Nismo Nissan GT R Elemental RP1 McLaren 720S
KEEP PUSHING – keep squeezing affordability, practicality and any kind of real-world usability into the corner – and you end up here, in a surreal place of terrifying price tags, racecar-spec downforce, and aero efficiency and lap times machines of more ordinary breeding can’t hope to get within sight of.
Fiendishly complex, the Nismo GT-R is Nissan’s all-wheel-drive track monster evolved into its most potent state. Where the GT-R legend is built on being a scarely credible performance bargain, the Nismo costs £150k. That’s McLaren 570S money for an ageing box of eccentic Japanese engineering, though three minutes in its company is all it takes to see where the money went: carbon-backed Recaro buckets, hand-crafted carbon aero parts, bespoke Rays rims, very track-ready Dunlops, a reinforced bodyshell, 592bhp… That it can circulate German racetracks at unholy speeds is beyond doubt, but is the Nismo the car to finally make us fall in love with the GT-R?
At the other end of the scale, the Elemental RP1 is fiendishly simple, at least in principle. Invest in a proper carbonfibre chassis that’s about as far from the climbing-frame chassis of most British track cars as can be. Harness serious aerodynamic downforce to deliver a bewitching driving experience for those brave and fast enough, and add to those two nothing more than you absolutely have to; an engine, some seats, done.
Earlier in the year we lapped Brands Hatch in the RP1; we’re still shaking. The Caterham we had along with it was huge fun and the Ariel Atom a riot of vivid acceleration, reflex slides and flapping loose clothing, but the Elemental… The Elemental was all-consuming, its go-faster-to-go-faster aero oxymoron as terrifying as it was exciting.
And then there’s the 720S, quite possibly the best of both worlds: roof and doors like a GT-R, astonishing like the RP1. McLaren will tell you the remit’s broader than that of the 650S, with more comfort and refinement to go with the more power and more style, but you can’t help thinking this is simply a non-limited-edition 675LT in drag: same scary noise, same ridiculously good steering, same shocking speed. And the 675LT won 2016’s Sports Car Giant Test, of course.