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Nissan yet to sign off on next-generation GT-R

Godzilla: Hiroshi Tamura has been involved in GT-R product development since January 1997, including overseeing the entire R35 series, earning him the nickname ‘Mr GT-R’.

R35 GT-R could soldier on until 2027, but Nissan not as clear about 370Z successor

23 Aug 2019

NISSAN Motor Company says the R35 GT-R supercar could remain in production until 2027, with an R36 successor yet to be signed off by its board, while the prospects of a sportscar beyond the 370Z are even murkier.

 

Speaking to journalists this week at the GT-R and 370Z 50th Anniversary national media launch at the Norwell Motorplex in Queensland, Nissan Motor Company GT-R and Z chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura said it would be “easy” to continue improving the R35 in the short term.

 

“But if we need to breakthrough something (like electrification), it’s different story,” he said. “So, it depends on the company’s direction and I cannot tell you (where it will go).

 

“I have (an R36) in my mind, but I didn’t tell (anyone about it) outside. So, nobody knows. Do not believe … rumour. Rumour is just a rumour.”

 

Mr Tamura revealed Nissan Motor Company’s board has yet to make a decision on whether an R36 would stick with just an internal-combustion engine or have it supplemented by hybridisation. Alternatively, it may decide to pull the trigger on an all-electric powertrain.

 

He added that this means an R36 is not even in the conceptual stage of development, as such progress is dependent on the Japanese company’s board approving the project, which would require a new platform should electrification be a feature.

 

Mr Tamura pointed out that the R32, R33 and R34 generations used the same basic underpinnings, with their tenure stretching 14 years. Comparatively, the R35 and its clean-sheet architecture are ‘only’ 12 years old.

 

“Yes, R35 is long (in terms of lifecycle),” he said. “(But) for MY17, it’s almost a brand-new shape. The body is technology.

 

“So, this body construction, I want to keep as much as possible, because (it is) very solid.”

 

Mr Tamura, 58, acknowledged that his compulsory retirement in native Japan is only two years away, with a GT-R “breakthrough” – or platform – typically coming around once every two decades, meaning he will likely not be working if and when an R36 is released.

 

“What kind of technology should we need to install? 20 years each is the breakthrough time of the technology,” he said.

 

As such, given that the R35 was revealed in production form at the 2007 Tokyo motor show, it might not be until 2027 that an R36 or a box-fresh GT-R could break cover.

 

Until then, it appears that Nissan Motor Company will continue to make incremental improvements to the current GT-R, such as the MY20 update now in showrooms (see separate story).

 

When asked if genuine customer demand exists for an R36, Mr Tamura conceded “it’s a tough question” as the potential for electrification threatens the GT-R’s “philosophy consistency”.

 

“At some point, I want to keep some driving pleasure … but I didn’t think about any solutions for hybrid or (all electric) or something like that. This depends on a more corporate decision.

 

“I have to wait. I’m just a GT-R or a Z conductor, orchestral member. The company will show to me this is the member (of the orchestra), this is the violinist, this is the trumpeter. They need to decide this order.”

 

Mr Tamura admitted that an R36 has not been approved through lack of trying, with Australia among the many markets that have been lobbying Nissan Motor Company for another GT-R.

 

“Of course, (Nissan Australia is) requesting for next generation, but GT-R is not so easy,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, Mr Tamura was even more coy about the chances of a next-generation Z sportscar, with the current 370Z to carry on indefinitely.

 

“I cannot tell you,” he said. “There’s a turning point, of course, but not now.”

 

Some reports suggest a mooted 400Z might be seen as soon as the Tokyo motor show in October this year, which would coincide with the sportcar dynasty’s 50th anniversary, but that remains to be seen.

 

If a 400Z does eventuate, it will likely again share its platform with the Infiniti Q60, albeit a new one. Such a move would possibly make the latter’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 an engine option. It currently produces 298kW of power and 475Nm of torque in its most potent form.

 

Both the GT-R and Z lines are threatened by Nissan Motor Company’s announcement last month that “at least” 10 per cent of its global model line-up will be eliminated by the end of the 2022 financial year in response to a recent spate of falling revenue and profit results.


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