Nissan GT-R review: Nismo is the fastest Nissan ever Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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Thursday 5th October
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Nissan GT-R review: Nismo is the fastest Nissan ever

£123,855 when new
Published: 01 Jan 2014


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This is it - the frosty peak of Nissan's go-faster democracy. The brand's fastest car ever, and one that proves how much power has been hiding in a Nissan GT-R since we first drove it six years ago.

The stats are terrifying. Given the right driver (touring-car ace Michael Krumm), it'll get around the 'Ring in 7:08.679. Except for a few Radicals, the pricier Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1, that makes it the fastest production car there.

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Power is also up from 542bhp and 466lb ft to 591bhp and 481lb ft. Acceleration from 0-62mph is down from 3.0secs to around 2.4 (official figure TBC). And wide-open throttle is the most distressingly humiliating experience you can have that doesn't involve medical staff.

Nothing, bar the Ariel Atom V8 and the Bugatti Veyron, touches the Nismo GT-R for out-the-hole determination. With the electronic muzzles switched off, and wearing new, specially developed Dunlops, there's no wheelspin or groping rubber. Just bright, white, oh-God-make-it-stop acceleration.

Whittling the 0-62mph down this much required Nismo to not so much borrow from its motorsport department as plainly steal. Each of the 3.8-litre V6's cylinders is monitored individually so it gets its own optimised ignition timing - a system you'll find on pretty much all its competition cars. But the best bit is the turbochargers - they're lifted directly from the manufacturer's GT3 racers.

Despite the huge turbines, it doesn't feel any laggier than the standard car. But the way it climbs through the rev range and each of the six ratios beggars belief. It's so smooth and immediate, it actually takes a while to calibrate your reaction time to the flappy paddles. If it's a third of a way up the rev-counter, prepare to shift. Halfway up the tach' on full throttle, either lift or prepare to bounce it off the limiter. Get in anything else after this - even a standard GT-R - and it feels like the cylinder bores are filled with paint.

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It's quiet too - all intake whistle and drivetrain whine. Which strips away any theatre to the speed, and is the one thing it's missing compared with anything else this far along the performance food chain. But that's not really what it's about. Despite the shouty, carbon-toothed face and massive spoiler, the Nismo's solitary concern is getting you where you're going as quickly as possible, with absolutely no commotion.

That extends to the handling. But not, perhaps, in the way you'd imagine. Cornering isn't the Tokyo-digital experience you expect. You can feel the diffs crack and stutter through the floor, and the steering's heavy, immediate and pixel-precise. It takes a bit of wiggling to get the Dunlops up to temperature, but put it on an apex, and it grips hard and instantly. A chunky 17.3mm rear anti-roll bar (hollowed for lightness) keeps the back end flat, and new links in the front suspension add more castor angle for millpond stability. All helped by the torque-vectoring four-wheel-drive system, which nibbles a few thousandths of a second off each corner.

But it's the way it communicates with you that's most impressive. Unlike so many performance versions of production cars (we're looking at you, Audi), the focus has been on body rigidity, not suspension stiffness. Nismo has glued the panels together as well as welded them, so ironing out any flex in the shell. And because the suspension geometry is taking care of keeping it flat, the Bilstein DampTronic dampers can be a little less viscous, so you have a far clearer picture of what's going on underneath you.

Even when you get it a bit wrong - turn in too hard, or accelerate too early - extracting yourself from the mess you've made (or, at least, understanding how you've got there) is intuitive. You can feel what the tyres are doing, where the grip is going, and why it is you're pirouetting towards the gravel trap in agonising detail (sorry, Nissan). It's as mechanically transparent as a Porsche 911 GT3.

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After a few laps in this, it's difficult to imagine how the even more intense Track Pack version can improve on it. It's been created for habitual circuit users, and it's what the Nürburgring time was set in - it adds Öhlins adjustable dampers, strips 64kg (but even that's not a huge dent in the standard Nismo's portly 1,720kg mass, itself only 20kg lighter than the standard GT-R) and grabbier brake pads. Aero additions include a bigger rear wing (but there's no mention of whether it adds any more downforce than in the Nismo, which wears a special bodykit generating 100kg more than the standard car at 186mph).

The only real fly in the ointment for both the nutter Track Pack iteration and the cooking Nismo is that both herald the outer limits of the GT-R's performance capability. Hiroshi Tamura, Nismo's product specialist, told us that reliability would be too compromised if much more power was wrung from the V6. Though he did tell us that some sort of electrification will arrive on next-gen models.

Back to this one. And money. Nissan's latest blue-collar hypercar isn't exactly what you'd call cheap. It is what you'd call £124,000 (approximately - official pricing TBC). And that's 911 Turbo and V12 Vantage S money. You could argue that the 911 is better bred and the Vantage more stylish. Especially considering the familial dash has only been upgraded with a bit of carbon fibre and redness (the bloodshot tacho is the only instrument you couldn't feasibly imagine fitted to a Micra). But six years after it launched, there's still nothing that can get this many people down the road this quickly.

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