2008 Nismo R35 GT-R review

Mr GT-R's performance car

2008 Nismo R35 GT R

It’s been on the market for less than a year, but already Mr GT-R – race engineer and chief engineer of the Japanese supercar, Kazutoshi Mizuno – can barely contain his excitement as he unveils the Nismo upgrades for the R35.

“We wanted to create parts that made the GT-R feel more at home flat-out on a track, and we believe this Nismo GT-R more than responds to that need,” Mizuno says.

In collaboration with Nismo, Nissan’s racing arm, Mr GT-R has created the GT-R Nismo Club Sports Package, an aftermarket kit that can be fitted to any current R35 GT-R anywhere.

It comprises three parts. To start with, you can fit the chassis package, which includes specially developed three-mode Bilstein DampTronic shocks, higher spring rates, stronger Rays 20-inch wheels and Bridgestone RE070R run-flats with stiffer side-walls and a more-aggressive tread pattern. The alloys also reduce weight by a total of 3kg over the regular GT-R.

You’ll shed another 5kg by adding the second stage; a titanium exhaust with rear diffuser. Nismo tells us that in no way does it up power. It was mainly added to get weight down and to improve the car’s cooling efficiency, in conjunction with specially fitted cooling ducts and cooling fins.

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The final stage sees Recaro seating, which while improving side and shoulder support, continues Mizuno’s weight reduction campaign by losing a further 12kg. All up, the mods reduce the R35’s weight by 20kg.

Despite the weight loss, the Nismo improvements are most effective in the corners – that’s why we feel most owners will initially just go for the suspension package. Nismo developed the package at the Sendai Highland Raceway, which consists of 4km of tricky, twisting blacktop, 400km north of Tokyo. Get the set-up right here, and you can take your Club Sports pack anywhere.

The Nismo GT-R is not only quicker, but delivers greater all-round stability on a racetrack than the stock GT-R. After just one lap of Sendai on a semi-wet surface, we were blown away by the car’s improved grip levels.

The suspension lets the driver know what the tyres and rear-end are doing earlier. Its improved stability at speed also allows you to brake later and harder, loading the suspension up more in the corners, while generating less body roll, more neutral turn-in with greater steering precision, and almost no understeer.

The Nismo set-up also loses traction later and more progressively than the standard GT-R. If Mizuno wanted to give amateur racing drivers and GT-R owners more confidence and more fun at higher speeds on a track, then he has certainly done that with this car. And the ride quality hasn’t suffered in the transformation, either.

The downsides? Mizuno has left the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6’s power at 353kW and 588Nm. “That’s plenty,” he says, stressing that his job was not to tweak anything under the bonnet. “This package basically gives drivers more confidence.

It features parts that lift cornering limits and overall stability levels, especially under heavy braking and acceleration, but at the same time make it more comfortable for the driver thanks to more supportive seats.”

And while this is all good and well, there’s the cost. The chassis pack costs $33,000; the exhaust set-up $28,500 and the Recaros another $28,500. Total? $90,500, but if you buy all three at once you’ll pay a mere $82,500. For no engine mods, it’s a big ask. And Nismo may find it difficult convincing owners they need to spend 50-odd grand for non-handling, non-power upgrades.

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While enthusiasts are salivating at the Spec V, Mizuno says that he has completed only 70-percent of what he wants to do. “What I really want to do is to tweak the base GT-R, like we have here. That’s where the fun lies. It must be a car for the road as well.”

Mr GT-R has waved his magic wand over the R35 to catapult Nissan’s charger into a whole new league. It’s not cheap, but boy, is it worth it. For owners with wads of cash and unlimited time to blast around circuits on track days, this package is for you. Thanks to Nismo, the GT-R just got a whole lot better.


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