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Nissan GT-R: Godzilla grows up

2013-02-18 21:45

ARRRR - THAT'S BETTER: Two of the R1.75-million Nissan GT-R supercars, complete with Track Pack accessories, that were put at the disposal of motoring journalists at Kyalami during their local launch. Image: LES STEPHENSON

LES STEPHENSON

It's fourth time around for Nissan's GT-R in South Africa but little has changed over the previous model - some tucks and tweaks - but there IS big news, it costs R300 000 more, its name is Track Pack and it's uniquely for South Africa.

The first cars came out in 2009; Godzilla 2013 car is just as brutal but way more sophisticated.

Nissan launched the latest model to the local media on March 16 2013 from several adjacent garages at Kyalami, that once-upon-a-time Formula 1 racetrack in what used to be known as Johannesburg's Mink and Manure Belt for its farms, big houses, monied people and, of course, horses.

Fitting, really, because 'horses' is what Nissan's banshees on wheels are all about. Lots of them, though here in SA we call them kiloWatts and the twin-turbo, 3.8-litre V6 under the GT-R's bonnet has 397 of the latter, along with 628 Newton metres, which is considerable heft.

BETTER BODY RIGIDITY

While the numbers are the same as before, Nissan has re-tuned the engine with new high-output fuel injectors to deliver them in the middle to upper engine revs where a keen driver needs them most. The cars' centre of gravity has been lowered by, I understand, modifying the front shocks and stabiliser.

Body rigidity has been improved with further reinforcement across the dashboard.

The 2013 Nissan GT-R line-up has four models, three of them mechanically the same (see associated articles), but all with a three-year or 50 000km service plan and a three-year or 100 000km warranty, so let's tidy away the prices...

Nissan GT-R Premium Edition - R1 398 200
Nissan GT-R Premium Edition (Amber interior) - R1 448 200
Nissan GT-R Black Edition - R1 448 200
Nissan GT-R Track Pack - R1 743 700

Image gallery

The 2013 Premium Edition, Nissan explains, retains its upmarket feel with improvements to interior quality through stitching and thicker seams on the instrument panel and door trim.

Alternatively there's a new interior package with, Nissan says, "a two-tone combination of amber red and black leather" and the  front seats covered in hand-stitched semi-aniline leather as well.

The 2013 Black Edition now has a red-and-black combination of leather wound around the steering wheel.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK HEEDED

Janico Dannhauser, product marketing boss for passenger vehicles at Nissan SA, says the 2013 GT-R is a "halo" model in the Nissan stable (hmm, more horses...) and "lies at the core of Innovation that Excites".

The Track Pack edition is the car for the sporting (and wealthy) driver - many of them, I'd guess, women - who actually do want to drive their high-powered cars on track days (though not in races). Dannhauser again: “The Track Pack addition to comes on the back of feedback from current GT-R owners as well as market demand for a track-ready GT-R.

"It's been designed for those who enjoy more demanding high-performance driving, in a uniquely South African rendition, delivering the ultimate race-ready supercar.

"Nissan has continued to build on the GT-R's world-class performance since it first appeared in 2009. The second generation maintained its position at the forefront of the world’s supercars and saw its final incarnation in 2012.

"This 2013 model empowers the third generation of the GT-R evolution thanks to a development team of unparalleled quality in the Nuerburgring 24-hour race – with strengthened development talent as well as technology."

20" FORGED RIMS

That extra three hundred grand adds carbon-fibre Recaro front buckets seats (the tiny rear ones are discarded) that have rigid carbon composite shells developed during Nuerburgring durability test and designed by the chief engineer of the GT-R, Kazutoshi Mizuno.

The car rides on forged 20" aluminium rims shod with Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 high-performance and nitrogen-filled tyres. The exhausts have titanium mufflers designed to withstand exhaust temperatures in excess of 1000°C and there's a carbon-fibre front splitter and new air guides to send cooling air to the brakes.

Key to the whole track image, however - and the reason we were at Kylami to drive the cars - is the top GT-R's suspension co-developed, we were told by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki and NordRing Corporation.

Hard spring rates were adopted to reduce high-speed cornering roll while still supplying on-street ride comfort.

ANY ROAD, ANY WEATHER

Nissan SA's Janico Dannhauser continues: "The GT-R is Nissan’s technology flagship," Dannhauser adds, "represented by dynamic performance and active safety as well as an approach towards environmental friendliness and safety by a supercar.

"It also strives to create a whole new supercar market, curbing the usual restraints such cars tend to be bound by – road and weather and their superior driving techniques which place them in a market supposedly for a very limited class of users.

"The GT-R was, however, developed with the concept of being a supercar that offers speed and fuel efficiency, power and clean air, high performance and safety – a multi-purpose supercar for anyone, anytime, anywhere."

It is, after all, all-wheel drive with a choice of full auto or manual sequential from the six-speed gearbox, and that showed on my dozen laps of Kyalami on Saturday. The cars' 0-100km/h time has, Nissan claims, been reduced to 2.7 from 2.8sec and this new version has been timed around the Nuerbergring at 7min19.1, but with a car such as this it's road-holding that counts.

Excessive enthusiasm into Kyalami's corners elicted a few complaints from the tyres, but no loss of line; the new seats are serious about support so you can focus on the steering and let the seat leather take care of your body mass. Nissan's 3.8 GT-R - a racing car that doesn't mind going shopping on Sundays.

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