Inigo S. Roces / Kelvin Christian Go | December 19, 2016 11:28
Daily-driving a Kaiju
For those of us who grew up on the video game, Gran Turismo, easily the common denominator was a Nissan GT-R (in its many iterations) in our virtual garage. Quick off the gate, a rear biased all-wheel drive system, and tuneable to lunacy; it was the default choice for winning races and earning virtual currency to buy even more cars and upgrades. The game had etched the ferocity of this vehicle into our minds, conditioning us to worship it as the supercar that could do it all.
Since 2009, Nissan Philippines had been promising to bring in the GT-R. Seven years later, that promise was finally fulfilled. As it turned out, it wasn’t a simple matter of just ordering units and taking reservations, the GT-R could only be sold at Nissan High Performance Centers — a role the former Nissan Gallery in Quezon Avenue was happy to fulfill.
Now, with all the boxes checked, we finally get our hands on a proper, manufacturer-supported GT-R. Has the wait been worth it? In a nutshell, yes.
Despite carrying over many components from the 6th generation, Nissan insists on calling this the 7th generation. After all, the R35 has extensive updates to the aerodynamics, engine mapping, boost, adjustable suspension, and refined exhaust.
Semantics aside, it’s probably best that we had waited this long to get the GT-R. During the GT-R’s local launch, product planning head, Hiroshi Tamura, was here to explain the changes made to the vehicle. For one, it’s a more refined, more mature supercar. Though first evolving as a tuner GT car built to rival other Japanese exotics like the Supra, RX-7, and 3000GT, in recent years, the GT-R’s infamy has gained a wider range of buyers, many of whom have come to expect the refinement offered by European exotics like Porsches, Audis, BMWs, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. As such, majority of these changes were made to make the GT-R easier to live with on a daily basis. It’s been given adjustable damping, a more premium interior, quieter exhaust, and a broader powerband. Tamura strove to strike a balance between European supercar beating performance and daily-driveable Grand Tourer.
It’s evident once you step inside the 2017 model. Our orange GT-R was specced with the black and terra cotta interior. That terra cotta leather is spread generously around the interior. The dash and door cars feature soft touch materials. In spite of the evident tuner-car origins, there’s evident effort to make the interior more civil.
It’s easy to get into the perfect position with electronic seat adjustment via the multi-directional knob on the side of the seat while the steering adjusts for rake and reach. Naturally, the wheel features remote controls for the stereo, phone connectivity and cruise control. The center touch screen display features navigation and a back up camera, which can also be controlled by a knob on the center console. Connect your favourite MP3 player and tunes will be routed through an exceptional Bose sound system.
Yet keeping true to tuner tradition, many of the original Skyline hallmarks are still there. There’s the large tach in the center. Over in the center display is the customizable multi-meter function which displays a variety of readouts over five pages like boost, three axis acceleration, power and torque readouts, oil and water pressure and temperature, as well as torque split.
Pushing the start button brings the 3.8-liter twin turbo V6 to life. Unlike its European contemporaries, the engine bay covers as little as possible, allowing many to visualize potential upgrades in the future. All 570 PS and 637 Nm of torque passes through a 6-speed dual-clutch onto all four wheels, with power biased toward the rear.
Just pulling away from a dead stop, the vehicle makes its width and heft felt. The steering is heavy and the vehicle’s width is substantial, reminding you that this is no toy. Nonetheless, it’s granted a long-travel throttle, allowing you to smoothly modulate all of that power.
The maturity of the GT-R is made evident when driving in heavy traffic. With all the settings set to comfort, it returns a taut yet tolerable ride, shifts early, and cruises along quietly. Unfortunately it does little to aid fuel consumption, retuning 4-5 km/L in heavy traffic.
Still, once you prod the accelerator a brief pause while the transmission kicks down and the boost builds up suddenly turns into a surge of speed. There’s little to prepare you for the G-force of all-four wheels suddenly accelerating provides. The massive 15-inch brake rotors also return reliable stopping power — reassuring for such a heavy vehicle.
Three toggles along the button of the center console allow you to control the center diff, suspension and traction. Setting them all to “R” results in a truly wild ride. It takes a few tries to figure out the settings that really work best for your driving style. Nonetheless, in spite of all the power, the GT-R continues to reassure the driver with the mounds of grip the stock Dunlop tires provide.
Don’t expect massive power slides with this beast, its default behavior is all-wheel drive first and foremost. Despite having hydraulic power steering, there’s little feedback. It will return some understeer up front on tight corners. Yet thanks to the smart diff, feeding in some throttle puts more power to the rear.
It’s true that a lot of the electronics make the vehicle feel better than it actually is. Nonetheless, it’s reassuring to know these systems are helping all the time. They’re essential considering the sheer pace and power the drivetrain provides.
While the nickname, Godzilla, was originally christened upon the R32, it’s not a stretch to call the R35 the same. It’s massive and powerful, and able to part crowds of cars once they see you in their mirrors. In spite of the potency, the 2017 changes have also made it quite comfortable and enjoyable to drive every day. The only downside is the poor fuel consumption and the somewhat disconnected driving feel, but that’s a small price to pay for a car that can shame European exotics twice or thrice its price.