Beast v Bathurst

Nis­san re­turns to its happy hunt­ing ground at Mount Panorama with its most track-fo­cused GT-R yet

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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