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.
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!
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.
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.
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?