For a decade, Nissan has evolved the GT-R with small but constant tweaks. The MY17 GT-R represents the biggest leap
It’s hard to believe that the R35 Nissan GT-R has been with us for nearly 10 years (it launched in 2007 at the Tokyo motor show). Like most significant cars, I clearly remember the first one I saw in the metal. Wheels magazine had one in the garage and, like kids the day Dad brings home the new family car for the first time, we all went down to check it out. It looked like nothing else before it but also strangely very familiar. In hindsight; its familiarity was due to its cover-star status on every motoring magazine and an increasing number of Gran Turismo promotions.
Yet even though the R35 GT-R has been around for a decade it remains relatively rare on our roads. A point made even more eye-opening by the fact that since the GT-R launched in Australia, it has been outsold by all Ferrari models on sale in that same period. Looked at in that light, the GT-R is more exclusive than a car wearing the famous prancing horse.
Speaking of Ferraris, the GT-R’s lifespan covers the on-sale periods of the F430, 458 and now 488. Given the advances Ferrari has made in the last decade, it’s quite the achievement that you still have to drive hard in a 458 or 488 to stay with a GT-R.
From a distance, the MY17 GT-R looks like the same car that was launched back in 2007. Only when you get closer can you see the level of detail that has gone into evolving the R3S. Clever attention has been paid to increasing air intake volume while reducing drag. The overall look is a car that has become more aggressive yet simultaneously more refined. Put it this way from 100 metres you would not be able to tell the MY07 and MY17 apart, but put them next to each other and you will find yourself staring at the details of the newer car.
That same experience greets you inside the cabin. The fit and finish of the interior is a class above what it once was and the leather reminds me of that in a Ferrari California. It feels like a purposeful executive office in here. It is also less fussy than it once was, less Playstation handset and more iPhone touchscreen. It has grown up.
I’ve witnessed more races at Phillip Island than I can count, yet this is my first experience of actually driving the famous circuit. It is an amazing place and just being here feels special. However, now when I think of Phillip Island my first thought will be passing the pits on my ‘sighting’ lap and looking at the speedo to see 250km/h showing – I honestly thought I was closer to 120km/h.