I was more than a little excited when I first heard there was a slight chance that my bum could end up in one of the beautiful leather-clad seats of Nissan's exquisite R35 GT-R. But I figured that I'd be riding shotgun only. Imagine my surprise, and immense delight, when I suddenly found myself behind the wheel of Nissan's finest.
Initially, the TMR crew was to drop by the International Motor Group's (IMG) workshop and collect a V36 370GT Skyline and a demo R35 GT-R. Unfortunately a screw through the pristine tread of one of the demo GT-R's runflat tyres indicated that posing for photos would be the limit of that GT-R's abilities today.
Luckily for us, the IMG workshop is currently home to no less than five R35 GT-Rs in various stages of compliance. Atop the hoist sat a fully-complied and road registered example owned by, none other, than auto enthusiast "Big Carl". In a memorable gesture of generosity and trust, Carl allowed us to use his very own GT-R for our photos. The keys to his barely run in pride and joy - a mere 1200 kilometres showing on the odometer - were flung to me. (Gulp.)
I spent but a few moments adjusting the fully electric and immensely supportive bucket seat before running my eye over the GT-R's interior. Pictures simply aren't able to do the GT-R's cockpit justice; the build quality is exceptional and the layout is spot on. Those who have experienced previous generation GT-Rs - I include myself here - will be blown away by just how good the R35's interior is.
After selecting the fully-automatic option and releasing the brake I was surprised to find the GT-R did not begin to creep away as one might expect. A gentle touch of the accelerator however began to stir the beast from slumber and, at this light throttle application, you can quite clearly hear the GT-R's DSG actuating the clutch within. I was quite surprised by how the GT-R gets underway from standstill, as the feeling is more akin to taking off with a manual transmission - albeit without a clutch pedal.
Navigating the tight carpark revealed just how deceptively large is the GT-R. That's not to say it's intimidating though as the reversing camera, expansive mirrors and excellent seating position ensure you've got all angles covered. One small driveway was all that separated the GT-R from the freedom of the main road and with a surgeon's precision and concentration I successfully guided the low front-lip spoiler to safety.
Ease on the throttle, meander up to 60 km/h and the R35 is 'cool, calm and collected' every step of the way. The shift is flawless and the inherent drivability is impressive (no supercar baulking and snatching here). Steering inputs from the comfortable leather steering wheel are precise and inspire confidence as - barely kilometres into the drive - the car begins to feel much smaller than it really is.
As the minutes tick by and heads continue to turn, I began to notice just how well-sorted the GT-R is. The torque-laden 3.8L twin turbo V6 propels the GT-R's bulky kerb weight effortlessly and seldom requires the DSG to downshift to keep things moving. Suspension set to 'comfort', the ride is firm but compliant. It becomes clear that you could easily live with the GT-R on a daily basis.
Given the low kilometers on the car and its privately-owned status, I was more than content to tootle around in the GT-R for as long as Carl cared to let me. Big Carl is a true GT-R enthusiast though and he couldn't resist allowing me the chance to open up the taps.
With all systems set to R mode, the GT-R takes on a completely different persona. Suspension is firmer, more of the torque is channeled to the front wheels and the shift-speed steps up. A quick flick of the shifter to manual, two downshifts via the paddles and 65% throttle application sees the GT-R jump to license-losing speeds in the blink of an eye, and at only 4500rpm - with me grinning like the Cheshire Cat the whole time.
There's no mistaking what the big Brembos and cross-drilled rotors are capable of, but, under normal driving conditions, they are very friendly and provide excellent feel. In our brief excursion up the rev range the brake pedal required little more than a gentle caress.
As we headed back to the carpark where the rest of the TMR crew were waiting with the V36 (keep your eye out for our review), I was surprised by just how long Carl and I had been gone.
At this point I realised that Nissan has created a time-bending device that's not only a pleasure to drive but also effortless in its execution. While this was not the occasion to push the GT-R hard, my time behind the wheel confirmed that Nissan has done an exceptional job of blending performance and practicality, and has wrapped it all up in a body that's simply to die for.
A big thanks goes out to the entire team at International Motor Group who were extremely welcoming and a pleasure to deal with during our visit. Special thanks go to Big Carl for entrusting me to bring his R35 home safe and sound. IMG is responsible for the first road registered R35 GT-R in Australia and is currently the only workshop that can compliance the V36 Skyline and R35 GT-R for road use.
If you're interested in putting either in your garage then give Big Carl a call on 0418 215 504 and he'll be more than happy to assist. Thanks again IMG, the pleasure was definitely ours.
Big Carl On The R35
…And a Few Other Things
I have owned a lot of “high performance” cars in my time and a number of these cars were regarded as being at the top of the performance car tree. I had the advantage of being young back when there was not a lot of radar around, and pushing these cars to their limits was possible — to the detriment of several engines and eventually my license (yes...they caught me).
Perhaps the most notable was the PBR Clubman, as it offered the “most bang for your buck”. It was closely followed by the EVO VIII MR, which in turn bested the R33 and R34 Skyline GTRs that I was lucky enough to own.
Then along came the Nissan R35 GT-R, and to put it plainly; this car just redefines “high performance”. It's not a small leap forward, it’s a “quantum leap into the 21st century”. It is hard to put into words the breathtaking acceleration and stopping power that this car offers straight out of the box!
I am yet to experience its full handling potential, however once it’s run in I intend to enjoy a few track sessions. The days of reaching a car’s limits on the road are well and truly gone — besides which, I only have 3 points remaining on my license...
The R35 (pictured) returned 10.7 L/100km on its first tank of fuel, while the second tank returned 11.3 L/100km as I drove it a little harder and faster. I have given the GT-R a run to the speed limiter (180km/h) and let’s just say it achieved that speed rather rapidly, as you would expect. The double clutch gearbox situated in the rear of the GT-R is a revelation, combining a 'mechanical' feel with beautiful precision. The gear changes are crisp and fast, either up or down the ratios. The adjustable suspension works well also, with the soft setting quite suitable for around town work (if you want to avoid the continual thumping from the joints in Sydney's concrete roads). Race mode is a whole new ball game, and noticeably sharper.
Watching Top Gears test driver put his neck out with the g-forces the GT-R can generate, I think it's unlikely that I will have driven many cars that could be considered comparable; perhaps my mates 997 Porsche Turbo (costing over twice the price of the R35 when new) and my fully race prepared and slick shod PRB Clubman.
To sum it up this is the “Best Performance Car” I have ever driven it does everything perfectly. The build quality, the paint finish, the interior leather and the Bose 11 Speaker Dolby 5.1 DTS Surround Sound DVD system (with 10GB hard drive music box) are all hard to beat for the money. To top it all off, the subtle exhaust note is just so sweet!!!
My performance car history is below (in order of appearance) and yes, the R35 is the Numero Uno!
- Torana L34 (Bathurst Car) Bright Orange
- Torana XU1 (Bathurst Car) White
- Torana L34 (Bathurst Car) Fully worked Burgundy
- BMW 323 Alpina X 2 Green
- BMW 635 Alpina White
- Porsche 944 Silver
- HSV Grange 215 Silver
- Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R V-Spec Midnight Purple
- Porsche 928 S4 Gunmetal Gray
- Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-Spec (Fully race prepared in Japan) 350Kw at all 4 wheels Bayside Blue
- Nissan Skyline R33 Gtt (Written off by my son) Midnight Purple
- PRB Clubman Fully Race Prepared and Raced in full race meetings (Eastern Creek 1.46 Wakefield1min.4.6seconds) Bayside Blue
- EVO 8 MR Slightly worked 225kW at all 4 wheels Gunmetal Gray (Wakefield 1min.10seconds)
- Nissan Skyline R34 Gtt White (Currently driven by my son)
- Nissan V35 (350GT) Fully Race prepared Motor to 4.15ltr with 535KW at rear wheels White - My Current Drive Now up for Sale
- Nissan R35 GT-R Premium Addition Gunmetal Gray # The Best Car to Date
See you out there!
Want a V35 Skyline 350GT?
Big horsepower Skyline fans may be interested in Carl's heavily worked V35 350GT (yes, the one with 535kW at the wheels). Carl has it up for sale with a sticker price of $85,000, but he'll arm-wrestle you on the price for a quick sale. You can read more about it here or give Carl a call on 0418 215 504.