2011 NISSAN GT-R REVIEW
Vehicle Style: High-performance coupe
Fuel Economy (claimed): 12.0 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): Not recorded
Awesome; it's an over-used word but the only one that really captures Nissan's crushing new GT-R.
Twenty years to the day since the release of the legendary 'Godzilla', the V8-eating R32 series, Nissan Australia has dropped the third evolution of the R35 onto the Australian market.
Its numbers are eye-watering: 390kW and 612Nm (up 33kW and 24Nm over the previous model) and 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds neat.
Faster, leaner and slipperier than its predecessors, it will suck the doors off an M3 and go toe-to-toe with a GT3 RS Porsche. It is one hell of a car.
On Nissan Australia's invitation, we put its newest supercar through its paces on both road and track. Let me tell you brother, the new GT-R is a sledgehammer.
- Quality: At the wheel it feels superbly crafted. Leather-stitched dash and door trims, body-hugging Recaro leather seats, stylish carbon-fibre and matte-black highlights and control-panel surfaces, the interior of the GT-R is first class.
All switchgear falls neatly to hand (including the retro toggle-style performance-mode switches and magnesium alloy gear-paddles), and there is a quality feel of robustness and solidity throughout.
- Comfort: With electrically-adjustable front seats, deep leather front and rear, and adjustable suspension settings - from 'comfort' to 'R-mode' (race) - the GT-R is a comfortable sporting ride.
Rear seats are for kids or cabin-baggage; short trips only for adults there, although access is ok.
- Equipment: While it is a mechanical tour-de-force, the GT-R is also very well featured. It comes with a seven-inch multi-function display with sat-nav, CD (MP3/WMA compatible), premium Bose audio system, iPod/USB connection, hard-disc with 9.3GB of audio storage, and driver-configurable 10-screen data read-out display.
- Storage: That big squared-off rear offers a very useful 315 litres of deep and wide bootspace - easily enough to accommodate golf clubs and holiday baggage.
ON THE ROAD I
- Driveability: On road, the GT-R can be surprisingly docile. Setting the three-mode suspension to 'comfort' increases initial compliance markedly, softening the damper-tune and providing a quite reasonable ride.
It's still firm-ish, but acceptable for daily commuting and surprisingly good over broken secondary roads.
The dual-clutch six-speed transmission also offers three selectable modes (Normal, R-Mode and Snow). It's a fabulous transmission, and has none of the low-speed shudder or hesitation of some twin-clutch systems.
In all, the GT-R is very easy to live with, even in heavy traffic (as we encountered), and has few of the compromises that normally follow the joys of a genuine supercar.
And fast? It is simply breathtaking. Stamp it for overtaking, and the surge of power from those 390kW and 612Nm simply slams you into the seat.
Its AWD grip around a mountain road, brilliant chassis balance (with rear-mounted independent transaxle) and low centre of gravity, rewrites your physics school-books. For this driving, it is in another league.
- Refinement: There may be a beast within but there is none of the vibration and harshness you might otherwise expect of such a focused track car.
There is some tyre roar from the Dunlop SP Sport 600 nitrogen-filled run-flat tyres on coarse bitumen (natch), but it's quiet on the highway and wind-noise is very low (thanks certainly to a drag co-efficient of just 0.26 Cd - remarkable for a car with such downforce as the GT-R).
- Suspension: Up front are double wishbones; multi-link at the rear. With carbon-fibre strut braces, enormous chassis rigidity and the flexibility of its three mode-settings, the GT-R's split personality works equally well on both road and track.
- Braking: Braking performance is eye-popping; jumping on the huge 390mm (front discs) and 380mm (rear) will have you thinking you have lassoed a stump.
Overcook it into a corner and the superb dynamic stability, skid and yaw control, allows you to wash off masses of speed mid-corner without incident.
- On track: In R-mode, the 2011 GT-R's launch control will melt your face. Getting a 0-100km/h in around 3.0 seconds is simply a matter of thumbing the toggle, holding the brake and burying the shoe. It will automatically hold revs to 4000rpm for four seconds, within which you release the brake pedal.
The launch is astonishing. There is a fraction of slip (around half a turn) to prevent bogging down, then it's like being fired from a gun.
With all three toggles in R-mode (dynamic control, transmission and suspension), the GT-R is transformed.
Suspension becomes track-hard, the threshold at which the DSC intervenes is raised and the six-speed transmission is transformed with lightning fast (0.2 seconds) shifts.
On the track, it offers race-car performance out of the box. In a professional's hands it can lap Phillip Island within seven or eight seconds of the V8 Supercar lap record; even in our ham-fists, its levels of grip, searing speed and crushing acceleration can make an ordinary driver a very quick one.
Few cars are so forgiving and allow such speed to be carried into and out of a corner.
- ANCAP rating: (unrated)
- Safety features: Standard safety features include four-wheel ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, EBD and dynamic stability control with traction control.
There are also driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags, seatbelt sensors and side-impact airbags and roof-mounted curtain airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
- Servicing: Nissan's GT-R has special servicing requirements which, due to the high-tech nature of its mechanical and electronic systems and the specialised servicing and oils required, can be costly. Check with your dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES I VALUE FOR MONEY:
- BMW M3 E92 Coupe ($168,808) - With 309kW and 400Nm, it's well out-gunned by the GT-R. Also, add dual-clutch, and its $7300 dearer, competition package adds another $9900, 19-inch alloys, another $4000... and so on. But it has the badge.
- Porsche 911 997 Series II GT3 ($297,665) - With 320kW and 430Nm it's also well outgunned by the GT-R, but, crikey, it's a Porsche, and an analysis of mere numbers does not get close to its heart and soul.
TMR VERDICT I OVERALL
Nissan's GT-R is simply a fabulous car. If you are a keen driver and can afford the price of entry, and the premium servicing necessary, it demands a very close look.
While a weapon on the track, thanks to the flexibility and brilliance of its selectable 'modes', it is also entirely liveable as daily transport. It offers compromise for the road, without compromise for the track.
We would have Nissan's new GT-R in the garage in a heartbeat. I'll take mine in red.
Disclosure: TMR attended the Australian launch of the 2011 Nissan GT-R as a guest of Nissan Australia.