Another Nissan GT-R? Aye. But bear with me, this one’s worth mentioning. There are those, it seems, for whom a conventional 542bhp Nissan GT-R isn’t quite enough, yet who think that a 592bhp GT-R Nismo is a bit too much. This, the Nissan GT-R Track Edition engineered by Nismo, is for those people.
Actually, it does make sense; there is a gap betwixt the two models – the regular and extreme – into which this version neatly slots. A ‘base’ GT-R costs £78,030; the Nismo, as a result of its more special engine, carbon fibre-heavy interior and aero-exterior, costs a not inconsiderable £125,000.
The Track Edition takes some of the bits of the Nismo to position itself somewhere between the two. At £88,560, it retains the regular GT-R’s twin-turbo V6 and its 542bhp and 466lb ft outputs, and retains the regular interior, too, but it gets the Nismo’s suspension upgrades and some amendments to the body – not aerodynamic addenda, you understand, but it receives bonding on its body to supplement spot-welds, as the Nismo does, to stiffen the shell.
The suspension is pure GT-R Nismo, with three-stage adjustable Bilstein dampers, a hollow rear anti-roll bar, Nismo wishbone links at the front, and high-rigidity bolts to stiffen the suspension around the wheel hub. The idea behind all of that is greater wheel control and better stability, both in a straight line and during extreme cornering. There are Nismo-spec wheels and tyres, too.
All GT-Rs are ballistically fast both in a straight line and around corners – that’s pretty much the USP – but while the Track Edition does all that too, it also fills a worthwhile, hitherto unfilled slot in the line-up.
You don’t lose much over the regular GT-R – except having to part with more money. It gives very little, if anything, away to the base car in terms of comfort and everyday usability. The ride is, for a car of this ilk, acceptably pliant. And while the underlying ride might be a bit more unsettled than usual, it’s never harsh.
There’s a bit more tramlining over bad surfaces (of which, you’ll have noticed, there are quite a few in the UK) than I remember from my last outing in a road-going GT-R. But you can tell there’s really deft wheel control going on underneath you; real first-rate sort of stuff.
Perhaps the unsprung weight, thanks to the 20in Rays forged aluminium wheels, is reduced over that of the standard GT-R. It’s got that sort of light-on-its-feet feel, which is pretty impressive given that it’s a 1740kg car.
But roads – despite the hefty kerb weight – aren’t really the GT-R Track Edition’s bag. It’s so uninterested in them that regardless of what the speed limit is, it’ll get to it and maintain it without having to roll up its sleeves an inch.
It’ll cope with beaten B-roads, where it steers keenly, nibbling at cambers and crests and dips, while the engine whooshes you along on a barrow-load of torque, delivered to all four wheels via its unnoticeably smooth six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
But it’s not really built for that sort of thing. It’s wide and long and you’d be more in tune with the surface in a Porsche Cayman. The GT-R is made for countries with flat roads and no pedestrians, or big racetracks that cars with lots of power relish.
In the absence of the former, we took the Track Edition to the test track we use most often and hooned it around ‘the corner’, and it’s places like this, rather than on the road, where you discover the GT-R’s magic.
It corners like very little else. In, say, an Aston Martin Vantage, you’d trail the brakes in to settle the nose, get back on the power and your exit angle would depend on your enthusiasm. The GT-R is happy to be trailed in on the brakes like that, but it’s far from essential, and with the reapplication of throttle, it just settles down at the rear and fires you outwards at a lick you can’t comprehend.
It steers well – quick and well weighted – but everything happens so fast that before you’ve really figured out what it’s doing and where it’s apportioning power, the steering wheel is straightening in your hands, the speedo is gaining numbers faster than you can read them and you’re out of the bend.
As a piece of technical wizardry, to sit and admire from behind the wheel, this GT-R is like little else with a number plate.
Sure, because there’s more to it than just that speed. The perception of GT-Rs can be that they’re a bit clinical, a bit digitised. I can see how that viewpoint comes about. It’s technically so impressive and so downright fast that it can, arguably, lack a little organic ‘something’ at lower speeds – a livelier engine note, or more naturally feelsome steering, for example. To appreciate the Track Edition at its best, you really do need to be driving it a bit like something is on fire.
But the GT-R – certainly in this Track Edition form – also gives you options when you get near its limits on a circuit. You can make it corner how you want it to, it absorbs more punishment than a 1740kg car has any right to and it gains more traction, stopping power and grip from its four contact patches than anything this side of, well, a full-on Nismo GT-R.
The more time you spend finding out about that, the more time you can spend chipping away at a cornering line to discover what it’ll do next and the more compelling it becomes. Okay, it doesn’t offer the full Nismo experience, but the Track Edition, if you can’t go all the way to the big one, is currently the GT-R of choice.