Perfection attained? - First drive: Nissan GT-R (2012)

  • First drive: Nissan GT-R (2012) - 0
  • First drive: Nissan GT-R (2012) - 1
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Nissan's monstrous GT-R has received a raft of improvements for 2012, including hike in power and interesting suspension upgrades...

We love the Nissan GT-R. But the ultimate alternative supercar has far more heritage than you might think – with the original Prince Skyline hitting the market in April 1957, with a quick 2000GT version following on in 1964 (after it maker was bought by Nissan in 1961). The first GT-R arrived in 1969, scoring a string of notable successes in touring cars over the course of the next few years.

But the Skyline GT-R remained very much a Japanese cult, remaining that way until 1989 when the R32 turned up in Europe to blow the doors off anything that looked vaguely like a rival. And each successive GT-R has rocked-up to the supercar party to run rings round the establishment, both in terms of sheer speed and ability and purchase price.

The current R35 GT-R is a case in point – it is comfortably the quickest four-seater coupe around the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and hurls itself from 0-60mph in a shade over 3 seconds. Nothing at the price (£71,950 in the UK) comes close in terms of sheer ability and raw pace, and it really is a weapons-grade example of the appliance of science.

But that hasn't stopped Nissan making it even better. For 2012, the GT-R gets more power (up from 525bhp to around 560 - the exact figure remains a secret until 7 November), a few subtle cosmetic tweaks up-front, and an intriguing asymmetic suspension set-up.We managed to bag a brief ride of the 2012 GT-R at a wet Silverstone, and ran it in changable conditions alongside its 2011 counterpart. Pulliing out of the pitlane, it's clear that the additional 40bhp-or-so from the twin-turbo V6 makes a noticeable difference. The car feels more urgent at the top end, and eager to rev, delivering a seamless speread of power through its impressively quick-changing paddle-shift six-speed 'box. In the dry, and with launch control engaged, we're hoping the big news will be a 0-60mph time of 3 seconds-dead.

Underway, it's clear that the improvements in dynamics are all about making the GT-R even sharper and more responsive. That aysmmetric suspension set-up (it's stiffer on the driver's side) might seem like an odd thing to do, but chief engineer Katzutoshi Mizuno is absolutely convinced that it's a step-change - and one that reflects his near-fetishistic attention to detail. All we know is that on track, the 2012 GT-R turns-in more keenly, and the mid-corner transition from under- to oversteer is even more controllable. It's improvement by degrees, and we're sure a longer run will be even more revealing.

In summary – nothing came close to the 2011 GT-R in terms of technological density, sheer speed, and focused madness for the money. And now they've made it just that little bit better for 2012.

Katzutoshi Mizuno, father of the GT-R project, spent time explaining his ambitions for GT-R: 'Every year, I want to make it faster, but not at the expense of driveability. What makes the GT-R unique for a supercar is that anyone can drive it.'



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