Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Wednesday 28th December 2011

2012 Nissan GT-R at the 'ring

The GT-R's lord of the 'ring domination didn't quite work out as planned in 2011...



One of the untold stories of 2011 was the Nissan 'ring record that never was. Back in September we were invited to a top-secret test session at the Nordschleife with legendary test driver Toshio Suzuki and Kazutoshi Mizuno, the eccentric godfather of the GT-R project. The plan was to set a new 'ring time for the updated 2012 GT-R. Except that it didn't really turn out that way. Here's the story of an extraordinary day.

Is my car ready yet?
Is my car ready yet?
It's early morning in the old pitlane at the Nordschleife. It could be just another manufacturer test day, but for an army of Japanese technicians wearing anxious faces. Ever since the R33 Skyline GT-R V-Spec became the first production car to lap the 'ring in under eight minutes in 1996, this place has been central to GT-R folklore. Nissan was the first company to properly exploit the marketing potential of the 'ring lap time and now every new supercar must prove its manhood by setting a lap faster than the last.

Warm-up act
In a couple of hours time ace test driver Toshio Suzuki will strap himself into the 2012 GT-R and attempt a hot lap. But first, they're letting me have a go. I'm ushered into the driving seat beside a local 'ring expert, whose job it is to make sure I know my Bergwerks from my Karussells. He must have giant gonads - there's no way I'd sit next to me in a GT-R on an empty Nordschleife.

So I take the Karusell flat, right?
So I take the Karusell flat, right?
The day's so top secret that I don't even know what I'm driving. Mizuno-san will admit only that's got more power, more torque, a stiffer body and new, asymmetrical suspension that's designed to counter the imbalanced weight distribution of right-hand drive cars. He reckons it's now good for 0-62mph in under three seconds, so I'm guessing it's got an extra twenty ponies and some electronic tweaks to the launch control. When the stats are finally announced in November, Nissan claims 550hp, up 20bhp, and 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds.

When the R35 was originally introduced in 2007 it was criticised for being too anodyne. It was as if the Japanese passion for electronics had subsumed the role of the driver. Stung by the criticism, Mizuno-san has evolved the car to reveal its soul. "It is very important that a supersport should be challenging to drive," he says. "There should be communication between the car and the driver."

GT-R is heavy but hides it well
GT-R is heavy but hides it well
Heavyweight contender
The results of these changes can be felt within the first few corners. At 1,750kg, the GT-R is still too porky, but no car is better at hiding its mass. This is a supercar with the bulk of a Klitschko and the agility of Pacquiao. The 2012 car's more nimble than ever and the steering has a crisp certainty that makes it easy to place, which is just as well when you're passing through the Flugplatz on the high side of 130mph.

Most road cars feel soft around here, but the GT-R offers effective resistance to roll. Suzuki-san reckons it's "important to concentrate on balancing the car on all four tyres," and it's easy to see what he means. You should never forget that momentum is the product of mass and velocity. If you want to go quickly, you must cajole this car.

Mizuno-san is just a tad obsessive
Mizuno-san is just a tad obsessive
Through Kallenhard the tyres chirrup as they're asked to work and if you push too hard there's a predictable transition to understeer, but it's well signposted. Recent tweaks really have improved the "communication between the car and the driver," but that's not to say the Nissan's revealed a darker side. Few cars this big and this rapid inspire such confidence. A Porsche 911 GT3 sounds better and feels more heroic, but you'd be sweating hard to keep up with the GT-R.

Nine (and a bit) tenths
Suzuki-san has completed over 1,300 laps of the Ring but reckons he never drives beyond 98 per cent of his ability, holding something back in the interests of self-preservation. Porsche legend Walter Rohrl commits to 95 per cent. "Standard cars are getting so fast that it's getting quite dangerous," Rohrl told me recently. "In a 911 GT2 RS you're doing almost 200mph at Tiergarten. If you crashed there you'd end up in the Dorint hotel." In the GT-R I hit over 180mph in the same spot as the wind whips up a cacophony. The Nissan's impressively stable, but you're aware of the inertia.

Specs not revealed at time of drive
Specs not revealed at time of drive
I hang a right and slide back into the pits. The technicians are still working on the record car, which is rigged with timing kit. It remains one of the vagaries of the 'ring that these tests aren't independently verified. There's no clipboard-wielding Norris McWhirter to stop Nissan turning up the boost. "If someone wants to cheat, they can," says Dirk Schoysman, http://www.pistonheads.com/ferrari/default.asp?storyId=20944 who set the GT-R Ring time back in '96, "but it's a matter of honour. Sooner or later the media will try and match it and if they can't get close, people will be suspicious."

Game over
Mizuno-san is adamant he's "testing the car for the customer, not for company pride," and takes the whole thing super seriously. So much so that in perfect weather conditions and with the cameras set to record his moment of triumph, he cancels the attempt.

Tyre indecision cancels record run
Tyre indecision cancels record run
"I cannot decide on the final specification of the tyres," he says. "If we change them in the future, the record run will not be accurate." So that's it. We have lunch, pack up and say goodbye. Our top secret mission has ended in inglorious failure. The next chapter of 'GT-R versus the 'ring' will just have to wait.

Footnote:
The 2012 GT-R was eventually unveiled in November on Dunlop Sports Max GT 600 DSST CTT tyres. Mizuno-san and his team are yet to return to the Nordschleife to establish a new Ring time.









Alistair tries out the GT-R's launch control:

 

Alistair Weaver
2 3
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

Wayney

Original Poster:

626 posts

93 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Sorry whats the confusion about tyres? Why not do a few hot laps on all the tyres of tyres available and choose the best time??

Dave Hedgehog

7,311 posts

91 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Wayney said:
Sorry whats the confusion about tyres? Why not do a few hot laps on all the tyres of tyres available and choose the best time??
the black art of running the ring, trying to make a car look bogo standard to give the impression they all can do it when months of prep goes into it, picking the perfect tyres, just enough fuel for the lap, those "special" press cars, the optimum track temperature and air temperature, perfectly conditioned brakes etc

so many myriad of factors that affects a ring time, why a lot of us don't take much notice of it, it has very little relevance to real world car use

that launch control thou, sub 3's!! that's going to make you king of the traffic light grand prix biggrin

and really if you want to get a good idea of what the GTR is like, go drive one, you only need one word to describe them "mental"

Edited by Dave Hedgehog on Wednesday 28th December 09:10

TheHeretic

73,668 posts

142 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
What do you mean, didn't work out as planned?

lovejaps

22 posts

35 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
can it really get much better?

Duffman83

121 posts

51 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
I would love to see Nissan take the drivetrain and engine and adopt it rear midships, drop a couple of hundred kilos and turn it in an R8 V10/MP4-12C rival. I think the performance would be even more devastating.
Advertisement

jon-

13,791 posts

103 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Sub 3 seconds, in a near 2 ton car.

st.

alexpa

547 posts

59 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Duffman83 said:
I would love to see Nissan take the drivetrain and engine and adopt it rear midships, drop a couple of hundred kilos and turn it in an R8 V10/MP4-12C rival. I think the performance would be even more devastating.
kinda like a new 'Tommy Kiara'

666 SVT

892 posts

127 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
It's as fast as it is hideous to look at !

johnpeat

4,287 posts

152 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Does Nissan have a gotcha on using the R-Mode Launch thingy - ala BMW's 'if you use it more than X times you void your warranty' bullst?

I realise it must kick-the-living-hell out of the clutch but apart from the obvious shortened life of that, any other catches to that simply stupid ability to toast ANYTHING off the line? smile

I mean - are there any other cars which can do 0-60 in 2.7seconds pretty much on-demand (and without being made of tape and plastic ala RS200s??)

BBS-LM

3,842 posts

111 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
I think this comment says it all really.

"It remains one of the vagaries of the 'ring that these tests aren't independently verified. There's no clipboard-wielding Norris McWhirter to stop Nissan turning up the boost. "If someone wants to cheat, they can," says Dirk Schoysman, "

Still an amazing car for the money. Bargain of the century.

Edited by BBS-LM on Wednesday 28th December 14:36

TheHeretic

73,668 posts

142 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
BBS-LM said:
I think this comment says it all really.

"It remains one of the vagaries of the 'ring that these tests aren't independently verified. There's no clipboard-wielding Norris McWhirter to stop Nissan turning up the boost. "If someone wants to cheat, they can," says Dirk Schoysman, "
Of course that applies to all, so all things being equal...

frosted

3,549 posts

64 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
BBS-LM said:
Bargain of the century.

Edited by BBS-LM on Wednesday 28th December 14:36
Not wrong there , still feel like strapping myself up with a load of debt just to own a bit of this .

OlberJ

13,977 posts

120 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Doing these figures, 0-60 and lap times, a "few" times before things break? Kinda cheating no?


HowlerMonkey

86 posts

56 months

[news] 
Wednesday 28th December 2011 quote quote all
Ring times are now all about which tire manufacturer can make the best R compound tire that is still considered street legal.

Villes58

840 posts

56 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
the Porsche 911 Turbo S did a 2.6sec 0-60mph time. Not sure if it'll be more or less reliable than the GT-R though

SonnyM

3,075 posts

80 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
BBS-LM said:
I think this comment says it all really.

"It remains one of the vagaries of the 'ring that these tests aren't independently verified. There's no clipboard-wielding Norris McWhirter to stop Nissan turning up the boost. "If someone wants to cheat, they can," says Dirk Schoysman, "

Still an amazing car for the money. Bargain of the century.

Edited by BBS-LM on Wednesday 28th December 14:36
Until you factor in the servicing costs....

Poverty

168 posts

74 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
Dave Hedgehog said:
the black art of running the ring, trying to make a car look bogo standard to give the impression they all can do it when months of prep goes into it, picking the perfect tyres, just enough fuel for the lap, those "special" press cars, the optimum track temperature and air temperature, perfectly conditioned brakes etc

so many myriad of factors that affects a ring time, why a lot of us don't take much notice of it, it has very little relevance to real world car use

that launch control thou, sub 3's!! that's going to make you king of the traffic light grand prix biggrin

and really if you want to get a good idea of what the GTR is like, go drive one, you only need one word to describe them "mental"

Edited by Dave Hedgehog on Wednesday 28th December 09:10
mental? id be more inclined to go for overweight.

The 2012 Nissan DLR, It does all the driving for you. No thanks

Agoogy

7,119 posts

135 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
Personally I can't get my mind around this car, for something that has such an ugly front end and an awfully ugly interior... all I keep reading is how it monster's everything this side of a Veyron, with it's sub 3 second 0-60 weighing THAT much...just speechless...what an achievment...some day very soon Nissan will have to admit that whatever they do/produce the next gen GTR cannot go quicker than the last...can't be far away...

Trommel

12,282 posts

146 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
Poverty said:
The 2012 Nissan DLR, It does all the driving for you. No thanks
The only reason these stories appear on the front page is to generate more forum traffic - the idiots who have never even sat in one say things like the above, others counter, the thread ends up twenty pages long.

Pointless.

nickfrog

3,605 posts

104 months

[news] 
Thursday 29th December 2011 quote quote all
Trommel said:
Poverty said:
The 2012 Nissan DLR, It does all the driving for you. No thanks
The only reason these stories appear on the front page is to generate more forum traffic - the idiots who have never even sat in one say things like the above, others counter, the thread ends up twenty pages long.

Pointless.
Or maybe it's the idiots who think managing traction and lat grip yourself is not an essential part of driving enjoyment and that no one should have a different view who cause twenty page long threads ?

2 3
Reply to Topic