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Thursday 27th October 2011


2012 GT-R TO SHAVE 8 SECS FROM 'RING LAP-TIME?

Test figures for next year's model show 7min 16secs lap is do-able...

Please mind that 'Speed Matters' banner Mr Mizuno san...
Please mind that 'Speed Matters' banner Mr Mizuno san...

PH went to Silverstone yesterday to catch up with 'the father of the GT-R' Kazutoshi Mizuno, and spend some time behind the wheel of the new-for-2012 version of Nissan's super coupe.

Typical graphic - one of the easy ones...
Typical graphic - one of the easy ones...
Mizuno san, who we met at the Nurburgring a couple of years back, remains on charismatic form. Listening to (and watching) his animated talk through the spec upgrades for the new 2012 version of the GT-R, backed up by the usual set of scribbled diagrams on whiteboard, it's hard not to wonder whether this humorous yet driven man is a crack-pot or a genius. The people who know him best - the GT-R development team at Nissan - clearly ascribe to the latter view and in the light of the man's achievements it's hard to argue.

I asked Mizuno san yesterday whether he recognised how his character differed from the stereotypical senior Japanese management figure, and he laughingly acknowledged he was regarded as 'an outlaw' and sometimes even 'crazy' by more conservative colleagues. In fact he reckons on spending more than half his working day just managing internal politics to clear a path for his 'no compromise' approach to development. Don't worry folks, I thanked him on your behalf!


The results of his team's latest activities were on hand at Silverstone, and while there's no visual difference between the 2011 and 2012 models, there's enough under the skin to make it interesting.

First off is a power hike, the exact scale of which will be confirmed next week, but which we're expecting to lift output to the 550hp-ish mark. Second, and for right hand drive markets only, there's an asymmetric suspension set-up (which Mizuno reckons may be a world first for a production car) designed to counterbalance the extra 50kgs weight of the steering assemblies etc. So everything's just a little stiffer on the right, and even the geometry has been adjusted. Small front end revisions also mean the nose of the car is a little 'pointier' to steer, an improvement that we were able to feel thanks to a quick cone slalom demo.


The extra power and chassis tweaks clearly improve performance, although it wasn't noticeable to me even driving the cars back to back on a wet Silverstone circuit - in spite of being 'shown around' by Andy Middlehurst. However, Mizuno told me that a review of the data collected from extensive Nurburgring testing reveals the 2012 car is on average 5-8kmh faster through every corner there, and 5kmh faster on the final straight where the car now reaches 296kmh.

Extrapolating that to a lap time, the man himself reckons we should be seeing a difference of at least 7-8secs against the current GT-R 'personal best' of 7min 24secs. (In fact he said 10secs first, but corrected himself with the air of a man who thought it best to appear conservative... the lap-time itself will tell!)

Other announcements due next week when the 2012 GT-R is officially revealed will include the availability of a Track Pack, which adds a Spec-V style interior, racing seats with high friction fabric to stop you slipping about, uprated brakes and a sports exhaust.


The firm is also considering making the Club Track Edition available in the UK - this will get you a car with a roll-cage, Bilstein racing shocks and slick tyres, plus five full track days including Nissan on-circuit maintenance, driver training with Toshio Suzuki (he who holds the GT-R 'Ring lap record) and the chance to rub shoulders with Mizuno san himself. A similar deal is already available in Japan, where it looks pretty good value at around £25k.

Mizuno san also talked about the platform extension possibilities of the GT-R, which in this current generation has at least five years of life in it. I pressed Mizuno san for more info, but drew a bit of a blank - although he did tell me this: "The GT-R is a two door coupe with a very big boot. Use your journalistic skill to imagine what might be next."

Hmm... GT-R convertible anyone?





Thanks Andy!
Thanks Andy!
 


Author: Chris-R
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