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Tokyo show: Nissan shocks with GT-R

Wild side: Nissan promises performance from the GT-R to back up the aggressive shape.

Nissan's Godzilla is set to storm the planet in 2004

25 Oct 2001

By MARTON PETTENDY in TOKYO

NISSAN delivered the surprise of the 35th Tokyo motor show yesterday when it pulled the covers off a next generation Nissan GT-R concept vehicle, wowing the massive opening day audience that had gathered to see the stylish new Z coupe in its final production guise.

A production version, probably powered by a twin-turbo V6, is tipped to appear in 2004 with enough performance to eclipse a still top-secret turbo Z-car flagship.

"These are three letters known globally: G ... T ... R," said Nissan Motor Company president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, in his presentation to the international media entourage at Tokyo.

"Since its original introduction in 1969, the GT-R has been uniquely Japanese - yet has grown truly international in reputation and desire.

"Through the words of the motoring press, enthusiasts worldwide have slipped vicariously into the driver's seat of the GT-R. Millions of others, many too young to drive, have experienced the thrill of the GT-R through popular video games and realistically reproduced mini-cars.

"Now is the time to stop imagining, to shift into the future and everything you've grown to know about GT-R." Details on the replacement for Nissan's legendary R34 Skyline GT-R were deliberately scarce. But Mr Ghosn was clear in his desire for the next GT-R to become Nissan's global performance leader.

"The GT-R has always been a car that crosses rational boundaries," he said.

"Today, with left-hand drive, GT-R is prepared to cross national boundaries as well. It is poised to finally become a legitimate contender in the global arena of 'ultimate road vehicles' "The new GT-R is still under development. Yet I want to assure you that, one, the GT-R will powerfully live on, two, we are looking at markets outside of Japan and, three, GT-R will remain Nissan's ultimate expression of our driving pleasure promise.

"I'm sure you have many questions regarding the GT-R. Please bear with us for a while until the time is right to share all the details with you," concluded Mr Ghosn, as Mazda president Mark Fields looked on pensively, fresh from launching the final production version of the RX-8 sports sedan.

The GT-R concept shares its platform with the all-new Skyline sedan, released in 2.5 and 3.0-litre V6/rear-drive form in Japan in June, but the Skyline name will be dropped for Nissan's future performance flagship, in favour of the simpler GT-R moniker.

One thing that has not disappeared, however, is the R34 model's distinctive pair of round, twin tail-lights, while the radical four-seater concept coupe in Tokyo also featured a prominent bonnet bulge, a massive grille/air-dam unit, super-narrow headlight units extending halfway up wildly sculpted front wheel arches, and detailed front quarter fluting.

* Watch out for our full wrap-up of the Tokyo motor show in automotive e-news next Monday. To subscribe just click on the icon on the top right corner of the "home page".

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