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First look: Hardcore Godzilla

Black opal: The lightweight SpecV costs almost twice as much as the standard GT-R, but is still much less than its European rivals.

Nissan reveals super-expensive hand-built GT-R SpecV track version in Japan

9 Jan 2009

MONTHS before the regular Godzilla arrives in Australia, Nissan has unveiled an even faster race-style version of its GT-R supercar in Japan.

The hand-built lightweight GT-R SpecV model goes on sale in Japan on February 2 through seven specially selected race-oriented dealers and later this year in Europe, but unfortunately there are “no current plans” to bring the car to Australia.

It is priced from 15.75 million yen ($A242,000) – a massive premium over the standard R35 GT-R’s price of 8.6 million yen ($A132,000).

However, Nissan claims it is a bargain compared to European street-legal but track-ready rivals like the Ferrari 430 Scuderia ($573,700 in Oz) and Porsche 911 GT2 ($447,500 here).

12 center imageThe GT-R SpecV will be built in limited numbers because Nissan can only produce 20 to 30 a month compared with 1000 a month for the standard car, which went into production a year ago.

Although the SpecV runs essentially the same 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine as the regular GT-R, producing 357kW of power and 588Nm of torque, the SpecV gets a special high-gear boost control device that momentarily increases the boost from the turbos.

Chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno says that this provides greater torque in the intermediate-to-high speed ranges to provide a more powerful feeling of acceleration, while also allowing the engine to operate at a lower speed for improved fuel economy.

There is a small switch on the steering wheel to engage the overboost system, which provides an extra 20Nm between 3500rpm and 5000rpm.

Other modifications include a titanium-coated exhaust system, carbon-ceramic brakes, an exclusive race suspension set-up with Bilstein Damptronic struts and high-grip Bridgestone Potenza RE070R run-flat tyres, all of which results in better performance, handling and braking ability.

The Brembo-developed carbon-ceramic brakes – Nissan’s first use of the material in a production car – save 5kg per wheel and generate incredible stopping force (up to 2.0g has been recorded in testing at Germany’s famous Nurburgring circuit), but the cost of an overhaul is said to be about $100,000.

The GT-R SpecV is also equipped with lightweight, racing-style 20-inch forged aluminium wheels that were developed for this model and have been sold by Nissan Motorsports International (NISMO) since September.

In addition to these lighter wheels, weight has been saved by removing the rear seats and by using lightweight carbon-fibre for the rear spoiler, brake ducts, front grille, instrument panel and for the slimline Recaro buckets that are fitted in place of the standard front seats.

The SpecV weighs in at 1680kg – 60kg less than the standard GT-R.

Mr Mizuno said at the Tokyo launch that the GT-R SpecV is about defining a car as a creation of a craftsman, not just another consumer product, and that it compares well with European rivals costing twice as much or more.

“We want to keep making something better,” said Mr Mizuno said. “That’s what is so great about being Japanese.”

Performance is obviously much higher than the standard GT-R, which already accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds, and it has been tested extensively at the Nurburgring, but the Japanese have not released any figures or lap times.

While the SpecV comes in regular red, white, black and gray paint, for an extra $9000 buyers can select a unique colour called ‘Ultimate Black Opal’ that changes with the light.

Nissan Australia will finally launch the standard GT-R to the media here in late February, but the company says it will not officially go on sale until April – eight months after gray imports started arriving. It will be priced at $148,800, with supply limited to 100 units in the first year.

MEANWHILE, an Australian high-performance gearbox specialist has developed an upgrade for the R35 GT-R gearbox, which has been plagued by first gear failures under maximum load, leading to Nissan Australia not offering the launch control feature in the GT-R here.

South Australian company PPG (Pfitzner Performance Gearboxes), has just finished developing a replacement first gear set that are much wider than the standard items but still drop into the GR6 gearbox without further modification.

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