Nissan GT-R: Kazutoshi Mizuno Interview


Last month PistonHeads was invited to visit Nissan's Nurburgring Technical Centre for an exclusive interview with the 'father of the GT-R', the car's program manager and chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno.

PH Editor Chris-R posed questions based on suggestions from the PH forums, and we captured Mizuno san's answers on camera. Check out the film clips below, for some fascinating insights into the mind of this famously single-minded chief engineer, and his philosophy about the GT-R project.

The fount of all GT-R knowledge very kindly answered all our questions in English, making frequent use of the office whiteboard to illustrate various points.

Without blowing the PH trumpet too loudly, we're forced to say that GT-R 'geekery' doesn't get much better than this. So pay attention class, and take it away Mizuno san..

Q1) For such a high performance machine, the GT-R is a big car and heavy one. Tell us why that is?

Q2) So what is the best way to reduce weight from the R35 to make it perform better?

Q3) In your previous answer, you seemed to be telling us the parameters of 1700kgs weight and 485hp were set from the beginning of the project, is that correct?

Q4) Why did you opt for a V6 engine, instead of an engine with more cylinders?

Q5) What about the transaxle - some competitors have seven or eight speeds, so why does the GT-R have only six?

Q6) The R34 had the HICAS rear wheel steering system. Why didn't that make it onto the latest GT-R?

Comments (85) Join the discussion on the forum

  • havoc 02 Apr 2010

    stuthemong said:
    When I first listened to the justification that heavier was better a few years ago I thought Kazutoshi Mizuno was talking nonsense - but I realise the point now totally.

    A/B for the average driver, on an average road, a heavy car can maximise performance.

    OK it's not an elegant solution to the problem, but when a car is easier to drive you can approach the limits more comfortably.
    IMHO you've missed the real point. A heavier car doesn't maximise the performance...a better-set-up car maximises the performance. The E39 M5 has better springs and dampers than the E46 M3, which allow it to 'breathe' with the road better. Fit comparably-expensive suspension to the E46 and it'd be quicker.

    I'd suggest that, on a dry road with decent visibility, a lighter car (with the same bhp/tonne) SHOULD be quicker than a heavier car as it can change direction quicker and stop quicker. Importantly, a lighter car also has to make less compromises regarding spring- and damper-rates than a heavy car!!! Grip is a complex little b'gger to quantify, but I'd argue that effective grip should be similar, as the lighter car will probably have a lower c-o-g and less mass for the grip to have to contain.



    I do agree with your last point though, which is why I'm despairing of the current crop of "honed at the N'ring" ultra-stiff machines...this (and very-low-profile tyres) does not make a car easier to drive...

  • stuthemong 02 Apr 2010

    When I bought my e46M3 I A/B'd it against a e39M5 to make sure the M3 was for me. I had actually always wanted a M5, but the M3 looked so mean and had come down in cost that I wanted a M3.

    Anyway, driving both the M3 and the M5 around bumpy b-roads around Huntingdon I realised something very quickly.

    The M3 was lighter. M5 heavier. Both similar power to weight.

    For me having never driven performance cars before, hussling the M5 along was much easier - that thing just ABSORBED the bumps, and effectively "lowpass filtered" the road. I have a similar thing at the moment with my quattro v.s. the cerb.

    When I first listened to the justification that heavier was better a few years ago I thought Kazutoshi Mizuno was talking nonsense - but I realise the point now totally.

    A/B for the average driver, on an average road, a heavy car can maximise performance.

    OK it's not an elegant solution to the problem, but when a car is easier to drive you can approach the limits more comfortably. You only have to listen to the commentry on F1 when they discuss which cars are a handfull to drive and which are well balanced - the well balanced cars normally go faster.

    Anyway, point taken that it's a quick car. I prefer something that's a challenge to drive, as ultimately speed limits dictate progress round these parts, not car peroformance, but I finally understand the point & from my experience can actually agree with it.

    Cheers,

    Stu

  • havoc 02 Apr 2010

    And people moan about 'bean counters' taking over car companies...I think it's obvious that it's really the marketing men! biggrin

  • Mr Whippy 01 Apr 2010

    He is right and wrong.

    I think the problem these days is marketing talk takes over.

    You won't get an engineer telling you how it is, you get the 'authorised' marketing speak.

    Nothing is a compromise, everything was the way it was because they chose it to be that way, not because on a cost benefit analysis it worked out the best, by the way here is the weight of pro's and con's.
    It would be more interesting to hear about those things to be honest, because it's real rather than what people want you to hear.

    It would be good to hear something about where the GTR isn't 'perfect', or where the balance of cost vs engineering ended up seeing cost a priority, but it is made out as if everything was the perfect choice, but it clearly doesn't happen like that.



    That said, it was less annoying than the Ford Focus RS pre-release video with Jost Capito talking about the big exhaust tips adding performance and other silly things biggrin

    Dave

  • VPower 01 Apr 2010

    What I think he means is that corner speed is a function of mass - tyre grip - down force.

    Perhaps that in his mind it's the compromise they wanted?
    To get a nice comfortable 4 seater family car, that is also a high performance sports car that can beat the 911 Turbo time around the Nordschleife as it's performance comparative.

    So can he be totally wrong?

    The car is clearly a Japanese car? By design? By looks? By Technology?
    This I suspect has more to do with it's current incarnation, simply to be Japanese.

    Weight wise it is the same weight as some other high performance luxury cars.

    However it weighs much more than the year 2000 Subaru Impreza I had, which was the most uncomfortable and noisy car I have EVER driven!
    Epic on twisty back roads, but a real pain in every other situation.

    So is it just a compromise that works?

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