TEN YEARS ON A RAFT OF UPDATES KEEP THE GT-R IN SUPERCAR CONTENTION
An all-new GT-R won’t be out until at least 2020. So what’s new with the 2017 R35?
Wthen the R35 Nissan GT-R was launched in late 2007, it awed the entire automotive world with capabilities that were once reserved for much more expensive machines made halfway across the globe.
While most younger gearheads will only remember the R35, the legend that is the GT-R goes back much further—almost half a century, in fact, with the very first PGC10 Skyline GT-R dominating the racetracks of Japan in the late ’60s, followed by the introduction of the R32 Skyline GT-R some 20 years later. The latter impressed many folks who had driven it, earning itself the moniker ‘Godzilla.’ It also defined the mechanical formula for every GT-R thereafter: two doors, four seats, six cylinders, forced induction, and all-wheel drive.
When it was introduced in 2007, the R35 continued with the formula, but with much more power than any other Japanese vehicle before it. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 made 478hp and 588Nm. It also met the ultra lowemission-vehicle standards of the California Air Resources Board, one of the most stringent emissions standards in the world.
For 2017, engine figures are 565hp and 622Nm. This didn’t happen in one go, however, with prior year-to-year improvements being responsible for a good part of the increase. The latest power output is up by ‘only’ 20hp. Credit goes to slightly higher boost and individual cylinder ignition control, which optimizes the ignition timing to maximize power from 3,200rpm until redline.
Part of the secret to the GT-R’s awesome capabilities is Nissan’s Atessa E-TS all-wheeldrive system that is capable of sending power entirely to the rear wheels, or to split the distribution 50/50 between the front and rear axles as needed. Power from the engine is first transferred to the rear-mounted, six-speed dual-clutch transaxle, then sent back to the front via a secondary driveshaft. Like the engine, the transmission has also been reworked and refined. The change provides for a smoother-
shifting transmission that’s quieter overall as well.
Speaking of noise, an optional lightweight titanium exhaust—dubbed ‘Active Sound Enhancement’ by Nissan—should be of interest to many buyers. It turns the exhaust note from a luxury-car murmur to race-car roar at the flick of a switch. The best thing? It’s not simulated. Rather, a valve opens up in the exhaust system to allow the mechanical symphony to be heard by those who are willing.
If it seems to you that Nissan is on a mission to improve the GT or grand touring aspect of the GT-R, you’re not wrong. The chassis has been reinforced with the liberal use of lightweight materials that increase the body’s stiffness without adding to overall weight. The adjustable suspension makes a comeback to provide for more suspension compliance without sacrificing the GT-R’s handling prowess. The net effect, according to the Japanese carmaker, is a much more comfortable ride as well as more engaging handling especially through fast corners.
The external changes, including the V-Motion grille seen on recent Nissan offerings, go beyond visual flair. They’re part, too, of the go-faster formula for the GT-R. The entire front end has been opened up to allow for better aerodynamics, as the front fascia cuts through and redirects the wind around it while reducing underbody airflow. Even the C-pillars have been redesigned to remove vortices in the area that resulted in a 1% energy loss.
The interior has also been redesigned to improve refinement and luxury. The paddle shifters have been relocated to the steering wheel to minimize unnecessary movement. The seven-inch center-mounted screen has been replaced with a more legible and high-mounted eight-inch display. The human-machine interface loses more than half of its switchgear—down to 11 from the previous 27. As in most newer vehicles, in their place is an oversized knob that works very much like the multifunction dials on numerous digital cameras.
The multi-adjustable front seats are new, too, offering better bolstering to improve comfort on long drives. The switchgear positioned north of the shifter is retained to give upgrading owners some familiarity. The naked carbon-fiber center console is 100% spot-on—along with most everything else, actually.
‘Year-to-year improvements are responsible for a good part of the power increase’
Better materials make the entire interior feel more luxurious