Earlier today in the northeast city of Sugo, Nissan unveiled its 2013 GT-R, which goes on sale in Japan later this month and from January for the rest of the world.
But the real interest behind this news is a 12-minute video featuring GT-R Project Chief, Kazutoshi Mizuno, who explains his commitment to evolving the GT-R, making each iteration better and faster than the previous one. The video provides important insight into the 2013 model year changes and the focus of Team GT-R as they develop the car yet further.
It’s an ominous message for their competitors in Stuttgart, put simply “if you thought the GT-R was good, just wait until the next one..”
In the video, Mizuno-san explains three major changes to the 2013 GT-R, which although superficially subtle, make an immense difference to the way the GT-R feels to drive and the pleasure it provides its driver:
Evolution of the chassis: the GT-R’s roll-centre has been lowered, improving its stability at speed “..when you drive on the highway, you feel a sensation as if the car is sticking to the road surface. Because of this, the driver feels very much at ease.”
In addition, new cam bolts have been installed on the front suspension to improve camber accuracy and stability when cornering and the torque carrying capacity of the driveshafts to the hub bearings has been increased to improve reliability in high-stress situations, such as track driving.
Evolution of the engine: while maximum torque and horsepower remain unchanged, more torque is now added to the response at mid-range – between 4,000rpm and 6,000rpm.
The GT-R’s basic 542bhp 3.8-litre Twin-turbocharged V6 engine remains the same, however new high-output injectors more concisely control fuel injection to improve mid-range and high-rpm response. A new relief valve for the turbocharger bypass suppresses the rapid decrease of forced injection pressure, acting as an anti-lag device and helping to sustain response.
Evolution of the interior: the interior has always been a weak-point in the GT-R, materials were only marginally a step up from far cheaper Nissans and certainly no match for its rivals at BMW and Porsche. The second-generation R35 GT-R tried to tackle this with the ‘Egoist’ specification, but missed the mark, making it look more like a tart’s boudoir than a high-performance supercar.
For 2013, Nissan has introduced major changes to the look and feel of the GT-R’s leather and trim. In the Premium Edition, the finest Semi-Aniline leather is used for the seats, with the stitching hand sewn by craftsmen – in fact the pitch and thread used were both newly developed for the 2013 GT-R.
Mizuno-san says this latest GT-R iteration reflects an increased focus on high-speed capability and safety, “What is important for Nissan as an automaker is our commitment to areas such as safety. We not only contend that in a GT-R a normal car conversation is possible at 300 kph on the German autobahn, or that the car can do a lap at Nurburgring in 7 minutes 18 seconds, but we consider areas that other competitors don’t.
‘How do we design a car to endure a flat tire at 300 kph that can make it to the repair shop?’ or ‘how do we protect the passenger in case of an accident at 200 kph?’ or ‘how do we activate the VDC (vehicle dynamics control) system at over 250 kph?’ Overall, besides just marketing tag lines, we need to develop technologies of trust that other manufacturers don’t. That contributes to the Nissan brand and what I want to push.”
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The reason behind Nissan measuring lap times at the Nürburgring
I remember when we first published our own review of Nissan’s first-generation R35 GT-R against the Porsche 911 GT2 at the Nürburgring. Nissan had thrown the gauntlet down, claiming a lap time of 7:29.03 – Porsche replied by saying this was “impossible”.
At the time, Porsche’s own test driver could not better a 7min 54sec lap in the GT-R – way off the 7min 29sec that Nissan subsequently claimed. So, Porsche naturally concluded that the car used for Nissan’s official lap must have been non-standard.
Such a contentious remark sparked off a series of heated exchanges between both companies, with Porsche refusing to believe that the Japanese upstart could be faster around Porsche’s home circuit than its own fastest production car?
Mizuno-san explains, “Every time the GT-R evolves, lap times are measured at the Nürburgring and the result is made public. That policy will never change for GT-R. It is proof of its ever-changing (i.e. improving) performance.”
In 2007, for the very first R35 GT-R, Nissan claimed a 7:38 min lap and 0-62mph acceleration of 3.6 seconds. The 2009 model raised the lap time to 7:29 for the same acceleration, while the 2011 model increased this still further to a 7:24 min lap and 0-62mph acceleration of 3.0 seconds.
The 2012 model recorded a 7:21 min lap and 0-62mph acceleration of 2.8 seconds and now the 2013 GT-R has raised the bar still further with a lap time of 7:18.6 min and 0-62mph acceleration of 2.7 seconds.
With Porsche’s inflammatory remarks from 2009 in mind, Mizuno-san explains, “The car we use to measure the lap time is the most popular type, in a specification customers can buy. When other manufacturers take their cars on the Nürburgring, they use special tyres in a limited number of cars, say, 200 cars, when they announce the time. I want everyone to understand this is completely different from how we announce the lap time of GT-R.”
“The exterior of the car we use for measuring the lap time is exactly the same as the production model. The engine room is exactly the same as the production model. The tyres are exactly the same as what customers use for driving in the city. And the brakes and the wheels, they are exactly the same ones as our customers that go through maintenance service at the High Performance Centres.”
“We don’t put any reinforcements on the body, or any type of special equipment for circuit driving. We want to deliver the exact car we developed, equally, to all customers. This is our policy, what we believe in.”
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The 2013 GT-R
Applying lessons learned from this year’s Nürburgring 24-Hour race to the 2013 production GT-R, Toshio Suzuki, development driver for GT-R, said testing at the ‘ring was key to the changes made for 2013.
“We participated in the race using parts for our normal road conditions, and although there were some minor issues, we experienced no critical problems, so we could see the GTR’s potential. Also, after driving at high-speeds, we could understand the balance of downforce on the car.”
Despite continued reference to the GT-R’s performance and lap times around the Nürburgring, it may come as a surprise to hear this is not the true essence of GT-R. Instead Mizuno-san and his team focus on the emotion and passion customers experience when driving the GT-R.
Yoshihiro Ishii, Tyre and Suspension Engineer, has no doubt the GT-R will continue getting faster and faster, however his basic goal is how the customer will ‘feel’ joy because of the changes – an underlying policy and belief which he says will never change.
Mitsutaka Matsumoto, Chassis Development Leader, is straight-faced when he says “I believe this is the number one car in the world. This car will never stop its evolution, and the evolution itself will never change.”
The team are certainly very proud of their creation, but rather than this pride manifesting as arrogance or ego, you sense a Samurai-like servitude to the nobility of the GT-R legend. With such devotion to the cause, who would bet against being the car to beat for many generations to come.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price in Japan (including consumption tax)
|4WD||VR38DETT||GT-R Pure edition||GR6 Type Dual Clutch
|£67,840 (YEN 8,757,000)|
|GT-R Black edition||£74,673 (YEN 9,639,000)|
|GT-R Premium edition||£75,812 (YEN 9,786,000)|
|GT-R EGOIST||£117,509 (YEN 15,168,300)|
|Pure Edition: The quality level of the interior has been improved by changing the color of the stitching and adopting a thicker seam on the instrument panel and door trim.
Black Edition: An attractive red-and-black color combination steering wheel increases the car’s sporty flair. RECARO carbon bucket seats are available as a factory installed option.
Premium Edition: A new two-tone interior color of Amber Red and Black adds style to the interior as option for fashionable interior package. Hand-stitched genuine Semi-Aniline leather front seats have also been added.
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