Beast v Bathurst
Nissan returns to its happy hunting ground at Mount Panorama with its most track-focused GT-R yet
THE mutant progeny of Godzilla is chewing up the Bathurst track, despite the ineffectual efforts of the bloke behind the wheel. It’s big, ferocious and showing total disdain for the concrete-lined canyon that is the top of the mountain as the bespoke 20inch Dunlop rubber and allwheel-drive try to contain 1739kg and 652Nm of torque.
The Nissan GT-R Nismo lunges out of the turns in search of the next challenge, then dispatches it with an alpha predator’s aggression. Wrong line, no problem. Wrong gear, well that’s why the twin-turbo V6 delivers peak torque at 3600rpm. Unlike the track, the Nismo will tolerate fools.
Then we hit the straight. Expletives fail me. This beast punches through the air at a pace only European exoticars can manage. Good thing it’s not speed-limited to 250km/h.
The paddle shifters engage the next gear in 0.15 of a second; the brakes cope with the repeated task of hauling in a heavy car at warp pace
The Nismo takes the already-quick GT-R and then upgrades the engine with racing-derived components. Power lifts from 419kW to 441kW; torque rises from 632Nm to 652Nm. It rides on a bespoke suspension tune with springs almost three times stiffer than the donor car. That holds it flat through the Mount Panorama turns and Nismo says improved bonding materials reinforce the car’s already stiff chassis, leading to improved cornering grip. Most mortals won’t find it.
We’re here because the GTR Nismo is the first of Nissan’s race-based road cars to be sold in Australia. As Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery notes: “Bathurst is the natural habitat of the GT-R”.
Put that down to the R32 GT-Rs demolition of the field at the 1991 Bathurst 1000 in the hands of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife. The car was dubbed Godzilla and a legend was made.
The legend was only enhanced when the Nissan won again the following year despite failing to finish the race, which was abandoned due to a downpour that saw a fleet of cars crash. A chorus of boos from the Holden and Ford fans as Richards took the podium incensed him to the point of declaring the crowd “a pack of arseholes”.
ON THE ROAD
Nismo’s version of the GT-R is so track-honed, the suspension thumps and suspension stutters on typically bumpy local roads. Much less gran turismo, much more racer, to the point I’d change the spelling to gt-R. This is, after all, a road-going GT3 racer — it shares the same turbos as those fitted to the Nissans that ran at last weekend’s Bathurst 12-hour race and the 315km/h top speed is higher than the race cars.
So … if you don’t plan to track-test the car regularly, save yourself better than $100,000 and buy a “regular” GT-R with almost as much power and suspension that won’t have you needing to see a chiropractor after a short run on chopped-up back roads.
Beyond the suspension, the Nismo is as adept at cornering on potted surfaces as it is on Mount Panorama. Steering response is neurotransmitter direct and tapping the Brembo brakes at highway speeds is like throwing out a set of anchors.
The cabin quality and styling is a marked lift on the previous model. The button count is down from 27 to 11 as a result of a new rotary dial to drive the eight-inch touchscreen that includes a series of track focused readouts, from the transaxle oil temperature to cornering forces.
The dash is cloaked in alcantara and leather, the wheel adjusts for reach and tilt — and the entire instrument panel moves with it — and the alloy pedals are perfectly placed. The GT-R’s powered seats have been ditched to save weight, with the seatback adjustment the only electrically operated function.
The Nismo has a fairly limited target audience but those targets will find very, very few limits when they take their toy to the track.