Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Photos: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
Exit Godzilla and Enter Destroyah!
The last time I did instrumented testing on the Nissan R35 GT-R in the Philippines was back in 2008 when it was freshly launched in its original form and imported by the Grey Market. You had to be brave and not just wealthy to buy one at the time because you accepted full responsibility for any fault or factory issue that may have come up. And then there were many buyers who not only bought the unsupported supercar slayer with all its risks, they even heavily tuned them with aftermarket parts which further stressed every aspect of the car. It was argued then that it was all still worth the experiments and bombastic pleasures because the GT-R was not just ferociously fast, it performed its abilities at significantly less in cost than a standard Porsche 911.
The 480 bhp GT-R had infamously already annihilated the Porsche 911 (997) Turbo by the smallest of margins on the Nürburgring, so we felt we should up the ante and get the Porsche’s more rabid variant, the GT2 with 530 bhp, to challenge the Nissan on the unfinished Clark Racetrack. You can read the story embedded deeply on our website’s archives. The long and short of it though was the Porsche GT2 was the faster car in the end but you had to be a professional to courageously extract the performance. The GT-R may have lost then, but it also costed a fraction of the German, and more importantly, less experienced drivers could drive it fast, comfortably and confidently all the time.
Fast forward to the new, heavily revised 2017 GT-R, almost a decade later, here in its very bright Katsura Orange launch color, and it is actually a very different beast. Now producing 565 bhp @ 6800 rpm and 467 lb-ft @ 3300-5800 rpm up from 480 bhp @ 6400 rpm and 432 lb-ft @ 3200-5200 rpm, it is actually more than half a second faster from rest to 100 km/h and faster everywhere else while being more fuel efficient and more comfortable with abundant standard equipment. It may be a heavily reworked car but it feels and drives with so much more maturity and refinement. And the very best part is that the GT-R is now an official import with full factory warranties and specifically trained mechanics to support it properly.
The older model GT-R felt great because of what it could do, not so much how it did it. There is even a more powerful and more visceral new NISMO variant with 600 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm and 481 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200–5,800 rpm. But honestly, the GT-R NISMO is just too much unusable performance which would just be deeply frustrating. Besides, I would prefer the supple, high quality, Saddle Tan semi-aniline leather seats over the Recaro® performance front bucket seats of the NISMO. I also think the standard car is aesthetically more elegant too.
With the mandatory dynamic testing accomplished, I began a whole new perspective on the GT-R, living with the car and used on a daily basis over a variety of locations. I wanted to revisit the concept of a real-world sports car with supercar slaying capability used for regular mundane errands with the occasional out-of-town jaunts. Would the GT-R be restrictively thirsty? Would it be too punishing on the road for both driver and passenger in heavy traffic? Would it be challenging to maneuver safely in said traffic?
The specially designed 11-speaker Bose® sound system rocked for sure, but our test unit unfortunately did not have the Philippine maps in its navigational system. The Bose® active noise cancellation and enhancement technology combined with the acoustic barrier in the windshield, and .26 cd drag coefficient, trims 10 decibels of noise from before. Despite all the new equipment, brilliant new lighting, structural refinements, and additional insulation, the new GT-R only gained 11 more pounds. The updated dual-clutch transmission worked flawlessly, and when driven spiritedly can shift as quick as .15 seconds, though I wish it had more gears to use. If I were to buy one, I wouldn’t need to upgrade the exhaust anymore either as it now comes with a fabulous titanium system that is actually 12 pounds lighter and quieter.
The car feels so much tighter and so much more athletic than before. I am thankful that the active Bilstein dampers have been re-calibrated for better and more pronounced differences between its three basic settings. I genuinely never needed to switch from the Comfort setting which also did not compromise handling and pace when I needed to open up the taps. It may be a huge car but it feels small behind the steering wheel.
I received our GT-R test unit with less than half-a-tank of fuel with an indicated fuel range of 170 kilometers. I brought it to the nearest Petron station to fill it up with 100-octane Blaze Euro-4 fuel which gave me a theoretical range of 305 kilometers as indicated on the tachometer. Without refilling the car, I returned the GT-R to Nissan Philippines’ Alex Mendoza with 220 kilometers more of range but had travelled a total of 424 (total potential range of 644 kilometers on a 74-liter fuel tank) test road kilometers that includes the high-performance testing. What a car!
If you’ve been waiting for the very best GT-R that flattens every Skyline before it, then wait no longer. Nissan has truly built an incredible car that everyone respects and even fears because of its astonishing ability. You feel like it can do no wrong. The only other car that currently breaks convention and delivers so much pace and technology is a car you cannot buy domestically: the Tesla Model X. On a side note, I couldn’t help but imagine the GT-R’s incredible engine inserted into either the Infiniti QX30 or better yet in the QX60, so you would have utility, luxury, comfort, capacity, versatility, and high performance all in an all-weather vehicle; I assure you that if Nissan/Infiniti built it for full production, it would sell.
A special shout-out, gratitude, and congratulations to outgoing General Manager of Marketing, Nissan Philippines, SJ Huh for organizing the test unit for us before he left for his posting as the new President and Managing Director of Nissan South Korea and to the lovely Therese Sarmiento for coordinating it all!
Specification – 2017 Nissan GT-R
Engine: V6, 3799 cc, dohc 24V, Direct Injection Intercooled Twin-Turbo, CVVTCS, 6-Speed DCT
Max power: 565 bhp @ 6800 rpm
Max torque: 467 lb ft @ 3300-5800 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 3.2 sec.
Top Speed: 314 km/h (196 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 16 mpg City & 22 mpg Highway
Price as tested: PhP 7,350,000.00
C! RATING 10/10
+Ferociously delightful, supremely fast and dynamic, now actually luxurious, no dynamic compromises
-The rear seats will only fit two small ten-year-old children, speed-limits