2008 GT-R Test Drive at Tochigi Testing Facility

Japan’s Car Top magazine has been informed in detail of Nissan’s secret test drive event held earlier this month at its Tochigi proving grounds.

An unnamed test driver has spoken exclusively to Car Top magazine about an event held by Nissan to allow 30 people to test drive the 2008 GT-R at its Tochigi proving grounds earlier this month. No media representatives were invited to the event so the lucky group of people only consisted of Nissan advertising and marketing personnel as well as some racing and test drivers to help out with the program. Over the 3 day event, the aforementioned unnamed test driver was able to put the GT-R through handling and high speed tests designed to show its superiority against two other cars for comparison, a Z33 Fairlady Z and a 997 Porsche 911 Turbo. All those assembled were told that the interior of the GT-R test car was fake and that the black front mask would not be coming off for the tests. The rear of the car however was unmasked and there for all to see. The unnamed test driver went on to describe the rear of the GT-R to Car Top and a CG image of that description can be seen below. There would also be 7 different GT-R models to be released (in different markets) and there would be four colors: the silver as seen on the Nurburgring test car, the gun metal gray as seen on the car at the Goodwood Festival, white and black.

The test course consisted mainly of 160km/h slaloms, laps of the high speed oval and emergency braking tests. The guests were first asked to put the Z33 Fairlady Z and Porsche 911 Turbo through the various tests to get acquainted with those cars and only after that would the GT-R be available for comparison. The unnamed test driver was initially surprised by the sound of the GT-R, right from the first push of the starter button he felt it sounded every bit like a supercar. The exhaust note was very strong but muffled well through the titanium system and had an unexpected note very different to the VQ35HR of the Fairlady Z.

The guests were only treated to the 7 speed semi-automatic version of the GT-R, the 6 speed manual car (although there was one present) was not available for testing as it was still in development. The ‘two pedal’ 7 speed semi-automatic operated so smoothly that you couldn’t tell gears were being changed if it weren’t for the engine sound. In the unnamed test driver’s opinion the semi-auto felt even better than Volkswagen’s DSG transmission. Up and down shifting was so smooth and very fast that it emphasized the incredible urge of the engine from low revs right up to the rev limit. The unnamed driver went on to say that the 2008 GT-R felt every bit as powerful as a tuned BNR34 GT-R with a power output of around 450 – 500ps, that output being the least one could expect from the 2008 car. The new GT-R’s chassis and suspension set up is incredibly stable, it actually hides the sheer speed of the car and gives a lot of confidence. Even with a higher output of 600ps and beyond, the unnamed driver was sure the GT-R’s handling ‘as is’ could easily cope. Multiple runs were made above 200km/h and the GT-R felt as stable as what it did at 100km/h. This led some of the guests to believe that the speed limiter was either deactivated or not installed at all. The Brembo brakes were an often talked about feature of the GT-R, the guests agreeing its braking power has to be experienced first hand in order to appreciate it fully. The ABS was working overtime at the Tochigi test event and the drivers were never afraid of not being able to stop even after repeated heavy braking tests.

There was a slalom course where the drivers had to weave through the cones at 160km/h and the 2008 GT-R cleared this test easily without any problems. The Porsche 911 Turbo on the other hand felt like it needed some adjustments made to it’s suspension in order to maintain the speed of the GT-R. As much as the drivers tried, the handling limits of the GT-R could not be reached under the circumstances. Precise turn in and directional stability are two strong points of the 2008 GT-R’s handling and the guests at the Tochigi proving grounds agreed that with these two points at least, the Porsche 911 Turbo has met its match.

The Engine

One area where Car Top magazine goes against what Best Car said previously about the GT-R’s power plant is that it will be powered by a VQ based V6. With 3.8L and twin turbochargers, the 2008 GT-R will be on par emissions wise with the Nismo Fairlady Z 380RS. Thats not to say that they’re sharing the same engine, the GT-R will get unique pistons, conrods and crankshaft. These parts will be able to withstand at least 600ps and will probably lead to a different engine code… possibly not ‘VQ’? Nissan’s VVEL technology will also be included.

The Transmission

Some were doubtful about the existence of a 6 speed manual GT-R, but this has been laid to rest by the appearance of a ‘three pedal’ model at the Tochigi test event. It seems that the 6 speed manual version is having problems clearing emissions testing so it’s likely that it will not make an appearance at this years Tokyo Motor Show in October. Apparently initial sales will only consist of two pedal 7 speed semi-automatic models however there will be 6 speed manual cars made available for racing events such as Super Taikyu. One other point of interest is the ECU used in the new GT-R. There will be 3 different engine control units available for Japan, and a further 16 produced for overseas markets. Each one will have its own unique map for various fuels and output levels. It’s possible this may mean some GT-R models destined for overseas markets will be slightly detuned depending on fuel quality and other factors.

Text: Justin Karow

Images: Car Top, Nismo

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