I’ve driven the GT-R on a track before. It was at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 2016 for the launch of the updated 2017 model. The sheer joy of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was tempered by a consistent downpour. And Spa is big track without the tight corners of Gingerman. Today is bright and sunny with temperatures in the 90s. It might be sweaty work, but the grip should be phenomenal, and the conditions should reveal Godzilla’s true performance personality.
I plan on five 12-15-minute sessions that will include an out lap, five or so timed laps, and a cool-down lap. That’s hard work for any car, and it can result in heat-soak—especially on a day like this—or flat-out malfunction. A 2016 Focus RS performed well here, but its torque-vectoring rear differential eventually overheated after a lot of exercise, while a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio threw nine codes on just the second session.
Godzilla isn’t so soft. Let’s see how it handles five sessions of track time.
2018 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, Gingerman Raceway, May 2018Enlarge Photo
Just prior to my session I hit the Function button next to the center screen and go the Stop Watch screen. I’m going to keep track of lap times. I hit the Start/Stop button on the steering wheel to start the timing, then tap the Mark button on the wheel as I cross the start/finish line to time each lap.
Within a few corners of setting out, a few truths about the GT-R Track Edition become abundantly clear. First, it’s blazingly fast. Second, it feels like it has rear-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive. And third, it feels heavy but well but balanced.
As for speed, Race mode works well on the track. The transmission is always in the right gear, and I don’t need to shift with the amply sized steering wheel paddles. The twin-turbo V-6 suffers from a bit of turbo lag at lower rpms then builds speed relentlessly. Prior to each corner, I’m hitting speeds I haven’t seen at this track: 98 mph into turn 3, 106 into the 5/6 double apex right-hander, 97 at the end of the 7/8/9 combination, and 131 at the end of the longest straight, turn 11. Holy Japanese monster!
That rear-drive character? It’s a combination of the ATTESA all-wheel-drive system favoring a rear bias and the stability control’s Race mode programming that lets the car’s tail step out or the whole car slide sideways for short stretches. The power doesn’t flow to the front to pull the GT-R out of a slide unless things really get out of whack and I’m not about to let that happen.
And about that weight and balance? Like other heavy cars, the GT-R will understeer when pushed too hard into a turn, especially Gingerman’s tighter corners, like the turn 2 and 3 right-handers and that 5/6 double-apex. However, let off the gas and the nose begins to tuck in to help the car carve a sharp line. That line gets even sharper with trail braking. That’s balance.