RE: Litchfield GT-R LM20: Review

RE: Litchfield GT-R LM20: Review

Sunday 16th April 2017

Litchfield GT-R LM20: Review

All Litchfield knows about tuning GT-Rs in one very tempting package



Mid-way through our tour of Litchfield's impressive parts store and surrounded by machined from billet engine blocks, Inconel intake manifolds and any number of expensive ways to make a GT-R go even faster, I get a small insight into GT-R world. "We say about 800hp is about a sensible level," muses Iain Litchfield. "Beyond that you're just chasing issues around the car so that's about the limit if you're going to keep the standard transmission and other bits." 800hp. Sensible. In a car already more than capable of doing strange things to your innards under full bore acceleration with its stock 570hp.

Just the 100hp added for this tuned GT-R...
Just the 100hp added for this tuned GT-R...
I still don't understand what motivates people to do this. Other than they can, relatively easily. And if that keeps clever folk like Iain in business then hurrah for that.

After 20 years in the game, Litchfield and his team know what they're doing. Not least about how fashions can change, the Subarus they so exhaustively and successfully re-engineered now a fad that's all but passed. The GT-R is proving more resilient but, wary of having all his eggs in one basket again, Iain is diversifying into tuning packages for Porsche, BMW, Audi, Ford and more.

Saying that, if there's one car on which to pin the company's 20th birthday celebration it had to be the GT-R. Hence this - the LM20.

Interior as you were; money has gone underneath
Interior as you were; money has gone underneath
Humblebragging rights
Two numbers stand out, both for their surprising modesty. First is the 675hp power output because, yes, by tuned GT-R standards that's not a huge amount. Then you see the price - £96,995 on the road for a fully warrantied car with extensive modifications and upgrades to the engine, the exhaust, the suspension, the brakes, tyres and bodywork. Not cheap, of course. But when you consider Nissan charges £93,875 for the latest version of the GT-R Track Edition Engineered By NISMO - a car with over 100hp less - it begins to look like a man maths bargain. More so when you look at the £149,995 charged for the 600hp NISMO version, collectable or not.

When the LM20 was revealed at Autosport International it was wearing super-cool Volk Racing TE37s; since then this demonstrator has gained HRE items instead, wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Against the carbon front splitter - properly aero tested - and more aggressive lip spoiler at the back this all shouts serious intent. Can't fault the HREs for the boutique appeal or the quality of their forged construction. But to my eyes a fast Japanese car HAS to have Volks. Or maybe that's just me.

Any doubts that 675hp and 615lb ft - the latter from just 2,000rpm - seem a little undernourished (all things relative of course) are very swiftly dispelled in the first straight bit of road out of Litchfield's headquarters. Torque delivery in particular is much more aggressive than the standard car, the line climbing more abruptly on the graph compared to the stock engine's more mellow curve and 469lb ft peak. This is still a GT-R though, the power delivery most definitely boosty and turbocharged with a mighty kick when things light up. Response is faster thanks to new intakes, higher-flow injectors, new fuel pumps, cast downpipes and a 102mm exhaust system, but that old-school forced induction feel is very much there. And, I would hope, one of the things GT-R owners like.

More power, more torque, more noise!
More power, more torque, more noise!
Scary fast
And it sounds ANGRY! Those dismissing turbo engines as one-dimensional in power delivery and monotone in sound need to have a go in an LM20. Under acceleration it's all exhaust noise, a fearsome howl that gets seriously intimidating as the revs rise. Whooshes and hisses are there when you lift off too but there's no childish dump valve nonsense here, just a sophisticated and thrilling soundtrack to acceleration that leaves you feeling a little punch drunk.

Like all GT-Rs it thrives on revs too, pulling hard all the way to 7,000rpm. OK, I'll concede. I'd be happy with a standard GT-R. Or, rather, I would have been had I not driven this. On this brief encounter 675hp seems entirely sensible. I guess this is what you call the slippery slope...

Given where it's pitched against the factory GT-R range you'd be happy thinking the engine work was sufficient for the money. But the LM20 impresses not just for the outright performance but also for the fact it's a complete package. Suspension work includes new and custom tuned Bilstein Damptronic units to replace the stock Nissan-supplied items. NASCAR-spec springs up front are nearly 50 per cent stiffer and, in combination with a burlier rear anti-roll bar, the rear axle's settings have been dialled up too. Litchfield also fits its Handling Kit, comprising CNC machined blocks that alter the bushing placements and tweak the geometry for more stability and increased steering feel. But there's a wider range in the dampers too, so it's not all about track-focused brutalism.

Track focused, but immense on the road too
Track focused, but immense on the road too
More of the good stuff
Indeed, on the bumpy local roads Litchfield uses for testing you there is both more weight and authority to the wheel and confidence inspiring feedback in place of the tramlining you sometimes get. The whole 'PlayStation car' thing is a common criticism thrown at the GT-R but in fact its hydraulic set-up is beautifully weighted and wonderfully predictable even out of the box. And even better here, the LM20 having more of the 'on the nose' sense of adjustability you get in the NISMO cars. A 911 Turbo S has nothing on this in terms of feel or playfulness. And even for the ramped up spring rates you can actually drive the car in R mode, should you so wish, and not feel like you're being unnecessarily punished, the LM20 riding with flow and authority even on bumpy and oddly cambered B-roads.

Then there are the brakes. 400mm rotors up front, Alcon calipers, braided lines - it's all quality kit, clearly chosen by people who really understand what they're doing and what's required when you start making a car like the GT-R go so much faster. Let's not forget, this is now a bona fide 200mph-plus car, a figure none of the stock GT-Rs, NISMO included, can claim. OK, it's of symbolic importance. But important nonetheless. As is a nice, solid brake pedal with confidence inspiring power under the ball of your foot.

All sounding good, right? Well, it is. But you need to be quick if the idea of a complete package GT-R like this appeals, given that the '20' in the name refers to both Litchfield's years in business and the production run of this particular model. All the parts and expertise that go into it are, of course, available to build into your own upgraded car. But there's something rather nice about seeing it all offered upfront as a standalone piece of work. This really is quite the machine.


LITCHFIELD GT-R LM20
Engine
: 3,799cc V6 twin-turbo
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 675@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 615@2,000rpm
0-62mph: 2.5sec
Top speed: 203mph
Weight: 1,752kg* ('minimum' kerbweight with fluids but without driver)
MPG: 23.9mpg* (NEDC combined)
CO2: 275g/km*
Price: £96,995
*Official figures for standard MY17 GT-R

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

richinlondon

Original Poster:

83 posts

53 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
thank god someone has given that little Japanese sports car a bit more power. :-)


Derek Chevalier

1,503 posts

104 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
"the lines on the graph not intersecting until well over 5,000rpm"

?

Krikkit

12,524 posts

112 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Looks great, full warranty speaks volumes about their confidence in it.

It'd be interesting to get the Nissan engineers with a standard car and one of these to discuss the suspension changes and why Nissan didn't go with the same geo.


J4CKO

24,547 posts

131 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Ok, its a lot of money but the performance available sounds immense, would love a shot in one just to see what its like, would it feel like too much, I rarely think my car with just over half the power, and more weight feels like it needs more, those wheels look great as well, Litchfield really do have a name now.

trossr32

10 posts

125 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Derek Chevalier said:
"the lines on the graph not intersecting until well over 5,000rpm"

?
I'm guessing he means power and torque? Which always cross at 5252 on every dyno chart ever?!
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SlimJim16v

1,634 posts

74 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Very nice, much more my type of car than most Italian exotics and with 200mph it won't feel left out.

How much more than a std car though (35k?) and what are these "rotor" things?

Steven_RW

886 posts

133 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
SlimJim16v said:
Very nice, much more my type of car than most Italian exotics and with 200mph it won't feel left out.

How much more than a std car though (35k?) and what are these "rotor" things?
At risk of getting a "woosh" over my head moment in reply..

ROTORS: Brake discs on cars like this and many other sports cars are made up of two pieces. The alloy bell which attaches to the hub and then the rotor which attaches to the alloy bell and is the part that the brake pads touch to slow the car.

When these "brake discs" wear out, you only replace the rotors not the bells.

Have a quick google.

RW


Yipper

5,964 posts

21 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
The GT-R is starting to show its age now, but they still represent epic value for money (if you can cope with the hassle of regular upkeep). It has great road presence, and £40k will get you 650bhp, 3secs to 60mph, and the best part of 200mph.

davidcharles

390 posts

125 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
i hope Nissan keep making a GTR... they are great cars and more practical/easy to drive than people think.

SturdyHSV

6,047 posts

98 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
trossr32 said:
Derek Chevalier said:
"the lines on the graph not intersecting until well over 5,000rpm"

?
I'm guessing he means power and torque? Which always cross at 5252 on every dyno chart ever?!
I knew someone would have beaten me to it hehe

Here's another motor where the lines don't intersect until well over 5,000rpm. Probably at around 5,252 in fact. This cheap big block chevy definitely loves RPM as well right? hehe



Call yourself a car journalist and all that beer

thebigmacmoomin

1,765 posts

100 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Perfect ride height, wheels size & tyre size for me. Whist I like most cars with bigger wheels, this looks spot on even if you could fit something an inch or two bigger.

samoht

730 posts

77 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
As has been stated, it's a mathematical certainty that power (in horsepower) and torque (in lb ft) have the same numerical value at ~5250 rpm, so it doesn't tell us anything about this particular car's delivery.

This is because power = force x speed, so there is only one fixed engine speed at which power and force (torque) will be in the ratio 1hp = 1lbft, and based on the units, it works out at 5250 rpm.


Maths aside, this sounds like a spectacular car, and it's great to have a review describe how the handling compares to both the standard and special edition works models.

SturdyHSV

6,047 posts

98 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
thebigmacmoomin said:
Perfect ride height, wheels size & tyre size for me. Whist I like most cars with bigger wheels, this looks spot on even if you could fit something an inch or two bigger.
Couldn't agree more, I think with the right combination things look much better with a little bit of meat on the tyres like this, as opposed to the rubber band on 22" wheels that most tuners aim for.

This looks spot on, and I really like the wheels too.



Actually, not quite spot on, I'd say the front is ever so slightly too low, as the arch gap isn't even, it's a little squashed at the top. But then I'm weird like that. Either way though, looks fantastic, and with a ducktail rear spoiler would be perfect!

Edited by SturdyHSV on Tuesday 11th April 14:11

GloriaGTI

441 posts

18 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Growing up as part of the Playstation generation, playing the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza as a yout, I used to love taking the already fantastic Skyline and GTR cars and making them absolutely potty, adding every conceivable aftermarket option to them. Bored engines, larger twin turbo chargers, racing exhaust systems, super wide Volk's on racing slicks, larger injectors and intercooler, racing cams and so forth.

That's why I've loved Litchfield's work on these GTR's ever since I discovered them a few years ago. I feel like are living out my GTR tuning dream and share my childish enthusiasm for taking a staggering car from stock to the next level biggrin

One day....

big_rob_sydney

2,049 posts

125 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Love these cars, and Litchfield has a track record of making them even better. As mentioned, the warranty side is impressive. Plenty of tuners will turn the wick up and take your money, but then when it goes pop, you're left with one excuse after another if you can even manage to talk to them in the first place.

This is just icing on a very sweet cake.

Please sir, can I have some more?

SlimJim16v

1,634 posts

74 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Steven_RW said:
At risk of getting a "woosh" over my head moment in reply..

ROTORS: Brake discs on cars like this and many other sports cars are made up of two pieces. The alloy bell which attaches to the hub and then the rotor which attaches to the alloy bell and is the part that the brake pads touch to slow the car.

When these "brake discs" wear out, you only replace the rotors not the bells.

Have a quick google.

RW
Nope. Rotors is the AMERICAN term for discs. It makes no difference if they're one or two piece construction.

Other than actual Americans, probably only used by the type of person who says "can I take/get" when buying something at the 'store'. It's use by a British journalist is laughable, other than when describing an American vee-hickle.

Tuvra

7,555 posts

156 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
J4CKO said:
Ok, its a lot of money but the performance available sounds immense, would love a shot in one just to see what its like, would it feel like too much, I rarely think my car with just over half the power, and more weight feels like it needs more, those wheels look great as well, Litchfield really do have a name now.
Is it a lot of money though? A bog standard 911 Turbo S will cost you £50k more and that's it's only real competitor IMO.

SirSquidalot

2,902 posts

96 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
I have to have one of these at some point.

J4CKO

24,547 posts

131 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
Tuvra said:
J4CKO said:
Ok, its a lot of money but the performance available sounds immense, would love a shot in one just to see what its like, would it feel like too much, I rarely think my car with just over half the power, and more weight feels like it needs more, those wheels look great as well, Litchfield really do have a name now.
Is it a lot of money though? A bog standard 911 Turbo S will cost you £50k more and that's it's only real competitor IMO.
Yes, exactly what I was saying, its a lot of money for a car, but for one of that performance it isn't bad, just didn't want to sound like I was dismissing nearly 100k as loose change.

SturdyHSV

6,047 posts

98 months

Tuesday 11th April 2017
quotequote all
SlimJim16v said:
Nope. Rotors is the AMERICAN term for discs. It makes no difference if they're one or two piece construction.
You're right, American terms are completely unacceptable here on Pistonheads.co.uk