DRIVE: NIS­SAN SKY­LINE GT-R

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - SI­MON DAVIS

FOR most peo­ple the name Godzilla re­lates to a rather corny film about a gi­gan­tic, an­gry lizard. In the motoring world, Godzilla refers to the Nis­san Sky­line GT-R. The name was orig­i­nally at­tached to the R32 GT-R from 1989 and petrol­heads have con­tin­ued to use it to la­bel each gen­er­a­tion of GT-R, right up to the present day. For Nis­san, it’s come to be some­thing of a badge of hon­our.

Hav­ing spent many hours driv­ing GT-Rs as a kid on video games, get­ting be­hind the wheel of a real one has al­ways been a dream of mine. You can imag­ine my ex­cite­ment, then, when I was handed the keys to three dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the Ja­panese su­per­car for a few hot laps of Sil­ver­stone.

First up was the R34 Sky­line GT-R. Launched in 1999, it went on to star in the

Fast and Fu­ri­ous movie fran­chise, as well as the pop­u­lar Gran Turismo video games.

Un­der the bon­net, there’s a 2.6-litre twin­tur­bocharged straight-six en­gine churn­ing out 276bhp and 392Nm of torque, with power be­ing sent to all four wheels.

Con­sid­er­ing the R34 is nearly 20 years old, the way it drove was se­ri­ously im­pres­sive. Not only was it in­cred­i­bly quick in a straight line, its four-wheel-drive sys­tem meant it was no slouch through the cor­ners ei­ther.

The only prob­lem with the R34 was me. I’m an av­er­age driver at the best of times, and cars this age don’t have the same lev­els of tech­nol­ogy on board to stop you from mak­ing a fool of your­self as mod­ern cars do.

You can prob­a­bly guess what hap­pened next. A bottled at­tempt at some heel-and-toe down­shift­ing saw me lose con­trol of the car and spin out go­ing into Stowe Corner at the end of the 120mph Han­gar Straight.

Thank­fully, the only thing dam­aged in the ac­ci­dent was my pride.

The arrival of the R35 GT-R in 2007 saw Nis­san drop the Sky­line name and es­tab­lish the GT-R as a model line in its own right.

This time a 3.8-litre, twin-tur­bocharged V6 sends 562bhp and 673Nm of torque to all four wheels. I thought the R34 was quick, but with a 0-60mph time of 2.5 sec­onds, the R35 was on an­other level. There’s all sorts of wizardry go­ing on be­hind the scenes, too, all of which is in­tended to pro­vide you with as much grip through the cor­ners as pos­si­ble. There’s so much grip, in fact, that it ac­tu­ally be­comes un­com­fort­able at points.

At the speeds this thing al­lows you to corner at, you can feel grav­ity tug­ging at your lower back, try­ing to pull the base of your spine away from the rest of your body to­wards the side of the car.

As if the R35 GT-R wasn’t bonkers enough al­ready, Nis­san’s in-house per­for­mance divi­sion Nismo felt it was nec­es­sary to squeeze even more out of the Ja­panese su­per­car. The GT-R Nismo is the end re­sult. Power has been boosted to 592bhp thanks in no small part to tur­bocharg­ers from the GT-R GT3 race car, and car­bon-fi­bre body pan­els help to keep weight down. The sus­pen­sion and anti-roll bars have also been mod­i­fied to make the GT-R Nismo even faster through the cor­ners.

While the Nismo is an ab­so­lute weapon on the track, at £151,525 it’s the best part of £70,000 more than the stan­dard model. If it were my money, I’d opt for the stan­dard R35 and use the change to pick up a sec­ond-hand R34 Sky­line GT-R as well.

The Nis­san Sky­line GT-R is put through its paces at Sil­ver­stone in three guises: clock­wise from be­low right – the R34, R35 and the Nismo

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