Previous GT-Rs have been based upon Nissan's Skyline large coupe. This meant that visual differentiation has, in the past, been limited to bulging wheel arches, bigger wheels and go-faster bits, like spoilers, larger exhausts and aggressive bumpers.
The new R35 GT-R loses the Skyline tag and becomes its own thing. This means completely different and much more aggressive sheet metal, as well as greater freedom for both designers and engineers.
Ready for take off
The R35 keeps classic GT-R cues, such as the afterburner-style tail-lights, large rear spoiler and GT-R badging, but adds new flourishes like the fighter jet cockpit look (notice the blacked out windshield pillars and sloping window line) and stylised front fenders.
The interior lacks the instant gee-whiz factor of the exterior, but there's leather trimming everywhere, including all over the dashboard. Polyphony Digital, the crew behind the Gran Turismo series of racing games, was enlisted to help develop the multi-function display. Mounted in the centre of the dash, it not only includes GPS satellite navigation, but can track and log a plethora of car stats, including speed, g-force, steering angles, braking and acceleration pressure amongst others.
I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so
Nissan's design director, Shiro Nakamura, says of the R35 GT-R:
"The element of functionality is core to the GT-R. It's not too low; it's easy to get in and out of, has good visibility and is easy to drive. That functionality is reflected in the design. It is clearly not an Italian, German or American car -- it is unmistakably Japanese. It is very mechanical, almost like an animated robot -- it is obviously made from metal, has big shoulders and looks strong and muscular."
Riding on big 20-inch wheels and run-flat tyres, the GT-R has plenty in the go and whoa departments. Under the long bonnet there's a 3.8-litre V6 with twin turbochargers pushing out 353kW of power and 588Nm of torque. All of this channelled via a four-wheel drive system and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
To bring everything to a grinding halt there are Brembo brakes with floating, drilled rotors. It has six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers at the rear.
Flip it out
Like the original MX-5 and various Aston Martins, the GT-R features door handles that fit flush with the doors. To open the door you press down on the finger indentation, revealing the door handle proper, which you then pull to open.
This is where the modern day legend began, the R32. Released in 1989, the GT-R was based on the sports/luxury Skyline coupe. Changes included a four-wheel drive system, four-wheel steering, turbocharged six-cylinder engine, bigger brakes and lightweight gun-metal finish alloy wheels.
It proved so successful on race tracks in its native Japan, and later in Australia too, the rules had to be changed and new racing classes created.
Nissan heeded the criticism and released a smaller, lighter, sportier R34 Skyline in 1998, with the GT-R following a year later. Emissions regulations and Nissan's parlous financial situation meant that this generation only lasted three years.