RE: World domination and the Nissan GT-R

RE: World domination and the Nissan GT-R

Thursday 31st May 2012

World domination and the Nissan GT-R

£10K for a Track Pack? It's all in Mizuno's five-year plan for the GT-R apparently...



The plan was to ask Kazutoshi Mizuno, GT-R mastermind, whether he thought the 2012 Track Pack went far enough. £10K for a set of new coils, wheels and cooling ducts plus the deletion of the rear seats has been raising a few eyebrows, after all. With several hundred road miles from London to the Nurburgring via Spa behind us, we have to say we're hardly surprised; a little less comfy it may be, but beyond that it's not easy to see where the money has gone.

This is the Track Pack in action...
This is the Track Pack in action...
When the standard car has the same 550hp and already goes 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds this was always going to be a problem. But before we get the opportunity to properly broach the subject, Mizuno-san is up and scribbling away on a flipchart in characteristically energetic fashion.

First he sketches an outline in black marker pen, the GT-R Track Pack as it leaves the factory. Then adds further details in red and green. Red takes care of the genuine racing modifications, the rollcage, the 120-litre fuel tank, the centre-lock mag wheels. Green, though, represents other changes - changes Mizuno-san says he's planning for future versions of the road car.

The penny drops. So that's why they're racing in the 'ring 24 as the 'GT-R Development Team'.

Drive to the 'ring took in a visit to Spa too
Drive to the 'ring took in a visit to Spa too
Track Pack to the future
This wasn't making sense for a moment there. Surely, the Track Pack is already on sale - why would it still be under development? But it seems Mizuno-san, Team Chief for the #23 race car, is already thinking further ahead.

He flips over to a fresh page on the easel, and draws a staircase that ascends from left to right.

The starting point on the left represents the GT-R as it was originally introduced in 2007. Each step is a year after this, and an accompanying increase in the GT-R's performance. He gets to 2012, marks it with a new Nordschleife lap time - quickly scribbled out, "secret" he says with a grin - and then draws another five steps further on. Following his initial logic, each step isn't just another year, but another increase in the GT-R's potential.

Mizuno better at engineering cars than drawing them
Mizuno better at engineering cars than drawing them
Parts tested here will either become elements of the road car specification or be made available as "customer sports options". Mizuno-san refuses to elucidate which is which, but the goodies include forged brake calipers, a carbon fibre boot lid, additional bodywork bracing, new aero packages, a differential oil cooler - and possibly those magnesium alloys.

Basically, he's pitching the N24 as extreme durability testing. Hence the repeated mantra "racing for the customer" - echoed by GT-R Development Team driver and current FIA GT1 World Champion, Michael Krumm. This not only makes for a nice sentiment - calling it a development exercise helps minimise expectations of success. But just how close we're told the race cars are to the production cars may actually be a bit of an eye opener.

Mizuno takes a hands-on role
Mizuno takes a hands-on role
"Just like driving to the supermarket"
If 1,600kg sounds hefty for a stripped and caged racer, you're not wrong. Mizuno-san, however, claims this is with 300kg put back in to better replicate the customer's driving experience (funny, then, that it's still around 150kg lighter than the current production Track Pack...). The engine, transmission and suspension are said to be untouched.

Krumm explains he has to sit there switching everything over to 'R' using the standard dashboard controls whenever the car is restarted, "just like driving to the supermarket." But even more remarkably they're running standard brake discs and pads, which are seeing temperatures as high as 900C.

Taken all together this makes for one curious racing car. With 550hp and four-wheel drive the GT-R is just about the fastest thing in a straight line on the circuit - including the front-running GT3 cars. Yet the brakes and the weight and the relative lack of aero mean taking it easy through the corners, or an end to the tyres and the stopping ability very rapidly.

Krumm: "You have to be careful not to overdrive it."
Krumm: "You have to be careful not to overdrive it."
"You have to be careful not to overdrive it," says Krumm. And with 31 laps already completed in qualifying - more than twice the number of the #123 sister GT-R run by the Polyphony Digital Team - he reckons the fact that absolutely nothing has fallen off or failed is "personally mind-blowing".

Taking no prisoners
Krumm is clear he and his co-drivers (Toshio Suzuki, Tetsuya Tanaka and Kazuki Hoshino) won't be taking any prisoners when it comes to the N24 itself. And despite the limitations of this road-biased, heavyweight machine, they're running as high as 30th within five hours of the start, significantly ahead of the #123 car, and 20 places up on their grid position.

Industry pool days just not tough enough now!
Industry pool days just not tough enough now!
A dream - until the technical gremlins kick in. All told the #23 car spends over four hours in the pits undergoing unscheduled maintenance. They make it across the finish line in 99th spot, the 104 laps completed some 51 fewer than the race-winning Audi. Durability testing in the 'to destruction' sense of the term.

A disaster? Not quite, because the similarly specced but apparently more sympathetically driven #123 GT-R eventually makes it home in 30th overall, completing 136 laps without serious incident. As a rolling advertisement for the Nissan GT Academy - the driver line-up includes original GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez and Mr Gran Turismo himself, Kazunori Yamauchi (alongside Tobias Schulze and Yasukichi Yamamoto) - it's a strong result.

Mr Gran Turismo and Mr GT-R together
Mr Gran Turismo and Mr GT-R together
Whether any of this gives the GT-R true circuit credentials, we're not so sure. But the methodical process of evolution outlined by Mizuno-san suggests the mega-Nissan has much more to come.

 

 

 

 

 





   
Author
Discussion

sege

Original Poster:

168 posts

150 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
so will each evolutionary step cost owners 10 grand? ouch.

Jakdaw

274 posts

138 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
So they're not going to share what the "technical gremlins" were? But definitely something failed rather than was damaged from an accident or riding the curbs etc?

IAJO

230 posts

86 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
Surely the evolutions are going to be hard to detect under normal conditions and if your tracking one of these it makes more sense to go secondhand and aftermarket tuning where it can be even more focussed at a more reasonable price. Be good to see how far they can take it though as its pretty awesome already. Hope toyota feel the need to weigh in with a supra at some point.

DanDC5

12,737 posts

95 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
Will be interesting to see what goes onto the GTR road car in another year or 2.

k-ink

9,070 posts

107 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
This strategy i certainly one way to achieve the most number of sales for a product. No sense making it as good as it can be out of the box. Everyone will want the latest thing and be fleeced accordingly.
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StottyZr

6,671 posts

91 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
DanDC5 said:
Will be interesting to see what goes onto the GTR road car in another year or 2.
A slight increase in performance and a large increase in price by the looks of it.

Ryvita

434 posts

138 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
I guess this all certainly sits in the "good news" bin, but were I to ever be in the fortunate position of buying a GT-R I can't help but feel that the knowledge of an infinite progression of coming improvements and tweaks would give me nightmares.

Think of it as iPhone syndrome. You buy an iPhone. The 3G comes out. You get a 3G. The 3GS comes out. You get a 3GS. The 4 comes out. You get a 4. The 4s comes out...

The temptation is there to sit back, wait the ten years while experience and market forces works out which model is actually the best (not always the last, given some people's preference for R33's or R32's...) then buy that!

k-ink

9,070 posts

107 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
Ryvita said:
Think of it as iPhone syndrome. You buy an iPhone. The 3G comes out. You get a 3G. The 3GS comes out. You get a 3GS. The 4 comes out. You get a 4. The 4s comes out...
Which is why I went for a free Blackberry. You can opt out of the herd. Not that a Blackberry is as good mind.

seefarr

470 posts

114 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
sege said:
so will each evolutionary step cost owners 10 grand? ouch.
Could be worse - you might have just bought a "German car that will remain nameless"* with some fancy seats for an extra £50k over list. . .


* I will not mention the P-word in a GTR thread.

Chris Harris

490 posts

81 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
Thoughts.

A few hours spent with Mizuno-san has the same effect as watching an especially powerful natural history program about the solar system: it unconsciously makes you question everything you thought you understood and what mattered.

Some of what Mr. GT-R says is controversial and inspirational, some of it is hard to understand, some of it is plain disingenuous.

The crux of his approach to high-performance is the quantity and role of mass he wants in a car. He says he wants a large kerb weight to drive the tyres into the surface and give that otherworldly traction – at first this sounds like utter tripe because a Mitsubishi Evo VI weighs 500kg less and doesn’t exactly struggle putting its power down – but within the overall GT-R philosophy of net usable performance it stacks-up –just. Add in the clever differentials and you have a car that provides perhaps the best on-road performance of any car. I stress, on-road performance…

But the only way Nissan appears interested in communicating this performance appears to be on the race track: through Nordschelife lap-times and now competing in the N24.

I still find some of the claimed GT-R lap-times hard to believe, but that subject’s for another day. What I cannot understand is Mizuno-san’s justification for mass in the context of a race-track. Cut through the spiel and the GT-R is just too big and too heavy to pound around a circuit. It kills tyres and brakes – everyone knows that.

It’s a big, heavy car. Make some carbon panels and it’ll still be a big car. It’ll never weigh less than 1550kg, which is nearly 200kg more than the obvious Porsche. That’s a massive deficit.

As for the evolution of the GT-R- well, it makes perfect sense to me. Drip-feed a series of improved products and people will always want the latest, improved model. Porsche flogged over 15,000 GT3s this way, so we know it works. Apart from one aspect: having the bloke in charge tell the world that every year for the next five years there will be a better, faster, lighter GT-R on sale. If Nissan dealers weren’t already struggling to sell Track Packs, they will be now. Remember, everyone thought the 996 GT3 RS was a one-off, that’s why people fought over them. If they’d known the 997 RS was already underway, the situation might have been different.

It’s great that the maker of the Leaf and the Micra gets involved in, for want of a better phrase, our world. Every time I drive a GT-R, I have to resist the urge to go and suck-up the finance and buy one. I just find the quest to prove its brilliance through lap-times and circuit performance a touch disingenuous; to me it’s a car that does its best work on a wet, threatening A-road. In that situation, it’s largely untouchable.

So, I wonder what the final spec R35 GT-R Track Nutter will be in 2016? 720hp, 1600kg, carbon everything, Kobayashi overtake button, 6min 59sec around the ‘Ring.

And they said the performance car was dead.

Good times.


M@1975

591 posts

155 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
I love the GTR in all its forms and have been privilaged to own an R32 in the past but I can't help thinking it's a little too big at the moment when compared to the cars of the past.

It is brilliant but possibly has a bit less spirit than the R32 or R33 iteration (I've never driven a 34GTR so can't comment).

The idea of a new version every 5 minutes does seem a little odd and will kill sales of special editions especially when you can modify a GTR to an incredible spec for a lot less than the options available from Nissan. Lets face it its a GTR, its not like people WONT modify them.

Itsallicanafford

1,771 posts

87 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
...its very cool that a company like Nissan are thinking in these terms. The company that brings us the Micra is also evolving and pushing the envelope with their super coupe, hats off to them...

MBK

28 posts

145 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
If only the vanilla version with 480bhp was still c55K. Then the GTR would still be a bargain and they could build the 'special' versions for those who have the extra cash and the need for the latest upgrade.

I decided even a 'normal' one was just too fast for levels of self restraint everyday and the track running costs are frankly out of my league. A slightly slower everyday car and a track toy suit me better.

If I had the resources to keep one as a weekend toy I would but even then the standard car would be more than enough.

DanDC5

12,737 posts

95 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
The thing is Nissan will keep selling the updated models and upgrade packs, spend any time on the GTR forum and there is a certain 'considerably richer than you' mentality with wanting the newest and most exclusive upgrades. The number of cars appearing with the Rays wheels fitted to the V-spec is testament to that.

Guvernator

8,118 posts

93 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
Have to say I have to agree with CH's post. The GT-R has always been a superb GT car (the clue is in the name) and it's on road performance would put a lot of supercars to shame, especially considering the price. However this current obession with making the GT-R out be some sort of Ring\Track warrior is really tiring.

The car is just not suited to that environment at all. Sure it can put in a couple of blistering laptimes but try extending that 10 or 100. It's far too heavy and track running costs can be ruinous.

THe GT-R's premise was always pretty simple but they are trying to make it into something it isn't. Sure the older gen GT-R's could be turned into decent track cars with some money thrown at them but they were lighter, simpler and cheaper. The R35 has far too many complicated\expensive bits which can go wrong to be flinging it round a track.

Lastly at £55k they were the bagain of the century but now they are rapidly approaching the £80k mark, not so much. At £55k they made an excellent choice as a very quick GT road car. At £80k they do not make sense as a track toy which seems to be what they are trying to turn it into. There are far better cars suited to that task for the money.

The Obeast

99 posts

72 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
I dont understand why people keep complaining about the price, I cant afford anythin like these kind of cars so my comparison is based on this.

Name one other brand new 'proper' (roof, air con stereo etc. not radicals!) car that (according to press reports) can accelerate and out handle the gt-r for the money?

I honestly cant think of any.

And Im far from a nissan fanboy

gmh23

252 posts

108 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
The Obeast said:
Name one other brand new 'proper' (roof, air con stereo etc. not radicals!) car that (according to press reports) can accelerate and out handle the gt-r for the money?
Ultima GTR?

The Obeast

99 posts

72 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
as cool as the ultima is, its nothing more than a road legal racer.

Sajan

12 posts

83 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
That picture of Kaz and Mizuno san.. WOW JUST WOW. It baffles my mind just thinking about the combined knowledge them two have about cars. Definitely two of the biggest petrol heads out there. I'd love to talk to them about cars over some Sushi or Ramen argue
JDM gods

Twoshoe

391 posts

112 months

Thursday 31st May 2012
quotequote all
His drawing looks like a 1950s Morris Oxford!