Nismo Nis­san GT R El­e­men­tal RP1 McLaren 720S

CAR (UK) - - Sports Car Giant Test -

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.

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