Behind the wheel of Godzilla, the 2020 Nissan GT-R R35, 50th anniversary edition

Nissan’s GT-R is the Japanese monster that is built for the track but somehow allowed to drive on the streets. The famous nameplate is now celebrating it’s 50th anniversary and even more tweaks to make a great car, even better.

A gorgeous sunny Brisbane played host to Nissan Australia’s launch event this week, celebrate the big milestone of the legendary GTR. After racing the GTR Nismo Edition around The Bend late last year, offered the chance to get back in the seat, I jumped at it.

Climbing behind the wheel of the GTR again quickly reminded me why I love this car. It feels very analog and mechanical, so planted and connected to the road that is actually quite rare in modern cars.

The biggest compliment to the development team is just how well rounded the car is now, it’s so relentless in its acceleration, stops on a dime and breezes through the corners.

The car feels like the result of a series of very deliberate decisions to force the driver to actually drive the car, offering no modern technology like adaptive cruise control, no lane guidance, or Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

I’m not entirely sold that those decisions remain the right balance at the end of 2019. What’s expected from the car at 50k is that it has these driver assists and safety features, along with a modern infotainment solution. When the price lands at many times that value, its definitely expected that these modern conveniences would be available.

While the GT-R is about performance, it’s not obscenely focused on that or we’d see no back seat or any creature comforts. On the drive from the airport to the track, the route took us through a fairly lengthy highway section and that does reflect normal day-to-day ownership.

It’s these times where you’re not hanging off the steering wheel, that the car should be a nice cruiser as well, but be ready to shout in anger when you start a fight with it.

While all the innovation and investment in the automotive industry is focused on electric cars right now, it takes a seriously brilliant combustion-powered car to grab your attention. The 2019 Nissan GTR Anniversary Edition is certainly one of just a handful of cars that can do it.

With such a legacy and an event that showcased just how car the GTR has come in the last 50 years, it’s hard not to turn your mind to the future and imagine what’s in store for the car in the 4th generation.

Nissan isn’t ready to talk specifics yet, but during a Q&A session at the launch, it was great to hear from Nissan’s ‘Mister GTR’ Hiroshi Tamura, Chief Product Specialist of Product Strategy and Planning Division. In response to a question about the possible electrification of the GTR, he explained they are at least open to different drive-trains in the future.

Last year Nissan entered the Formula E championship. As it is intended to do, the technology, research and development outcomes from racing, are likely to find their way into future performance vehicles at Nissan.

As we watch what’s happening to the automotive industry, it would be crazy to invest in anything other than a fully electric GTR platform, especially if they want Gen4 to be around as long as the first 3 were.

While the Nissan GT-R’s 3.8L V6 engine still puts out a very healthy 419kW of power and 632Nm of torque, the adoption of NISMO technology for ‘GT’ acceleration, braking and handling performance are at the forefront of the technical updates to the 2020 Nissan GT-R.

2020 Nissan GT-R updates

Exterior design updates
All GT-R models have newly designed fog lamp finishers and blue exhaust tips, plus a new wheel design.

Blue Titanium Exhaust
Standard across the range, the titanium exhaust pipe is finished in blue which creates the look of being heated with high temperature exhaust gas.

MY20 GT-R introduces all-new alloy wheel designs that are lighter (the lightest wheels in R35 history) and more rigid (higher surface peer unit mass) for improved dynamics.

Wheels on Premium and Premium Luxury are 140g lighter than the outgoing wheels, and Track Edition wheel weight drops by 100g.

New RECARO seats (Track Edition)
MY20 Track Edition with NISMO optional interior brings the next generation RECARO seat with revised styling and improved support (better body holding performance).

Technical Updates (Standard Models and Track Edition)
The adoption of NISMO technology for ‘GT-like’ acceleration / braking / handling performance.

Incorporating new turbochargers (based off the GT3 race car), these help increase the engine’s low rpm response due to an abradable seal (technology mainly used in race engines), providing tighter clearances and a five per cent increase in efficiency. They provide even sharper engine response in and out of corners, making the driving experience more
rewarding and richer than ever before.

Transmission (for standard models not including Track Edition)
The 2020 GT-R features a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission with a refined “R mode that includes DRM (Downshift Rev Matching) for enhanced shifting
capabilities on both road and track.

It features more aggressive downshifts to better anticipate swift cornering exits, with gear selection happening during ABS engagement, resulting in reduced understeer and a more driver-intuitive feeling.

The adaptive shift control is programmed to change shift schedules to fit the user’s driving style, making it possible to drive according to the law on public roads, with full brute force available on the race track, without needing to manually change shift modes.

Electronically controlled suspension has been tuned to provide better cornering stability and a smoother ride while steering is more linear and precise than ever, requiring minimal corrections at speeds of up to 300km/h.

A special GT-R-specific yaw-rate feedback control measures the
differences between the target yaw rate calculated from the steering angle and actual yaw rate detected by the yaw-rate sensor and G sensor, and adjusts the torque bias accordingly.

Steel Brake Kit
Booster characteristics change (higher brake rigidity) increasing the area that a driver can push the pedal for a better response, control and feeling.

Pricing and Availability

As the GT-R is a niece vehicle, Nissan will be bringing most of the cars into the country based on orders, as needed.

The Nissan GTR pricing (MSRP) is as follows:

  • GT-R Premium – A$193,800
  • GTR Premium Luxury – A$199,800
  • GT-R Premium Luxury 50th Anniversary Edition – A$209,300
  • GT-R Track Edition – A$235,000
  • GT-R Track Edition w/NISMO int. A$247,000

At those prices, the GTR is definitely a car many will aspire to and never own. For those after a more affordable, more approachable entry into Nissan’s performance line, then the 370Z is also available.

  • 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition (6 speed manual) – A$53,490
  • 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition (7 speed automatic) – A$55,990

Bonus history

Nissan’s 50th Anniversary Edition GT-R launch event in Australia was a great celebration of where the car has come from over the years. The placemats at lunch showcased the dramatic evolution the car has been through since 1957.

Click the image below to see a full-sized version (5MB).

Nissan Skyline and GT-R history
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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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