GT-R NISMO faking Nurburgring? Haters gonna hate
A writer at Autoevolution, an automotive blog, quotes an article at Piston Heads in which the ever-lucky Dan Prosser got to get behind the wheel of the new Nissan GT-R NISMO at the race track behind NISMO headquarters in Japan. The confusion at Autoevolution seems to have been with Dan's wording, which has since been changed, and the extreme need of Autoevolution to find something to hate on in the GT-R.
I first became aware of the Autoevolution article through the GTRLife forum, which I often troll. I read Piston Heads regularly, but due to the madhouse it's been with both the Tokyo and LA Shows this past week, I had neglected it. For those interested, that GTR-Life entry links to everything else being mentioned herein.
The question comes to this: Dan Prosser described his drive in the GT-R NISMO as being in the standard version rather than the track-specific option that was used at the Nurburgring. Nissan said as much in their press release about the GT-R NISMO when it released, of course, and we included the information here when reviewing the release of the car in Tokyo.
Eager to get his point across, Mihnea Radu at Autoevolution wrote his piece with thick use of negative adjectives towards Nissan, the GT-R, and even Mitsubishi, just to make sure. Yet, as one GTR-Life forum poster points out, Radu has never (apparently) even driven a GT-R, let alone the new 2015 models, which include the NISMO. Many of the things he says are complaints about the GT-R - some of which I will, though less harshly, actually agree with - are addressed in the 2015 GT-R. Nissan took an obvious convergance between the standard GT-R supercoupe and the GT-R NISMO supercar. CEO Carlos Ghosn spelled that out in Tokyo.
The GT-R in its new, standard format, is made for the sports car enthusiast who wants a daily driver. It's outfitted with more sedate suspension tuning, a softer interior, and more luxury. The NISMO rendition is the track enthusiast's version, with better tuning, higher performance, and less comfort. This was the obvious next step for the second-generation GT-R in its new format. Many other cars, like the Porsche 911 and Dodge Viper, have taken the same tack. One for the weekend track racer and one for the "show it off everyday" type. It completes the market. No doubt Alpha Romeo will do the same with the hot new 4C down the road.
At this point, very few people have been behind the wheel (or even in the cockpit) of a 2015 GT-R or GT-R NISMO. Those that have seem to have been genuinely impressed by the experience. I can say, for myself, that while I haven't tried the new GT-R, my time behind the wheel of the current 2013 GT-R on the GT track was beyond memorable. While I agree that on the surface streets, everyday, it would not be my personal choice for a daily driver, that's ignoring what the current-generation GT-R is for. It's a track car that happens to be road legal. Again, that appears to be what Nissan is changing for the 2015 model year offerings, separating the two markets so that this halo car will get into the hands of even more buyers.
The real trouble here is our inherent need to say that something is "the best." One thing an automotive journalist learns (or should learn) very quickly is that there is no "best" in anything. Sure, the GT-R NISMO might have the best production vehicle Nurburgring time right now, but something will eventually beat that. Nor is the GT-R (as some have said) the best 1/4 mile dragster - the Viper SRT, Audi R8 V10, and others I've driven would smoke it in a straightaway. No car is perfection and every car is specialized in some manner or another, precluding it from being the be-all vehicle. This is why there is such a huge automotive market. If all we had to choose from were Ford F-150s and Toyota Camrys (two biggest-selling vehicles in North America), a lot of us would be unhappy. It's the beauty of a (mostly) free market instead of a democracy of market. Voting (purchases) keep the vehicles on the market, sure, but they don't make a decision as to which will be the ones to "win."
It's also why I, personally, have had as much fun in a Nissan Frontier Pro4X this year as I did in the tiny Chevrolet Sonic and the Infiniti Q60. It's why the uber-exhilerating track experience in the 2013 GT-R was matched by the exceedingly interesting "get under the hood" times I had with the Fiat 500e and the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. Since none of these vehicles are comparable, they're all unique and interesting.
Meanwhile, haters gonna hate, I guess.