While it has become a norm for carmakers to replace their mainstream passenger car offerings with something new within five to seven years, it’s not so simple when it comes to slow-selling sports cars. Even Toyota, the world’s most profitable mainstream car brand, took nearly two decades before the fifth generation Supra appeared, even then it’s a joint venture, with partner BMW engineering the majority of the hardware.
It’s easy to scoff at Nissan for keeping with the R35-generation GT-R for 13 years running. But with traditional carmakers having to keep their noses above water while navigating the tricky but resource-consuming transition to electrification, and in the case of Nissan, having to manage a boardroom distraction as well, you can understand why replacing the R35 isn’t high on the list of priorities.
Like it or not, Nissan massaging and tweaking the GT-R to remain relevant beyond 2020 is probably as good as it’ll get for fans of the Godzilla. After hopes were raised by the Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo and Italdesign’s GT-R50 (which turned out to be bespoke limited run GT-R), Nissan has remained rather muted on a future successor. In fact, chief product specialist of the GT-R, Hiroshi Tamura was non-committal on a R35 successor and mooted having more iterations of the current car during the 2020 GT-R NISMO’s unveiling in Germany.
For the fans of the GT-R NISMO, model year 2020 enhancements bring new quicker-spooling turbochargers from the GT3 race cars, revised lightweight titanium exhausts with hand-burnished tips, new gearbox calibration for more aggressive shifts. The work done on the body has been extensive to pare down weight (a GT-R bugbear) with a new carbon fibre roof, NACA ducts on the hood and of course, those louvres on the front fenders that increases downforce by (7 kgf) and also help funnel heat away from the engine bay.
The optimisation of the exterior body panels resulted in savings of 10.5 kg, along with 20 kg reduction from other parts of the 2020 car means the GT-R NISMO is 30 kg lighter in total. There’s also a new Brembo brake system with the biggest carbon ceramic rotors fitted to a Japanese performance car while the suspension has also been recalibrated for better lateral stability and ride quality. Power rating is maintained at 600 hp and 652 Nm from the VR38DETT 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6, though an actual dyno may tell a different story.
So 13 years on, do you still want a R35 GT-R as much as when it showed up in 2007?