GODZILLA STRIKES BACK

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For the first time in its history, the GT-R has been given a performance makeover by Nissan’s in house tuner, NISMO. The results are remarkable.

The Nissan GT-R is undoubtedly a formidable supercar. All wheel drive, a twin-turbo V6, and a dual clutch transmission add up to a car that can take on the best from Europe.

For the first time in its history, the GT-R has been given a performance makeover by Nissan’s in-house tuner, NISMO. It’s no surprise, either, since many GT-R owners go to the aftermarket to tune their cars. Plus, by developing this car within the company, the end result is a tuned GT-R that delivers exactly what it promises – and more.

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NISMO begins with a more rigid body shell through the use of additional adhesives during the shell’s manufacturing process. This is one undeniable advantage NISMO has over any tuner, since only Nissan has access to the raw body shell before it’s assembled.

Visually, the GT-R differs from the standard model by the addition of NISMO-specific carbon bumpers and rear spoiler. These aren’t for show, but instead add 100 kilograms of downforce at 300 kilometres per hour. The trunk lid is also a carbon fibre piece for both rigidity, to transmit the wing’s downforce, and weight savings. Overall, the NISMO is about 20 kilograms lighter than the standard GT-R.

Swapping the standard turbos for those from the GT-R GT3 race car bumps power by 55-horsepower and makes the GT-R a member of the 600-horsepower club. Torque is up to 481 lb-ft. For a car that’s known to accelerate from a stop to 100 km/h in less than three seconds, in optimal conditions, this NISMO is capable of doing it in the low- to mid-two second range. A touch of turbo lag is still present, on occasion, but is easily managed in most situations.

NISMO also thoroughly revised the GT-R’s suspension starting with new Bilstein Damptronic shocks that complement the NISMO-spec springs and anti-roll bars. A set of NISMO-specific, forged 20” wheels from RAYS look strictly the business in their black finish.

These changes add up to an unofficial record time around the famed Nürburgring Nordschelife of a remarkable 7:08.679. After watching the lap on video, I spoke with the lucky bloke who set the time, Nissan’s factory racing driver Michael Krumm at the NISMO’s launch in Yokohama. When I mentioned that I noticed a couple of mistakes during his run, he told me that he wanted to do another run but didn’t have enough time. He also told me that based on his experience, he could have dropped another two seconds from that lap time. Manufacturers who care about ‘ring lap times should be very, very concerned. Nissan clearly intends to remain number one around the ‘ring.

Inside, updates are limited to a superb alcantara trimmed steering wheel and a pair of Recaro buckets, which are a long overdue improvement over the standard seats.

As often happens on a first drive like this, my driving impressions of the NISMO are culled from a brief on-track session – just two flying laps, in fact. Thankfully, I was on track with the NISMO’s competitor – the SRT Viper TA – the week previous and the GT-R is exceptionally easy to drive.

On my out lap, the NISMO was giving me exactly what I wanted – great braking, precise steering and on-power oversteer. As I got more comfortable with the NISMO, I found that I could really wring its neck and attack the circuit by braking later into turns, hustling through corners at high speeds, and accelerating sooner than should be possible.2014-nissan-gt-r-track-edition-emblem

The already tremendous traction of the GT-R’s all-wheel drive system is enhanced by the NIS   O’s improvements, except this car is even more precise and easier to drive aggressively. Its chassis is better balanced than ever before. Exiting corners, the NISMO comfortably sets itself into subtle, controllable oversteer. It’s the kind of cornering behaviour that’s not just fast, but also a boatload of fun.

Towards the end of my run, the NISMO gave me so much confidence that I could easily push its limits. On the final lap, I deliberately threw the car into the final turn, causing the car to oversteer, but the NISMO is so controllable that it was simply child’s play to bring the car back under control.

This GT-R is set up in such a way that it suits my driving style. I was able to turn the car into corners precisely, balance it on the throttle and with the wheel, and when exiting a turn, I could pick up the throttle aggressively without upsetting it’s balance – and enjoy a little power oversteer. It’s simply amazing.

The NISMO is easily the best GT-R to date. It’s fast, looks serious and makes child’s play of driving fast. There’s nothing like it this side of a Bugatti Veyron.

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