Evolution of Nissan’s Skyline GTR

Posted by: Xavier Kwan onSeptember 26th, 2016

2016-Nissan-GT-R-Nismo

It is not very often when three letters can carry with it such a long standing legacy of motorsport greatness. Those same three letters embody the ethos of a company’s relentless vision to defy technology at the time and push beyond it’s boundaries. When the letters GTR is said, it immediately conjures up mental images of four round tail lights speeding into the distance. Nissan’s Skyline GTR is one of the automotive industry’s greats to come out of Japan from a time when Italians and Germans dominated the racing field and to this day not only rivals the best of the best in the industry, but is the bar which others compare against.

Most who know the GTR know it as the Skyline. Nissan acquired the company Prince who manufactured the Skyline back in the 60’s. Since then, Nissan created a high performance version of their standard vehicle and badged it with GTR and history began to write itself. The Skyline GTRs were built between 1969 and 1974 but took a hiatus until the late 80’s and production of GTRs started up again from 1989 to 2002. Although what we know today simply as the Nissan GTR is still manufactured to date, the Skyline name has since been dropped post 2002. Although the name no longer lives, the underlying DNA of the Skyline undoubtedly lives on.

The Skyline, throughout its history, has two signature characteristics, one being a straight six-cylinder engine, and the other being the four round tail lights that continues to live on in its modern day interpretations. Over time, the naturally aspirated straight six engine adapted to the technology of its time and two turbo chargers made it’s way into the engine bay. Bringing in new technology also saw Nissan toy with the idea of four-wheel drive system. As well as the rear wheel drive Skyline GTRs performed in its day, the All-wheel drive twin turbo Skyline GTR of the 90’s made the car invincible.

Today, Nissan’s GTR continues the Skyline GTR legacy and pays homage to its predecessor by continuing to wear the signature four round tail lights in its design. It also utilizes all wheel drive in its drivetrain configuration, but that’s where the similarities end. When the GTR was brought over to North America for it’s first time as a production car, Nissan redesigned the car from the ground up as it became a world vehicle. What served the Skyline well in the 90’s was a technologically advanced all wheel drive system designed by Nissan called HICAS. This system made its way to a few other cars in the Nissan stable, but over time it proved to be a dying technology. In the GTR this system was removed, but a much improved all wheel drive system took its place to channel all the power from a now V6 twin turbo engine.

After taking a two year break in production which gave the public time to say good bye to the Skyline name, but also allowed the world to embrace what was to become Nissan’s next great automotive achievement, the GTR first debuted at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, and eventually making its way to production in Japan on December 6, 2007. Both Canada and the US began to take delivery of new GTRs on July 2008. The GTR is now powered by Nissan’s VR38DETT V6 engine which is a 3.8 L DOHC V6 with two parallel Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) turbochargers. Production estimates for power was 478hp and 434 lb/ft of torque. As the production years continued, Nissan gradually squezzed more horsepower numbers out of the V6. For the 2010 year, the GTR produced 523 hp and 451 lb/ftof torque. In 2012, power was increased further to 545 hp and 463 lb/ft of torque for the standard model. Power was again raised in 2013 to 552hp. This was a common trend for Nissan with their GTR. The car didn’t see many updates from year to year, but more horsepower was the name of the game. What they did introduce were variants of the GTR such as the Spec V and the NISMO editions.

The GTR Spec V kept the standard engine from the GTR with no gains in horsepower. However, the Spec V came with a high gear boost controller which temporarily increase boost to the turbochargers providing more torque in the mid-high range of the rev band. Performance gains for the Spec V came in the form of more mechanical grip and shedding some weight. The car was equipped with a race tuned suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, light weight wheels, and a drop in 130lbs from the stock car. All of which added up to liven up the GTR even further.

The NISMO GTR was introduced for the 2015 year and got a hefty increase in power. The NISMO GTR cranked out 600hp and 480lb/ft of torque from the twin turbo V6. Other performance increases came by way of a fully tuned NISMO suspension and a trick piece of equipment right off of the NISMO performance division shelf a hallow 17.3mm rear stabilizer bar. The rear hatch is now a carbon composite piece which helps with some weight savings. NISMO cars typically come with a full aero treatment as well which helps with the overall improved handling characteristics of the car. Perhaps the biggest increase is in the price. For 2015, the NISMO GTR was priced at $149,900 USD, that’s over 50% higher than the standard GTR which was already an immensely capable vehicle.

And it looks like that trend is about to continue with the introduction of the 2017 NISMO GTR which is set to be priced at $176,500 USD. As with the outgoing NISMO GTR, much of the car’s improvements come by way of aerodynamics and chassis tuning. The folks over at NISMO made small tweaks to create more downforce through aero, and improved suspension characteristics via re-engineered springs and re-engineering the adjustable Bilstein dampers. But the silver lining here is that the NISMO GTR is a what you see is what you get deal. Color is the only option you have for the car which does have a premium, but unlike its competitors, the price tag won’t fluctuate much outside of that visual preference.



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