, which persists as a conversationstopper at speed.

The ride can still be a little sharp, but soften the adjustable dampers and it’s supple enough for bumpy backroads.

Full-throttle upshifts are confident as the GT-R punches towards its claimed 315km/h top speed. And the all-wheel-drive system is as intelligent as ever, sending drive rearward until traction is required up front.

It gets better the harder you push, teaming with accurate steering to make understeer less intrusive than expected. Power hard out of bends and you can even wag the tail, frying the broad elegantl

Aero upgrade

Subtle but significant body changes are part of efforts to improve cooling, aerodynamics and rigidity.

As well as the ‘V-motion’ grille, a stiffer bonnet improves high-speed stability and the revised nose feeds 20 percent more air into the engine bay for improved cooling as part of the MY17 power upgrade.

The C-pillar was revised to reduce aerodynamic turbulence at speed – among extensive efforts to ensure the additional cooling does not adversely impact the R35’s 0.26 drag coefficient – and beneath the black A-pillar casings are stronger structures designed to improve turn-in.

The Nismo-inspired rear bumper has sharper outer edges to better separate air for reduced turbulence. rigidity and sticky 20-inch Dunlops in the process.

Foibles continue, though. Like the transmission’s insistence on dropping through every gear when downshifting.

Cruising at 60km/h in sixth gear then gunning it can lead to a frustrating couple of seconds as it plucks fifth, then fourth, then third, eventually unleashing the 637Nm torrent. And why won’t it drop down to second, a ratio good for blistering acceleration to over 100km/h? That’s where the paddle-shifters come into play.

Aero was a major focus for MY17, especially above 200km/h, with extra rigidity in the steel bonnet and a smoother shape.

No qualms with its poise at speed, but the direct steering could do with more weight.

And there’s no hiding the weight as pace increases. A 280km/h strap along a thro gh e er German autobahn reveals it is uber-brisk rather than ballistic.

Performance wasn’t overlooked with project MY17. Power from the hand-built 3.8-litre V6 is now 419kW while peak torque is available across a broader range.

Nissan chose one of the world’s fastest, most challenging tracks on which to unleash its new GT-R – the legendary Spa in Belgium.

The GT-R punches hard out of the hairpin that kicks off a lap and maintains impressive composure down the hill to the daunting Eau Rouge. The way it settles into the dipped left-right at speed highlights the maturity of its finessed dynamics.

Six-piston Brembos resist punishment admirably, and the AWD system ensures wheelspin is non-existent, yet – as with the autobahn – the long straight shows up the need for another ratio or two in the largely unchanged six-speeder.

While the GT-R is still a highperformance masterstroke, it’s also starting to show its age. That said, it’s still fast – brutally fast – and immensely capable. And now offers an element of refinement.

PLUS & MINUS

Still feels heavy; six-speed gearbox showing its age; it’s no 911 Performance; clever AWD; forgiving handling; comfier than ever

The MY17 GT-R is the biggest update to Godzilla since the R35 was introduced in 2007

PERFORMANCE 01

Nissan claims it has not measured 0-100km/h times because “we just don’t think we need to worry too much”, R35 program director Bob Laishley told us. “We haven’t changed anything that is going to make any drastic difference [to] overall performance.”

ENGINE TECH 02

Improved performance from the VR38DETT 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 above 3200rpm said to be a result of monitoring ignition timing at each individual cylinder. The hand-built engines have reduced friction courtesy of “plasmasprayed bores”. There’s also a titanium exhaust that better copes with high temperatures.

SWIFT AND SHIFT 03

The interior has copped a major makeover. Colour touchscreen has grown to 8.0 inches and Nissan has ditched many of the buttons for the audio and sat-nav systems to clean up the centre console. There’s also more leather, including Nappa across the dash, and shift-paddles that turn with the wheel.

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