SINCE its launch locally in 2009, Nissan GT-R’s chief engineer, Kuzatoshi Mizuno, proclaimed that each year the model would be improved upon — a promise fulfilled to this point.
Almost two years ago we managed to spend time in the then planned 2012 edition, which was a marked improvement in turn over the initial model we drove two years prior to that — a slightly better ride quality, fuel consumption and, more importantly, performance.
Last weekend Motor News spent an afternoon at the Kyalami racetrack to attend the launch of the 2013 GT-R, which is now offered for the first time in SA with a Track Pack specification for those enthusiasts seeking a more focused variant of the already dynamic model for track purposes.
Still powered by the 3.8l twin-turbo V6 engine, making 397kW and 628Nm powering all-wheels via a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, the Track Pack edition receives a host of specific equipment.
According to the company’s info these include 20-inch forged aluminium RAYS wheels with a black gloss finish. Titanium exhaust mufflers have been designed to ensure high-temperature durability in excess of 1,000°C.
The interior, meanwhile, houses carbon fibre Recaro front buckets seats with high-rigidity carbon composite shells, which are said to have been designed by Mizuno himself. The rear seats are also removed on this model — in the interests of weight saving — and replaced by quilted cloth, for a more track-focused interior.
Cooling enhancements come in the form of titanium alloy and the addition of cooling fins, under-cover ducts and a reduction in plate thickness in certain areas of the muffler. A new carbon fibre front splitter is also part of the model offering, improved aerodynamic efficiency, as well as a new air guide to aid in brake cooling.
Arguably the biggest change comes in the form of a revised suspension setup, which has been co-developed by GT-R development driver Toshio Suzuki and NordRing Corp. Hard spring rates from the Spec V model have also been specified to ensure less body roll during high-speed cornering.
We set off onto the track for a couple of laps to test the improvements. Frankly, I am not the biggest fan of four-wheel drive vehicles as I feel that they somehow neuter the overall dynamics. The GT-R, however, proves the exception. Despite its higher weight compared to similar performance cars, the vehicle’s electronics apportion power so neatly that any misgivings about all-wheel drive shortcomings disappear.
Everything about the vehicle seems to be well judged. From the transmission, the unobtrusive stability programme, to the surgical steering and brakes, all work in unison, like the proverbial choir singing from the same hymn sheet.
Then, of course, there is the speed, which the vehicle seems to muster with very little coaxing from the driver. I found myself attacking apexes of the famous track quicker and more directly than anything I’ve driven thus far.
It’s a case of point and squirt and the vehicle simply obliges. There was nary a sign of understeer when tucking into corners. The brakes were well up to the task and even after many laps around the track there was very little sign of brake fade.
The four-wheel grip is a boon as you boot the vehicle out of corners sooner than you would in a rear-wheel drive car. Four-wheel drift is also a throttle jab away, particularly during the stress of driving conditions on a racetrack where placing and aligning the car for the next corner is paramount for fast laps.
As my confidence levels heightened with every lap, I tended to tap more into the vehicle’s vast grip and power reserves.
Many people would shy away from shelling out this sort of money on something that is not of German or Italian descent.
However, at this price level, you would be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that can deliver such accessible performance and dynamics — and therein lies the talents of the GT-R.
The model certainly lives up to its promise of getting better each year and the addition of the Track Pack edition is yet another feather in the model’s cap.
All models come standard with a three-year/50,000km service plan as well as a three-year/100,000km warranty.
GT-R Premium Edition R1,398,200
GT-R Premium Edition (Amber interior) R1,448,200
GT-R Black Edition R1,448,200
GT-R Track Pack R1,743,700