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A perennial Best Driver's Car candidate, the Nissan GT-R has shown well but never reached the podium. Could this finally be the year? With the most extensive updates to the car to date, there's compelling on-paper case to be made.
The 2017 GT-R updates start at its core, where its frame has been strengthened to reduce chassis flex. Moving outward, an updated interior is more comfortable and less cluttered. The engine has been upfitted with GT-R NISMO ignition control technology, which adds 24 horsepower and 4 lb-ft of torque for 565 and 467, respectively. More important than the peak numbers, the powerband has been broadened and flattened for more linear response. The seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, meanwhile, has been smoothed out with new control software.
Out in the wind, a new nose greatly increases engine-cooling capacity, and a new rear diffuser, a stiffer hood, and massaged creases keep the drag coefficient unchanged. At the corners, updated active dampers and Dunlop tires work with stronger suspension mounting points to tighten up the handling. Steel Brembo brakes are on stopping duty, pulling against super lightweight Rays wheels.
At turn-in, it will rotate, and I found I had to be a little careful with that. I thought I could just throw the thing into the corner, but this GTR is not a big fan of that. In fact, it doesn’t like it at all. It’ll get too loose at turn-in. Once the weight transfers all the way over and you’re trying to aim for the apex, it starts to understeer if I’ve got too much speed. So it does not like a heavy trail brake late in the brake zone. I had to be a little gentler with my entry, a little more precise, a little more measured with the corner entry. And then the power was very strong. There’s a big surge of torque. It’s got strong, what I would call, midrange, which is probably around 4,000-4,500 rpm, so I found myself having to apex later, and then it actually drove out of the corner real nicely. But I had to be a little bit patient with the throttle or in third gear up. Third or fourth would cause understeer. It would cause understeer as a result of the power more than anything. It just accelerates so hard that it runs wide. So you need a nice late apex. It’s also softer than I recall, much softer. I remember GT-Rs being known for being quite stiff, right? And I found it a little frustrating that I have an R mode, and it’s still soft. And the balance was actually pretty good once I kind of got it a little bit figured out not to overdo it. Historically, GT-Rs could be driven more aggressively. And this car was not rewarding that. I had to be a little bit more precise and then it actually felt like we were going pretty fast. I’ve got a feeling this is probably a much better street car. The NISMO was much more race car.