The R35 Nissan GT-R has been around for 11 years, which seems like an eternity when the lifespan of a vehicle is concerned. Still, the all-wheel drive Godzilla doesn’t really seem intent on rolling over for a fresher generation of competitors.
In its latest revision for the 2018 model year, the R35 has been given quite a thorough sprucing up, righting some of the criticisms that were levelled against it since its 2007 debut. The result is a car that’s a much more refined - even plush - beast to cruise around in, but ever eager to give into a rage around corners at the prod of the throttle.
Talk about an all-new generation of Nissan GT-R had begun not long after the current model first appeared on the scene all those years ago. Pundits were wondering if the Japanese automaker could, for a second time, bring as much innovation as they had done with the R35.
Nissan has been thinking about where their flagship performance model could go next too, and for much longer than any other party. However, the core team responsible for its direction and development have waited for a more opportune moment to pounce when there was a wider world to be won.
In 2018, hybridisation and electrification have been steadily pervading the automotive lexicon, becoming more and more mainstream as a means to make fast cars even faster as well as more fuel efficient. There’s little doubt that the next GT-R will make use of this new technology, especially since Nissan are one of the leaders in fully electric cars - their Leaf hatch is the best-selling full EV in the world.
Some point to the scrapped LMP1 GT-R racer project as an yardstick to where the next production model could land as it used a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 augmented with a hybrid electric system, yielding significantly more raw output and finer response than the 3.8-litre VR unit used presently.
At the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the company is showing off their newest creation, the GT-R50, a highly customised machine co-engineered and designed with Italdesign. Autocar had a few words with the company’s design boss Alfonso Albaisa, who shed some light on the all-new GT-R, the early design work for which he is overseeing.
For starters, Albaisa said that the car will bear little resemblance to the limited-run GTR-50 special edition shown there at Goodwood. Rather he explained how the (R36?) needs to have a character of its own, that it “has to be its own special car”, even quite distinct from the present day R35.
“The challenge is on the engineer, to be honest,” he continued. “We will do our jobs when the time comes to make the car something really special. But we’re not even close to that yet.”
It’s interesting to note how the development of the GT-R is so focused on engineering; that key decisions on the all-new platform, powertrain, chassis, and other mechanicals need to be made before Albaisa and his design team can have a hope in applying their visions for how the car should look.
“It doesn’t care what every other supercar in the world is doing; it simply says: ‘I’m a GT-R, I’m a brick, catch me.’ It’s the world’s fastest brick, really. And when I review sketches for the new car, I say that a lot: “Less wing, more brick.”
“It’s an animal; it has to be imposing and excessive. Not in terms of its wings, but rather its visual mass, its presence and its audacity.
Given this insight that these developmental aspects of the car has not been finalised yet, we can assume the next GT-R to be quite a ways away. There will be additional time needed for both the design aspects of the car to meld naturally with its engineering goals to form a cohesive new product. What’s clear enough, though, is that we won’t see the car - even in its pre-production form - at least until the start of the next decade.
Albaisa also gave the interviewer a look into the shortlisted powertrain options being considered by internal team, confirming that electrification is indeed likely. “Whether we go to a lot of electrification or none at all, we can achieve a lot power wise,” he said. “But we are definitely making a new ‘platform’ and our goal is clear: GT-R has to be the quickest car of its kind. It has to ‘own’ the track. And it has to play the advanced technology game; but that doesn’t mean it has to be electric.”