Relentless Evolution: 2013 Nissan Gt-r

Don’t blame it on us if we come across as being repetitive, but it’s actually Nissan’s fault. It seems Mizuno-san and the R35 development team weren’t joking when, back in 2007, they announced the GT-R would continue to be fine tuned until the very last year of its production. So here we are, six years on and the famed Godzilla continues to impress. We were invited up to Sugo circuit to sample for ourselves if the latest changes for this year actually do improve what is in all effects an aesthetically unvaried car.

So starting with the exterior it was decided that the 2013 car (2014 if you are in the US) would be fine without any changes. It still retains the wider front grille design and LED daytime running lights that were previously introduced as well as the forged multi-spoke wheels made by Rays Engineering.

The VR38 develops the same 541 HP, but a few slight improvements have been made, little touches that serve as the perfect example at how fanatical the GT-R engineers are at perfecting the car. Thanks to a set of all-new high-pressure injectors, which boast a faster reaction time, throttle response has been made even sharper. Furthermore…

…a cunning little reworked relief valve in the turbos’ bypass allows for less pressure-drop when backing off the gas, so once you step back on the throttle boost picks up instantly. As Mizuno-san explained it through one of his world famous X/Y graphs, this actually gets rid of lag…not that there was much before hand to my recollection!

Press drives are always rushed; it’s great if you are only there to drive as you can enjoy the presentations, the copious amounts of coffee and snacks and every once in a while jump in a car for a spirited drive on track. For me however it’s a day of sprinting, running like a crazy man from the paddock where I have short bursts of time to shoot the car and then back to the pits where I suit up and head out for a drive. Oh and let’s not forget the action shots I need to get trackside! But props to all the guys at Nissan who, that freezing afternoon up in Sugo, helped me out by giving me extra time here and there to make sure I got what I needed.

It’s thanks to this extra time that I was able to fully appreciate the new 2013 R35 in more detail, looking over things like the new “Fashionable Interior” option which brings a breath of fresh air into the cabin.

The soft deep red leather and new stitching pattern for the seats have a more modern feel and matching upholstery can also be found on the door cards, dashboard and steering wheel. It’s meant to give a touch of elegance and I think they have really accomplished that. If however you want more, the Egoist is still available!

That menacing rump must be a scary sight to a lot of supercar owners who know just how explosive Nissan’s rocket ship is in the real world. Manufacturers love to claim Nurbugring lap times and this 2013 model has managed to lap it in 7 min 18.6 sec, over 1.5 sec faster than the previous model year car. Now this is an impressive feat in itself but the way they have achieved it is even more incredible. If you recall last year I posted a video of Mizuno and his team at the Nurbugring 24 hours, showing how they entered a production car into the grueling endurance race. The testing and experience the whole development team gained from it was all put into this years car…

…and it isn’t until you get behind the wheel that you fully comprehend the fine tuning that has gone on.

The R35 has always been commended for its “anywhere, anytime, anyone” ability, it’s a freakishly capable all round car but once you get it on track- its true soul really shines through.

I always forget how damn focused the car is, it really takes a few minutes to retune your limits, once again be surprised just how far you can push. One of the biggest improvements to this year’s car is the lower front center of gravity, which was achieved thanks to an improved geometry. This in turn allowed the use of slightly thicker front sway bars all of which called for the re-tune of the damper settings. The result is quantifiable both in the lap times you can extract from the car, but more so in the feel. Testing the 2013 car back to back against last year’s GT-R, it was obvious how turn in has improved. There’s more front-end bite, the car more willing to attack corners and soon, you find yourself bringing more speed into turns and as a result more out of them too as the push-out understeer that plagued the earlier cars has all but gone. Additional stiffening to two key areas of the dashboard member has also increased front-end rigidity, complimenting the revisions beautifully.

As for the engine, the reworked relief valve and injectors must really work because the VR felt almost NA-like in its response and pick up while above 4,000 rpm there was definitely more acceleration exiting corners. It goes to show that power isn’t everything! While I turned all traction and stability controls off while on track…

…I left the car to babysit me when I tackled the tight street course Nissan had set up for us around the Sugo circuit access roads. The damp and slippery corners would serve as an excellent test for the GT-R’s brains and believe it or not this is where the car impressed me the most. I say this every time I talk about an R35 but the way this car masks its weight really defies belief. While the 2012 was struggling through tighter corners with more under and oversteer, cutting more power in more instances – the 2013 glided over slippery second gear corners and shot out of first gear hairpins with ballistic acceleration. Under breaking too the rear end was more planted and those steering improvements, well don’t assume you need to drive 10/10th on track to feel them. I guarantee that the first few corners you take they will instantly come across.

And then there is the launch control. As Mizuno-san put it, with a playful grin on his face, if you want to accelerate faster to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a production car you will need a Bugatti Veyron. The fine tuning of the launch control feature makes it possible to shoot to 100 “k’s” in 2.7 sec – you just hold the car on the brakes pin the throttle and release when needed. What follows is a violent surge of power that will catapult you effortlessly off the line as the speedometer needle jumps to the 100-mark and beyond.

So once again we have no choice but to draw the same conclusions. You can criticize the GT-R all you want, it might not be as aurally pleasing and satisfying to drive as say a Ferrari 458, as involving as a 911 GT3, its design might not appeal to everyone, it may even look and feel too normal – but performance doesn’t lie. This is evolution at its best and again we are left wondering how better can the GT-R continue to get?

Nissan

Nissan Japan

Nissan GT-R

-Dino Dalle Carbonare


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30 comments
Speed_Kiwi
Speed_Kiwi

Dino, great pictures. When the R35 was first released everybody seemed to generally agree that the one potentially weak point of the car was its transmission. I know that a lot of the guys running R35 GT-Rs in Targa-style road rally events (e.g Targa New Zealand, Tasmania, Newfoundland) were finding that the gearbox was the first mechanical thing to break in these cars under prolonged hard road use, and I have heard rumours from the UK that Nissan GB recommended that owners use the Launch Control function only very occassionally (if at all) because of the extreme stress that this feature puts on the transmission.

 

Do you think Nissan have fixed/improved any of the previous model's transmission weaknesses with the MY2013/14? Certainly there will always be big stresses placed on a car's drivetrain when it's got to handle 541HP AND it has so much grip and traction from its tyres and suspension.

Novac Darius
Novac Darius

When I was a little kid , I was in love with the SRT8 GTS Viper , then , thanks to FnF I moved on towards the greatest car battle that took place inside me , Mitsu Evo vs Nissan GT-R. I always used to favor the Evo's till the R35 came out , gotta say , it was love at first sight. To me , there isn't a thing I do not like regarding this car. To me , this is perfection on all levels. I sworn to myself that , I will become someone who earns a decent amount of money and save all that for a GT-R R35 2013 , even if I wouldn't have any money for the gas the car requires , I would be happy just to see it each and every day in my yard.  But then , this is just the dream and desire of a 18 year old who drives a 2001 VW Passat and lives in a poor country lol ;).

 Btw , does the R35 2013 require a lot of fuel to drive or Nissan made a car that beats pretty much everything and also won't blow a hole through your pockets in order to provide it with enough food. (Well , considering this is the GT-R , I'd say it's food consists of Corvettes , Veyrons , Astons and plenty others , whereas the fuel is more like a soda for the car lol )

guReMcO
guReMcO

I love the GTR it's an amazing machine.

I wonder though. Say I bought a 2012 GTR, would I be able to get the car upgraded to 2013 spec? I'd imagine so but never saw it mentioned anywhere.

RSY
RSY

How time has changed the GTR! From the pure driving RWD machines of Skyline Hakosuka, Kenmeri, R31 GTS-R to all the electronic aids that the later generation GTRs have. Why can't they apply what they use in JGTC being RWD, lighter cars to a road GTR I wonder?

xracer6
xracer6

I personally like the GTR. I agree with what you said in the last paragraph. There may be more engaging cars to drive but the GTR is still a blast. Even Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear as well as reviewers of other outfits said despite seeming like there is too much tech at first glance, the car feels very mechanical and it doesn't ever feel like it's doing all the driving for you... Assuming the driving aids are off I'd imagine. I also think it looks great. Obviously everyone has styling preferences but hey that's how it is. I admire how the car has continually been developed over time to perfect it. A great example of the commitment and enthusiasm the team have for the machine. Cool article!

Llalandeusse
Llalandeusse

Probably the most complete, sorted performance car you'll find anywhere. Apart from styling, which is obviously subjective (and which I for one love), you'll be hard pressed to find a way in which the R35 isn't a complete game changer.

 

FunctionFirst
FunctionFirst

Makes you wonder how much ass-kicking the R36 will accomplish when released. Name it Mecha-Godzilla?

 

IB4JDMizedNegativeCommentsofDino.

Ben Scales
Ben Scales

I love everything about these GTR's. I get to right shotgun in a 2012 for TX2K13 this weekend! These cars have a way of making every worry disappear when you get in em

SeBaBunea
SeBaBunea

This is the most complete and best supercar I've ever seen. Now, I am sure most of you do not agree with what I am saying, but this is my opinion. I say this because it is fast, reliable, easier to tune the engine than a Ferrari 458 Italia and other supercars, and cheaper.

 

Bottom line, this is my opinion.

Corey K
Corey K

It just keeps getting faster!!!

milkplus
milkplus

This car is so quintessentially japanese. The technology, the Kaizen evolution, the balanced performance... the only problem (for me) is the Nakamura design.

Nick
Nick

Dino, would you swap given the chance?

JosephMcKinney
JosephMcKinney

Great article and I love the images. Great work Dino, like always!

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @Speed_Kiwi That's what happens when you innovate. The R35 was one of the first supercars at its price level to not only offer a dual-clutch transmission but a transaxle layout too. Even Lamborghini still doesn't offer one, it's a very hard transmission to get right especially if you have the much higher stresses of AWD. With each year more and more improvements have been made, including making that "sporty" rattle a little more bearable. Compared to the first few MY cars the launch control is much less harsher on the driveline so reliability isn't under threat as much as it used to be. I wouldn't want to do many of those launches if it were my car though...

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @Novac Darius I haven't had the chance to try out the 2013 as a long term car yet, but even with last year's car (the Egoist I features last year) it happily cruised on the highway at 100-120 km/h, returning about 10 km/L. That isn't at all bad for one of the fastest supercars in the world, now is it? ;)

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @guReMcO Well Nissan over the years has been offering its clients upgrade packages to bring their older GT-Rs up to spec.  I haven't heard if these 2013 changes will be offered, the extra stiffening of the dashboard member would be hard to do, but some of the other upgrades might be offered.  Won't be cheap though...

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

I sort of agree with you; while I don't mind the evolution, there is always space to offer more stripped out and rawer cars, true "RS" or "Clubsport" versions.  A wide body, stripped out, manual, RWD GT-R I definitely wouldn't mind...

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @xracer6 With everything turned off the R35 is a very easy car to take to the limit and beyond. That's why it's so fast and  physics-defying. Start off with a great sorted chassis, superb geometry and weight distribution, powerful motor, AWD then add advanced traction & stability controls and it's easy to understand why it's so damn good at coping with everything you throw at it.  

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

Agree. But no matter how fast and how technologically advanced, the GT-R will continue to be snobbed by a lot of people because it's just a Nissan. 

greenroadster
greenroadster

To answer for Dino: No, he wouldnt! R34 is a different car altogether. Youl would swap a 250GTO for a brand new 599GTO?

Dont think so... :)

He would rather buy a new R35 and keep the R34.

Dino? How far I am?

Matteo851
Matteo851

 @speedhunters_dino  @Speed_Kiwi

Lamborghini actually develop a different type of gearbox for the Aventador instead of using the DSG, infact the Aventador use the so called Lamborghini ISR (Independent Shifting Rods), which seems to be lighter but as fast as the dsg

Jmayhem
Jmayhem

For packaging purposes, a transaxle isn't particularly relevant for a mid-engined car.

Netraam
Netraam

@speedhunters_dino Japanese people are people who only makes perfect products. Maybe u are just a simple person Nissan is just a name. The 'making off ' proces shows its not just a Nissan. It is a powerfull and beautifull car.

speedhunters_dino
speedhunters_dino

 @greenroadster I would only swap if Mizuno-san did a GT3RS version of the R35. Wider body, stripped out interior, half roll cage, adjustable suspension. A serious track car for the street...which is what I am hoping Nismo will be coming with next year. If it's too soft and just a marketing exercise I will be extremely disappointed. 


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