Nissan GT-R Nismo

If the reg­u­lar GT-R is a weapon, the Nismo is a nuke


NAME an­other car that 10 years af­ter its launch could still fac­tor at the pointy end of an an­nual awards com­pe­ti­tion? The R35 GT-R might have been around long enough to have tran­si­tioned from ‘high-tech wizardry’ to ‘re­fresh­ingly old school’, but it’s tes­ta­ment to the head­room built into that orig­i­nal 2007 model that it’s still the per­for­mance bench­mark a decade on.

Com­pared to that first R35 that landed in Oz and topped the PCOTY podium in 2009, the lat­est Nismo has stacked on 84kW/64Nm, some fancy car­bon fi­bre and the small mat­ter of al­most $150,000, vault­ing it from su­per­car bar­gain to Porsche 911 GT3 com­peti­tor. Some will scoff at the com­par­i­son, yet the Nismo walks the walk, its scorch­ing 1:30.0sec lap of Win­ton the quick­est we’ve ever recorded. Of the as­sem­bled cars, it was the only one Reynolds felt he could’ve gone quicker in with more time, and if a Bathurst champ is strug­gling to ex­tract the max­i­mum, what chance do us mere mor­tals have?

For Robbo, that track per­for­mance jus­ti­fied the enor­mous price pre­mium over the stan­dard GT-R: “I won­dered about the value equa­tion, but af­ter a lap in [the Nismo] I’m like ‘yep, I can see that’.” Cer­tainly, on track is where the ul­tra-stiff sus­pen­sion and R-spec Dun­lops feel most at home, pro­vid­ing so much cor­ner­ing force your head is likely to come off be­fore the car starts to slide – my notes sim­ply read “Holy mother of God!”

Straight-line per­for­mance is stag­ger­ing, but the way the Nismo sheds speed is even more im­pres­sive. There are no fancy car­bon ro­tors here, but the mon­ster steel stop­pers pro­vide awe­some feel and have in­cred­i­ble stamina con­sid­er­ing the GT-R’s speed and weight. Lap af­ter lap you can carry more and more speed, yet the Nismo’s re­serves are ap­par­ently end­less.

On the road this su­per Godzilla is live­able, noth­ing more. Ku­dos to Nissan for keep­ing the in­te­rior in­tact and it made a much bet­ter fist of tack­ling the wet road loop than most would imag­ine, but pub­lic roads are some­thing to be tol­er­ated be­tween race­track vis­its. Though they need not be tol­er­ated for very long, as the GT-R Nismo ties with last year’s PCOTY champ, the Porsche 911 Turbo S, as the quick­est point-to-point car I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced.

Morley and DC couldn’t get past the price tag, while the rest of us felt the sheer quan­tity of per­for­mance some­what jus­ti­fied the enor­mous ask. What ev­ery­one agreed on was the Nismo’s X Fac­tor – it sounds av­er­age, but looks awe­some, the per­fect re­al­i­sa­tion of a crazy Ja­panese su­per­car. The big points gap be­tween third and fourth rel­e­gates the GT-R to best of the rest, but it’s the equiv­a­lent of Kimi Raikko­nen switch­ing to the 2007 Fer­rari F1 car and still fin­ish­ing fourth in the 2017 stand­ings – a re­mark­able achieve­ment. –

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