Nissan’s gutsy Black Edition is hottest off the blocks

5 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Nissan’s gutsy Black Edition is hottest off the blocks
Lotus Exige

Nissan’s gutsy Black Edition is hottest off the blocks

Nissan GT-R Black Edition

Price $182,500 (excluding on-road costs)

Engine 3.8-litre, twin turbo V6 (petrol)

Power/torque 404 kW/628 Nm

Fuel economy (combined cycle) 11.7 L/100 km

C0 2 278 grams per kilometre

So what takes the prize as the fastest-accelerating road car driven for this column this year?

Could it be the Ferrari F12, or the new Plus version of the Audi R8 V10? Or perhaps the lightweight Lotus Exige V6, or the heavyweight Bentley Continental GT Speed?

No? Well, we’ve looked at the new Jaguar F-Type supercharged V8, the Aston V12, or something with a Maserati badge?

Again, no. If you accept the official figures our personal drag-strip has been out of service these past few months it was none of the above exotics.

It was a Nissan.

How so? Well, hovering way above the regular Nissan range and even above anything with an Infiniti badge is a stunningly powerful race car for the street, known as the GT-R.

It evolved from a humble Skyline and, over the past 25 years, the folks at Nissan have kept adding kilowatts. The performance claim for today’s all-wheel drive, twin-turbo-charged effort is an outrageous 2.7 seconds from rest to 100 km/h, said to have been achieved under controlled conditions at Japan’s Sendai Hi-Land Raceway.

To assist, the GT-R rims are knurled to stop slippage between wheel and tyre. And for the test they undoubtedly chose the perfect temperature, atmospheric pressure, and road surface.

Still, Porsche would have been just as meticulous when setting a time for the fastest version of its 911 Turbo S. Its claim is 3.1 seconds, and the Turbo S is a $440,000-plus proposition.

The Nissan GT-R, even in its dearest form the Black Edition, as driven here is a “mere” $182,500 (plus on-road costs).

It is a very different car of course, but if fast is your No. 1 priority, it has to have a look-in.

Riding on 20-inch black alloy wheels and with a big carbon-fibre spoiler on its tail, the Black Edition fetches an $11,700 premium over the standard model, though is mechanically unchanged.

Our car’s body colour was in keeping with its name, but five other colours are rather confusingly available on the Nissan Black Edition.

The 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V6 makes 404 kW and an exceptional 628 Nm, a maximum torque figure it can sustain from 3200rpm right through to 5800rpm. The still very fast previous incarnation had 390 kW and 612 Nm.

There’s full-time, all-wheel drive (though no longer all-wheel steering) and the software can push as much as 100 per cent of the drive to the rear, and up to 50 per cent to the front, depending on conditions.

The transmission is a six-speed automated manual with three driver-selectable modes. The damping is adaptable and adjustable, and so is most everything else.

Fascinating but not a beauty

Sorry to throw so many details at you, but the GT-R is an exercise in cramming in as much as can possibly be fitted within those brutal exterior lines.

Jaguar designer Ian Callum is a fan of the shape, calling it “almost anti-style in a way . . . it’s certainly not a beautiful car but it’s fascinating to look at.”

It’s a fair bet that no other Nissan has such a fervent fan club among the young (or anyone else, to be frank), nor is any likely to incite as many people to whip out their camera phones.

Mind you, I noticed only one Nissan badge, inside or out: the chrome circle on the boot lid. The real brand is GT-R, and the Godzilla nickname (coined by our very own Wheels magazine) is now used internationally.

Inside, revamped seats and a very fetching two-tone leather treatment are the main interior differences.

The dashboard is a little softer and more attractive than what has gone before, with fewer obvious borrowings from lesser Nissans. The equipment level is relatively generous, with a Bose sound system, a hard-drive for music, electric seats, and a new and much-needed reversing camera.

The coupe body provides plenty of space up front but very little leg-room in the rear.

It could be called a two-plus-two at best.

Lotus Exige

The central start button fires up the engine with a roar, then everything settles into a pleasing burble at idle.

At low speeds, particularly when turning tightly, you hear the clunk of various clutches, diffs and drive components cutting in and out, and occasionally kicking back through the steering wheel.

There are various grinding noises under acceleration, along with the considerable engine noise, reminding you that sound proofing was not a big consideration.

So what about the ride quality?

Driving the Nissan with even a little verve around suburban streets is only slightly less bruising than being in a cage fight. This car jumps and thumps and snorts fire even in the default settings, and it only becomes more extreme from there.

In auto mode, with the suspension on “comfort”, it is an adequate country road cruiser. When you harden up the suspension and start shifting gears manually via the long aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel, it feels like a pure competition car.

The guy who handed me the keys simply said: “Enjoy it and keep your licence.”

And I did. And as far as I know, I have.

But what is fun for the driver can be considerably less so for the passengers, who experience all the noise, vibration and harshness, and none of the control.

I drove the black Godzilla mainly in the wet not by choice and it could still generate enough grip to violently throw the occupants back in their seats even on a drenched road.

The car moves around quite a bit, following every channel in the road.

And despite all the clever electronics, it can still jump sideways if you’re too enthusiastic with the accelerator, even with the stability control on. That said, it is a car that demands you push it harder and harder until you find the limits.

The GT-R is widely used in serious motor sport as well as club events. In keeping with this, there is the opportunity to monitor a vast array of things. Via the central screen, you can scroll through 10 different displays to time events, or check turbo boost levels, transmission and engine oil temperature, acceleration and even G forces, though I suspect if you are generating serious Gs, you shouldn’t be watching a screen.

This is a car that is extremely powerful, capable and, in the right environment (ideally a race track), a great deal of fun.

It doesn’t have a lot of finesse but, as this model line’s long-term success shows, not everyone wants finesse.

The Australian Financial Review

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