What is it?
Every manufacturer has a product that shows-off its engineering prowess. Audi has the 600 plus bhp R8, Honda has the new NSX and even a daily soap saas bahu brand like Toyota has the bonkers GT86. Nissan too has a product and a very special one at that, the Godzilla of cars, the GT-R.
The Nissan GT-R is already a decade old design but it looks far from it. Its appearance is out of the Japanese techno box and looks cutting edge if not as beautiful as Italian cars. Now most, might not find its styling jaw droppingly good, but in terms of purpose – the purpose of going fast to be precise – the GT-R has quite the fan following.
It also turns the new age formula of light, lithe and compact to chase speed for the Nissan GT-R, true to its name of the Godzilla, is huge. It is 170mm longer, 74mm taller and 15mm broader than the Porsche 911 Turbo S. Now, you might think Nissan has magically made the GT-R lightweight despite its bulky proportions, but no, this Nissan weighs a portly 1750kg. This, not only makes it obese by sports car standards, but it even weighs more than some XXL sized sedans.
So looking at the spec sheet some key questions arise – are the claimed performance numbers really true? Is it really a giant killer? A track day at the Buddh circuit did throw up some surprsing answers.
How is it on the inside?
Like the rest of the car, the GT-R’s cabin is anything but conventional. Where interiors of cars like the Porsche 911 are flamboyant and luxurious, the Nissan’s dashboard looks more like a technological tour-de-force; it seems to have come straight out of a teenager’s gaming console. The centre console is cluttered with numerous buttons and knobs with a large screen showing interesting data readouts like power and torque output. It has a G-metre as well.
The front seats are supremely comfortable with great lateral support and the low driving position is spot-on. Although you get rear seats, Nissan themselves waste no time in saying these are best left for kids; meaning, these are best left to carry extra luggage. Even the interior quality is average at best with a sea of hard plastics cluttered all over the cabin.
How does it drive?
Now to the most astonishing aspect of the GT-R, its performance. I drove the car at the Buddh circuit in Delhi and with just limited three laps at the wheel. But before the driving bit let’s focus on the tech it possesses. Now with all that 1.7 tonne plus weight to lug around, the car’s claimed time of 2.7 seconds to 100kmph is ridiculous. But, Nissan has used some unique solutions and it actually uses the weight to its advantage. This is the first and so far the only rear transaxle-based all-wheel drive system for a front engined car with the gearbox sitting at the back.
Unlike most conventional all-wheel drive systems, Nissan has employed two parallel propshafts, with the main shaft providing drive to the gearbox and the rear LSD diff, and the second one is used to send the power back to the front wheels. The transaxle and the dual clutch gearbox weigh nearly 180kg which in turn gives the GT-R the neck bending traction off the line and exiting corners. The GT-R is powered by a bespoke 3.8-litre twin-turbo hand-built engine that makes 542bhp of power.
Tap the throttle and the GT-R vaults off the blocks with an immediate and powerful thrust. The power delivered is explosive, and even short bursts of acceleration are addictive. My instructor had configured the gearbox, dampers and engine to race-mode from the go. It is just remarkable the way this turbo-charged engine builds its revs so cleanly. There is no hang, no lag and you ask of the throttle and the engine delivers in an utterly predictable, linear fashion. Contributing factor to its ferocity and speed is its dual-clutch automatic transmission. The six-speed gearbox is lightning-quick with its shifts and you can use it in manual mode as well. But do remember it only shifts up at the pull of the right paddle, and not automatically.
Along with all that power the Nissan also possess an eye-watering blend of grip, balance and composure, not to mention its steering and traction, both of which are phenomenal. And that’s to say nothing of the car’s most surprising bit – just how easy it is to exploit it. With just three hot laps to spare, I got surprisingly comfortable pushing the GT-R to its limits. All the electronics and the clever AWD system help you extract the best from this Nissan but at the same time it feels natural and well connected. The car displays a remarkable willingness to change direction thanks not only to the quick-geared steering but also the exceptional rigidity of the body structure.
On the smooth-surfaced track, the GT-R turns with a remarkable absence of slack, settling swiftly into bends and feeling controlled and planted, with plenty of grip from its bespoke nitrogen filled Dunlop rubber.If there is anything to criticise about its handling, it’s the GT-R’s tendency to run wide turning into slower corners; but nothing a well-timed lift-off won’t correct, tucking its nose neatly into the corner.
Why should I buy one?
The Nissan GT-R is well worth the long wait and going by the track experience it is a car that every auto enthusiast should have one parked in their garage. It is a showcase of Nissan’s phenomenal engineering know-how and it is difficult to put it in words just how special this car feels. It’s a car which is brimming with technology yet it offers a pure and unadulterated driving experience. The GT-R will hit our shores by September this year at around Rs 1.5 crores. And in my eyes it’s still a bargain when you consider the sheer range of abilities it possesses.
Where does it fit in?
The Nissan GTR will rival the likes of the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and the Mercedes GT. The GTR will be phenomenal value too, considering it will be at least Rs 50 lakh cheaper than its rivals.