Godzilla goes upscale
Godzilla has been made over many times in his movie career, and now his four-wheeled compatriot is also getting a big makeover. With new looks and greater performance, the 2017 Nissan GT-R is far and away the biggest update to Godzilla since it made its debut nearly 10 years ago.
Nissan has always felt that it’s nailed the R part of the GT-R’s name since its 2009 launch, but has placed a bigger emphasis on the GT aspect for the 2017 update. Or as Nissan North America product planner Bob Munson puts it, “We’re trying to give the thoroughbred racehorse some more manners.” As such, the most significant changes are visual. After years of small, evolutionary tweaks, Nissan has made big changes to the front and rear of the car to bring it up to date with the company’s latest styling language. This means an all-new front bumper, grille, and hood, new side sills, and a new rear bumper with a prominent diffuser and functional vents. New 20-inch forged aluminum wheels finish the look. Nissan claims the new bodywork increases aerodynamic efficiency and downforce, though it retains the same 0.26 coefficient of drag.
Even greater work has been done inside, where Nissan has completely revamped the GT-R’s interior. The dashboard and center stack are all-new and complemented by a new instrument cluster wrapped in a single piece of leather. The center stack now sports an 8-inch touchscreen (up from 7) that can now also be controlled by a new Display Command controller on the center console. The rest of the stack has been simplified to just 11 buttons, down from the old car’s 27. The infotainment screen’s interface is also somewhat simplified; it now features large icons for easy operation.
Nissan has fitted a new steering wheel and relocated the paddle shifters from the column to the wheel itself, taking care to make sure the new paddles still feel and sound right. The seats also feel better and are lighter. Weight was also saved by thinning the cushion padding beneath the dashboard’s leather surface.
Not all of the car’s padding is thinner, though. The new car gets additional sound-deadening materials and an acoustic glass windshield to reduce noise. The transmission has also been quieted, and the titanium exhaust now features a valve to hush it on command. The GT-R gets active noise cancelling technology, as well.
The changes extend beyond the cosmetic. The twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 has been updated with parts from the old GT-R NISMO, booting power to 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque (improvements of 20 hp and 4 lb-ft) thanks to more boost and individual timing control for each cylinder. In addition to the greater peaks, the changes are said to improve midrange- and high-rpm power, giving Godzilla a beefier torque curve. Nissan says that new exhaust, when the driver chooses to open it, sounds better, too. The improved engine is paired to an improved six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which has had its shifting behavior smoothed out for everyday driving, but it’s still aggressive with your foot to the floor. With the GT-R’s curb weight still around 3,900 pounds (1,769 kg) and only minor power gains, don’t expect the lightning-quick 0-60 performance to change too much from the old car’s 2.7-2.9-second performance.
Nissan did a bit of work under the body, as well, stiffening the chassis to more effectively use the lightly reworked suspension. Thanks to the changes, Nissan says the new GT-R both rides better and goes around a corner quicker.
To top off the deal, Nissan is adding the new Blaze Metallic paint option to all models and three new interior color options if you buy a Premium Edition model. Cars equipped with NissanConnect will get navigation with mobile apps and Services, which allows you to operate some vehicle functions, such as activating the alarm, from your smartphone and can track the car if it’s stolen.
The more powerful, more comfortable GT-R will go on sale this summer. The base car, if you can call it that, will be the GT-R Premium shown here. It’ll eventually be joined by three more trim levels with increased performance. The 2017 GT-R will likely cost at least as much as the current car, which starts just over $102,000 USD.
|2017 Nissan GT-R|
|BASE PRICE||$102,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.8L/565-hp/467-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-vlv V-6|
|TRANSMISSION||6-sp twin-cl auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,900 lb (MT est)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||185.4 x 74.6 x 53.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.8 sec (MT est)|
|EPA ECONOMY||16/22/19 mpg (est)|
|ON SALE||Summer 2016|