Nissan GT-R Nismo, Front view 19 Photos Zoom

Nissan GT-R Nismo put to the test: Godzilla asks for a dance

Wow! What a beast! Nothing is more worthy of the nickname Godzilla than the Nissan GT-R Nismo with 592 HP. First, exclusive track test on the Nürburgring GP course.

"What sort of a lightweight is that, shall we swap?" asks the older man at the fuel pump in petrol station near the Nürburg, as Godzilla guzzled down 102 octane fuel with relish. Swap? Not a chance. Godzilla? The aggressive nickname of an on-screen monster has already been borne by the Skyline predecessors, however, none have borne it so proudly as the HP thoroughbred in the Nissan stall: following the European launch of the cult Japanese tuning brand with the Juke Nismo crossover and the entry-level 370Z Nismo by the cult Japanese tuning brand, the Nismo spin-off of the GT-R joined the race back in September.

Once fuelled, we quickly climb into the Nissan GT-R Nismo cockpit. Instead of the rather thick Recaro seat found in the standard version, here the driver sidles onto somewhat more delicate bucket seats with carbon-fibre cladding, which also originate from Recaro. The lateral support for the upper torso is better, the side panels of the seat could, however, do with coming up a little higher so as to offer greater support. All this makes the sitting position lower, and even taller track fans will fit inside the cockpit wearing a helmet.

With the Nissan GT-R Nismo we head to Nürburg rather then Hockenheim

Upon pressing the start button, the drive chain is immediately wide awake, with a mechanical sound scape, while the rev counter needle inside the red dial with the Nismo lettering lurks in the 'watch out' position. We would have liked to have rendered the Hockenheim Ring unsafe with the Nissan GT-R Nismo, but the Nitrolympc dragster races are taking place at exactly the same time as our test. So this time it is the Nürburgring Grand Prix course rather than the Hockenheim short circuit. Unfortunately we are not on our own with exclusive use of the track for the "time attack" as would otherwise be the case, but as part of a track day. To begin with: the Nissan GT-R Nismo was not granted a completely free lap without traffic.

Click, click, click – we sharpen the GTR senses using the three toggle switches on the central console: All-wheel drive and dampers in R-mode, ESP off. We quickly move the gear lever of the six-speed dual clutch transmission to Manual mode before the Nippon warrior races through the Coca-Cola bend and along the start-finish straight with an infernal hiss.

49 HP more for Godzilla

In comparison with the 542 HP 2013 and 2014 versions, the Nismo model produces 49 HP more. 3.4 and 11.2 seconds – the values for acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h and 200 km/h later confirm what we could already sense on the GP course. The Nismo does not accelerate much faster than the previously measured GT-R (8/2013: 0–100 km/h: 3.3 s; 0–200 km/h: 11.5 s). After just four launch-control starts the transmission controller of the Nissan GT-R Nismo briefly switches to emergency mode. In actual fact, the thermal issues encountered in early GT-R versions appear to be history.

The maximum torque increases by another 20 Nm to 652 Nm. It is always fascinating the level of power reserve that the V6 biturbo, initially revealed in 2007 with 478 HP, has. Turbo lag? Boost pressure bumps? These words are foreign to the 592 HP Godzilla. The Über-GT-R doesn't carefully lift the sausage from the plate, but instead flips over the entire table. Shortly before the braking point at the start-finish straight, the Nissan GT-R Nismo hits 236 km/h and in so doing almost makes the GT racing cars jealous.

42 kilos lighter than the series GT-R

One moment later and the Brembo braking system has to put in some hard labour. The Nismo model topped the rankings with the most impressive deceleration values from 100 and 200 km/h recorded in the test stand, with a value of 12.7 m/s when braking at the Yokohama-S right turn after the start-finish. Early braking is essential. The Nissan GT-R Nismo doesn't like late brakers, as it can then no longer hide its 1,729-kilo weight and pushes over the front axle. Thanks to the various carbon fibre components (seats, boot lid, wings, side sills and diffuser) the Nismo steam roller still weighs 42 kilos less than the series model.

The Nismo version, fitted with the same wheel/tyre combination steers accurately into the corner. With carrier gas, however, the GT-R has a slight tendency to understeer, which can be neutralised either in advance be means of consciously positioned load change or by means of the abrupt application of load. At full load you then notice how the variable all-wheel drive distributes the power to the rear axle and the Nissan GT-R Nismo allows its tail to swing out slightly. Foot kept to the floor, a slight steering adjustment and the car storms on along the perfect line – the all-wheel drive Nismo belongs to the family of easily controllable HP beasts.

A taught set-up with slight understeer

Mercedes Arena, Dunlop hairpin, Schumacher S – in the test, the Nissan GT-R Nismo with its slightly modified chassis, including adaptive Bilstein dampers and higher overshoot values, carves through the course. Overall, the set-up is firmer. In order to further minimise the tendency to roll, there is a 17.3 mm thick, hollow-drilled anti-roll bar at the rear axle. Later, at 71.9 km/h, the Nissan GT-R Nismo weaves more quickly through the 18-metre slalom than its series model brother (70.5 km/h). Here too it understeers slightly and has to be straightened up by means of load alteration.

Four kilometres of the 5,137 metre course down as the Nismo races through the Hatzenbachbogen corner at 218 km/h and then, shortly before the NGK chicane, reaches its top speed of 237 km/h on the Grand Prix course. The Nissan GT-R Nismo flies over the finish line after 2:13.8 minutes. Three quick GP laps, each with a longer cooling down phase between, and our trip to the Ring is over.

Mysterious blowout

There was still one more light bulb moment: on the journey back from the Ring, when travelling at top speed (315 km/h) on an empty Eifel motorway, the tread of the back-right came away. Luckily the Power-Nissan was able to remain steady.

The tyre produced exclusively for the Nissan GT-R Nismo goes by the name Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT, but is in fact a 100% Japanese development, developed and produced by Sumitomo Rubber Industries in Japan.

We already had a similar case back in 2012 when the front-left tyre on a GT-R test car burst at high speed. Whether this particular case is actually the result of prior damage or of the combination of factory air pressure specifications with a tendency to be rather low and the simultaneously high vehicle weight is yet to be analysed.

Christian Gebhardt

Photo

Rossen Gargolov

Date

5 March 2015
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