If the David-Goliath connection didn't sound familiar, let me recall the biblical tale. King Saul and the Israelites were fighting the Philistines. One of the Philistines was a giant named Goliath. As none dared to fight against Goliath, David stepped in. Goliath made fun of the young man who looked too weak an opponent for him. But, in the end, the young man downs giant Goliath with just a sling and a stone. Now, a David-Goliath fight is playing out in the supercar arena. But will the proverbial story be repeated here as well?
In the world supercars, the European automakers are unarguably the invincible giants. The Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis are the epitome of ultimate supercars. There are no significant rivals from the eastern hemisphere, until the arrival of the Nissan GT-R in 2007.
Popularly known as 'Godzilla' among its fans, the GT-R challenged the hierarchy in the supercar world. The Japanese samurai valiantly fought the established European giants and won its own space in the niche segment and earned fans all over the world. After nine years, Nissan updated the GT-R in 2016 without messing up its iconic design. Much to the enthusiasm of motor fans, the Godzilla is here in India now.
Sporty and no-nonsense exterior
The GT-R may not be as flamboyant as Porsches and Ferraris. That is alright because it is not meant to be like that. Japanese culture celebrates minimalism and that is clearly visible in the new GT-R design.
That doesn't mean that the GT-R is inferior to the European rivals in terms of design. The Godzilla has a unique stance. The new car's signature V-Motion grille is now wider and looks more aggressive. The front bumper has been chiselled up and a more pronouncing chin spoiler now adds to the GT-R's stunning looks. The wider side sills and the large diffuser under the rear bumper ensure improved airflow. The massive exhaust and signature four-ring tail-lights add a lot of character to the Godzilla which rivals can only envy.
Thoughtfully designed interior
When you come up with a functional and practical interior to a supercar, it may look dull and uninteresting. However, that is not the case with the GT-R. Nissan designers took feedback on the previous car and the new one boasts a premium black interior.
The double-stitched leather treatment on the dashboard top and door pads are certainly a step up and it is complemented with carbon-fibre touches on the transmission tunnel and around. Smarter rotary designed AC vents on the sides and rectangular ones in the centre console is a captivating addition and the touchscreen infotainment screen is larger now. For the spirited driver in you, the display reads out information like oil pressure, boost, various G-force numbers, throttle position and others.
Overall, the interior design is not as glamorous as that of the European rivals. Yet it has its own retro charm. The one thing we found a bit turn off was the key fob. It looks like the key of a Micra-like car. Is it again an act of intentional simplicity?
The heart and pulses
Powering the Nissan GT-R is a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that develops 570hp at 6,400rpm and 633Nm of peak torque. Only five master craftsmen in the world are allowed to hand-assemble the GT-R's engine and affix a plaque carrying their name. The master craftsmen are called Takumi and the engine of the GT-R is assembled at Nissan's plant in Yokohama, Japan. In our test car, the person behind the engine is Tsunemi Ooyama san.
The engine has gained 20hp of power and 6Nm of torque in the latest version. It comes mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Nissan claims the engine can propel the GT-R to reach from 0-100kmph in 3 seconds. At 1,752kg, the new GT-R is not a light car and it, in fact, is heavier than its rivals.
How does it feel like behind the wheel?
Nissan GT-R is designed to be a driver's car and it does the job quite commandingly. While we couldn't track the 0-100kmph time or top speed of the test car, it felt astonishingly fast in the short sprint with us. The photographer almost dropped his treasured camera while sitting in the passenger seat when I tested the acceleration of the car.
The harmony of the engine, transmission and steering wheel of GT-R is worth a special mention. The engine provides enough grunt to even minute throttle inputs and the gearbox adjusts to changes in split seconds. The steering wheel is very responsive. It needs only gentle inputs and is ever so accurate. The old-school hydraulically assisted steering may sound a bad idea but once you drive the car, you will appreciate the progressiveness at higher speeds and weights up in a delightful way.
The four-wheel-drive system in the GT-R has a rearward bias but can vary the amount of power it delivers to the front wheels. Accompanied by the weight of the car, the system provides exception stability in the straight line as well as while attacking corners. The tyres are clawed to surface and it provides a lot of confidence for a novice driver to use the potential of Godzilla.
Lastly, the three toggle switches on the tunnel console let you set up to three levels of performance for the transmission, suspension and the stability systems, respectively. The transmission switch in R mode sharpens the gearbox response. The suspension toggle lets you choose between Comfort mode and a stiff R mode. The third toggle switch will turn off the stability controls completely for expert drivers to thrash around.
The Bottom Line
The Nissan GT-R is retailed in India for over Rs 2 crore. At that price point, the Godzilla is certainly game for Porsche and Ferrari. The question is will you pay such an amount for a Nissan over established rivals? Well, many would go for European rivals. And Nissan is well aware of that and doesn't dream of selling more than a handful of GT-Rs a year.
The GT-R may lack the snob value of Ferrari, the precision of Porsche, extreme acceleration of a Lamborghini and attention from the public to a certain level. If you are the one looking forward to these, GT-R is not your sportscar. It is an everyday sports car with the right balance of style, speed, drama and practicality. The GT-R is a statement to no-nonsense sports car making and it is a fitting halo car of Nissan. Most importantly, it is obviously a David against not just one, but many Goliaths.