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Nismo: ground-up supercar ‘possible’ in the future
Nissan performance arm's bosses say bespoke supercar could lie on the horizon
“Nismo is still a baby brand,” Nissan’s chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura tells TopGear.com. “And the baby needs protection. So not yet. But some day… yes.”
That ‘yes’, ladies and gentlemen, is the prospect of Nismo – that’s the performance and motorsport arm of Nissan – building its very own, ground-up, bespoke supercar, much like AMG has.
Of course, you might already think that Nismo builds a supercar in the shape of the Nismo GT-R: a car with 591bhp, a capacity to hit 62mph in under 2.7secs and lap the Nürburgring with a time to make some very senior cars have a long, hard think about performance.
But when pushed on the possibility of something even more ballistic – something Nismo designs and builds for itself rather than taking an existing Nissan ‘asset’ – there is hope. Albeit, a hope that’s quite a long way away.
“RS, AMG and M have been around for years, so for them, they can diversify,” Tamura-san explains to TG. “Right now, for me, it’s important to get new customers; the ‘high-life seeker’.”
He’s talking about those customers outside Nismo’s current customer base, which is you lot out there – the petrolheads. “The original Nismo customer is only a performance seeker,” he says, “people are always talking about performance… the ‘pub talk’.
“There’s too much motorsport and performance orientation, which means [some customers] cannot enjoy this very narrow scope,” he adds.
Bob Laishley, Nismo’s programme director, also thinks that a bespoke supercar – or that kind of direction – is the right place for Nismo to aim for. “I would like to aspire to that,” he says. “Whether we can, or whether that’s what the next GT-R should be… it’s a question of where we take it.”
TG points out how AMG started out – just like Nismo, tuning factory models - before becoming a fully-fledged factory outfit and then unleashing the mighty SLS. Bob nods. “AMG are a good benchmark for us. It’s an interesting road and journey that they’ve been on.
“AMG started in a shed 20 years ago. They started very small, with a small group of guys outside of the business. We’re a small group of guys inside the business, and we’re going to build on that,” he added.
So, as you can see, there’s still a way to go. In the meantime – and as TopGear.com has already told you – we’ll just have to put up with updated versions of the all-conquering R35 GT-R in the meantime. What a hardship.
“We’ve upgraded the [current R35-generation] car every year, and we’ve found performance every year. And we’re still continuing to find some performance, but it’s getting harder,” he admits.
“But when we benchmark it against our competitors, it’s still there. We’ve got some more mileage left in this one yet, and hopefully we’ll make some changes that will make some people very happy.”
What those changes will entail – more performance, more luxury, the capacity to rocket-blast itself to Mars – will become clear very soon. It also means there’s no definitive date for the next ‘R36’ GT-R to arrive. For now, Nissan – and Nismo – are both being coy, so you’ll have to watch this space.
But tell us – do you think Nismo should build a supercar to act as a halo? Or are you happy with ever-more ballstic GT-Rs?