Back in 2001, the first pictures of the concept car which would eventually take the form of the Nissan GTR. Since then there have been sightings and rumours of launch dates, but at last the car is now available and has rightly claimed its place as Japan’s top super car.
There is enough evidence to back up the claim. The car boasts 473 bhp, which is almost 200bhp more than the previous model. It also has a range of specifications which would make the most sceptical of drivers envious. A twin turbo V6 engine, with double clutch gearbox, gear shift and traction control, advanced four wheel drive and aluminium and carbon fibre construction, all combine together to produce an awesome car. The engine is so far advanced that it has to be produced in a clean room in the Yokohama factory in Japan where the car is made.
Practically, the car is a delight to drive. Previously, a gentleman’s agreement had existed which restricted Japanese cars to 280bhp. This has now lapsed and allowed Nissan to produce an awesome beast to mark the occasion. At low speed the GTR is not particularly responsive, in comparison to the Porsche 911, but take the car past 3000rpm and the 3.8 litre V6 engine makes this a seriously powerful car. The GTR roars along at 0-60 in only three seconds even though the engine noise is businesslike rather than inspirational. Nissan has agreed to ensure that the car is not easily adaptable for the after market tuning specialists, using steel instead of ceramic turbochargers, but this has had the effect of allowing the car to pick up more rapidly.
The speed in acceleration is aided by a six speed twin clutch gearbox. Although similar to the Volkswagen DSG system it is slightly more mechanical. However, up shifts are instant, and throttling down is very smooth. This works spectacularly well when driven at speed, but around town is slightly less inspiring, where it sometimes seems to be less smooth, and sometimes when the wheel is on full lock you can feel the four wheel drive system struggling to meet wheel speed.
Surprisingly, even though the dampers have three modes, including comfort, the ride of the car is quite uncompromising and does not compare well to a Porsche 911 or BMW3, and can misbehave on some road surfaces. In general, with its super stiff body shell, which weighs more than a Porsche 911, the Nissan GTR is stable and secure on the road. Steering is responsive and meaty and thanks to the four wheel drive system, pulling out of corners is reactive and easy. The front engined, rear gearbox design of the car has produced a well balanced and driver friendly car. Added to this, the braking system is superb.
The beauty of this car is that it is not too fussy. You ask it, it responds. As simple as that. There is no battling with this car. It just needs your guiding hand, and the car does the rest. No drama or mishandling to make you think twice about your purchase.
Inside the car, not much has effort has been spent in making the car beautiful. Space is minimal, and there is a feeling that you are sat well forward in the car, which may be a bit scary if braking at speed. The car is perhaps more functional than designer, but the car is likely to be well equipped for the British and European market. The dashboard resembles a computer game set up, with buttons for the transmission. You can choose R for race mode if you wish. The middle of the three switches controls the dampers, again you can choose R for race and you will end up with a car which is rock solid over the road surface. Choosing Sport or Comfort will make your ride more armchair like. Push the third button the Vehicle Dynamic Control and you can switch on or bypass all of the devices which prevent spins and slides giving you a more back to nature feel for your driving experience.
The game like experience is not over with the appearance of a multifunction metre high up on the dashboard, which will give you all the information you will ever need. Information includes water temperature, fuel consumption, oil pressure, turbo boost, throttle boost and even steering angle. There is even a metre displaying levels of G-force. The car is quiet; it has minimal wind noise, the ride is comfortable yet firm, and the seats support the driver well enough.
Easy, comfortable driving, yet you know with just a flick of a switch, you are only a split second away from driving excitement.