With the choice to drive both the standard Nissan GT-R and the high performance Nismo version given to me, my gut told me to start with the standard version first. Last time I drove this monstrous beast was back in April 2014. I could remember its overwhelming performance just like it was yesterday. To be honest, the only place you can squeeze out its full potential is on the track. And if the real battle was between my driving abilities and the GT-R, hands down the Godzilla would take it home. That is how much performance this car has on offer.
Open the hood and youâ€™ll find a hand-built twin-turbo V6 mounted midship, with the name of the engine builder proudly embellished. Next to that is the word â€œTakumi (Japanese for Artisan)â€. Just by looking at it, you can get a sense that each GT-R engine is built diligently one by one.
The transmission, on the other hand, is by no means quiet. The sound is mechanical and it adds an extra decibel to the GT-Râ€™s driving soundtrack. Throw it into manual mode, flip the paddles to shift up, and the gear changes are simply rapid. The faster you go, the stronger, louder, aggressive everything becomes. Letâ€™s not forget that the downshifts are just as precise too. Some might describe it as a shift shock, but the wave of sound this car emits on every upshift is something Iâ€™m fond of.
The ride is actually very comfortable. But not in a way that a family sedan is comfortable. Itâ€™s comfortable in a way that youâ€™re able to receive all of the information from the road surface without compromise, and still be complacent. The thick cushions and leather-wrapped seats help keep the driver in a comfortable driving position as well. In all honesty, when youâ€™re behind the wheel, all you can think of is how youâ€™re going to attack the next corner, so things like ride comfort or drivability is something out of your head. That is how much fun and exciting this car is to drive.
To start off with, whatâ€™s new with the 2015 model is the transmission. Theyâ€™ve aimed for quicker shifts, and consequently faster acceleration times. I can feel that those areas have evolved magnificently with even better shift feels. For a sports car, it is as good as it gets.
The tires are new too. The car I test drove wore a new set of Dunlop SP Sport Maxx, which was developed in-parallel with that of the GT-R, incorporating needs from the engineering team. Brakes have been updated to Bremboâ€™s full-floating drilled rotors with ultra rigid steel pads. Whatâ€™s improved is its pedal feel and its controllability. The initial bite when you step on the brakes feel firm and response, brake a bit harder and its biting force is as linear as a linear graph. Okay, so the top speed of this car is over 300km/h and I was only traveling at a speed half its potential, so maybe that is a given. None the less, itâ€™s capabilities are mind boggling.
To test out the 550ps of power on tap on public roads is just reckless. However, whatâ€™s impressive is the amount of fun the drivetrain brings to the table whatever the speed. You just have to be careful sometimes because youâ€™ll find yourself going way too fast. There were many times where I was simply surprised by its ability to just dive into a corner at unlisted speeds and clear it without a hitch in the world. The thing is, youâ€™re not disappointed by the fact that youâ€™re not a better driver or that you almost feel like youâ€™re being driven by it, because the sensation it gives you is out of this world.
Alright, so letâ€™s finally move onto the Nismo GT-R. Compared to the standard GT-R, the full-bucket Recaro seats in the Nismo offer half the cushioning, if at best. But as a trade-off, once you sit down, the fit is snug and will not let you go anywhere (not literally). Youâ€™d think that from the difference in seats aside, the difference between the two cars arenâ€™t big. But youâ€™d be wrong, very wrong.
The 600ps thumping out of the retuned engine isnâ€™t just for show. What I thought was a fast entry speed in the standard GT-R was nothing to what I was doing with the Nismo version. Forget about the comfortable ride because the Nismo is all about gripping to the road surface like the chewing gum stuck to the bottom side of your desk in high school. Consequently, the lateral Gâ€™s this car has to offer is bone-breaking. Everything from the entry to exit speeds feel like they have been turned up a notch.
Fortunately, the weather was clear and the condition of the road was good, other than it being bloody cold, but since I was testing it out on public roads, and not on a track, there was no way I would be able to take it to its limits. The chassis of the GT-R is extremely stiff as it is, but theyâ€™ve added some extra bonding to strengthen it even more.
At this point, whether the GT-R Nismo is a 4-seater, or the roofline is quite high for a coupe, or anything for that matter, doesnâ€™t seem to matter anymore. There may be faster cars than the GT-R, but there are many cars that have the performance as accessible as it. The best part of this car is that it doesnâ€™t matter who is behind the wheel of it, it offers the greatest driving pleasure you can get.
Takahito Nakamura | AJAJ Member
Born in 1952. He loves cars that adorned the pages of car magazines even at the young age of four. He started working part time at a Super Car shop. He also has an experience being an apprentice mechanic for Nova Engineering. After that, he went to Germany to continue his pursuit of knowledge about cars. He entered the journalism industry in 1977 and has been a fixture in it for the last 36 years. He continues to be active as a freelance journalist.
(Translated by Yoshitaka Dazai)