FIRST DRIVE

Great! Just what Nis­san’s GT-R needed ... more grunt

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Gotcha! - PAUL GOVER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

Even bet­ter on the track and even less tol­er­a­ble on the road, Nis­san’s 2011 re­vi­sion of the GT-R ‘‘Godzilla’’ will leave you want­ing more and less at the same time.

GODZILLA has had its teeth and claws sharp­ened for a new year in Aus­tralia.

There is more power and torque from its thump­ing twin­turbo V6 en­gine, a lit­tle less weight and drag, and the added bonus of more re­fine­ment in­side. The 2011-model R35 also comes with big­ger brakes and new tyres, some chas­sis strength­en­ing, LED day­time run­ning lamps— and an ex­tended aero dif­fuser un­der the tail.

The up­grade work is all de­signed to make the car quicker and more re­spon­sive – and shave time off its laps at the Nur­bur­gring in Ger­many – as well as reignit­ing pas­sion for the car among Aus­tralia’s keen­est driv­ers.

That pas­sion was re­flected in a huge turnout at Phillip Is­land to cel­e­brate the 20th an­niver­sary of the GT-R’s first Bathurst win an event at­tended by Mr GT-R him­self — Katzu­toshi Mizuno.

The GT-R is re­ally the heart-and-soul of Nis­san,’’ said Dan Thompson, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Nis­san Aus­tralia.

The down­side on the third ver­sion of the R35 is a start­ing price that has blown out to $168,800 and a more ex­treme driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that could be too much for some peo­ple in day-to-day con­di­tions. But on a track, like Phillip Is­land . . .

VALUE

The GT-R has been a bang-fory­our-buck win­ner from the out­set, even back in the days of the R32 model that in­tro­duced the car to Aus­tralia as an of­fi­cial Nis­san.

Things have slipped this year with the drop­ping of the en­try­grade car and tougher op­po­si­tion from the Ger­man supercars. It’s still a hugely im­pres­sive pack­age but the $168,800 bot­tom line comes in well above the start­ing price for aBMWM3 (at $152,300) and the Mercedes-Benz C63AMG (from $152,800), which is now avail­able with a Per­for­mance Pack tweak and an ex­tra 22kW.

The GT-R is bet­ter equipped for 2011 with ev­ery­thing from Re­caro-de­signed sports buck­ets to seat­belts made from softer ma­te­rial. But the bot­tom line is a $13,000 jump from the pre­vi­ous start­ing mark.

And it doesn’t get the capped-price ser­vice pro­tec­tion of the rest of the Nis­san fam­ily.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The GT-R has al­ways been a techno treat and this time is no dif­fer­ent, with the 3.8-litre V6 en­gine now tweaked to re­lease 390kW and 612Nm— up 33 and 24 re­spec­tively— while also cut­ting the car’s fuel econ­omy to a claimed av­er­age 12.0 litres/100km.

The sus­pen­sion has been tweaked with al­loy shock ab­sorbers, a strength­en­ing bar across the front-sus­pen­sion tow­ers and a sup­port panel on the dash ahead of the pas­sen­ger. The Brembo brakes are now a monoblock de­sign and there are forged al­loy wheels from Rays.

The start­line abil­ity of the GT-R has been boosted by an up­dated launch-con­trol sys­tem that now prom­ises con­sis­tent 0-100km/h sprints in around 3.0 sec­onds. You have to cool the trans­mis­sion af­ter four con­sec­u­tive runs.

DE­SIGN

Only a GT-R fan will pick the dif­fer­ences for 2011. The ba­sic body shape is un­changed and the tweak­ing is all in the de­tails — like LED day­time lamps, a larger grille, the rear dif­fuser and what Nis­san calls a twolevel rec­ti­fier to chan­nel air around the nose. In­side, there is real car­bon fi­bre in the dash, the new seats and belts and a soft-touch panel on top of the dash that gives a more up­mar­ket look and feel.

SAFETY

There are no real changes to the safety pack­age, al­though the lat­est Dun­lop Sport Maxx tyres and big­ger brakes are claimed to give bet­ter grip in all con­di­tions— and much bet­ter brak­ing on wet roads.

Mizuno says the GT-R gen­er­ates more wet brak­ing grip than a 370Z in the dry.

Of course, it comes with a six-airbag cabin, ABS brakes and ESP sta­bil­ity con­trol.

DRIV­ING

Tweak­ing to the 2011 model makes it even more of a loveor-hate ma­chine. We love its punchy per­for­mance and the ad­mir­ing glances you’ll get from ri­val driv­ers.

But the sus­pen­sion is bru­tal even with the ad­justable set­tings switched to com­fort. And the amount of noise and slap and harsh­ness from the trans­mis­sion sys­tem ri­vals a World Rally Car on the way to a spe­cial stage. GT-R fans will love the im­prove­ments, which make it bril­liantly bet­ter when you want to re­ally go. The launch con­trol sys­tem is stonk­ingly good and truly the best Cars­guide has sam­pled, with the abil­ity to turn stom­achs to mush.

The ex­tra power and torque means the car is go­ing fast for more of the time, with bet­ter re­sponse and less lag.

The chas­sis feels a lit­tle more re­spon­sive on the road and when we get to Phillip Is­land, it re­ally shows its best side.

The GT-R runs with­out fear or favour on the rac­ing track, and it eas­ily tops 260km/h down the front straight.

It has in­cred­i­ble cor­ner­ing grip and sling­shot ex­its from all corners but is not as finely edged as a Porsche.

How­ever, it will get away from aBMWM3 or a Mercedes-Ben­zAMGC63.

It’s also in­cred­i­ble fun, pro­vided you can put up with the ride, the wide turn­ing cir­cle, re­stricted three-quar­ter vi­sion and the dif­fi­culty in park­ing.

VER­DICT

What a beast. What a ride.

Nice mon­ster: Alit­tle less weight and drag, more re­fine­ment but still that thump­ing twin-turbo V6

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