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Driven: GT-R adds ‘wonder’ to Nissan

On air: Nissan’s vicious GT-R has been given a significant update with more power and a new look that is a byproduct of enhanced aerodynamics.

Nissan aims to rebuild emotional connection to cars with GT-R and Leaf

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Nissan logo2 Sep 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

NISSAN’S mighty new GT-R has arrived on Australian soil to join forces with its other flagship – the electric Leaf – in a bid to restore an emotional connection between cars and an increasingly aloof generation of drivers.

While older generations of Australian motorists are represented by a higher number of car enthusiasts, younger drivers have a weaker emotional connection to its cars, says Nissan, adding that it can reverse the trend with vehicles that focus equally on the glamour of performance as well as technology.

Speaking at the launch of the new GT-R super coupe, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said the high-performance flagship was key to the company’s strategy of “putting some wonder back into cars” and rebuilding passion in younger drivers.

“I think it is incumbent on the car industry to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and make sure that is delivered in a way that gets an emotional response from future generations, so having a mobility solution that suits your personality is something that you see as valuable rather than just being a white good,” he said.

“Because we are a volume brand that tries to cover as many segments as possible, it goes all the way from a GT-R, which delivers something to suit certain groups of people, to smaller commuter passenger vehicles that are rammed full of technology and interconnection and safety because that will turn other people on.” The company’s monstrous GT-R goes on sale this week priced from $189,000 before on-road costs, bringing a combination of potent supercar performance and Nissan’ s mantra of practicality and accessibility, but Mr Emery said sexy performance cars were just part of the brand appeal-building plans.

“That doesn’t necessary mean faster sportscars it could mean for some people different technologies,” he said. “It’s different things for different people.

“You have a generation now that’s very much engaged in technology and interconnection, so their excitement level and their wonder in a car could be delivered not necessarily by alloy wheels, spoilers and going faster, it could be delivered in other ways.

“You’ve seen us use Leaf as a platform for a lot of interconnection and what we call intelligent mobility so you are going to see lots more of that, and I think Nissan is positioning itself to be the volume brand that delivers the sorts of things people only thought you could get in a $150,000 car.” Mr Emery said the change in population density was partly responsible for the change in a younger generation’s attitude but it was working to regain it attention.

“It may be the same thing that’s been happening for a long time, but I think in the developed world, because of cities, road systems and infrastructure struggling to keep up with population, if you don't have an emotional connection to your car, realistically you’re probably going to catch the train.

“I think we need to be, as an industry, ahead of the curve. There is a danger that we might fall behind the curve.

“Nissan wants to position itself in that intelligent technology area just as much as it does with GT-R at the sporting end.” The updated GT-R continues to carry Nissan’s sporting flag with a heavily revised model that brings more power, a new look, sharpened chassis and improved refinement, available in a choice of three variants.

A Premium Edition starts the bidding at $189,000, in the middle of the range is a version of the Premium with Luxury Trim for $195,000 and the Nismo-engineered Track Edition rounds out the range for $227,000.

A full-fat Nismo variant is expected to join the line-up, but Nissan is yet to announce official timing for the high-performance brand in Australia.

All three get a power boost of 15kW to 419kW and an extra 4Nm taking torque to 632Nm from the same 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6. Mid-range acceleration is improved, but Nissan is yet to release an official zero to 100km/h figure. Top speed is 315km/h.

Each GT-R’s engine wears the name plaque of one of five Takumi technicians that built it by hand, and is equipped with new turbochargers for higher boost pressure, individual cylinder ignition timing – tech debuted by the previous Nismo GT-R.

A revised version of the six-speed dual-clutch transmission complements the engine update with smoother first to second shifting and the shift paddles are now located on the steering wheel rather than the previous controls which were fixed to the steering column.

Power gets to the black-top via Nissan’s protractedly-named ATTESA E-TS four-wheel drive system that adopts a unique independent rear transaxle to prioritise power to the rear axle or up to 50 per cent to the front end when the tail gets light.

Also common to the trio are redesigned aesthetics that bring a larger “V- motion” grille that boosts cooling without compromising aerodynamics, thanks to design changes such as a stiffened bonnet to resist deformation at speed.

While the styling revision has refreshed the GT-R’s looks, Nissan says the changes were almost all in the name of improving airflow and aerodynamic performance. Almost all areas of the body have been subjected to millimetre changes to improve performance at speed.

A reshaped front spoiler, bumpers, C-pillars and tail-lights complete the facelift along with a raised belt-line, side vents and 20-inch alloy rims courtesy of Japanese high-performance wheel manufacturer Rays, dressed in specially developed Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT rubber.

In response to customer feedback, the update has also furnished the GT-R with a new exhaust crafted in titanium from about the middle of the car back, for a more pleasing note, while the exotic metal reduces weight and has better heat resistance characteristics.

Slowing down is handled by 390mm brake discs at the front grabbed by Brembo six-piston callipers, while the rear axle is managed by 380mm rotors and four-pot callipers.

Opt for the Track edition and you get a number of extras lifted from the no-longer-available Black Edition and forthcoming Nismo versions, including carbon-fibre rear spoiler and lighter, wider six-spoke wheels housed in pumped arches.

The sharper GT-R also gets Nismo suspension, a stiffer bonded body and wider front track for shaving seconds from lap times on the circuit, as well as red and black Recaro seats and black leather with red stitching for the dash, steering wheel, door trims and gear selector.

Nissan says all versions benefit from improvements to interior quality and NVH levels, while the cabin of all versions has been tidied with 16 switches moved to the new rotary information system dial and 8.0-inch touchscreen.

Customers stepping up to the Premium with Luxury Trim get single-piece Nappa leather covering the dashboard, centre console and door trims, along with semi-analine leather seats, steering wheel and gear selector.

Cabin microphones monitor the interior noise levels and apply noise canceling for a more comfortable interior environment, while the active exhaust can be switched to a quieter start setting to keep people outside happy too.

Customers are offered their GT-R in a number of colours including Katsura Orange, which is made from aluminium flakes that are individually coated in a layer of orange plastic rather than suspending the silver flake in an orange paint. Nissan says the complex process lends a deeper metallic sheen.

Each GT-R is supplied with a raft of standard features, including three damper, gearbox and stability control settings, new front parking sensors in addition to the previous rear radar, reversing camera, automatic headlights and wipers, Bose 11-speaker stereo, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth and carbon-fibre interior trim.

2016 Nissan GT-R pricing*
Premium Edition (a) $189,000
Premium Edition Luxury (a) $195,000
Track Edition (a) $227,000
*Excludes on-road costs

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