For the revered, decade-old GT-R’s recent refresh, Nissan focused on making its much-loved, supercar-scaring coupe easier to live with – rather than just a more potent performance car.
Both the interior and exterior have been revamped and the once cantankerous dual-clutch transmission has never been so behaved. In trying to give Godzilla more manners, Nissan has been successful, creating the most comfortable, daily-driveable R35 yet.
This is important – we’re searching for the Performance Car of the Year. So you’d think that with the Nissan GT-R boasting more liveability than ever, to match its breath-taking performance, it should have done better than eighth. What gives?
Well, it’s certainly not wanting for speed. Though power and torque are up ‘just’ 15kW/4Nm – the mighty VR38DETT now belting out 419kW and 632Nm – Nissan really didn’t need to give the base GT-R a million extra kilowatts when plainly it was already fast enough for most customers. Its as-tested 0-100km/h time of 3.2sec is utterly mental, the GT-R’s all-wheel drive traction and launch control helping it best the 488 and Huracan – keeping in mind, for the cost of one LP580-2 you could have exactly two new GT-Rs.
As ever, launch control in an R35 remains a compulsory bucket list item – it is simply brutal, and all the more impressive remembering this is a car that weighs 1765kg – more than a base SS Commodore.
As for corners, whether the GT-R is fun or just a bit unhinged and scary continues to depend a lot on your skill level. Around a soaking wet Winton it was a bit of both, the dry-focused Dunlop SP Sports a little skatey but the low grip conditions letting the impressive all-wheel drive system strut its stuff.
In the dry, the GT-R also still demands a lot of concentration. Tyre temperature is a variable but again there’s the fact this is a big car you don’t want to get away from you. On a really tight, twisty road it can feel a bit cramped, but on the more open stuff it covers ground ridiculously fast, even if sometimes in a more brutally-efficient than laugh-out-loud fun manner.
There really isn’t one reason why the GT-R didn’t finish higher up other than the fact it’s just not the establishment-disrupting sports car it was when launched 10 years ago – and despite the updates, it’s starting to show. While the GT-R is still crazy fast, terrific value (even with a recent $17K price hike) and now more comfortable than ever, relying on sheer brute speed alone will only get you so far. Ultimately the GT-R needs to learn some new talents if it wants to continue playing with cutting-edge performance cars like those it’s up against here.
0-100km/h: 3.20sec (3rd)
0-400m: 11.21sec @ 199.67km/h (4th)
DAVID MORLEY: =6th
Concept ain’t new but little tweaks over the years have kept it current. And quick.
DYLAN CAMPBELL: 5th
Bulls**t fast but you get the feeling if it could replace you with more computer, it would.
SCOTT NEWMAN: =4th
You judge it against the supercars then realise it’s a third the price.
TIM ROBSON: 8th
Still a savage disguised with electronics, but starting to show its age.
JOHN BOWE: 11th
Very underwhelming, I expected it to shine, it didn’t.