Costing close to double the price of the base GT-R the SpecV certainly needs to be a very special car to warrant all that extra money. With the promise of a more focused and tighter handling package, not to mention top of the line carbon brakes, there was only one thing to do, head to Sendai Hi-land circuit and get behind the wheel.
On top of the SpecV Nissan prepared a few other GT-Rs for the members of the press to test, the 2007 and 2009 GT-R as well as the white Nismo demo car you see above, fitted with the Club Sport package.
Here is Mizuno-san, head of the GT-R project, giving us a peek at the special SpecV catalogue. Mizuno-san has always said the GT-R will continue to evolve into better performing variants, something so obviously confirmed by the ever improving Nurbugring lap times the R35 has been recording. And ever so often NIssan will spawn a limited edition model, the first of which is the SpecV.
Looking at the SpecV there are only a few small changes hinting this is no regular GT-R. First up the special Ultimate Opal Black, a very dark color-shifting purple, that is offered on top of the regular color selection. A pair of carbon fiber air intakes bonded to the stock plastic splitter help channel air to towards the Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes…
…which, as Mizuno-san explains, contain far more carbon than any other set up ever made by Brembo. Here you can see the massive ø 380 mm carbon disc wired up to a special tester, which measures frequency response.
Specially tuned Bilstein dampers do away with the “Comfort” and “Normal” settings found on the stock cars settling for a more performance oriented set-up. The suspension were developed taking into account the lower weight of the SpecV, not to mention the substantial loss of unsprung weight achieved through the use of the carbon discs…
…and the lighter (-1.6 kg at each corner) forged wheels made by Rays Engineering. These, available as an option via Nismo (part of the $23,300 chassis package), were also fitted to the Nismo car, albeit in a different color.
Helping lower the weight by 60 kg to 1680 kg are the above carbon fiber additions which include the beautifully crafted rear spoiler and the carbon fiber subwoofer housing. The obvious question here is why not remove the subwoofer completely? In fact none of the GT-R’s gadgets have been removed. The navigation system remains as does the powerful Bose surround sound system and the satellite navigation. The heavy electric seats have been replaced by a pair of leather-clad, carbon fiber, reclinable bucket seats made by Recaro (- 6 kg each). These are the same ones that Nismo sells for $20,000, except the Nismo logo has been replaced by an embossed GT-R one. Additional weight saving measures mean that the SpecV is a pure 2-seater, as the rear seats have been removed and replaced by quilted fabric. It’s all finished off with carbon inserts for the dashboard and center console.
As you can see the carbon spoiler is exactly the same shape as the stock one. The most noticeable addition from the rear has to be the titanium exhaust system which makes the V6 burble feel deeper and a little more aggressive than your regular R35.
Looking at the SpecV on paper one can’t help but be confused, it aims at being a more focused, lighter car, but at the same time doesn’t want to give up any gadgets the stock car is packed with. And then there’s is the engine, it packs bigger turbochargers and a Nismo titanium exhaust but develops the same 485 PS the revision-II stock GT-R develops. The confusion continues…
…until you get behind the wheel that is! The SpecV is the definition of fine tuning, all the little parts that we have so far looked at combine to create a far better driving experience, something which was instantly evident the moment I took the first corner at Sendai Hi-land.
This is the track the GT-R development team have been calling their home for a few years now, it is where the GT-R was finely tuned before its debut back in 2007. It is a challenging track combining a good selection of fast to medium speed corners with tons of elevation changes. A true test for any car. The SpecV feels right at home here, being thrown from apex to apex. The suspension allows you to dig deeper into the chassis’s formidable grip and bring in more speed into the corners as well as allowing you to get on the power earlier as the AWD system puts all that torque down to the ground via the sticky Dunlops. With the traction and stability control in “R” mode the computers allow for a few degrees of yaw before reeling you in, but once the system if turned off the SpecV becomes even more impressive. It feels livelier, more nervous under power and through the corners but introduces a whole new level of adjustability making it even more precise.
There is also an overboost function which increases boost once you are above 3,500 rpm and in third gear or above, giving a barely perceptible increase in torque (2 kgm). But it’s the brakes that impressed the most. For a carbon ceramic system they offer superb accuracy with an instant bite and a progressive pedal feel. Under hard braking the greater adjustability helps you set up the car on corner entry and carry more speed. However when a replacement set of pads and discs comes in at just under $50,000 (no, that is not a typo!) you begin to wonder if it is really worth it!
To really see what the SpecV can do I was taken out for a few hot laps by Toshio Suzuki, the chief development driver and the man behind all the Nurburgring lap times. It’s amusing (and frankly a little bit depressing) to see just how fast a pro driver can drive a supercar, especially after just having done a few laps in it yourself. Suzuki-san brought more speed into the corners, broke harder and later and used the full width of the track and not once did the SpecV flinch. It truly is a stunningly fast car…
…but one that only makes sense on track. No matter how much I liked the SpecV the price is something I just cannot wrap my head around. If I’m paying over $166,000, double the base model, I want more for my money, a hell of a lot more. More power, less gadgets, a real focused machine. This is exactly what the aftermarket offers, for considerably less money. Nissan are only making 30 SpecVs a month, which indicates just how small its intended market really is.
Below is an onboard video I took during the drive of the SpecV. Enjoy!
– Dino Dalle Carbonare