What is it?
Is this it? This could be it. The end. This is the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo, announced in the middle of 2019 and available to us just in time for 2021, and with it, it could be that the Nissan R35-generation GT-R will reach the end of the development line. Maybe.
So far, age hasn’t stopped Nissan developing the GT-R. But if you’re thinking that the relative gains must be getting smaller and smaller by now, then I think you’d probably be right.
But gains there are, and engineers there must be, looking for them, constantly tweaking and evolving everything there is to have from this brutalist sports car even 13 years after they started making it.
The first iteration of this more hardcore Nismo variant arrived in 2015. Nissan then made a series of annual changes to the regular GT-R, some of which filtered back up to the Nismo later as part of a round of upgrades in 2017, but this is the proper follow-up.
The important thing is that, on the face of it, it’s still a big 2+2 coupé with a four-wheel-drive powertrain and complex mechanicals. But here come some technical highlights over the previous Nismo. They are quite niche.
There is one less groove on the Dunlop front tyres – increasing the amount of rubber on the road by 11% – while a new rubber compound is said to be 7% more grippy. The tyre shoulder is more rounded to keep more tyre in contact with the road and, overall, ‘tyre cornering force’ is up by 5%.
The 3.8-litre hand-assembled twin-turbo V6 engine has new turbochargers, as before taken from the GT3 race car variant, but the race items have clearly been improved lately and so have these. They employ 10 vanes apiece, one less than the previous model’s, and each vane is 0.3mm thinner. If you open the throttle at 68mph in fourth gear (in manual mode), it says here that this 14.5% reduction in mass and 24% reduction in inertia mean engine response is improved by 20%.
For all the extra apparent response, power remains unchanged at 592bhp. But it has less weight to push around, too, thanks in some part to increased use of carbonfibre. New front and rear bumper and wing designs are 4.5kg lighter than the previous Nismo’s and a new roof saves 4kg and bonnet 2kg.
Then there are lighter wheels (although only by 25g each) and, more significantly, the adoption of carbon-ceramic brakes, of 410mm diameter at the front, between them weighing 16.2kg less than the previous items.
Overall, then, the new Nismo is around 27kg lighter than it was, although that still leaves its kerb weight at 1703kg. It never was a light car and it isn’t going to start now.
The dampers have been softened, though, to account for this modest decrease in mass, by some 20% in rebound and 5% in compression, with revised spring rates, too, while the power steering map has been adjusted.