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Godzilla gets even more grunt

Power-up: Nissan’s 2011 GT-R emerges with an extra 33kW and 24Nm, among a host of upgrades.

Nissan gives its GT-R supercar even more performance after just 18 months

Nissan logo20 Oct 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

NISSAN has announced the first major upgrade for its giant-killing GT-R after just 18 months on sale in Australia, in line with its pledge to keep the top-shelf all-wheel-drive R35-series hyper-coupe at the top of the supercar game.

On sale now in Japan after its debut at the Paris motor show earlier this month, first examples of the more powerful and more efficient 2011 GT-R – which also comes with chassis, cosmetic, aerodynamic and equipment improvements – will arrive in Australia in March.

North America’s version, dubbed the 2012 GT-R, will be revealed at the Los Angeles motor show on November 17, but is expected to be mechanically similar to the upgraded model available elsewhere.

Naturally, the headline act is a worthwhile increase in performance, with peak power from the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 rising by 33kW, from 357kW to 390kW at the same 6400rpm – matching Porsche’s 911 Turbo S, but not the ballistic new GT2 RS (456kW).

Similarly, maximum torque is lifted by 24Nm, from the current model’s 588kW at 5200rpm to a beefier 612Nm between 3200 and 6000rpm, making the GT-R engine more flexible but still less muscular than the most potent version of Porsche’s twin-turbo 3.8-litre flat six (700Nm).

12 center imageThe GT-R’s VR38DETT engine benefits from more turbo boost, valve timing revisions, changes to the air-fuel ratio, a larger air intake pipe diameter and a larger section of exhaust pipe to reduce both inlet and outlet air resistance.

Despite the extra performance, which does not appear to lower the GT-R’s already competitive official 0-100km/h acceleration figure of just 3.5, Nissan’s born-again super-coupe is also more efficient, with average fuel consumption falling from 12.5 to 12.0L/100km.

Lower emissions are also achieved by adopting an ultra-low precious metal catalyst and an ECU with higher-capacity microprocessor, while a new ‘SAVE’ driving mode is fitted to “optimise” torque output and modify the gearshift schedule within the six-speed dual-clutch rear transaxle to “improve actual fuel economy when driving (on) highways or open roads”.

The GT-R’s controversial launch control – or, as Nissan calls it, “starting performance” – function in R mode has also been upgraded, as has its VDC-R stability/traction control system.

There’s also a new feature that temporarily switches the GT-R into two-wheel drive mode when the steering wheel is turned more than halfway while travelling at less than 10km/h.

The upgraded, 10kg-lighter 2011 chassis scores a rigid, lightweight front suspension strut brace made from carbon-aluminium honeycomb composite to enhance “the vehicle body’s responsiveness to driving operation”.

Similarly, there’s an additional support member in the passenger side of the instrument panel, which now connects more rigidly with the engine bay, while Nissan says the fitment of body panels on the production line is more accurate and “a higher-precision G sensor is utilised in checking the instrument panel during the vibration testing of each vehicle body”.

Changes to the front suspension include retuned springs, dampers and the anti-roll bar to “improve the vertical load response of the tyres”, while the front caster angle is increased from 5°35 to 6°00 to improve both turn-in grip and straight-line stability.

At the rear, toe performance is modified by lowering the roll centre height to improve cornering grip and increase road feel, while an aluminium free-piston shock absorber is adopted to increase damping force while reducing friction and improving ride comfort.

Upgraded Nissan-developed brake rotors now measure 390mm in diameter (up 10mm) and are claimed to improve braking force, fade resistance and pedal control, while extending brake rotor life.

There are lighter and more rigid new 20-inch forged alloy Rays wheels with a five-layer Hyper Blue Black Chrome gloss finish, wrapped with stickier-compound Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT tyres with improved sidewall rigidity and a tread pattern that Nissan says enhances straight-line stability on rutted roads.

Externally, the 2011 model is differentiated by a larger, more aggressive front bumper with now-obligatory daytime LED running lights and larger intake openings to increase airflow to the engine and brakes while increasing front downforce by about 10 per cent and overall aerodynamic drag from 0.272 to 0.268Cd.

At the rear there also a new SpecM-derived bumper with lower centre of gravity and an extended rear diffuser to reduce rear drag by 10 per cent, while larger exhaust outlets and LED rear foglights are added for compliance in the EU.

Inside, there’s a new instrument panel design with new satellite-navigation display and real carbon-fibre centre cluster finish, matt-black switches, a “velour-like” coating for the GT-R badge on the steering wheel, magnesium shift paddles, black-chrome climate controls and new seats with more support.

Two new exterior paint colours – Jet Black and GT Blue – will be made available in some markets, bringing the total number of colours to six.

Pricing for the 2011 GT-T is yet to be confirmed for Australia, where the entry-level model (currently $158,800, plus on-road costs) will be dropped in favour of a single, more highly specified model that will be most closely to Europe’s ‘Black’ model.

Two new GT-R variants available elsewhere – the rollcage and slicks-equipped Club Track version inspired by the previous SpecV and the more luxurious Egosit model – are unlikely to be offered in Australia.

Priced from $170,000 – up from the outgoing GT-R Premium’s price of $162,800 – the 2011 GT-R is expected to attract up to 200 Australian customers a year.

Nissan has sold 66 GT-Rs here so far this year – well down on the 260 it delivered in the model’s first full year, and about 200 fewer than the number of 911s sold by Porsche in 2010.

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