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Road Test: 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition
The Nissan GT-R is back on our front page for a road test. It isn’t the first time we write a review about the world’s cheapest supercar and share with you our true passion for Godzilla, which stole our hearts as one of the finest and most astonishing cars on the planet. For the new model year, the Japanese sports car received a number of upgrades which we will review. The special Track Pack will also pass by our verdict.
The 2012/2013 model is nothing more than the 2011/2012 model with a series of additional upgrades. Last year’s model should be considered the first official facelift in the life span of the sports car since its release in 2010. The new model is a minor upgrade, but it is the best GT-R ever to be offered for sale. Kazutoshi Mizuno’s team in Japan managed to refine the vehicle further. They upped the power, improved fuel economy, lowered emissions, retuned the suspension, smoothed the transmission, and enhanced the interior offering better materials and options.
The changes are marginal and in essence the new model is very similar to the 2011/2012 model year, commonly referred to as the 530hp-model. So as a start the Nissan GT-R is still huge, brutal, scarily fast, and epically agile. Godzilla only got an injection through its vanes.
The engine for instance has been upped marginally with only 15hp (550hp) and 18Nm (630Nm) gains, but that is not the complete story. It is the first time since its launch that the GT-R’s 3.8 liter V6 twin-turbo engine has been uprated mechanically rather than just through a reconfigured ECU and exhaust package. The engineers at Nissan fitted a revised intake system, revised heads and new sodium-filled valves. They also added a larger intake duct for the turbos’ intercooler and better exhaust efficiency.
This all accounts for a marginal increase in power, which is not the main story here. It is the way the power is converted through the gearbox and the four-wheel-drive system. The new engine setup offers a cleaner conversion of power to the road, a better throttle response and greater energy higher up the rev range. In the end, the differences are hardly felt if you do not have the old and the new car placed back-to-back, but it shows the sheer competence of engineers to extend the capabilities of this beast.
Other differences are re-adjusted dampers, a suspension setup including a unique asymmetric suspension setting for RHD cars, and a front bulkhead which is stiffer. All in all, evolution rather than revolution, but completely following the goal of the development team offering upgrades and enhancements making an excellent sports car step by step better.
So how does it drive? The 2012/2013 model feels quite similar to the previous model year. We hardly felt any of the differences. There is slightly more power delivery in the higher revs and the power delivery through the gearbox feels smoother, but overall the changes are marginal and only felt on a challenging race track. In comparison, the facelift of last year delivered a giant leap in the development of the GT-R. This new model just spreads the boundaries in a way only trained drivers will be able to reach them, not the everyday petrolhead using his GT-R as a daily transport.
The package is what it is, simply the best affordable supercar out there. With its sheer speed potential via the launch control system, excellent power build up, smooth shifting and unique four-wheel drive system, you have a car capable of challenging the greatest on this planet. The GT-R drives as raw as its looks, and in its class it is the only sports car capable of offering the characteristics of a supercar. The GT-R in all its brilliance is nothing more and nothing less than the right combination of excellent steering, a stiff ride, electronic overkill and intoxicating sounds coming from the forced induction, turbine wail and air being sucked and pumped into the right places.
Four variants are available; Black Edition, Premium Edition, Egoist Edition and Track Pack Edition (all depending on market availability). The Track Pack is meant for those requesting a more track-orientated package at track days. The package includes revised suspension settings, extra brake cooling (front and rear), and aluminum-alloy wheels from the Spec-V made by Rays (with black quartz chrome color coating). The front spoiler with carbon air duct has been exclusively designed for this edition and is installed as a set. The two-seat configuration has quilted fabric mats in place of the rear seats. The front seats are covered with leather and high-grip fabric.
There is not a lot we need to add to our final verdict and our love of this highly capable machine. The 2012/2013 Nissan GT-R is simply the best stock GT-R on offer, and that’s because its the only model available at your local Nissan dealership. Despite the power increase at higher revs, there’s almost no easily noticeable difference in compliance between the 2012 and the 2013 versions.
For those heading to the track, the newest model is of course the immediate choice, but those looking for a superb basis for their next tuning project or just a great GT-R, a second-hand 2011/2012 model is the best possible option.
The Track Pack is only considered by the happy few not following the lines of the tuning world, but requesting factory-delivered options. The package offers great upgrades, nice seats and a more unique presence, but is highly overpriced increasing the total sales price up to one-seventh of the normal value. In comparison, the third-party market offers similar upgrades at a more reasonable price.