The Truth About Cars » GT-R The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:32:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » GT-R Nismo Ring GT-R: Not So Fast Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:01:21 +0000 skyline

If you have an Internet connection and an interest in automobiles, you’ve no doubt heard about the 7:08 ‘Ring time claimed for the new Nismo GT-R. Nissan’s in the middle of putting on a trackday/party for compliant media in Japan right now for the purpose of celebrating said time, but one of the journalists who attended turned out to not be quite as compliant as the company might wish.

The Pistonheads folks asked for details on the modifications to the ‘Ring-time GT-R over and above the standard Nismo GT-R. They were told that

The Time Attack car, as Nissan refers to it, car had bigger spoilers for more downforce, different dampers and brake pads, bucket seats that contributed to a significant 50kg weight saving and a new ECU map. Together those modifications could count for several seconds around the ‘ring, but perhaps even more significantly the car used to set the time had been tuned specifically for the Nordschleife, as NISMO’s engineers confess.

Let’s start off by giving Nissan some props: I don’t see the words “roll cage” anywhere in the list of mods. A good cage, along with a seam weld, massively improves grip and handling, which is why you almost always see some sort of cage in the General Motors ‘Ring videos. Nor should a change in brake pads be counted against Nissan, as it’s almost impossible to make a brake pad for large fixed calipers that is both useful on-track and not completely misery-inducing during the daily drive. (Pagid Orange pads are some of the most famous offenders among the Porsche trackday crowd, being absolutely brilliant at operating temperature but shockingly loud and obnoxious in a restaurant drive-through.)

The rest of the stuff probably matters, in this order: The 110-lb weight loss isn’t much in the context of a GT-R but it’s worth a few seconds. The additional aero must have been nice, but the ‘Ring is one of those tracks where having big wings for cornering speed just kills you when it’s time to go fast down the long straights. I’ve long suspected that a Viper ACR with a drag-reduction system in the rear wing a la Chaparral or modern F1 would be a seven-minute-flat car. The custom damping is hugely helpful and it’s one of the reasons that Continental Challenge cars are so much faster than NASA PT racers to the same spec.

Now for the big one: ECU tune. One of the most important parts of the NISMO GT-R package is the larger turbochargers. A competent ECU tune with larger turbochargers can easily yield over eight hundred horsepower, even with stock engine internals. If you happen to own the engine factory, you can push even harder and pop a couple of blocks in the process if you need to.

Does any of this matter? Not really — but it should remind everyone involved that the so-called ‘Ring record isn’t a real record, it isn’t set under controlled conditions, and when all the dust settles it’s little more than a marketing exercise. You already know that, so we’ll call it a day and keep this article short enough that you should have been able to read it in well under seven minutes and eight seconds.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Some Of The Pixels Edition Wed, 16 Oct 2013 20:51:34 +0000 gtr

Alright, take a close look. There’s something not quite right about this picture of a brand-new Nissan GT-R luxuriating in a rather fancy garage. Any ideas?

The answer is simple: it’s not real. It’s a still shot from the upcoming Forza 5, for the XBox One gaming platform. TTAC isn’t the right place to get your Forza news; our friends at Jalopnik have typically had some sort of sponsored-content deal with them. Your humble E-I-C’s newest videogame console is a PS2 and it’s been in a box, in the basement, since 2008. I was playing “Guitar Hero” one day and I realized, “Hey, I could be spending this time playing my actual guitar.” That was the end of my gaming career.

While it’s certainly more rewarding to play John Mayer tunes for an audience of inebriated single mothers at some local bar than it is to play Guitar Hero in one’s living room, the dividing line between fantasy and reality in the racing world is slightly fuzzier. Even those of us who can afford a new GT-R, which is one thing, and afford to run it on a track, which is another, can’t afford to wreck a dozen of them in a day trying to find a faster line around a track in Japan. Even if the money’s no object, the risk is nontrivial.

For that reason, a lot of gearheads spend more time on the virtual racetrack than the real one, as do Formula One pilots and many well-funded “gentleman drivers” in prototype classes. Practice and visualization are critical when test time is limited. Will Forza 5 be useful to those of us who only get out to a track a few times a year? I don’t know, but I do know this: it looks good.

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Generation Why: The Skyline Fades From The Rear-View Mirror Mon, 14 Oct 2013 12:30:05 +0000 Nissan_Skyline_R33_GT-R_001

It’s not just oil, water and other precious resources that we’re running out of here on planet earth. Apparently, we’re a little short on automotive nameplates too. If you believe the reports in industry trade pubs, we’ll eventually be overrun by obscure alphanumerics as the number of trademark-ready monikers gradually thins out. Scarcity isn’t the only factor behind it either. Frequently, nameplates get retired, and an all-new version of the previous car is re-introduced with another combination of numbers and letters – just like Nissan is planning to do with the Skyline after 56 years of production.

Members of the Playstation Generation that still care about cars (yes, we exist, we are legion and we are too saddled with debt to even think about buying a new car, thank you very much) revere the “Skyline” name like a person of faith reveres the Tetragrammaton. It is an ineffable, unknowable bit of four-wheeled technology that we were never privy to, and therefore, it’s reached iconic status among North American car enthusiasts, who were only exposed to the car via Gran Turismo or the Fast and Furious franchise.

Like most instances where the grass is greener on the other side, it turned out the grass was a little less lustrous and colorful once you got over the fence. Canada’s flexible importation laws meant that older Skyline GT-Rs have been flooding the nation’s streets for some time. Driven today, they aren’t terribly remarkable cars, neither particularly fast or involving. I found my friend’s Toyota Celica GT-FOUR (another piece of all-wheel drive turbocharged forbidden fruit, albeit one closer to a rally special than a Grand Tourer) to be a much more compelling way to spend $10,000 and inconvenience oneself with right-hand drive. The breathless Ray Hutton and Don Schroeder reports telex’d from Japan are not congruent with our current reality. I am sure that in the early 1990′s, this car was certainly something compared to the C4 ‘Vette, but there’s a reason why Nissan never sold them here.

The idea of paying between $60,000-$100,000 for a car with the interior from a B13 Sentra and the sex appeal of Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman is a recipe for commercial ruin.  The 300ZX on the other hand, had the Z car heritage, as well as the rectum-puckering performance, plush interior and removable T-Tops demanded by mustachioed 1990′s sports car buyers. Besides, the Skyline name meant nothing to most consumers.

But it means something to me, and to most readers who got their licenses right around the time the Skyline ceased to exist as we knew it. The introduction of the V35 Skyline, aka our Infiniti G35, brought an end to the familiar Skyline formula, with its naturally aspirated and turbocharged straight-six engines and its rather anonymous salaryman packaging. The V6-powered V35 shared its underpinnings with the Z car – something true Skyline enthusiasts would regard as blasphemy.

The Skyline was originally a Prince product, and legend has it that when Nissan absorbed Prince in 1966, Prince’s products, Skyline included, were regarded as orphans. The Skyline’s racing pedigree was apparently considered both unremarkable and enough of a threat to the homegrown Fairlady Z that they were never imported to America. Within Nissan, the two cars were always regarded as distinct entities, with the Z being the sports car for Nissan. Only when the forces of industry economics were brought to bear on Nissan, in the form of Carlos Ghosn, did Nissan take advantage of any synergies between the two cars.

Now that Nissan is planning to sell the Infiniti brand in Japan, the assimilation is complete. The Skyline nameplate will die alongside the V36 Skyline/G sedan (no word on whether the current G Coupe will carry on the name), and the new Infiniti Q50 will carry that name in Japan as well.

The fatal blow to the Skyline nameplate was delivered when the R35 GT-R divorced itself from the Skyline range upon its 2009 introduction. Without the GT-R, the Skyline is just another anonymous commodity car in its home market, just as the Chevrolet Impala is a rather unremarkable car when the hot SS versions aren’t around. But the reality is that the conditions that helped foment the “golden age of Japanese sports cars” have been absent for a long time now, and we’re now feeling the hangover after years and years of non-stop good times. Combine that with the relentless pressure for greater profits derived via increasing economies of scale in a cutthroat global auto market, and the decision to axe the Skyline name in favor of promoting the “Infiniti Brand” and the Q50 shouldn’t surprise anyone. But it does leave me a little dewey-eyed.


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This GT-R Only Makes 1,760 Horsepower, But That IS At The Wheels, You Know Sun, 04 Aug 2013 06:29:01 +0000 beast

Three-plus years ago, your humble E-I-C pro tem was quite impressed by an 800-horsepower Nissan GT-R. After a couple of years racing in the NASA Performance Touring “E” class, where “big power” cars have 160 horses at the crank, having a chance to boot the proverbial ten-second car around for a while was quite a hoot.

At Switzer, however, I suspect they look at those old 800-horsepower days the way Justin Timberlake does at his N’SYNC records.

Switzer’s sales honcho, human gorilla weight-lifting enthusiast Neil Switzer, announced yesterday that a new build of their ethanol-fueled “X” engine had bopped the 1760whp mark on the dyno. There’s a lot of yakking on the forum as to whether it’s a stock block, a sleeved block, a cyrogenic block, a new block, and so on… but right now Switzer isn’t being forthcoming on the details.

Stuff like this both makes the point that the “glory days” of internal combustion engines are far from over and kind of trivializes all the cool stuff from the Sixties and Seventies. Hemi Darts, Cammer 427s, Yenko Chevrolets… all utterly feeble next to this two-thousand-crank-horsepower doorslammer of a car with air conditioning and two LCD screens on the center stack. This thing would be competitive in NHRA Top Fuel meets of the Sixties, and you could drive it home with the trophy.

Will the day come that all-electric street cars run as hard as the Switzer GT-R? Probably, but I’ll tell you this: I don’t want to be anywhere near the kind of capacitors you’d need to make it happen.

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And Here’s The Eight-Second Street Car Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:06:15 +0000

There’s something powerful about this video. The violence of the launch. The frantic revs, the merciless shifts, the fact that the driver hits fifth gear before crossing the line. The only question is: how fast is he going?

Picture courtesy Boyan Radovic

That’s 8.61 seconds at 170 miles per hour. There are certainly faster “street legal” cars out there, such as the seven-second street class in the UK, but those aren’t really cars you could drive in traffic or with passengers. This GT-R looks stock, sounds nearly stock, and accelerates like a 747SP on a short runway.

Long-time TTAC readers will know that I briefly worked for the GT-R wizards at Switzer Performance. I asked their media assassin Jo Borras if he knew anything about this car. Turns out that Switzer was involved in the preparation of what is a sort of amazing mongrel GT-R, containing parts from a few different tuner companies. “Can you cook up a press release?” I inquired, since autojournos love rewriting press releases. He obliged:

ShepTrans’ owner John Shepherd was behind the wheel of his high-horsepower GTR yesterday, when he set a new GTR 1/4 mile record: an ET of 8.61 with a trap speed in excess of 170 mph!

Shepherd’s record run didn’t just come down to his Nissan GTR’s exotic drivetrain, however – it was also a matter of software. “We didn’t intend to set records,” explains Tym Switzer, head of Syvecs North America and its parent company, Switzer Performance. “We headed out to the track with John’s car and another customer’s Ultimate Street Edition GTR to test some of the new strategies we’ve been developing on our Syvecs SGTR ECU package for the Nissan R35 GTR. We didn’t think we’d be gunning for records and certainly didn’t think we’d be making any headlines – we didn’t even bring a camera! Everything just started clicking and we came home with a new GTR record on Shep’s car, and a new fast time validation run for one of our USE cars, which ran a 9.6 at 149 mph amazingly on 93 octane pump fuel…

…On John’s car, the Syvecs ecu served to tie together a fully-built ShepTrans driveline, an AMS turbo kit, and our Switzer/Syvecs dual-injection fuel system, as well as quite a few other vendor-supplied components to help get the job done. The car was well-prepared by John’s guys, and Boyan Radomirov (Switzer Performance/Syvecs North America’s lead tuner) deserved a great deal of the credit for the effort, as he was on hand to help John dial the car in and has spent hundreds of hours gathering data and working behind the scenes with the rest of the Syvecs team to make sure our software updates effectively improve both performance and drivability.”

Now, I know Tym Switzer personally, and I’ve never heard him string together that many words without saying “fuck” three times in said collection of words. So we’ll assume Jo is editing for content and length.

If you’ve never heard about the Switzer GT-Rs, here’s my original review of the P800. I said at the time that I’d rather have a Viper, and I’ll stand by that statement today. But when I have that Viper, and I see a GT-R like this one next to me at the stoplights, I’ll put on my turn signal, okay?

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It Turns Out All The GT-R Needed To Be Fast Was 1,500 Horsepower Fri, 04 Jan 2013 13:00:42 +0000

My experience with the original Switzer P800 GT-R was so impressive that I ended up working with the company briefly in 2010 before the 246-mile daily commute started to get a bit tiresome. Naturally, they waited until I was out of the building before completing a GT-R with a staggering one thousand horsepower measured at the wheels.

That previous milestone now looks, shall we say, conservative.

Quoth the Switzer press release,

The Goliath car was built to explore the limits of Switzer’s package architecture, building off of the same hardware upgrades as the Ultimate Street Edition, as well as the same intercoolers, plumbing, and exhaust hardware used in the USE, as well as the P700, P800, and record-breaking R1K-X Switzer GTRs. “The other component to this exercise,” explains Tym, “was to see how much power we could make on our engine program’s standard-bore/stroke 3.8L VR38 build that’s been so reliable for us over the past four years.”

Keep in mind, this is not some chopped-up dyno-queen/ringer car. Grinding or welding on the chassis was not permitted, so Goliath’s firewall, frame rails, and power steering systems are totally intact. The factory AC system is completely intact, and “is a must”, according to Switzer … which makes sense, considering how many of these cars end up in extreme climates.

We’ll see what we can do to get behind the wheel of this highly unreasonable GT-R. Keep in mind, it’s winter in Ohio, so the accidental-death factor will be high.

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Nissan Plans Another Stab At Nürburgring Record In New GT-R: TTAC Talks To Chief Engineer Sat, 10 Nov 2012 13:15:44 +0000

Nissan appears to be preparing for another go at Germany’s Nürburgring. The time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the northern loop of the iconic Nürburgring racecourse is widely regarded as benchmark for speed and handling of a sports car. Nissan is emboldened by the performance of the new GT-R sports car, which its Chief Engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno showed TTAC last weekend on a track behind a Nissan factory in Oppama, Japan.

The 2013 GT-R has a reworked 6-cylinder dual turbocharged engine, and a retuned suspension, amongst other refinements. In internal tests, the new GT-R rounded the Nordschleife in 7 minutes 18 seconds, more than 8 seconds better than its old 7:26:70 time of 2009. However, the 7:18 time would put the GT-R some 7 places away from the top of an informal list kept at the crowdsourced Wikipedia Encyclopedia. This fact does not seem to discourage Mizuno-san.

When asked whether he thinks the GT-R can best the 7:14 claimed unofficially by the Porsche 918, and even beat the 7:12:13 of the Dodge Viper ACR, the “Godfather of the GT-R” nods.“The car definitely has potential. There is quite a bit of margin in those 7 minutes 18 seconds,” Mizuno says and smiles.

“This version here already is good for less than 7 Minutes,” says Mizuno-san, pointing at the new track edition of the GT-R. It features a roll-cage, has most of the GT-R’s luxurious interior removed, exposing the bare metal, but features the same engine as the regulation GT-R. The 550 horses of its engine make contact with the pavement using Dunlop slick tires, developed especially for the GT-R. The car currently is not street legal in Japan due to the fact that it does not have the function that limits all cars in Japan to a top speed of 180 km/h  (112 mph). Being only a slightly modified GT-R, it could easily be made street-legal, I am told.

However, Mizuno-san is energetically opposed to using heavily modded cars for the track attack: “We use the same car the customer uses.”  Stock GT-R , no roll cage, regular three point belt. According to Mizuno, cars like the Radical SR8, a perennial list leader, have no place on a list of record of street legal production cars. “A car that needs its engine rebuilt after a few hours is no production car,” says the former Nissan race director as he crosses his forearms before his chest, the Japanese sign for “NO.”

Given the weather conditions at the Nürburgring, it is unlikely that the attempt will be made this year.

Stay tuned  for a TTAC inside report on how the GT-R engine is built. This coming week in Thetruthaboutcars.

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Nissan Announces Tweaked GT-R Fri, 02 Nov 2012 13:57:09 +0000

Nissan announced a refresh of its GT-R supercar today.  Engine response in the mid- and upper-rpm ranges was improved using  high-output injectors and changes in the  turbocharger. The car’s center of gravity has been lowered, body rigidity has been enhanced, shock absorbers, springs and front stabilizer have been tweaked.  Racers can now use Motul Competition Oil.

The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine is still rated at 542bhp, but contacts at Nissan threaten an even more ferocious acceleration.

For those who deem the Pure  (8,757,000 yen, or  $109,080) or Black Edition (9,639,000 yen, or $120,142) as too pedestrian, and the 15,168,300 yen ($188,942) Egoist Edition as too ostentatious, a Premium Edition has been slotted in. Its 9,786,000 yen ($121,898) price buys you a two-tone interior color and hand-stitched genuine Semi-Aniline leather front seats. (Prices for Japanese market only.)

The car goes on sale in Japan on November 19. It will be available in North America, Europe, and other regions from January 2013 onwards.

Being in Tokyo at the moment, I will attempt to get my hands on the car and the people who built it, and will report back ASAP.

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Somebody Out There Now Owns A $645,000 Nissan Juke Wed, 17 Oct 2012 12:30:08 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

Your humble author was charmed by the regular Juke when it debuted, but the Juke-R is a very different animal and it costs about twenty-five times what the standard Juke does. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any customers…

Nissan Europe claims that the first production Juke-R was delivered today, at a price of $645,000 (no doubt converted from Euros or pounds) and with a rated power of 545hp. The cynic in me thinks the regular Nissan GT-R actually makes 545 horsepower and has done so for some time now, but never mind. While the Juke-R probably isn’t as fast around a racetrack as the GT-R — and the AutoExpress video above seems to reinforce the idea — it’s a genuinely interesting vehicle for the kind of money that normally just gets you a F12berlinetta as a first-time (read: no dealership relationship) Ferrari customer. We wish the owner all sorts of luck and would like to suggest he come meet us at Virginia International Raceway to see how his tippy new toy handles the Climbing Esses. We promise not to bring a Shelby.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Restyled 2012 Nissan GT-R Tue, 17 Jul 2012 11:32:54 +0000
Christopher writes:
Great analysis of the GT-R.  Slow day at work, so I decided to cut a few inches out of the middle as you suggested (maybe more than just 2″…).  Please excuse the crappy “MS Paint” editing and my poor editing skills… but I still think the profile looks so much better.  Like a real super car.  And it eliminates the fake fender vent!

Sajeev concludes:

One of the B&B’s counterpoint to my analysis was that the GT-R is massive and not especially pretty by design, compared to other vehicles in this class.  Which is 100% true.  But does that mean the GT-R should be massive like a CUV?  Absolutely not! Thanks for proving my point, but you did take a little too much out of the middle. But still…

Your quickie redesign takes the GT-R back to the 4th and 5th generations of the Skyline GT-R: long, low and still pretty dumpy looking. That’s the way I like my GT-R. Welcome to The World of Proper. And, to wrap things up, here’s the original photo with your modified photo.


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Vellum Venom: 2012 Nissan GT-R Wed, 11 Jul 2012 12:04:33 +0000 Circa 1998, I was mentally ready to move from the (lower-middle class) suburbs of Houston to the College for Creative Studies’ (CCS) dorm in the heart of Metro Detroit. Oddly my big surprise came not from Detroit itself, but from the dorm’s many Sony PlayStations…and something called “Gran Turismo”.  I knew about the Nissan GT-R, but I was like every other kid playing this amazing game: absolutely blown away by the GT-R’s prowess.

That said, I raced all CCS’ contenders in “arcade mode,” in the big block ’67 Corvette.  With the most power and the easiest to rotate chassis, I wasted most of my Japanese car loving dorm mates. The GT-R was/is rarely my weapon of choice in Gran Turismo. Which kinda explains my general apathy to the GT-R in the flesh.


Swing open that barn door of a grille so we can start dancing! Yee-haw!

The Nissan GT-R has always been a charmingly dumpy 2-door sedan with very little sexiness seen from a proper 2-door coupe. Which makes sense for your average 5.0 Foxbody Notchback or even a Buick Grand National fanatic, but the GT-R turns just as good as it goes: think 911 and Corvette, instead.  But what’s presented is an overwraught sedan, wearing many of the same design cues of the “bad years” of the Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Don’t buy what I’m selling?  I can dig it.  But peep those fluted things around the fog (running?) lights and that gaping maw, both elements in the past decade of Eclipse design language.  And while GT-R looks far, FAR better on proportion and dimensions…I can’t say this design is especially pleasing to the eye. The grille is harsh, the hood (scoops) looks aftermarket, and the headlights are oversized but very static and linear.

It’s brutal and inexcusable…in a good way. I mean, this isn’t an Altima coupe.


Close up to prove my point: is this a NACA duct readily available at Summit Racing?  This certainly is not, but I find the design uninspiring for such an expensive car.


Next close up: this barn shaped cooling-grille-bumper thing is pretty imposing and impressive, but the treatment is just too close for comfort next to the Mitsubishi Eclipse SE. At least the GT-R’s design language hasn’t trickled down to lower Nissans, ruining the mystique. So wait…am I mad at Nissan or Mitsubishi?


Final close up: this tall bumper is ribbed for nobody’s pleasure.  An overabundance of real estate is a big problem for the GT-R. Could be worse, it could be a black plastic insert like the Cadillac CTS-V coupe, I guess.


Iconic emblem FTW.  Not sure if I can say the same about the textured black plastic below. I wish this car looked more expensive!


Okay, I take back my comment about the headlight.  I like the blocky wedge feel, I just wish it was attached to a more organic and less jarring front fascia.


Normally a fender this voluptuous and a hood so bulge-y should tug at the heartstrings, but this design is more like an unfinished lump of clay in the design studio!  Even worse, the GT-R has a wonderful fender that meets up to the A-pillar so elegantly, but I can’t enjoy such economy of cut lines because of the body underneath!


More photo support of the elegant fender-to-A-pillar meeting.  This odd lump on the black plastic triangle probably exists for some aerodynamic purpose, but I can’t shake the feeling it is unnecessary in a better designed vehicle. Does a 911 have this? Or a (gasp!) Corvette?


Fake fender vents are silly on most cars, but this one piece casting is just shameful on a car of this (Dodge?) caliber. I will dance in the streets when designers give up on this idiotic styling trend. I promise.


This greenhouse is rather stunning.  I love the “floating” A-pillar treatment, and how the glass elegantly slopes down as it flows to the trunk. This is one element of the GT-R that I hope will live for years to come, it’s both unique and beautiful.


I couldn’t get a complete side shot in the dealership, so here’s a stock photo.  You can see the unique greenhouse gives the GT-R a commanding presence, but it also accentuates how tall, blocky and cubby this body truly is. If I could take 2″ out of the middle via some sort of automotive Bariatric procedure, I’d be a happy man. This lighter, leaner GT-R would look better from every angle.


And here’s my shot instead.  Natural light helps break up the otherwise slab sided look, especially where the fake vent flows into the front fender’s wheel flare. Also note the helpful hard bend at both wheel wells, and the soft and gentle shadow under the C-pillar, implying a gentle curve to soften the package. Helpful!


Cool door handles almost seem mandatory for a vehicle that became a stateside sensation via PlayStation. This does not disappoint.


Remember those shadows and soft curves previously mentioned?  Yes, they do work. This looks muscular and taut, especially since you can’t judge the GT-R’s height from this angle. There’s nice tumblehome to the cabin, big and broad shoulders, and glass that looks like a racing helmet. Cool!


Note the hard bend (finger pointing) in the C-pillar’s sheet metal. WTF SON: shall we also paint eyebrows on the Mona Lisa?  This bend absolutely ruins a pretty little pillar.


Corvette much? The GT-R’s butt-cap is somewhat appealing, with the strong “square” tone of the marker light mimicking the rear bumper’s harsh cut.  And the round lights don’t look boring (à la Corvette) because of such squareness below, with a hint of round up top.  But that wing looks like a rooftop mounted luggage carrier: adding even more bulk to a tall and fat design.


This Nissan coupe’s back-end would look infinitely better (get it?) if the package sat 1-2″ lower with smaller tail lights. This bumper is just massive, the license plate is absolutely lost in the design!

And I thought the C5 and C6 vettes were worthy of a Sir Mix-A-Lot song. Adding insult to injury is the gentle bend created by drawing a line at the base of the tail lights: making the GT-R’s middle sag like the gut of a stereotypical Gran Turismo couch potato. Bariatric doctors need apply right here!


Zooming in and standing up definitely helps.  The GT-R could be a lean and mean design from here. I am still not in love with the off-center GT-R emblem: this makes the GT-R look like a trim level for some other 2-door vehicle.

Sort of a Super Bee to Dodge Coronet…if such a “Nissan” Coronet existed.


The trunk’s cut line intersects with the tail light in a very unpleasant way. Either the deck lid or the light is trespassing on the GT-R’s massive hindquarters.  Which one needs to retreat?


Much like the ribbed things in the front, this negative area reduces visual bulk and adds some excitement to a big-ass butt.  It is a necessary evil that does help this design.


These tailpipes are huge!  But you really can’t tell until they are isolated from the rear bumper.  The bit of carbon fiber diffusing to the right of the pipes is pretty tasty, too.  If only the entire body was as trim and toned as the lines and curves presented here…then we’d have a proper sports/super car.

Then again, Godzilla himself needed to lose a ton of weight from his midsection too.  So maybe this is no big deal at all. Thanks for reading, have a wonderful week.

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The Unimportance of Speed Tue, 22 May 2012 12:09:30 +0000

I’d like to lend you a car for the weekend. It’s going to be sunny, and you can head off early before the crowds get out. Take a nice road-trip: maybe, as I just did, blast up the Sea-to-Sky and into the rolling foothills beyond the Pemberton Valley.

Your choice, take anything below.
Car A: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Car B: 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds
Car C: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Car D: 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds
Car E: 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds

So, what did you pick? Click the jump to find out.

Apologies for the heavy-handed and clunky approach, but A through E, the cars are: 2012 BMW X5 alphabet-soup-with-the-V8, 2012 Volkswagen Passat VR6, 1984 Ferrari Testarossa, 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, and a 2012 Ford V6 Mustang. Oh, I almost forgot: you could also take a sixth option, Car F, which will do 0-60 in 6.9 seconds.

Lucky for me, that’s the one I chose.

And here it is.

Jack has already given us a piece on the pandemic prevalence of speed and power. His take? A call for a higher-bracket measurement; the 0-80mph benchmark that we now need to separate the nose-candy Fezzas from the front-driver family-wagens.

I’d like to pick up the threads of an earlier bit, one of his usually thoughtful screeds from the Avoidable Contact series. As Jack points out there, the world certainly doesn’t need a Hyundai Sonata that could easily walk away from Crockett and Tubbs if they miss even one shift.

But we’ve got one. We’ve also got a WRX that could go toe-to-toe off the line with my beloved Porsche 959, and in the Shelby GT500 we’ve got a Mustang that’s capable of outrunning the F40 at the top-end. A Mustang!

When I was a small boy, car magazines always had a page at the end of the review that included the various measurable properties of the car in question: 0-60, quarter-mile, skid-pad and so on. It was Very Important to memorize all this information, such that one was properly prepared for playground debate. If the new V8 Camaro pipped the V8 ‘Stang through the quarter, then it was the better car. If an available handling package meant the ‘Stang redeemed itself on the skid-pad, then it was better.

These things could be empirically and scientifically sorted out through the application of careful testing. We nascent gearheads had all the information required to bench-race any of the top performance cars and crown a winner without shadow of a doubt.

Then along comes something like the GT-R. With the heart-heavy sigh that comes from knowing this statement will probably cause unrelated debate, the Nissan GT-R is the fastest car in the world. If it’s not, then the gap is so close as to be unimportant. Godzilla has made the supercar irrelevant.

But there’s something missing about the car, a sense that perhaps instead of signing your name on the purchase order you should be handed an old-school NES controller: Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right A B Start. It’s not uninvolving – dear me, no – but it feels artificial somehow. It feels like cheating. Godzilla? More like God-Mode.

And another thing, it’s inconveniently fast for the road. I’m sure there are visceral thrills to be found on the racetrack – and if you own a GT-R, for God’s sake sign up for a trackday and get it out of your system – but I don’t live on or particularly near a racetrack. I live in a province with absurdly low speed-limits, an active police force, and a Motor Vehicle Act that allows the constabulary to take away your vehicle if you exceed 40km/h (25mph) over the posted limit.

There’s a place just before my freeway exit where the limit drops from 90km/h to 70km/h at the tail end of a long, straight hill. When I was driving a Hyundai Genesis with the V8, I had multiple moments where I’d enter the zone without thinking, having picked up a few extra klicks in the whisper-numb Korean without noticing it, and have to quickly correct my speed. I’m not normally in the habit of driving without an awareness of my velocity, but the effortless wafting of the Genesis was very deceptive, as with so many modern cars.

Power is no longer a luxury item. It is a universality of the modern motoring experience. What’s more, from an enthusiast’s perspective, it’s a real-world liability.

We are all suffering from a glut of horsepower. It’s a silly measurement anyway: bragging rights for Victorian steam-donkey owners. Real joy is not doled out in pound-feet or kilowatts and cannot be measured at the drag-strip or on the skid-pad. True driving pleasure is entirely an ethereal thing, which is why it’s so hard to get right.

“Driving a slow car fast is more fun than driving a fast car slow,”; it’s a tired old saw, but not without merit. I’d change it to, “driving a fun car fast is more fun than driving a fast car fast.” Whether or not a car is enjoyable to drive is almost entirely divorced from its performance prowess.

We wait to welcome the FR-S and BR-Z with open arms, surely, but we also hail the CX-5 and the Sonic Turbo, the Kia Rio and the Volkswagen GLI. I hope that somewhere in a lab in Honda, engineers are studying the Fit in hopes of finding that last gleam of Soichiro’s original spirit.

The Miata (fine, MX-5) takes a lot of stick for being a “girly” car. It projects none of the be-louvered aggression of other sports-cars, and certainly doesn’t produce anywhere near the numbers.

But it’s not a car that’s about bragging rights, not a car for peacock strutting or posturing. It is, in short, not a car you drive for other people. It’s a car you drive for yourself. And that’s what makes for a truly great machine, no matter what the numbers might say.

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Nissan Brings The GT-R Back To The Ring, Pits Nerds Against Race Car Drivers Wed, 04 Apr 2012 15:11:02 +0000

Not to have another stab at the best “production, street-legal” Nordschleife lap time.  That’s not why they are trading the chilly Eifel for balmy Yokohama. Allegedly, Nissan does not want to work on the 7:24:22 lap time.

Instead, says GT-R program director Kazutaka Mizuno:

We want to try something new this year. Just as important as performance improvement is, we must be confident about the reliability and durability of the car. This is the reason we chose to enter the 24 Hours Nürburgring: to perform harsher endurance tests for future performance improvements.”

That’s not the really new part. The truly new part is that the GT-R won’t be piloted by professional Nismo racers, but exclusively by members of the GT-R engineering team. Let’s see how that works out.

Here is some intentional (or not) intrigue: The GT-R’s best Nordschleife time stands at 7:24:22. However, Mizuno-san says in the video:

“From the 2007 model’s lap time of 7 minutes 38 seconds, this car achieves one lap of the Nordschleife in around 7 minutes 20 seconds.”

Something better than 7:20 would bring the GT-R back into the game. I’m sure the new Viper will be back. Possibly, Lexus could want to celebrate the 500th and last LF-A  with something better than 7:14. And while everybody is at the Ring anyway …

Picture courtesy Nissan Picture courtesy Nissan Picture courtesy Nissan Picture courtesy Nissan Picture courtesy Nissan Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 8
Nissan Distances Itself From Rogue GT-R Ring Racer Video Mon, 14 Nov 2011 10:28:34 +0000

Yesterday, the new 2012 Nissan GT-R landed on rank 10 of the fastest Nordschleife lap times. The only problem is: Nissan knows absolutely nothing about this record run. As far as Nissan is concerned, it doesn’t exist, and there is nothing to say.

The entry appeared in the all-knowing crowd sourced Wikipedia, along with a pointer to a video on YouTube (above). The video looks very professionally made. The Japanese intro is, as TTAC’s consultant in cross-cultural matters, Frau Schmitto-san, assures me, a little heavy on advertising speak and a little short on information. It basically says that the GT-R ran around the Ring on a set of Dunlop Zero Pressure runflats. The video shows a credible GT-R cockpit, and the timer dutifully stops at 7:21, then the video fades to black. Slightly suspicious: The lack of fractional seconds, which often become the deciding factor in the race against the clock.

If that video is to be believed, then the new GT-R shaved off a few seconds from the 7:24.22 achieved in October 2010, but remained shy of its self-declared goal of “less than 7 minutes 20 seconds.” Not to mention that the unofficial record stands at 6:48.

A check of the Nissan press releases found no official statement. On Sunday, I called my media contact at Nissan, who sounded honestly astounded: “Never heard of it. And I should. I will look into it.” On Monday, Nissan spokesman Nobukazu Tanaka assured me that yes, in October there had been GT-R test runs on the  Nürburgring, “as part of the many tests for the final trial of the  2012 model year GT-R.”

But no, there was no record attempt.

“In other words, we have no official announcement of a time trial or the results of the test run at the Nürburgring Nordschleife,” Tanaka said. He implied that at least some of the footage in the video is legit: “Video scenes which had been taken on the circuit had been broadcasted through CGM.”  In the trade, CGM is used as an acronym for consumer generated media. Whether this video has eloped the Nissan studios in Yokohama, or whether someone with a copy of Adobe Premiere had made it, we’ll never know.

This adds another twist to the many turns of the Nordschleife lap time saga. Manufacturers spend lots of money and countless man days running cars around the Ring, but there are no independent time takers. Professional race drivers risk life and limb, but officially, there is no race. If a manufacturer makes a statement, then it’s usually just the time, and rarely the rank. The score is kept on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The term “production, street legal vehicle” remains undefined, and when I ask manufacturers for a definition, they shrug their shoulders.

Because there are no rules for a race that officially does not exist, the race can easily be gamed. For years, the non-existent podium of the non-existent race has been monopolized by faux “production, street legal vehicles.” According to its owner’s manual, the Radical SR8, which occupies the two top spots of the list, needs to be started “with a laptop connected to the ECU so that all engine parameters can be monitored during warm-up.” The recommended warm-up time for the top-ranking alleged “production, street legal vehicle” is 45 minutes. No idle-stop here.  It needs its engine rebuilt after 30 hours, the drive shafts need to be replaced after 20 hours, and the brake discs must be inspected/replaced after 10 hours. Some production vehicle.


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Watch Out, Nordschleife: Nissan Launches 2012 GT-R Mon, 07 Nov 2011 10:17:24 +0000

Nissan today released the 2012 model of its super car that is not only for the super rich, the GT-R. This is not a pre-announcement of what will be shown at the Tokyo Motor Show a few weeks from now. According to Nissan, the car “goes on sale in Japan on November 24 at Nissan dealers nationwide.”

The 2012 model has more power (550 hp, nominal), more torque (632 Nm), and uses a bit less gas (8.6 km/liter or 20 mpg, definitely non-EPA).

Unofficial acceleration times, measured on Sendai Highland Raceway, November 3:

  • 0-100km/h: 2.8 sec. 
  • 0-60mph: 2.7 sec.

With the 2012 GT-R, Nissan most likely will have another go at the Nordschleife. Nissan certainly dropped ample hints during the launch.

“We have a car that has the potential to go from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph) in under 3 seconds, lap the Nurburgring in less than 7 minutes 20 seconds, and cruise at speeds of 300 kilometers per hour,” said Chief Vehicle Engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno.

And just in case you missed the subtle hint, Nissan will also sell you a  “For TRACK PACK” (get it?) that was jointly developed with the NordRing (get it?)  company in Japan. The pack ditches the rear seats, lightens the weight further with lighter aluminum-alloy wheels and gives the car a stiffer suspension.

The current Nordschleife lap time of the GT-R stands at 7:24.22. At “less than 7 minutes 20 seconds,” the GT-R would have to hustle to upset the Nordschleife production model ranking. Discounting the barely street legal and not quite production cheater models by Radical and Gumpert (read race cars with blinkers attached), there is ample competition amongst the bona-fide production cars, notably the Dodge Viper ACR at 7:12.13, the “Nürburgring Package” Lexus LFA at 7:14.64, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS at 7:18, and the Chevrolet Corvette at 7:19.63  – just to name a few.

Once the weather at the Ring gets halfway predictable again, look forward to a high intensity race, of which most manufacturers claim that it doesn’t exist.


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Nissan GT-R, Closed Course, Unprofessional Driver Sat, 05 Nov 2011 20:56:01 +0000

Today, I drove all 530 hp (more or less) of the 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged 24-valve V6 engined Nissan GT-R down their test track in Oppama, not too  far from the U.S. Yokosuka Navy base, home of the 7th Fleet. In a way, car, neighborhood and situation reminded me of the nuclear weaponry: Have it, but don’t use it. The GT-R  is good for a top speed of 196 mph, but I was repeatedly admonished that Japanese road rules apply.

Which means: Don’t go faster than 100 km/h (62 mph).  There is no Koban (police box) on Nissan’s test track, and a slight push of the pedal easily brought the car to illegal speeds when going into the straightaway, but the banked corner at the end was coned off, and a speed more suited for a school zone was demanded. I quickly longed for the Autobahn.

“It’s not a Veyron – but for the price …” said my chaperone, while I extracted my body from the low-flung RHD car. Indeed, at an MSRP of $89,950 for the U.S. spec model, the car can be an impulse buy – when compared with the $1.5 million Veyron. But you really want to drive this on the Autobahn. Imagine passing Porsches in a Nissan with a wicked smile. Then, imagine the salt flats.

I traded seats with Tsuigo Matsuda, the unassuming and friendly racecar driver who races the Calsonic IMPUL GT-R for a living. Suddenly, the Japanese road rules ceased to exist, and I was glad for the bucket seats that prevented the lateral g-forces from dumping the bulk of my body in Matsuda’s lap. I was longing for the g-suit fighter pilots have, if only to keep my body from getting bruised. He whipped the car through the “suburban course” that was advertised as “rises and falls with a 5 percent gradient through a series of curves that prevent you from seeing ahead” – but Matsuda must not have read the handout.

When we finally came to a stop, the familiar smell of rubber and cooking friction material wafted into the car. The car was surrounded by techs who made sure nobody would touch the smoking Brembo brakes.

Matsuda-san smiled and said: “You enjoy?”

With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With the GT-R in Oppama. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 11
$84,060 Nissan GT-R Beats Pants Off Most Supercars Tue, 19 Jul 2011 09:17:17 +0000

You may not care very much when U.S. News ranks the $84,060 Nissan GT-R “2 out of 8 Super Luxury Sports Cars.” The thought might cross your mind that with a paltry $84K price, it can hardly qualify as a Super Luxury Sports Car. But you will take note when Top Gear runs the car around its airport-cum-testtrack and …

… the rice racer leaves the Murcielago, the Ferrari 599, the Audi R8 V10, the Lamborghini LP840, even the Veyron in the dust.

The shame! The embarrassment! The utter mortification!

The Nissan did the track in 1 minute 17.8 seconds. That’s right up there with  the Noble M600 (1 minute 17.7) – and try to get your hands on one of those.

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Quote Of The Day: Go Tell It On The Forum Edition Fri, 30 Apr 2010 23:31:28 +0000

Nissan does not condone the comments made by this particular employee. While seemingly well-intentioned, many of the remarks are regrettable and do not represent the company’s views. Nissan’s policy regarding internet commentary is that an employee’s personal opinion must be preceded by a disclaimer that identifies their remarks as such and not necessarily the views of the company.

Ruh Roh!

As tends to happen when a car makes the leap from legend to reality, the Nissan GT-R was birthed amid considerable controversy. Aside from being an undeniably polarizing car, the R35 GT-R inspired a seemingly endless Nürburgring lap time brou-ha-ha, to say nothing of serious owner backlash on the launch control issue. It was this latter issue that apparently brought out the ugly side of one Chip Goetzinger, an assistant to Nissan’s North American Chairman, according to Jalopnik (who strangely call Goetzinger “A senior Nissan Executive”). The Gawker site captured comments that Goetzinger made on a forum, in response to, well, forum talk. The results speak for themselves.

The term “Parkinsons-ridden-testicle” has just been added to TTAC’s spam filter. Seriously though, this kind of comment does show how low discourse can fall on the internet… and why we take the time to moderate discussion here. TTAC requires employees of OEMs to identify themselves when they make comments, and requests that they use our contact form to pass along worthwhile information if they ever feel like throwing their career away. Topless Vobra’s comments are gone now, but they live on in internet infamy.

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