GODZILLA ON THE 405
2016 Nissan GT-R
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Mon, Nov 30, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story by Zoran J. Segina
Photographs by Harvey Schwartz
Tuesday morning and I am driving to work. The seats grab me too tightly. The 405 freeway is too bumpy. And there is a reflection in the steeply raked back window. But all is forgiven. Because my commuter comes with oh-so glorious 545 horsepower and 450 lb of torque emanating from a 3.8 liter V6 turbocharged engine all stiffly bolted on a track-ready chassis of a 2016 Nissan GT-R Premium. Earlier, I pushed the button on a center console which shifted the suspension from “Comfortable” (default setting) to “Sport.” I could have also pressed a button which would change the power bias between rear and front wheels. There is another button which disengages traction control. I was sternly warned told to leave that one alone alone. In the GT-R I do need all electronic assistance I can get.
How does it look? There is a wedge shape which stretches from the front and rises toward the back. It resembles classic design of the Z. Tradition is respected. The most beautiful design feature of the GT-R is that the is that the shape is subsumed to functionality. The wheel wells are housing twenty-inch tires Dunlop and 15.4 cross-drilled vented rotors and require sufficient space and ducts to provide cooling. On the front there is a broad nose with black front fascia which is split between lower and upper air intake openings. There are holes on the side to better funnel air to vent the brakes. The ornaments on the hood are black-accented intakes. And all of it is functional. Headlight assembly is flushed within the wheel wells accented by a series of six lower lights on the corners. Corners have ridges for aerodynamics. Cabin slopes from the steeply raked windshield toward the rear where it gets narrower. Rear wheels demand broader quarter panels to accommodate the size. There is angular structure and accents around C pillars. The trunk is capped by a large rear wing and dominated by four rear lights which correspond to four huge exhaust pipes.
Rocker panels are black with ventilation openings. Carbon accented louvers to help with air flow underneath. Door handles are flush. In the rear there is a brand logo - letters GT sitting atop the red letter R. The design can be summed in one word: Impressive.
As to bumpiness, I am not fair to the GT-R. The firmness comes from the fact that this machine has been designed for way smoother surfaces than the 405. A true full- blooded, short-wheelbase racer sitting on twenty-inch wheels cannot sacrifice road handling for my weak gluteus maximus. Tires are noisy, and the car breathes under me, but that what performance is all about.
And there is the acceleration. With the shifter in the automatic mode (also a default) I see an opening in a 75-mph freeway traffic. Brief step on the accelerator. Two seconds later I am deeply in a misdemeanor as the needle passes 100 mph. It’s the fault of the dashboard design. My view is filled by a tachometer with a redline staring at 6500 rpm. To the left of it is much smaller speedo. At rest, the needle points to the bottom slightly to the right. At 70 mph the needle is still pointing down. This instrument was not designed for with Southern California freeway speed in mind. The dashboard has navigation and audio with connectivity as standard features, but I can also bring the reading from the engine sensors on digital display - coolant temperature, engine oil temperature and pressure, torque split, and transmission oil temperature and pressure. Another setting allows me to read the boost of the turbo engine, as well as oil temperature and pressure. There is a stopwatch with the timer and lap timer.
Automatic shifter is straightforward. A flick to the right will switch between automatic and manual mode. The latter can also be engaged by overridden by pressing fixed paddle shifters.
Fuel economy is a decent 15 mpg. I did have some spirited moves which involved freeway but also some crawling in heavy traffic. On an empty road with cruise control on the GT-R will purr most of the time in the sixth gear as a normal daily automobile. Except when you need to awake Mr. Hyde in Dr. Jekyll. Or the Incredible Hulk.
Ante, the guard at the entrance to my office building, and I have been discussing my getting GT-R for a test drive at length. As I turn in, the car is too loud for me to hear him, but I can read his lips which say: “Wow!” The GT-R does elicit such reaction in most people. Ante, and several other officers inspect the GT-R in detail.
Climbing the driveways in a race car with a track ground clearance calls for cautions. Underneath the GT-R there is a carbon fiber skirt to improve aerodynamics. The engine is also protected by an aerodynamic plate
The GT-R is performance conversion kit for the uninitiated. It creates believers in a length of a half a city block. Pull out of a driveway, press the gas pedal and by the time we reach the corner, seemingly a fraction of a second, the speed is close to sixty. Serious middle-aged men are grinning from ear to ear because they have hard time comprehending what just took place. That is the magic of the GT-R. But it is not only the acceleration, there is stopping and handling. The brakes are so dependable that on the second day I am trying find out if the GT-R – travelling at the street speed of 35mph - will stop at the intersection if I do not press the brake until the front bumper of the car touches the letters STOP on the pavement. It seems imminently possible.
Another spirited entrance into the parking garage. Another officer with diminished appreciation for high performance driving. He remains silent, but his eyes are saying: “Please slow down.” I promise to him I will. Later that day, on one of the straight line acceleration tests around Los Angeles, a corner of my eye catches a glimpse of blue flashing lights in the other lane. Fortunately, the corner of his eye does not catch a glimpse of me.
When idling, the transmission acts like a competition tranny - it complains with a metallic sound. As I lift foot off the brake tachometer surges forward. When in full automatic mode transmission shifts into higher gears to save gas. But with 545 horses under the hood, fifteen dollars worth buys me less than 80 miles. The tires are Dunlop SP Sport max MAXX GT 600 DTTS specifically developed by Dunlop for this car. There is automatic tire pressure monitoring system. With tread wear 200, traction A, and temperature A, UTQC these puppies aren't going to last long.
The audio and navigation console contains buttons for map, route with the voice navigation, destination info, and telephone. Underneath there are A/C controls clad in carbon fiber. Ergonomically positioned buttons make steering wheel controls (volume on the left, cruise on the right) superfluous. Driver’s hand falls exactly where it should. This GT-R is a 45 anniversary Gold Edition with handsome dark gold exterior. Interior is basic black with carbon fiber accents in, and below the center console, and inside the instrument panel. White stitching on black leather visually lowers the belt line from the inside. The cabin is raked steeply toward the back. The pedals are metal with non-skid rubber.
What is a point in buying a racetrack car such as GT-R and using it as a daily commuter? First, I can travel much faster and more safely than in an ordinary machine. Abundant power will take me out of any trouble on the road. In a congested roadway I will be able to stop in much shorter time. The sense of safety and assuredness in the GT-R is awe-inspiring. Plus, it's fun. An immense load of fun.
Thursday morning and I am again driving to work. Wearing a suit and a tie. I would rather wear one lined with Nomex. And a helmet. My jacket is hanging on a hanger in the back. In a nod to ordinariness there is a small retractable hook behind the driver. On a good road the GT-R is, indeed, a civilized commuter. Friends who rode shotgun praised a comfortable ride when the road is smooth. The trunk is surprisingly large for a sports coupe. It swallows a lot and is easily accessible.
A true race car like GT-R does not appear out of the blue. Those who remember 1970s, Gardena Datsun (now known as Gardena Nissan), and its employee Doug Endo, remember his Datsun 510. With access to the SCCA racer parts from BRE, Doug would be first one to have them installed by the Gardena Datsun service mechanics on his 510 as soon as they were made them available . Polyurethane bushings, BRE springs, shocks, sway bars, front spoiler. . . . .the list goes on.
How about the iconic Skyline GT-Rs from 1969 to 1973? It was revived in 1989 with the Skyline R32. While it was winning all the races in Japan and many in the the Australian Touring Car Championship, Yankees could only drool, because that glorious thirty grand machine has never been officially imported here. A good soul takes me to see his Skyline. Right hand drive sedan, grey market car, few adds-on. In a word - gorgeous.
When it comes to racing Nissan has refused to follow established paths. Its Le Mans prototype is a front wheel drive. Piloted by a driver who was discovered through the company's on-line training academy. I still recall the thrill of being driven in the GT-R on the racetrack by one of the top graduates in the U.S.
I lift the hood to peer into the soul of the GT-R. A beautiful red-with-silver accented six cylinder engine is dominated by two huge turbo intakes. Two carbon fiber struts in the back keep torsional rigidity. In the front there is a little chrome plate. It bears the name of Hiroyuki Ichikawa - one of the four mechanics at Nissan who are authorized to assemble the GT-R engine by hand. I don't speak Japanese but will try.
Domo arigato, Ichikawa-san.
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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2016 Nissan GT-R Premium 45 Gold Anniversary Edition Price: $101,770.00 (base) $104,660.00 (as tested) 261 miles 15.2 mpg. EPA fuel economy rating: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway (LA Car observed: 15.2 mpg ) Engine type: 3.8-liter twin turbocharged handcrafted V6 engine, double overhead camshaft Horsepower: 545 at 6400 rpm Torque: 463 pound-feet @3200-5800 rpm Transmission type: ATESSA E-TS six speed automatic shifting with full sequential manual. Downshift Rev Matching and Predictive pre-shift control. Drive configuration: All-wheel drive Steering: Vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering; 2.4 steering-wheel turns lock-to-lock Suspension FHollow front stabilizer bar Rear: Multi-link rear suspension with aluminum arms; solid rear stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: Dunlop SP Sport max MAXX GT 600 DTTS 285/35 ZRF 20 (100y) tires. Brakes Front: 15.4" Nissan/Brembo® braking system disc brakes, six piston monoblock calipers with floating-rotors with diamond-pattern internal ventilation. Rear: 15.0" disc brakes with four piston monoblock calipers Curb weight: 3922 pounds Link opened into new tab: formulad.com/schedule/results [nggallery id=gtr2016]