Nissan GT-R Track Pack review (2012 onwards)
What - Nissan GT-R Track Pack 2012
Date - April 2012
Where - Silverstone, England
Price - £84,480
Available - Now
Key rivals - Porsche 911 Turbo
Summary - A touch less weight and some neat detail changes enhance track ability even further.
Read another Nissan car review
First drive: Nissan GT-R
We like - Awesome performance, terrific chassis, not terrifying to drive.
We don't like - Bland interior, ugly exterior, few opportunities to exploit performance.
The Nissan GT-R is the supercar that gets petrolheads terribly excited. It's a pure technofest, the automotive equivalent of those Japanese car radios that do so many things you simply give up because you can't work out the control logic - or even see the miniscule buttons.
Here Nissan has rammed in four-wheel-drive, a mighty twin turbo V6 and electronics that simply boggle the brain. It is, as everyone tiresomely points out, quicker around the Nurburgring than anything Porsche builds, and all for a price of £75k. And you can drive it to the shops.
It's a pure technofest
Since the 2009 launch the GT-R has had a couple of power upgrades, taking it to 550hp in 2012. That still doesn't stop the tuning shops offering owners more, so Nissan has taken the fight to them with the £10,000 Track Pack option.
That gets special six-spoke RAYS alloy wheels with gloss black centres, saving 10kg. The rear seats are junked (though bizarrely it still looks pretty comfy in the buckets that are left behind) for another 10kg off.
The suspension is harder and there are extra brake cooling ducts to lower temperatures of the discs by 100 degrees during circuit use. There are no changes to the engine, though.
Just once in a lifetime you have to get behind the wheel of a GT-R. The performance goes beyond the regular dictionary of superlatives. With a six-speed dual clutch transmission, it's not even difficult to extract the maximum. Just slip it into auto and floor the pedal.
It takes off like a fighter plane, a never-ending stream of power until, well, close to 200mph. Or so it says in the specs. Even on Silverstone I never got close to that, so wet was the circuit throughout the test session.
It takes off like a fighter plane, a never-ending stream of power until, well, close to 200mph
The story is that this new 2012 engine has a good bit of additional torque over the 2011 model, that it's noticeable if you jump from one car to another. But there's wasn't the opportunity, car- or weather-wise, here.
Fast drivers won't bother with the Auto transmission mode, sticking with the paddle shifters behind the wheel. It's super-fast on the changes, though the reality is that short-shifting well below the rev limit provides you with all the performance you're likely to want on the road. Try hard, though, and 62mph is reached in, wait for it, 2.8 seconds.
Ride and handling
Acknowledging that 550hp is genuinely enough for anyone, the focus with the Track Pack is on the chassis. The springs are noticeably stiffer in the hardest of the three settings, though there's still a reasonably comfortable mode for road use.
Putting all this power down on a dry road is normally handled with utter ruthlessness via the four-wheel drive. What impresses at Silverstone is the manner in which the GT-R handles wet surfaces so ably.
The tail will step out but the electronic safety net continuously tweaks the brakes and throttle to draw the big Nissan quickly back into line. It flatters the driver in the way all these systems do, though whether the result is a real measure of your driving prowess is more open to question.
This Track Pack GT-R should have been better today than a regular GT-R. To be honest, the conditions were such that I've no idea if it really is. But I reckon there are plenty of people prepared to spend another £10k simply for the implied promise.
What a dull place the GT-R is to sit. Instead of trying to emulate its more luxurious rivals, Nissan has taken 'Dashboard No 6' out of the box and fitted it here. It all works of course, and there are a hell of a lot of dials, but it feels no classier than a 370Z.
There are a hell of a lot of dials, but it feels no classier than a 370Z
The two seats are covered in 'magic cloth'. Unique to the Track Pack, the blue-on-grey sports seats have special stiction properties to keep you in place during hard cornering and braking. They are superb. The 2012 updates of the regular GT-R - more comfortable seat belts, an enhanced Bose audio system, and a rear-view camera - are all present here too.
Economy and safety
The GT-R's combined economy figure of 24mpg is pretty damned good for a supercar, although petrol cars with turbo engines do tend to show up well in these tests.
Nissan is a major manufacturer, so although there are no EuroNCAP safety test results to go on, there's a good complement of airbags and, of course, great brakes and chassis safety features.
The MSN Cars verdict
This is a tricky one, because we never got to fully appraise the GT-R Track Pack in conditions where we could properly evaluate the chassis changes.
But the GT-R is a five-star performance machine in anyone's book. It's hard to say whether the extra £10k is money well spent. Then again, why buy a car that can go this fast unless you use it on a track?
Read another Nissan car review
First drive: Nissan GT-R
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|Need to know||Nissan GT-R Track Pack|
|Engine, petrol||3.8 V6 Twin turbo|
|Torque, lb ft||466|
|Top speed, mph||196|