Nissan GT-R NISMO Nurburgring Time: Fake or Real, It’s Still Wrong

Most of the time, words like "fast", "exclusive" and "powerful" sell cars. But some cars, the really cool ones, are described using numbers, unbelievable ones that are bunched up together in a way that will make your head spin: power, torque, acceleration, price and lap times.
Humans as a species are constantly comparing things. You can't even look at two apples without imagining which is the tastiest. It's genetic and we use it all the time for food, people and objects, generally to advance as a species. But it also leaves us vulnerable. When cars are concerned, we want to believe one is better than all the others, especially when we're force-fed some unbelievable numbers.

Nissan has just officially revealed a 600 horsepower GT-R NISMO, which they say is the fastest series production car to ever lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife, with a time of 7:08.679. This is just the latest in a long list of Nissan records, all of which have been very controversial. The car is simply too heavy and not powerful enough for what it supposedly does, people say. And we do have to admit a sub-$200,000 Nissan shouldn't as fast as the latest hypercars costing about a million each, if not more, not unless it's actually a thinly disguised race car.

Looking beyond the numbers, the GT-R is nothing more than a big marketing tool for Nissan, an otherwise uninspiring car company which offers a wide range of cheap but bland models. Just thinking of the Versa, Sunny or Micra sends unpleasant chills down my spine. Even its other sportscar, the 370Z, fails to impress.

If we were to zoom out even further, the true problem seems to be not Nissan, but the ignorant trend to blindly believe fast Nurburgring lap times mean amazing road cars. The reality of living with the GT-R is that it's quite uninvolving and noisy in an unpleasant way. It's like it was compromised not for the sake of the driver, but for the sake of the Nurburgring.

We've see this sort of stuff before in the Mitsubishi Evo. Widely considered an amazing sports sedan that could keep up with a Lamborghini, it was actually a badly made, laggy car that you didn't want to live with every day. The way the GT-R and Evo clonk their diffs, it's as if they were twins. If the Nissan GT-R expresses the sickness that is the Nurburgring lap time, than the Evo is the disease of the rally car for the road.

There are other, less obvious but equally relevant, sicknesses that appeared over the years which we got over. For example, companies that say they made "F1 cars for the road" look completely retarded nowadays, but Ferrari used to be all about capitalizing on its racing success in weird ways, like bolting the engine directly to the tub of the passenger compartment or putting really strange noses on supercars.

Speaking of noses, Mercedes used to do that when they were on top of their F1 game. Remember the beaks on the SLR or the old SLK? They've matured past that point and are happily making some of their most beautiful cars ever right now, without any fake motorsports inspiration or unnecessarily worrying about record times.

Our patient, the automotive industry, is already showing positive signs. It's developing a tolerance for the GT-R disease. More and more performance cars are being developed with all-wheel drive, giving them more traction off the line. The supercar makers that were humiliated when the GT-R came out are also now switching to turbo engines for more torque. The GT-R isn't cheap any more either and I think that just like the Evo, its current formula isn't relevant. Hybrids seem to be the way of future performance motoring and I was practically blown away by what Honda is promising to deliver for the next NSX, not only for the performance, but the technology. I'd be more than happy to buy a car that looks as good as the NSX but isn't the fastest on the Nurburgring. 2015 – Nurburgring disease cured… I hope!
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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