The Nissan GT-R. The ultimate Skyline. The preferred ride of Brian O’Conner. The Japanese Corvette. Godzilla. This is, to a lot of people, the definitive expression of Japanese automotive technology. The flagship for the entire country. And, apart from Acura’s NSX, it’s hard to argue with that.
The Nissan GT-R encapsulates a lot of the predilections of Japan’s auto industry and Japanese culture.
It is very high tech. It does a lot with a little. It is amazingly reliable. It is very, very thought out and refined. It is, in strange ways, practical. It is styled and finessed like a Bonsai tree. The GT-R is about as Japanese as Kobe beef or an upset Hello Kitty with a Samurai sword. This, however, is not even that. This is not “just” a GT-R, this is the GT-R Track Edition, and it’s a whole new beasty.
The GT-R Track Edition is the third model in the GT-R lineup. The Track Edition slots between the “T” (touring) and “R” (racing) models. The GT-R Track Edition was conceived to deliver a higher level of performance than the GT-R Premium, but not be as bat guano crazy as the line’s flagship 600 horsepower GT-R NISMO. The GT-R Track Edition cranks out 565 horsepower, which is the same as the GT-R Premium.
Over 600 horsepower would have been fun, but oh well.
The new GT-R Track Edition is set apart from its brethren by such performance-oriented features as the body’s additional adhesive bonding, which increases rigidity versus the GT-R Premium model. This is in addition to the normal spot welding, but sadly in place of fully seam welding the entire car. The suspension gets unique NISMO tuning that reduces weight and adds additional roll stiffness over the GT-R Premium. You also get NISMO-spec tires on the new GT-R Track Edition.
Speaking of the GT-R NISMO, the GT-R Track Edition gets the NISMO’s front fenders along with 20-inch NISMO forged aluminum-alloy wheels, and a special dry carbon-fiber rear spoiler. On the inside there’s a unique red and black color treatment with high-grip, Motorsports-inspired Recaro seats. “Motorsports-inspired?” Why not just throw in some real Motorsports-sourced Recaro seats?
All 2017 Nissan GT-Rs are built on an exclusive Premium Midship platform, which I’m guessing is Nissan-speak for a British “mid” engine; i.e. the engine sits behind the front axel line. This sort of set up allows Nissan to use a unique independent rear transaxle ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system. That places the transmission, transfer case, and final drive at the rear of the vehicle for better weight distribution for maximized handling.
The Nissan GT-R Track Edition’s power plant is a 565 horsepower, hand-assembled twin-turbo VR38DETT 3.8-liter V6 engine. All GT-R engines are hand-assembled in a special clean room by highly trained techs. They even give them a special Japanese name: Takumi. There’s an aluminum plate added to the front of each mill with the name of the Takumi, a nice touch. Torque is rated at 467 lb-ft., which is pretty good for an overhead cam six. The bad air goes out the back via a titanium exhaust system that’s standard, and probably very expensive.
The GT-R’s mill is mated to a paddle-shifted, sequential 6-speed dual clutch transmission, which, at the touch of a button, can be selected to shift at race car-like speeds. There’s also high performance differential oil standard in the diff case.
There is a standard Bose audio sound system with Active Noise Cancellation and Active Sound Enhancement technologies to filter out unwanted noise, and retain excitement during spirited driving. Which does fit with the character of the car, but it is also, to my mind, rather sad. You want to know how to make an engine sound right? Make it sound right from the beginning. Don’t mess around with fancy tech gimmicks like speakers and active noise cancellation.
Build the engine right from the get-go. Work the intake and exhaust tracts. Tune that exhaust they way any decent racing car company would, and it will sound fantastic . . . you know, like Porsche and Ferrari and Alfa Romeo have been doing for decades.
And this points out what is the “failing” (if you could call it that) of the GT-R. It is a $29 answer that 25 cents could have fixed. Nissan, like Japan itself, loves to throw high tech at any given problem. Why solve a problem in three steps when you can solve it in 103? Why make a car go fast and handle right with a high horsepower, naturally aspirated engine and rear-wheel drive, when you can make a car go just as fast with a twin turbo plant, all-wheel drive, and more computing power than the space shuttle?
But let’s get down to brass tacks here. The starting MSRP for a GT-R Track Edition is $127,990. And that is more than a loaded Corvette ZO6. And yes, you can say a Corvette is a blunt tool and the GT-R Track Edition is a precision instrument. You can say the GT-R Track Edition is a flint-knapped scalpel and the Corvette ZO6 is a meat axe in comparison. And you’d be right. But you’d also be right to say a Corvette ZO6 would chew up a GT-R and spit out the pieces.
But hey, it’s your money, and if you’re a fan of all things Japan, and really got a Jones for a GT-R Track Edition, please, be my guest and buy one of the things. I know you’ll enjoy it, and in many ways they are very hard to argue with. You best get in line, however. The GT-R Track Edition is by order only and will be available later this summer. The vehicle officially debuts at the New York International Auto Show, April 14th through the 23rd, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.