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nissan gtr

Updated on April 3, 2013

Nissan's Legendary GTR

As of late, Nissan has been slowly but surely rebuilding their brand after some dysmal years and poor decisions. Today, you can find sporty family-haulers, and RWD sports cars from Nissan. The VQ-powered Nissan 350Z was Nissans chance to prove that they can still build sports cars. But even the 350Z is no longer Nissan's flagship sports car. North America has never been fortinute enough to get any Skyline GTR's officially, and that will continue to be the case - The GTR and the Skyline are now two separate vehicles. Gone is the Skyline GTR, the car is now simply the GTR.

Rather than building the Nissan GTR using parts pulled from other cars in Nissan's lineup, the GTR is all new, and shares nothing with any other Nissan except for the brand name. The GTR is Nissan's supercar, and at a fraction of the price of exotic cars, it's also quite a bit faster. Lets look at the history of the Skyline GTR before we look at the latest - And greatest - Nissan available.

R32 GTR - The Legend Begins

Nissan R32 Skyline GTR
Nissan R32 Skyline GTR

R32 GTR - Automotive Godzilla

The R32 Skyline GTR was introduced to the Japanese market in 1989, and was hailed as one of the greatest Japanese cars ever produced. The car ran circles around the competition, and featured one of the most advanced torque-distribution systems ever concieved. An Australian car magazine summed up everyone's feelings. The GTR was Japan's Godzilla.

R32 Skyline GTR - The Hype

The R32 Skyline GTR will forever be remembered as the day Nissan flexed its muscles. The R32 GTR was born out of a desire to race and to win. The car was developed for the racetrack, and eventually was "de-tuned" in order to be sold to the public. It was nearly impossible to secure your very own GTR for the first few years of production, they were selling as fast as they could roll off the production line.

The incredible ammount of hype surrounding the GTR was entirely warranted, particularly since the "same" car that was winning every race it entered, could also be purchased in Nissan's showroom. The R32 GTR legend cemented itself firmly in automotive history, when, due to the inability to slow the car down, it was banned by several racing bodies. The car was simply to fast, it won the majority of the races it entered.

The heart of the R32 GTR was the RB26DETT engine unit, a 2.6 liter inline-six engine which received air via two small-framed turbochargers. The GTR utilized an innovative six-throttle-body system, as well as a conventional single throttle body manifold. The turbochargers featured ceramic turbine wheels, which allowed them to remain as light as possible. Due to a self-regulated maximum horsepower output of 276 horsepower, the GTR received criticism for it's low power. It was determined however, that the car had been underrated from the factor, and was producing far more than 276 horsepower. In stock form, the car was capable of low to mid-13 second quarter mile times, and rumour has it that a stock example managed a cool 12.9 second E.T.

But forget about drag racing. The GTR shined on the quarter mile because of its phenominal traction. The GTR featured a complex AWD system known as "ATTESA-ETS". The ATTESA system could change torque distribution from 100% to the rear, all the way to an even 50-50 split. This meant that the car would have maximum grip in the corners, as well as under hard acceleration. Despite the AWD system, the GTR handled like a rear-wheel-drive car, its tail easily stepping out around bends.

Because of the high strength of the standard RB26 engine, and because of the imense popularity of the R32 GTR, a strong aftermarket following was launched. Cars from very mild to very wild could be found roaming the streets of Japan, producing anything from the standard horsepower output all the way to the 1,000+ HP beasts that would cruise the freeways at night, in excess of 200 miles per hour. The R32 GTR, even by today's standards, 17 years after it's debut, is a fast car. The car's timeless looks, phenominal all-wheel-drive system, and beautiful RB26 engine unit that begs to be revved continues to put even modern cars to shame. The R32 GTR will quickly become a collectible, and as stock examples are very difficult to find, they will also be expensive beyond belief.

R33 GTR - The Legend Continues

R33 Skyline GTR
R33 Skyline GTR

R33 GTR - The Whale

When, in 1995, the Skyline GTR received a makeover and upgrade, many enthusiasts were unimpressed. They felt the exterior was understated, that the car now lacked the brutish, muscular look it once had. This may have been true. Performance wise, the R33 GTR was leaps and bounds ahead of the R32 GTR. The R33 GTR utilized an updated version of the venerable RB26 engine, with the same factory-underrated 276 horsepower, but now featuring additional torque. The car also came equipped with a mildly updated ATTESA-ETS all-wheel-drive system that would react faster, and more predictably that the older R32 GTR. The car was still just as capable around corners, and was still quick in a straight line drag race, but it was also heavier.

Aside from the looks, the GTR received some criticism for its additional weight. It wasn't heavier by much, but many concluded that adding weight was a step in the wrong direction. Despite the outspoken enthusiasts, the R33 GTR sold well, and much like the R32 GTR, was hard to find because they would sell as quickly as they were built. Because of the more curvacious bodylines, and the additional weight, the R33 GTR has been called the "whale". Where the R32 GTR was boxy and looked like it was also craving speed, the R33 GTR looked much more docile when driving around town.

The RB26 in the R33 featured some very important updates, primarily with the crankshaft, and the oil system as well. Early R32 GTR's had poor oiling at higher RPM's, and did not handle hitting the rev limit well at all. The engine would buck violently, causing all types of issues with the oil pump. Many enthusiastic drivers would find themselves short of an engine as a result of this issue. The R33 GTR's RB26, while still having oil issues at higher RPM's, was much stronger. It's standard practice when rebuilding an RB26 out of an R32 to utilize the R33 GTR crankshaft.

While the R32 GTR had been unstoppable during its time, the R33 GTR was falling behind the pack. Other Japanese manufacturers like Mazda with their twin-turbo RX7, and Honda with the NSX, where now finishing ahead of the GTR. Furthermore, exotic cars were producing incredible horsepower, and were leaving the GTR in the dust. The R33 GTR was no longer king, but it was still plenty capable, and was the first production car to break the eight minute barrier around the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in Germany.

R34 GTR - Godzilla Returns

R34 GTR - A Legend Reborn

While the R33 GTR was no slouch, it did receive flak for its mild looks and lack of any muscular lines. The R34 GTR turned the tide back in favour of the Skyline GTR. Gone were the soft, whale-like lines of the R33, enthusiasts hailed the return of the brutish, muscular GTR. The R34 GTR was the pinnacle of the GTR moniker, featuring even more torque than the R33 (but still featuring the factory-underrated 276 horsepower). In addition to the additional torque, the ATTESA-ETS all-wheel-drive system again received another upgrade, allowing it to react faster, giving the car even more potential for high grip around corners. The R34 GTR was also heavy. Heavier than the R32, and the R33. Despite the weight increase, the R34 was still able to run circles around the older GTR's.

The engine was still the tried-and-true RB26, and the car still used an epic AWD system. The interior had gone from functional and somewhat bland, to the stuff of legends. Featuring an in-dash touch screen, the R34 GTR could relay ANY information the driver desired. From boost pressure, exhaust gas temperature, oil pressure and everything else. The system meant that the driver knew exactly what the car was doing, exactly when the car was doing it. The seats were also excellent and supportive, giving the driver the firm hold they need to stay planted around corners.

Even despite its improvements, the GTR was roughly even with other Japanese sports cars, and was still being left behind by foreign exotics due to its low power output. The GTR's biggest rivals were the Mazda RX7, the Toyota Supra Turbo, and the Honda NSX. The cars battled for years, all fighting to be the fastest.

The Beast Returns - Nissan GTR First Test

Supercar Performance For $70,000

The latest and greatest GTR to come out of Nissan is here. Sort of. The GTR officially went on sale in Japan about a month ago, and quickly proved that it was indeed worth the wait. The GTR is a supercar through and through, faster than most exotics that cost four times as much. The video above is the first actual performance review of the car. 0-60 miles per hour in a mere 3.3 seconds. That is faster than a Porsche 911 turbo, a Corvette Z06, and a Dodge Viper.

The 0-60 time is phenominal due to the incredibly advanced all-wheel-drive system, which is still called the ATTESA-ETS system. Despite still being the same system, the ATESSA on the GTR is outrageously advanced in more ways than you can imagine. The ATESSA can once again transfer torque to where it's needed. Driving normally, the car is rear-wheel-drive. Launch hard and fast, and suddenly the car has a 50:50 torque split. What's even more impressive is the systems ability to send power from side to side and to an individual wheel. This alone is what makes the new GTR a supercar.

The engine is all new, built from the ground up specifically for the new GTR. The engine, a VR38DETT is a twin-turbocharged V6 featuring 3.8 liters of displacement, and variable-geometry turbochargers. Variable-geometry turbochargers allow the car to have a wide, easy to use powerband that isn't too peaky. You're probably wondering about raw numbers. Check it:

  • Power: 473hp @ 6400rpm
  • Torque: 434lb/ft @ 3200-5200rpm
  • Curb Weight: 1740kg (3863lb)
  • 6-speed dual clutch manual transmission w/ three shift modes
  • 7000rpm redline
  • Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV)
  • Top Speed: 310km/h (193mph)
  • Acceleration: 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 11.6s @ 190km/h (118mph)

Given the impressive numbers the GTR puts out, it should be expected that it also handles beautifully. And it does. The GTR gives the driver all the traction they could ever need, without becoming scary or difficult to drive. The GTR can also throw its tail out in corners, much to the delight of automotive enthusiasts everywhere! The GTR has run an unofficial 7.38 lap of the nurburgring nordschliefe, making it faster than the Porsche 911 turbo, the Corvette Z06, and many exotics that cost four times as much.

The car is reportedly harder to modify due to it's ECU, and Nissan will not honour warranties for modified GTR's. That hasn't stopped owners and aftermarket companies from modifying their GTR's however. The 6-speed dual clutch transmission is also said to make tuning difficult. In the end, a car that runs an 11.6 second quarter mile and does nearly 200mph on the top end really doesn't need a whole lot of tuning - It's already rediculously fast!

The GTR Returns to Kick Ass And Chew Bubblegum


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These comments are false and I now know were written by a media reader and not a real enthusiast that has actually owned one of these cars.

      1st Comment: "Performance wise, the R33 GTR was leaps and bounds ahead of the R32 GTR"

      Note: The oil issues in the R32 were only found in the early R32 They were well and trully fixed by the time the 1994 R32 GTR was made. I am pretty sure 1993 R32 GTR were the first to see them fixed.

      Leaps & Bounds ???? I think not!

      2nd comment: "The R34 GTR was also heavy. Heavier than the R32, and the R33. Despite the weight increase, the R34 was still able to run circles around the older GTR's. "

      Circles around the older GTRs??? I think NOT!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i own an r32 gt-r in black i didn't think much of the car and am selling it but reading a couple of reviews on it makes me realise what a legend this car is thanx

    • rtrdpenguin profile image


      9 years ago from NC

      Nice article! I agree, I like the R32s and R34s a lot more than the R33. It was the red-headed stepchild of the skyline family I guess!

    • chloesdad profile image

      Jeff M 

      10 years ago from Newington NH

      I used to sell new Nissans and the VQ engine is just amazing!

    • Brooke Barnett profile image

      Brooke Barnett 

      10 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Anticipation is killing me. One of the two best Japanese sports cars ever being released for the first time in the United States. I look forward to some great updates and US pictures.


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