Top Gear chats to Mizuno-san: Mr GT-R
Kazutoshi Mizuno is engaging, funny and clever. He's also godfather of the legend that is the GT-R
Posted: 23 Feb 2012
We'll return to this mantra in a bit. Mizuno will also talk fondly of his adventures in Group C endurance racing in the late Eighties and early Nineties (mostly in the context of his understanding of carbon fibre and carbon-ceramic brakes, and my lack of it). For now, though, there is the 2012 GT-R, which is the primary reason we're both here. Visually more or less identical to the current car, Mizuno and his team have been super-busy fettling and tweaking the mechanical package in a way that's entirely consistent with the GT-R's generally indomitable character. The mighty 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V6 gets revised heads, sodium-filled valves, and a new intake system, to improve drivability, throttle response and reduce emissions and consumption. Power is up to 542bhp (at 6,400rpm, a 12bhp boost on the 2011 model), and torque increased to 466lb ft. The dual-clutch transmission is smoother-shifting, and overall body stiffness has been beefed up.
Not that the GT-R needed any extra meatiness: a couple of laps of the new Silverstone GP circuit on a chilly morning reinforces that this is one of the world's most technically accomplished cars, and just crazy enough, despite four-wheel drive and an armoury of electronics, to instil serious respect in the driver. The way it uses its tyres (now Dunlops rather than Bridgestones) is incredible, and we also know that the GT-R will pull more lateral g than anything vaguely comparable. Than virtually everything, in fact. Credit to the launch control, too: how the hell this thing can get to 62mph in 2.9 seconds without vaporising its pistons and gearbox is extraordinary (I did three runs just to be sure - good as gold each time).
Which brings us back to the man who made it all happen. One of the 2012 MY's most intriguing tweaks is to the suspension: the front left side uses harder spring rates than the right, and has a slightly different ride height. This is because Mizuno realised that, in RHD GT-Rs, the weight of the driver on that side of the car affected its dynamics. This is attention-to-detail bordering on the loony. I half-expect him to ask me what I had for lunch before letting me loose in the new car. ("You had pie? You will not drive my car until the pie has all gone!")