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An Icon Upscales
More than four decades after the GT-R badge was born, the iconic sports car has finally embraced the one thing it has neglected in its pursuit of performance - luxury. Loads of it.
The latest Nissan GT-R is faster, more aggressive and yes, very luxurious. This new emphasis on luxury comes as the Japanese supercar targets the luxury sports car segment and benchmarks itself against Germany's Porsche 911.
This means the latest iteration of the GT-R, codenamed the R35, has the most upscale cabin in six generations. The R35 was first unveiled in 2007 but the GT-R lineage goes all the way back to 1969 with its Skyline roots. The Skyline moniker was dropped for the R35, which shared only the trademark four-ring tail lights with its predecessor.
The all-new 2+2 car has a new twin-turbo V6 engine to drive all four wheels through a six-speed dual clutch transmission. With styling and speed that wowed the motoring world, it was Nissan's very own Godzilla.
Most of all, it was affordable, at S$300,000 in early 2008.
The new R35 now costs double with the move upmarket. For the 2017 model year, the basic platform is unchanged but the body gets reinforcements and the engine even more oomph. As a result, kerb weight inches up 12 kg to 1,752 kg.
The new nose incorporates the "V-motion'' grille, enlarged for better engine cooling, while the bonnet is reinforced for high-speed stability. The air-flow of the bodywork is improved with side sills that have been pushed out and side vents beside the quad exhaust tips. The beltline is also higher for greater aerodynamic efficiency as well as a wider and more aggressive stance.
But it is the changes to the cabin that are striking. This is the most luxurious GT-R and it arrives with improved operability.
The all-new dashboard and instrument panel are covered with leather, expertly stitched by takumi craftsmen, and for the first time, carbon-fibre is used as a trim material, in this case, on the lower centre console. An eight-inch touch-screen monitor with large icons on the centre display screen with a new Display Command control knob next to the gear lever allow for easy operation.
The shift paddles are now mounted to the new steering wheel, allowing for gear changes in mid-corner. Like the ventilation controls, the paddles have improved feel and better sound when engaged or adjusted.
This quality feel extends to the dial controls for the audio and ventilation, which are machined from a solid aluminum block. Under the bonnet, the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 - hand-assembled by a single technician -is slightly uprated to 570 hp (+20 hp) and 632 Nm (+4 Nm).
But the extra boost from the turbochargers further heightens the GT-R's elasticity in the mid- to high-range. Top speed is unchanged at 315 kmh but strangely, Nissan does not release the official zero to 100 kmh time, although it is understood to be slightly over 3.0 seconds.
What is clear, though, is that body control is superb, with greater rigidity and enhanced straight-line stability. Steering corrections and fluctuations of the yaw rate are cut by 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, making the new GT-R even more poised and confident.
Yet, the ride comfort and smoothness are excellent for a high-performance machine, with new sound absorption materials creating a quieter cabin at all speeds.
It still retains its fearsome giant-killer reputation. Only now, the new Nissan GT-R is doing the killing softly.
Nissan GT-R Black Edition
Engine 3,799cc V6 turbocharged
Gearbox 6-speed dual clutch transmission
Max power 570 hp @ 6,800 rpm
Max torque 632 Nm @ 3,300-5,800 rpm
Top speed 315 kmh
CO2 emissions 279 g/km
Average OMV S$130,000
Price S$620,000 (with COE)
Distributor Tan Chong Motor Sales tel 6466-7711