Nissan GT-R Nismo review
New Nissan GT-R Nismo has pace to take on supercars from Bugatti and McLaren
Just when you thought the GT-R had reached the height of its powers, the Nissan GT-R Nismo moves the goalposts once again. Yes, it’s quick in a straight line, but it's the way it uses electronics to harness the power and deliver natural, confidence-inspiring sensations to the driver that stands out. It's expensive, but for the performance on offer it’s a relative bargain - and with just 200 being built each year, exclusivity is guaranteed. We’ll need to spend more time with it to deliver our definitive verdict, but it certainly elevates the GT-R to another level.
It’s strange that Nissan has refused to quote a 0-62mph time for the new Nissan GT-R Nismo, the most extreme R35 GT-R to date, because all the evidence points towards a time of 2.5 seconds. That puts it on a par with the Bugatti Veyron, and among the very fastest road cars ever built.
It takes the length of first gear and part of second - as we blast out of the pits onto the Sodegaura circuit, near Tokyo – to realize that it’s as frighteningly fast as the number suggested. More of a powerful surge than the white-knuckle hit of acceleration from a McLaren 12C, but it leaves you breathless nonetheless.
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There’s a short delay as the turbos spin up, before you’re snapped forward and glued to your seat. The noise is a combination of the intakes gulping the air, exhausts bellowing and all four tyres ripping at the tarmac.
Nissan has created more than just a straight-line monster though, as proved by its recent Nurburgring lap timed at 7 minutes 8 seconds (by comparison the new Porsche 918 Spyder stopped the clock just 11 seconds faster). It’s worth noting though that the GT-R Nismo Nurburgring lap car featured an even more extreme aero pack, a chassis tuned specifically for the ‘ring and weighed 50kg less than the standard GT-R Nismo you see here – this ‘time attack’ pack will be available as an option on UK cars.
Boosting the GT-R's 3.8-litre V6 engine required technology lifted from the GT-R Nismo GT3 race car. Bigger GT3-spec turbos, a higher-pressure fuel pump and a tweaked ECU has liberated an extra 50bhp, taking the total to 592bhp with 650Nm of torque.
In the pursuit of extra grip and ever-higher cornering speeds retuned springs and three-stage Bilstein dampers are added, along with Dunlop tyres designed specifically for the car. A chunkier anti roll bar keeps things in tighter check at the rear, while the whole body is eight per cent stiffer.
You get a whole array of carbon-fibre body parts too, including the front and rear bumpers, boot lid and rear wing. Together, the more aggressive-looking aero pack adds another 100kg of downforce at 186mph, as well as sending the price spiraling deep into six figures.
To say we'd explored the full range of the GT-R Nismo's capabilities would be economical with the truth. We were limited to just four laps on this early preview drive, but it was plenty to get a feel for its character, which is less savage than you might think.
With all that power at your disposal, and the ESC set to 'Race' (as brave as it gets before turning it off completely) you can feel the rear end twitching under full throttle with some lock applied. But on a dry, flat track the GT-R has been designed to stay as neutral as possible so you never feel like it's about to bite back or spit you off the road.
Steering feel is lacking next to more exotic supercars, but you rarely need to make those tiny adjustments that require clear messages about what the front wheels are up to. The steering responses are so immediate and reliable, that you simply choose a trajectory, pour on the power and fly out the other side of each bend.
The GT-R Nismo is more than a power upgrade - there's a finesse to the way it goes, stops and corners that inspires a god-like confidence in the driver and left us begging for more laps. For a car born out of engineering obsession, that feeling of involvement and connection is a worthy achievement. We expected to be intimidated by the GT-R Nismo, instead we were thoroughly entertained.