Car reviews - Nissan - GT-R - Nismo
Unbelievable performance, boy racer looks, ultra-capable track handling, ballistic engine
Room for improvement
RRP places it among exotic European supercars, harsh ride on uneven roads, we can’t afford one
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9 Feb 2017
By TUNG NGUYEN
AFTER years of hype, hints and teasers, Nissan has finally launched its Nismo in-house tuning brand with the arrival of the race-fettled GT-R.
Landing in showrooms as the most expensive Nissan currently on sale, the Nismo GT-R is about 50 per cent more expensive than the regular Godzilla, but the Japanese tuning boffins have tweaked, prodded and tuned the supercar to push the already formidable performance even further.
Aftermarket tuning fanboys are sure to shout, “I’d be better off buying the standard Nissan GT-R and spending that extra $100,000 on overnight parts from Japan” and, while it’s probably true that you could probably build a car with more power that is faster around a circuit, that’s not the point.
The point is that Nissan has done all the legwork for you – a GT-R that is perfectly balanced and tuned so no one component – acceleration, handling and speed overcomes another, and it all still comes with a factory three year/100,000 kilometre warranty.
However, the pricetag isn’t the only expletively high number that speaks for itself. Peak power? 441kW – that’s more than a Mercedes-AMG GT S. Maximum torque? 652Nm – more than a Lamborghini Huracan.
Despite the big figures, it is its low zero to 100km/h time that really puts the GT-R Nismo into perspective. Able to accelerate from a standstill to triple digits in 2.7 seconds makes Nissan’s high-performer faster than any Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren or Porsche on the market.
The unbelievable performance comes courtesy of a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 – iterated from its debut in the 2007 Nissan GT-R with only 357kW/588Nm – and while the powerplant may be approaching teenage years, it still remains as enjoyable to rev and responsive as ever.
Power is fed to all-four wheels at a touch of the throttle with almost zero turbo lag, meaning momentum is gathered in a linear and predictable – albeit extremely quick – manner.
To keep up with the onslaught of performance, Nissan has equipped the GT-R Nismo with a slick and fast six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, complete with rev-matching technology.
Lucky too, because we’d wager the average driver wouldn’t be able to react fast enough to the GT-R Nismo’s buttock-clenching performance.
Suspension receives a bespoke tune from the Nismo team, and while exact details are kept a close secret, spring, damper and stabilisers adjustments have been made.
From driving the GT-R Nismo through Bathurst’s, let’s say uneven, country roads, we can almost certainly say Nissan’s latest supercar-slayer has been made a heck of a lot firmer.
Another contributing factor in its taught and, at times, unforgiving ride comfort is the added body strengthening during the manufacturing process.
Although not designed for back-country road use, we have to applaud Nissan for allowing us to test the GT-R on less than desirable roads in which the ride can be spine-shatteringly stiff at speed over potholes, bumps and anything-less-than-perfectly-smooth streets.
However, reigning it in around town with traffic, lights and lower speed limits, we found the GT-R Nismo to ride a lot more manageable, albeit nowhere near the comfort levels of other sportscars including Mazda’s stripped down MX-5 convertible.
The front fixed-back bucket seats help too. Supportive in all the right places, but never feeling too firm or hard on our backsides.
The interior is equipped with a surprisingly high number of features, especially given the GT-R’s track-orientated tendencies, with technology including sat-nav, reversing camera, Bose 11-speaker sound system.
While we didn’t love the Alcantara steering wheel (it would probably absorb more than a bucket of sweat over its lifetime), we appreciate that Nismo has gone to the extra effort to differentiate the interior from the other GT-R variants.
Maybe it’s just us and our masochistic tendencies, but at town cruising speeds, we found the GT-R Nismo to be well within our comfort acceptance levels and would happily take the Japanese supercar down to the local shops or out to a local restaurant.
While the GT-R Nismo might be useable – but not quite at home – on a public road, find a private racetrack and the Godzilla truly awakens.
Unbridled by pesky speed limits and fellow road users, when you find enough space to stretch the GT-R’s legs, it is truly a transformative experience.
Switching settings to hardcore means an even stiffer ride and more aggressive shifting, but the payoff is palatable.
The firm ride means the GT-R is taught, tight and communicative, featuring sharp turn-in and an uncanny ability to feed information to the driver.
Grip is something the GT-R has never struggled with, and around Mount Panorama’s tight and technical circuit, we were thankful for the seemingly unlimited amounts of road holding.
We also thanked the gods for the GT-R’s uncanny stopping ability, thanks to massive six-piston cross-drilled front brakes and four-piston rears. No expensive carbon-ceramics here, just good old, tried and tested iron.
On more than one occasion, we thought our corner entry speeds were way too high, only for it to be trimmed down significantly by a firm dab of the middle pedal and after six laps around the Bathurst circuit, we didn’t even detect a hint of brake fade.
Lucky too, because if you unleash the taps on the track, the GT-R will easily sail passed 250km/h – we certainly did.
While we did not even come close to the GT-R’s limits, it will take much better drivers with far more courage than us to extract more performance from the road-going Godzilla, what struck us most about our drive is how easy and manageable the car is to drive at speed.
A communicative chassis, taught steering and lightning-quick engine response means even novice drivers will be able to feel like track day heroes, while the truly gifted pilots will be able to push the mega-capable GT-R to its stratospheric limits.
The Nismo version simply pushes those limits even further, polishing the GT-R to such a high level without ruining its overall poise and gifting drivers with a rewarding mixture of speed, precision and nigh-untouchable performance.
Is the Nissan GT-R Nismo worth the $299,000 asking price though? It’s worth every cent.
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