Godzilla to chase a faster lap at the Nurburgring

Nissan is planning to head back to the Nurburgring's evil Nordschleife loop in April with its upgraded '09 GT-R with the very definite target of undercutting the 7min 29sec lap set last year.


Nissan's 'Ring test maniac Toshio Suzuki, in Australia to show off the car's credentials to the motoring media, revealed through an interpreter that the April assignation with the 'Ring is locked in and that he would like to leave Germany with a new best for the GT-R of 7min 25secs around the alarming 22km Nordschleife.

"I think this will be very dangerous," he added unnecessarily.

Suzuki, a former Japanese Formula 3, F3000 and touring car champ, says the "harsh environment of the Nurburgring is the right place to test the best car in the world".

In order to set a good lap, the car has to have strong engine performance, good brakes, great dynamics all working together, Suzuki explained. And someone to drive it quickly with the right experience and bravery to take blind jumps at 280km/h...

The MY09 GT-R gets revisions to the hand-assembled 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo engine which leaves it with 357kW of power (up from 353). Torque is unchanged at 588Nm and it's available between 3200-5200rpm.

The MY09 car can hammer out a zero-60mph time of 3.2secs, an improvement of 0.3secs).

Turn-in has been helped by improvements to the front lower control arm bushes.

Not helping performance but giving the GT-R greater range is the increased capacity 74 litre fuel tank.

Other changes have been made to the affordable supercar including the price. The base GT-R will go from its launch rrp of $148,800 to $155,800 from April 1, the day deliveries start in Australia.

The high-line GT-R Premium model (which gets 11-speaker Bose sound, black leather with red highlights, 20-inch Real black alloys and Bridgestone Potenza rubber) moves up $7000 to $159,800.

In Australia, 150 GT-Rs have been sold to date.

Driving the new '09 GT-R at Eastern Creek Raceway, wheelsmag.com.au concluded that it is a car that anyone on the right side of stupidity can drive fast and safely. So no argument with the slogan hung on the GT-R of anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The GT-R is also uncomplicated. Driver aids are simple to use and easy to understand.

Three different set-up switches on the console allow the driver to tailor the car to his requirements.

Stability/traction can be modified according to taste and adventure levels. In truth, there is always some protection, and the car, even with its prodigious grunt, never feels threatening.

One of three suspension modes may also be dialled in - Comfort, Normal and R (for race).

The brilliant Borg Warner dual clutch six-speed transmission offers three different behavioural modes too - the car's default is A for auto. But then the driver might opt for M (for manual of course), using the paddles behind the steering wheel. And ultimately R, where the gear changes are a rapid-fire 0.2sec. Here too, there is no over-ride and the driver has control over gear selection.

One major criticism: the paddles are fixed, so when the driver is midway through a tight corner, he must take a hand off the wheel to go looking for the paddle. For me, this real hurt the driving enjoyment and most also mean a slight loss in performance...

Considering the GT-R will be up for plenty of use on racetracks, Wheels asked Suzuki-san of his thoughts: "Do you prefer the gear paddles to move with the steering wheel when driving competitively on track?"

Assuming a neutral position, Suzuki-san declared he doesn't mind either way. "The GT-R is a production car not a racing car therefore it is better to have the gear paddles in a fixed position so the driver is aware of where the gear shift is." Suzuki said he made this recommendation to chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno when designing the GT-R." Sorry, we can't agree...

As a package, the GT-R has stunning point to point speed potential, with grip levels way beyond the point where any rationale driver would venture. The Brembo brakes, with massive ventilated 380mm rotors all round, feel up to the task of taking care of business during extended lappery.

Suzuki-san, clearly a gent with unparalleled experience in this car, worked hard to get it out of shape, but it was a task even beyond his skills.

And if he can't get it to turn feral, with all his experience and ability, we figure even a total goose may have trouble getting into strife.

It is a track day monster for dunces, with incredible value in all that it offers, from performance, ease of use, and electronics to save embarrassment - and lives.

Pics taken at Eastern Creek by Peter McKay

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