Nissan GT-R Nismo Review
Car Tested: 2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1.5 crores (est.)
The Nissan GT-R Nismo is the fastest car in the world when it comes to 0-100 km/hr timing.
Nismo, Nissan’s performance arm has decided to play with the 2014 GT-R, the brand’s halo model. The result is new levels of performance and dynamism. MotorBeam was among the select few media worldwide to have experienced the most extreme GT-R in Japan last month. An evening before the Tokyo Motor Show press day on November 21, Nissan’s HQ was abuzz with media activity. CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled to the gathering the revised 2014 GT-R and Nissan GT-R Nismo. Ghosn said during the launch that the Nismo version of the GT-R comes with a confident tagline “Zero Competition.” And when it comes to maintaining this tagline, there’s no compromise according to Ghosn. For 2014, the stock GT-R has received a host of improvements that are aimed to push the performance and convenience benchmark. The good thing is that Nissan’s halo product planners have consulted GT-R users and factored in most of the suggestions. And with the Nismo treatment, the Japanese carmaker has made the car genuinely more desirable.
Motor Quest: Nissan first launched the GT-R in 2007 as a spiritual successor to the Skyline which was on sale from 1969 to 2002. The first concept was showcased in 2001 while the second concept was unveiled in 2005, both in Tokyo.
Fact or myth, well this is what the spec sheet suggests – top speed is 315 km/hr, and as expected aerodynamics has a big role to play in the overall performance and by using the latest Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation techniques to analyse airflow, Nismo has developed an aero package that improves road-holding, minimises the negative impact of drag. The aero tweaks begin with the front bumper, engine undercover strake and massive fixed height rear spoiler, modified and widened front valance, tapered rear valance and side skirts – all constructed in carbon fibre. Besides the aesthetic impact, the carbon-fibre bits, according to Nissan, help reduce the car’s total weight by about 65 kgs and combine to work and increase downforce, besides lowering the centre of gravity by 15 mm and generating an additional 100 kgs at 300 km/hr compared to the updated 2014 GT-R. The Nismo version’s aerodynamic characteristics are tuned to ensure the downforce is equally spread front to rear at all speeds for progressive handling characteristics. That’s evident when you notice the cars (stock and Nismo variants side by side). All these help keep the drag to Cd 0.26, the same as that of 2014 Nissan GT-R. And to sign-off its standalone appearance, the design of the six-spoke alloys are said to be inspired by Nissan’s original GT500 racer and the body is now eight per cent stiffer.
Inside the car, there’s a befitting story to tell. There’s plenty of evidence related to craftsmanship and bespoke features and application of cutting edge technology. The carbon-fibre-backed sporty RECARO seats up front have been ergonomically sculpted and despite the firm padding, they are body hugging. Then you have the Nismo racer influence on the design of the 3-spoke steering wheel which is dressed in Alcantara. Bespoke contrast red stitching looks neat and so does the carbon-matte weave finish on the speedometer dial classy while the tachometer gets a bright red dial. The instrument cluster is also dressed with Alcantara. Meanwhile, complementing the rest of the interior trim are discreet red stitching on the seats, centre console, door trim and steering wheel.
Besides the aero tweaks and cosmetic enhancements, the serious business is under the skin and under the bonnet in particular where the existing 3.8-litre V6 VR38DETT engine has been further tweaked with both hardware and software upgrades and is based on the knowledge that Nismo has gained from participating in high octane events such as the Nürburgring 24 hour races. Engine power has been bumped and is now rated at 592 HP and 652 Nm of torque. The biggest change out here relates to the breathing apparatus – by which we mean the turbo chargers. The old hardware has been replace with new high-flow, large diameter turbochargers, which are straight off from the GT3 racing cars. These turbos help improve breathing, while optimised individual ignition timing control for each cylinder and upgraded fuel pump improve combustion in the cylinders.
Besides the engine upgrades, the suspension set-up has been clearly inspired by that of the Nismo racing GT-R. The coil springs and custom-developed Bilstein DampTronic shock absorber in the front and rear suspension are specially calibrated to deliver progressive handling response at the limit. Drive has choice of three suspension modes: Comfort, Normal and R (for circuit applications). Since the users of Nismo GT-R are expected to enjoy track days without the hassle of track set-ups, Nismo has co-developed high grip asymmetric tyres with Dunlop. The Nismo variants are fitted with 255/40 ZRF20 up front and 285/35 ZRF20 in the rear on Nismo designed light alloys.
Nissan decided that we should test this car in an appropriate setting. So, an hour’s drive from Tokyo, we accumulated at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway, located in Sodegaura-shi, Chiba. This is where we were strapped up inside the Nismo GT-R for a few test laps. Given the go ahead sign by the marshal, we blast out of the pits onto a 90-degree right hander in second gear. The acceleration in first gear and part of second is enough for one to realize that the Nismo GT-R is genuinely fast as the numbers on the spec sheet have suggested all along. By the time we completed a full lap, this car reminded me one of the white-knuckle hit of acceleration from a supercar tested by us recently, the McLaren 12C in particular. While there’s plenty of torque in the low rev band to ensure G-forces are felt, there’s a short delay as the GT3 turbos move into action, and even before you have realized what’s you are hit by the ‘G’-forces literally pinning you to the seats.
As I discovered later, neck braces would have been more useful in this exercise in addition to the safety helmets. The noise this car emits (combination of the intakes gulping the air, exhausts bellowing and all four tyres ripping at the tarmac) is music to the ears. The benefits of extra 50 BHP, extra grip from the Dunlops and ever-higher cornering speeds comes natural, thanks to retuned springs and three-stage Bilsteins and tighter body control, part in thanks to the anti roll bar and the stiffer body. While, we were limited to just four laps on this early preview drive, we’re not complaining. It was enough for us to get a feel for its character which I am happy to report is less brutal than what most people might have thought. 0-100 km/hr is rumoured to take just 2 seconds, that’s on par with Formula 1 cars and faster than the Bugatti Veyron which takes 2.46 seconds. The car is in complete sync with the driver with all that power at ones disposal. And set to ‘Race’ mode one can feel the rear end twitching under full throttle with some lock applied, and that’s real fun as long as one doesn’t overdo it. But the best part of this car is that on a dry, flat track like Sodegaura, the Nismo GT-R, very much like the stock GT-R has been designed to stay as neutral as possible.
While steering weight is slightly on the heavier side, but its feedback is close to some of the exotic supercars. In such a responsive car with dial-in performance, you simply choose a trajectory, pour on the power and literally fly out with tons of confidence. For a car born out of engineering obsession, that feeling of involvement and connection is a worthy achievement and interestingly, despite the upgrades and improvements the fast reacting transmission hasn’t lost is characteristic mechanical clunk while up or downshifting. In terms of sheer stopping power, the large brakes are well endowed as far as job description goes. However, we were surprised that Nismo doesn’t offer ceramic options as it feels the regular brakes are adequate for the job. We may not be entirely convinced about the logic provided, but since we had a good experience with the car (no pedal fading etc noted), we have no adverse comments to make.
The GT-R Nismo is more than a power upgrade and with this arrangement the GT-R had reached the height of its powers. We were expecting to be intimidated by the Nissan GT-R Nismo, instead we returned entertained and this makes the car very attractive to lucky punters. Nismo will prepare 200 units of the GT-R each year but there are no plans to offer this supercar in India at the moment.
The Nissan GT-R is in itself an insanely quick car offering loads of thrills to the driver at a relatively attractive price. The Nismo version takes the madness even further, bringing the GT-R really into a league of its own.
* Steering feel
* Customisable multi-function display
What’s Not So Cool
* Not available in India yet
* Very limited availability