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Nissan GT-R and GT-R Track Pack review (2012 onwards)
Model: Nissan GT-R and GT-R Track Pack (£74,480 and £84,480 repsectively)
Bodystyle: two-door coupé
Engine: 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbo, 550hp @ 6,400rpm, 466lb ft @ 3,200-5,800rpm
Transmission: six-speed dual clutch paddleshift automatic, independent transaxle four-wheel drive
Efficiency: 24.0mpg combined, 275g/km CO2
Performance: 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, 196mph
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First drive: Nissan GT-R Track Pack (2012 onwards)
What is it?
Relentless - both in terms of the pace of its development and, simply, its pace in general. This is the 2012 Nissan GT-R, which has once again been subject to upgrades over the past year.
Power from the 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 is now up to 550hp (from 2011's 530hp), seeing the 0-62mph time drop to just 2.8 seconds as a result. Making the 2012 GT-R the fastest thing on four wheels this side of a Bugatti Veyron. For, what, less than a tenth of the cost?
The Nissan's price is slowly creeping upwards, though, with the standard car now starting at £74,480. Which, being an increase of over £20k since the GT-R was introduced to the UK at £52,900 in 2009, is actually more of a sprint. Quite the inflation rate, but you are getting extra car for your money.
As well as improving the equipment over time and adding more power - those first cars had 'just' 480hp - Nissan has also continued to hone the amazing all-wheel-drive chassis and stiffen the structure. This year sees the arrival of the most eyebrow-raising innovation yet: asymmetrical suspension.
Where does it fit?
That's not the only interesting development for 2012, however. For the first time the GT-R is also available in Track Pack guise.
This strips out the rear seats, adds a grippy "magic cloth" finish to the front chairs and aims to enhance the handling with lightweight RAYS alloy wheels, stiffer suspension and additional brake cooling ducts. All developed on Germany's Nürburgring.
The GT-R is a speed hound, capable of enormous hustle in almost all circumstances
The Track Pack costs an additional £10,000, taking the total price to £84,480. Which sounds like a lot, until you realise it's only marginally more than a bone stock Porsche 911 Carrera S. Which musters just 400hp. In terms of raw performance for your £, the GT-R remains untouchable.
Here we've driven both new variants.
Is it for you?
The GT-R is a speed hound, capable of enormous hustle in almost all circumstances, come rain or shine. Its sheer size makes it mildly cumbersome on smaller UK B-roads, but that aside it's a go-go-gadget catapult whenever the fancy takes you.
Budget for heavy running costs - its creator Kazutoshi Mizuno calls it a supercar, and in this respect as well as others he really isn't joking - including tyres. And if you get carried away in public, even lawyers.
This is perhaps where the Track Pack comes in - it's intended to be more applicable to those who (sensibly) prefer to get their velocity jollies on racing circuits rather than the road.
If nothing else, the extra brake cooling certainly looks to make a difference here, as it's said to be good for reducing disc temperatures by up to 100C.
What does it do well?
While the GT-R delivers an astonishing amount of real world superiority, it remains relatively unintimidating to drive - assuming you stick to roads that are wide enough. That's far from being the same as saying it's boring.
Can you tell that the suspension is asymmetrical? No. But we like the idea of a mind that considers attention to detail to this degree - the slightly higher spring rates on the right-hand side are intended to offset the combined weight of the propshafts and driver. Especially as it's in charge of the entire project.
This is the kind of passion that makes a 1,750kg car so exceptionally nimble. With all of the earlier 'digital' elements now thoroughly smoothed out, the GT-R has become a beautiful machine to pedal quickly, one that only seems to get better the longer you spend behind the wheel.
The choice of suspension and traction control settings means you can tailor the experience to circumstances - with circumstances often standing for road surface in this instance. But to get the best of the six-speed paddleshift gearbox it's the hardcore R mode all the way.
Everything else just feels lazy, and at odds with a car that's otherwise extraordinarily willing to do your bidding, and simply perform.
What doesn't it do well?
Driving the Track Pack back-to-back with the regular car, the suspension modifications - which include changes to the geometry - do make it somewhat livelier when you're pushing on. Which is fun.
we just can't justify the Track Pack's additional outlay
But this comes at the cost of some stability, turning what is generally a four-wheel-drive master of the elements into something that's suddenly a touch more 'interesting' in the rain. On the plus side, you'll be feeling every one of those 550 ponies when this happens.
Moving on. Losing the rear seats seems pointless in such a big car, since the weight saving is minimal in the grand scheme of things, and it's not like Nissan is giving you a roll cage in exchange.
And while the brake cooling ducts may prove worthy if you spend a lot of time on track, these alone surely don't merit coughing up another £10k. After all, it won't be difficult to find someone in the aftermarket who will fit them to an ordinary GT-R.
With no significant everyday performance advantage, and such an astonishingly capable 'base' car, we just can't justify the Track Pack's additional outlay.
What is it like to live with?
Pushing that debate to one side, find a friendly local petrol station and day-to-day life with the GT-R is a fine kind of automotive bliss. The ride comfort can be managed without it becoming punishing, standard kit now includes a reversing camera as well as sat-nav, and it functions quite happily as a full automatic.
You'll need to be prepared for the attention it still generates, and expect the occasional passenger to be unimpressed with the interior - which is starting to creak under the weight of that £20,000 price increase - but beyond that the only real issue is the size.
The GT-R does, for example, only just fit into a regular Eurotunnel carriage - and you don't even want to know how much the Track Pack's RAYS wheels cost to replace.
And for all that old tosh about it being a glorified computer game, the GT-R displays keen character. There's a whine from the fuel pump every time you fire it up, and if you're anything like us, the way the differentials grumble during low speed manoeuvres will soon have you cracking an involuntary smile.
This is the stuff that builds relationships, and serves as a reminder that you're piloting a very special device.
How green is it?
That's not a totally daft question, actually, as there is an improvement in the green department for 2012. The official combined fuel economy has risen from 23.5mpg to 24.0mpg. Wait, what?
Small gain or not, it's all part of the improved engine package, which uses a revised intake system, smaller and lighter catalytic converters, new sodium-filled exhaust valves... Details, but testament to the on-going development programme.
While we're here, we might as well mention the gearbox has been strengthened, too. Which is green in the sense that it might now be less inclined to lunch itself during extended amounts of exuberant abuse.
Would we buy it?
As you've probably already gathered we'd give the Track Pack a miss - but the regular GT-R remains utterly compelling, and the answer to almost all automotive arguments involving amounts of less than around £170k. It is absurdly fast, incredibly adaptable.
However, before you break out the credit card for the down payment, consider this: the current GT-R is slated for another five years of production, and every single one of them is set to bring further improvements.
The trick will be in picking the sweet spot between its increasingly compelling performance and its inevitably rising cost.
On Bing: see more images of the 2012 Nissan GT-R and Track Pack
Find out how much a used Nissan GT-R costs on Auto Trader
First drive: Nissan GT-R Track Pack (2012 onwards)
Road test: 2011 Nissan GT-R
Nissan GT-R v the Nürburgring 24 Hours
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