When the R35 GT-R first appeared on the scene in 2008 with ‘only’ 480 bhp, most of us probably thought, “nice, but couldn’t they have given it more power than an M5?” We then drove it back-to-back with Porsche’s Gen2 911 and found the porker had the legs (just), but otherwise there was little to complain about apart from its brakes.
Three years later Nissan facelifted the GT-R, but more importantly upped its power to 522 bhp due to revised engine mapping, changes to valve timing, larger inlets and a revised exhaust system. Job done then.
Just over 12 months later Nissan have moved their flagship model further out of reach, now offering 542 bhp and a wholesome slab of 632Nm torque from 3,200 to 5,800 rpm. It’s a good job BMW took the pre-emptive move of turning the latest F10 M5 up to 552 bhp.
The changes made to bump the 2012 GT-R up by an extra 20 bhp and 20 Nm, are more extensive than you might realise.
Engine response and torque at mid and low-speeds, and power at high revolutions, has been significantly improved, mainly due to:
- Improved intake efficiency
- Better air flow resistance, which has been reduced by the addition of an intake manifold fitted to the head of each unit and the use of resin in the enlarged air intake duct for the intercooler.
- Improved exhaust emissions efficiency and enhanced control.
- Reduced air flow resistance thanks to a more compact under floor catalyser which improves emissions efficiency and reduces weight.
- Improved exhaust valve cooling performance by the adoption of a newly-designed metallic sodium-filled valve. At the same time, valve control timing, the air mixture ratio and ignition timing have been improved.
Upgrades for the 2012 model are not just about the GT-R’s performance – fuel economy has also been improved, albeit by an insignificant amount from 23.5 mpg to 24 mpg (combined).
Nissan have applied their kaizen-philosophy throughout the rest of the car, improving the quietness and feel of the GT-R’s transmission and reinforcing parts of the body to improve stiffness. But perhaps the most evident step towards perfecting the GT-R can be demonstrated by the changes in its suspension – to account for the added weight of the driver in a right-hand drive vehicle coupled to the fact that the propeller shaft for front wheels is located on the right side of the vehicle; the GT-R’s suspension in RHD versions has been set asymmetrically.
What this means in practice is there’s now a harder spring rate on the front left side suspension while at the rear the suspension arm has been installed upwards on the left side and downwards on the right.
This means an imbalanced wheel load when the car is stationary, but which is equalised during driving, providing improved responsiveness, smoothness and steering feel, as well as enhanced cornering stability and riding comfort (for right-hand drive cars only).
Subtle changes have also been introduced to the GT-R’s dashboard including blue lighting, which has been added inside the tachometer ring to match the shift position indicator light and giving a more sophisticated atmosphere to the cockpit.
New ‘Track Focused’ variant
This is the real news we’ve been waiting for. The feud between Nissan, Porsche, Chevrolet and Lexus over the Nurburgring production car record shows no sign of abating, although the GT-R’s greatest handicap has always been the additional weight it carries.
So, Nissan are introducing a track-version of the GT-R for the UK and Japanese markets, which is designed for customers who want to enjoy a more track biased driving experience in their cars.
Nissan have yet to disclose the configuration of this limited-edition variant, but it sounds like there is more to it than fitting a few after-market parts and therefore it’s likely to be a full factory model.
We are told that further details of this new variant and pricing of the MY2012 GT-R, will be available early next month.