Nissan GT-R: How the Skyline sedan turned into the impressive supercar

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Published: December 9, 2016 6:03:21 AM

Super cars are sleek and streamlined; this one’s angular, blunt. Super cars generally have two seats; this one has four.

The name has an impressive past. The first GT-R emerged in 1969, when Nissan injected steroids into the four-door Skyline sedan, turning this road car into a race car.The name has an impressive past. The first GT-R emerged in 1969, when Nissan injected steroids into the four-door Skyline sedan, turning this road car into a race car.

Super cars are sleek and streamlined; this one’s angular, blunt. Super cars generally have two seats; this one has four. Super cars are from the West; this one’s from the East. Nissan GT-R is unlike your usual super car, yet it is so much more.

Proud history

The name has an impressive past. The first GT-R emerged in 1969, when Nissan injected steroids into the four-door Skyline sedan, turning this road car into a race car. Called the Skyline GT-R, it beat some of the established names in the world of racing, showing the world what Nissan, and Japanese engineering, is capable of.

By the 1990s and into its third-generation, the Skyline GT-R was destroying its race rivals on the track, globally. During one such race in Australia, it was nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ by local press. Even today, the Skyline GT-R is celebrated in Japan. It regularly features in the country’s Manga comics as a ‘hero car’.

It continued its run, in parts—like many other fuel-guzzling cars, the production of the Skyline GT-R stopped during the 1970s energy crisis—until 2002, when it was finally discontinued.

Born again

In 1999, Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy. Carlos Ghosn, who joined Nissan as COO in June 1999, revived the company, and with it, the idea of an all-new GT-R took birth.

Kazutoshi Mizuno, an industry veteran, was given the task of creating a car that could beat a Porsche, a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, but which costs lesser than these European super cars. Another requirement was four seats and enough boot space for a family of four. It was to be made at Nissan’s Tochigi plant, north of Tokyo.

The design job went to Shiro Nakamura, the maverick car designer. Unlike the sleek and graceful curves that define European super cars, he gave the GT-R an angular design. It was honed at the Nissan Technical Centre in Atsugi, south of Tokyo.

Even though the shape that finally emerged didn’t look streamlined, it had one of the best drag coefficient (Cd) for any production car. Most modern sedans have a Cd number between 0.35 and 0.30. The GT-R has a Cd number of 0.26—lower Cd number means better aerodynamics—matched only by ultra-modern cars such as BMW i8.

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Art of engineering

A super car is defined by its engine. Under the hood of the GT-R sits one of the most powerful production engines ever made by Nissan. This V6, turbocharged petrol engine propels the GT-R from 0-100kph in just 2.8 seconds.

A super car is also defined by its handling. Even though, at 1,700-kg, the GT-R is a few hundred kg heavier than most of its European counterparts, this extra weight aids acceleration and handling.

How?

Because the weight is evenly spread across all four wheels, it maximises traction and there is minimal wheel spin. Thus, all the power the engine sends to the wheels is turned into acceleration.

The transmission, likewise, is an engineering prowess—it changes gears in 200 milliseconds. It is the world’s first independent, rear-mounted dual-clutch transmission. For maximising acceleration, the GT-R rides on super lightweight alloy wheels and tyres filled with Nitrogen.

A super car must be interactive. So, Kazunori Yamauchi, the Japanese game designer who developed the famed Gran Turismo video game, was called to design the multifunction display. Today, as you sit inside the GT-R, it ‘talks’ to you.

Arrives in India

The GT-R, which was launched in India for Rs 1.99 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi) last week, is an iconic super car that embodies the pinnacle of Nissan’s engineering prowess and driving performance. Nissan has shipped in 10 units to India and has received over 300 inquiries. Right now, it is available only at the dealership Neo Nissan in Noida, NCR.

The journey isn’t yet complete. There will be new variants over the years and the GT-R will keep evolving. But the GT-R parked in the Noida showroom right now is the best GT-R ever made.

(GT is short for Gran Turismo—Italian for grand tourer—a performance and luxury car capable of achieving high speeds and spirited long-distance driving. R is short for Racer. So, GT-R means Gran Turismo-Racer.)

vikram.chaudhary@expressindia.com

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