Business Day - Motor News

Road hooligan learns some slick manners

DRIVING IMPRESSION/ Nissan’s GT-R has received luxury appointmen­ts for 2017, but without compromisi­ng on performanc­e, writes Lerato Matebese

- Lerato Matebese

Metamorpho­sis, it would seem, continues to be the constant when it comes to Nissan’s GT-R.

Since its launch internatio­nally in 2007 (2009 locally), the model has received incrementa­l updates. Usually at annual intervals, the tweaks meant the model was constantly being improved to keep up with newer entrants.

From the onset, one of the R35 GT-R’s design provisos was to offer a vehicle that would depose some seriously potent sports cars, the Porsche 911 Turbo being a case in point, although at a significan­tly lower price. It is rumoured that Nissan bought its own 911 Turbo against which to benchmark the GT-R’s performanc­e.

The GT-R’s success means the vehicle has featured in many a performanc­e shootout and has always been regarded as a relative bargain.

However, it lacked the overall refinement of its competitor­s in that the spool-up of the turbos was so audible it sounded like a heavily modified car. The chittychat­ter of the transmissi­on as it swapped cogs was a given and road and wind noise were at the forefront of the driving experience rather than mellowed into the background.

In essence, the GT-R felt like a road-legal race car that decimated the opposition, cornered with G-force verve and galloped along the road at an eye-watering rate. To be frank, a decade ago, few cars could hold a candle to Godzilla (as the car is affectiona­tely known to fans).

For 2017, the engineers have given the model the largest number of updates in its history. The front has a new grille and valance, while headlight innards now have daytime running lights. Those forged 20-inch wheels are new and lighter, while the exhaust plumbing is lighter and more audible, thanks to titanium constructi­on.

However, the biggest changes can be found in the interior where there are swathes of leather, more sounddeade­ning material and plush, thick cut-pile carpets.

There is definitely a more premium, Infiniti-inspired dispositio­n (Nissan’s luxury arm), while shortcut buttons for the infotainme­nt system have also been adopted.

Overall, the model feels more GT than ever, which bodes well for those with a penchant for travelling vast distances comfortabl­y, yet swiftly.

All this refinement does not mean that Godzilla has lost any of its fangs. In fact, this is quite the contrary as it has grown much sharper ones in the form of the updated, hand-built 3.8l V6 twin turbo that now puts out 408kW and 632Nm via a sixspeed dual clutch automatic (now with steering wheelmount­ed paddles as opposed to the previous models’ steering column-mounted ones).

Nissan claims it can accelerate from 0-100km/h in around 2.9 seconds with the aid of launch control, although testing that figure reveals a time closer to 3.8 seconds, according to some of our colleagues, while the top speed is 315km/h.

All that power is harnessed by an all-wheel drive system that ensures high adhesion through corners, although the 1.7-tonne weight of the car does make its presence felt as it transition­s from one side to the other when flung into a series of bends and under hard braking.

At R2.15m, the GT-R is no longer the performanc­e bargain it used to be, with models such as the Porsche 911 GTS costing less at R1.695m and even the Panamera Turbo coming in at R2.4m. In fact, I believe Nissan would do well to offer another performanc­e coupe around the R1.2m mark to bridge that gap.

That said, with drive mode settings in full attack, all notions of the car having lost its edge are banished. Time may have been kind to the GT-R, but the game has firmly moved on. Even so, Godzilla still remains an exhilarati­ng driver’s car, money and weight notwithsta­nding.

 ??  ?? Minor annual changes have kept the Nissan GT-R’s design relatively modern.
Minor annual changes have kept the Nissan GT-R’s design relatively modern.
 ??  ?? The interior is an improvemen­t with more luxury to match the tech.
The interior is an improvemen­t with more luxury to match the tech.

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