Few cars are as fawned over by press and public alike as the Nissan GT-R. The latest in a long line of cars originally known as skylines, it has the appearance, heritage, the bewildering technology and, above all else, the on-paper performance to become a cult hero – an everyman blue-collar superhero quite capable of out-accelerating every Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini ever made.
The latest is this so called ‘Track Pack’ version. For an extra £10,000 it brings wheels lighter by a total of 10kg, stiffer suspension, additional brake cooling ducts and front seats covered in clever cloth that helps prevent you migrating across the cabin under the 1.3g cornering forces it can quite easily generate. Whether this constitutes value when you can buy an entire Ford Fiesta for less than the Track Pack option I shall leave you to decide.
What I can tell you is that the newly Track Packed GT-R offers one of the most intense driving experiences this side of an ariel atom, but unlike an atom it also has doors, a roof, wipers, sat-nav and cruise control.
But I still don’t want one. I know it’s essentially a track day car but no road car can live by circuit alone. So I got up very early one Sunday morning and drove it across some of the best roads Wales has to offer. This car is a true exhibitionist, a stranger to subtlety and nuance. If you’re not driving it as fast as it will go, it’s also completely pointless because the new suspension is so stiff it will make your journey miserable. Drive it as it insists that you do and it will put on a show you’ll never forget, but you’ll still feel you’re in the audience.
The interaction between car and driver, that vital interface that reassures you that you’re in it together, is missing. and for all its pulverising performance, this is what this GT-R fails to do. And you can’t put your kids in the back any more. Because it is so much more useable in a wider range of environments, the standard GT-r (which will
still get you to 60mph in under 3sec) is a far smarter choice.
I suspect this narcissistic Nissan will make you the talk of the track day as it blasts past every other car out there – it has the power, grip and braking performance to justify fully its formidable reputation.
But I suspect it will be at its absolute best when being bragged about down the pub by its owner. And when I think what other two-seat road and track warrior this kind of money can buy, my thoughts turn to the sadly no longer available Porsche 911 GT3 and the way it talks to you through every curve. It’s not how fast you go that really matters, but how you go fast. This Nissan is undoubtedly one of the fastest point-to-point cars the industry has ever created, but by comparison and on this scale, to me it still falls short.
ENGINE: 3.8 litres, six cylinders, petrol
TOP SPEED: 197mph
POWER: 542bhp at 6400rpm
FUEL/CO2: 24mpg, 275g/km