Great! Just what Nissan’s GT-R needed ... more grunt
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a beast. What a ride.
Nice monster: Alittle less weight and drag, more refinement but still that thumping twin-turbo V6