2011 GT-R – THE BEST GETS BETTER
With a substantial power increase and a raft of enhancements to the chassis, the interior and to its aerodynamic performance, the 2011 Nissan GT-R has reaffirmed its position as setting the supercar standard.
"When it was launched just over three years ago, the Nissan GT-R was heralded as a benchmark offering supercar performance at an affordable price. It won award after award and unstinting praise from everyone lucky enough to drive it. It would have been easy to sit back and rest on our laurels… but we don't do that at Nissan. Welcome the 2011 GT-R, the best GT-R yet.”
Andy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Product Planning, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd
At a glance
More power, more downforce, more grip and more excitement – that’s the promise from the 2011 Nissan GT-R.
While the original multi-award winning GT-R offered breathtaking performance and exemplary handling, that hasn’t stopped Nissan’s team of dedicated engineers and designers from making the best even better.
For 2011, the definitive accessible supercar has been refined even further. Every aspect the car has been enhanced and improved. Performance from the 3.8-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine has been boosted by a healthy 45 PS to a remarkable 530 PS (390 kW) while recalibrating the engine’s control module, modifying the exhaust system and fitting a new catalyst have improved both fuel economy and emissions.
A series of subtle but significant changes to the chassis have sharpened the already impressive handling, while new tyres, wheels and bigger brakes also enhance the driving experience.
Subtle exterior revisions have not only give the GT-R a new look, but improved the car’s already world-beating aerodynamic performance. Downforce has improved by about 10 per cent while the co-efficient of drag has been lowered to just 0.26.
Inside a number of changes have been made to enhance the sports luxury feel. There are two versions of the standard car available: Premium Edition and Black Edition. Both are comprehensively equipped, but the Premium Edition exhibits a more luxurious style while the Black Edition, with its standard Recaro racing seats, accentuates the car’s performance potential.
For the lucky few, there’s a third, even more exclusive version. The GT-R Egoist is built to special order and boasts the finest leather interior and other bespoke features.
Please see the separate Egoist release for all the details.
“A new raft of superlatives is needed to describe the 2011 Nissan GT-R. Every aspect of the car has been enhanced to the point where the high standards set by the original have been surpassed at every level. The GT-R is a truly remarkable machine,” said Andy Palmer.
The 2011 Nissan GT-R is now available to order from Nissan High Performance Centres across Europe.
The 2011 GT-R in detail
When the GT-R was under development the engineering team set out to produce a supercar with high levels of safety and performance – an unintimidating car that provided total confidence in all weathers, as secure and relaxing to drive quickly as it is at more sedate speeds.
“Our objective was to create a flagship model to promote our technology, but also to develop a new type of supercar,” said Kazutoshi Mizuno, Chief Vehicle Engineer and Chief Product Specialist, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “Supercars have traditionally been aimed at drivers with advanced skills, but the GT-R supercar can be driven fast and skilfully by just about anybody in just about any road condition.”
That same philosophy has been applied in the creation of the 2011 version of the car. It has even more performance and even higher handling limits, yet remains as unintimidating as possible: the practical supercar for any time, any place and anyone.
Engine and transmission
At the heart of the GT-R is Nissan’s VR38DETT twin turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 engine, which was specially developed for the car. Changes for the 2011 version have seen power rise from 485 PS to 530 PS while torque has increased from 588 Nm to 612 Nm. This significant performance increase is celebrated by the engine cover which is painted red… a respectful nod to one of the car’s forebears, the legendary R34 Skyline GT-R, which also boasted red cam covers.
The changes to the engine include modifications to the turbo boost pressure, valve timing and air mixture ratio. The inlet pipes have been enlarged and the exhaust system modified, while a new catalyst using fewer precious metals has been adopted.
The result is true supercar performance… but without the price penalty. The benchmark 0-100 km/h sprint, for example, has been reduced to 3.046 secs and this was achieved at a test drive event in Japan under less than optimum track temperatures. The next target for the GT-R team to beat the 3 second barrier and join an exclusive club, membership of which is usually around the €1 million mark. Maximum speed is 315 km/h, an increase of 5 km/h.
As well as boosting power and torque, the changes have had a beneficial effect on fuel consumption and emissions, both of which have been improved. CO2 emissions have fallen to 279 g/km while the GT-R now returns 12 l/100km on the combined cycle.
As before, the GT-R has a number of different transmission modes: standing start performance can be maximised in ‘R’ mode. When in R mode, full throttle is applied while the car is held on the brakes… which are then released as quickly as possible. The system monitors oil temperatures to ensure reliability isn’t compromised: if temperatures rise above a set level, the system prevents further use of R mode until they have fallen.
Although high performance remains key to the GT-R’s appeal, it remains tractable and easy to drive. Peak torque is available seamlessly from 3200 to 6000 rpm.
It is also a highly efficient engine. A key feature in this respect is an innovative plasma coating just 0.15mm thick sprayed on to the cylinder bores in place of conventional liners which are typically 2.6mm thick. This is better at dissipating heat, so boosting both power and economy, and saving about 3kg in the process. Special synthetic engine oil, Mobil-1 RP OW-40, is used to ensure sufficient lubrication of this sprayed-on cylinder liner.
Fully independent and symmetrical intake and exhaust systems increase air intake and reduce exhaust resistance, producing a smooth and fast gas flow to produce a higher output and faster engine responses. Turbo boost pressure is electronically-controlled to ensure the best response and output in all conditions.
Precise monitoring of the air-fuel ratio further improves high-performance fuel consumption by five percent. And the high torque output during ordinary low-rev driving allows for an optimum air-fuel ratio, significantly improving fuel efficiency and exhaust cleanliness.
Further reductions in emissions levels are achieved by a secondary air system with an air pump which promotes a faster catalyst reaction.
Other technical innovations include a thermostatically controlled, air-cooled engine oil cooler system for greater efficiency. During extreme cornering, a scavenger pump maintains turbocharger oil flow. The oil collecting structure inside the engine is optimised by a lateral wet and dry sump system.
Similarly, a collector tank inside the fuel tank always stores enough fuel to maintain fuel flow even under strong g forces.
The engine is hand made, with each unit assembled by a single craftsman working in a special ‘clean room’ area of Nissan’s Yokohama plant.
The GR6-type transmission was exclusively developed for the car. The six-speed dual clutch gearbox is highly efficient with minimum power losses, and response and fuel economy are therefore improved compared to a conventional automatic.
The driver can either shift gears manually via paddles – now made from magnesium –located behind the steering wheel or opt instead for automatic changes as the mood dictates. Either way, since there is one wet clutch for odd gears and one wet clutch for even gears, the next gear is already preselected which allows for exceptionally fast shifting. There’s also an automatic throttle blip on downshifts to precisely synchronise engine speed and give added driving satisfaction.
In manual mode the paddle shift gives exceedingly quick changes, thus maintaining turbo boost, for seamless and powerful acceleration. Borg-Warner triple cone synchronisers are used.
While in manual mode, the driver can select a more extreme shifting range: R mode speeds up the GT-R’s already fast shift changes. A computerised control predicts the driver’s next gear change, based on throttle opening, vehicle speed, braking and other information.
In automatic mode, changes are made to maximise fuel efficiency. Higher gears are used whenever possible, making full use of the car’s long and flat torque curve. The car can be driven in sixth gear for long periods at low speeds, and still offers good throttle response. Such docile behaviour is at odds with most equivalently fast supercars and is one of the many unique aspects of this technology flagship.
A new transmission mode called SAVE has been developed for the 2011 GT-R. Designed for everyday use on motorways and ordinary roads rather than for enthusiastic driving, SAVE reduces engine torque and alters the transmission shift points for a more relaxing and economical drive.
Hill Start Assist is also provided, momentarily holding the brakes to prevent roll back when starting on an incline as the driver moves to the accelerator pedal. Manoeuvrability at low speeds is further enhanced by the adoption of a two-wheel drive mode. When the steering wheel turned beyond half lock and the speed is less than 10km/h, drive to the front wheels is temporarily disconnected to ease parking and other low speed manoeuvres.
Four-wheel drive chassis
The GT-R has one of the most advanced four-wheel drive systems ever developed in a production car, offering unmatched traction and handling security. The system features a rear mounted independent transaxle which packages the transmission, transfer case and limited slip rear differential in one compact assembly independently mounted on rubber bushes. Moving the transmission to the rear in this way gives the GT-R a superb weight balance, while enhancing front seat legroom.
The design uses special twin driveshafts, one of which (made from a carbon composite) takes the drive from the engine back to the transaxle, the other transferring drive forwards from the transaxle to the front wheels.
The four-wheel drive system continually adjusts torque between front and rear based on dynamic demands and road conditions; in normal conditions 100 per cent of torque is directed to the rear axle, with up to 50 per cent of torque fed to the front wheels to improve traction when necessary – in slippery conditions and to improve cornering performance.
A variety of sensors feed back data to the system and among the parameters monitored are speed, lateral and transverse acceleration and steering angle. A yaw-rate feedback control measures the difference between the target yaw rate calculated from the steering angle and the actual yaw rate and adjusts front to rear torque accordingly.
The four-wheel drive system includes Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC-R), the Nissan GT-R’s electronic stability control system. This continually monitors the vehicle’s behaviour. If off balance behaviour is detected – such as sliding or skidding – torque to the wheels will be adjusted to re-establish stability. Electronic traction control is also fitted to rear mechanical limited slip differential, preventing wheel spin and improving grip.
The chassis features a double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension offering outstanding straight-line stability at all speeds, plus class-leading handling and braking in all situations – from urban commutes, to snowy and slushy roads, to the racetrack.
Even though the original GT-R received high praise for its handling capabilities, Nissan engineers have made further improvements to enhance the car’s grip and responsiveness.
At the front, the spring, shock absorber and anti-roll bar have all been modified to improve the vertical load response of the tyre. The front castor angle has been increased from 5º35 to 6º00 to improve straight-line stability and road holding under cornering. At the rear, the roll centre has been lowered to improve the grip of the inside edge of the tyres when cornering.
A new lightweight aluminium shock absorber has been developed for the 2011 GT-R The piston-free unit generates a more precise damping force to provide constantly stable road-holding at the same time as reacting more quickly to driver inputs. Reduced friction from the assembly also helps boost ride quality.
As before, the dampers settings can be adjusted by the driver who can choose either Comfort, Sports (the normal setting and producing the best possible handling/ride balance) or R (high performance) settings. R mode delivers flat, hard cornering for high-speed and maximum feedback. Sensors measure 11 vehicle elements including speed, lateral acceleration, steering angle and engine, the data then analysed to provide appropriate damping forces for all situations.
Brakes, wheels and tyres
To enhance their resistance to fade under continued heavy use, the front disc brakes have been increased in diameter to 390mm, a rise of 10mm. Specially developed by Nissan, the discs are hugely resistance to fade at high temperatures under repeated use from high speeds.
The discs front and rear are fully ventilated steel units, and the entire Brembo system gives superb pedal feel as well as immense stopping power. Fully floating rotors with diamond-shaped ventilated ribs and cross drilling stabilise braking while also preventing heat distortion.
Super-rigid Brembo monoblock callipers, six pot at the front and four pot at the rear, feature racecar-inspired three-point mountings that help generate strong braking force and prevent calliper distortion, while their double tie-rod structure similarly resists distortion and helps to maintain braking stability under all conditions.
Newly designed, lighter and more rigid forged aluminium wheels, made by RAYS, improve the responsiveness of the tyres to vertical loads. Knurling inside the wheel has been modified to eliminate any potential tyre rotation caused by the increased engine output.
The wheels are finished in a new colour, Hyper Blue Black Chrome, and have a deep gloss finish created by five-layer coating to underline the car’s quality and performance image.
As before, the GT-R is shod with Dunlop tyres specifically designed for the car. For the 2011 car, however, a new tyre has been developed: Dunlop SP Sport MAXX 600 DSST CTT which features a new compound to improve grip. The new structure and improved rigidity of the tread and sidewall means straight line stability on poor road surfaces is greatly enhanced. Also as before, they are filled with nitrogen rather than conventional air, which prevents pressure change during high speed driving.
Body and design
To achieve the project’s ambitious targets for high-speed stability, ride comfort and safety, Nissan has employed a variety of materials and advanced assembly methods to create the GT-R.
Extensive use is made of lightweight materials including aluminium for the bonnet, boot and outer door panels. Carbon fibre is used for the front end of the body structure, including the radiator support, the front of the engine bay and the rear aerodynamic diffuser undertray. Special glassfibre is used for the engine undertray, and helps give the Nissan GT-R a virtually flat underside, further benefiting aerodynamic efficiency. The door inners are made from die-cast aluminium, giving superb side impact safety protection.
Light and very strong die-cast aluminium is also used for the front suspension strut housings while a new feature for the 2011 GT-R is a rigid and lightweight strut supporting bar. Made from a carbon composite with an aluminium honeycomb, the bar is installed in the partition wall of the engine compartment. By linking left and right struts in this way, the responsiveness of the body to changes of direction is greatly enhanced.
An additional support member has been installed on the passenger side of the dash panel. This increased rigidity also helps sharpen the car’s responses to steering input.
Design and aerodynamics
Muscular, ground hugging and wide shouldered, the GT-R has an undoubtedly strong presence and Japanese car culture and video games have been key design influences.
“The mission was to achieve a distinctive car, a supercar, but not a normal fast car – it’s chunkier, more practical and more muscular,” says design director Shiro Nakamura. “The element of functionality is core to the GT-R. It’s not too low; it’s easy to get in and out of, has good visibility and is easy to drive.
“We didn’t want a nice elegant shape – we wanted an original and efficient shape. Some people who buy this car will also have a Ferrari and a Porsche. This car must be different from all others. I see it as a car influenced not by feminine beauty, like Italian cars, but by masculine beauty.
Overt styling touches include the kink in the rear pillar. “It’s highly distinctive and helps rear airflow,” says Nakamura, “and it also gives the GT-R a really unusual roof line.” He also explains that the car’s deep flat sides are highly functional. “They’re flat like a well toned stomach but they also help when judging the car’s width plus they’re very aerodynamic.”
Good aerodynamics were naturally a key requirement and for the 2011 GT-R detail changes have reduced the drag coefficient to an exceptional 0.26. The front bumper has been redesigned, featuring double rectifier fins which increase front downforce by around 10 per cent. At the same time, this reduces air resistance inside the engine compartment and also increases the air flow through a radiator which cools the front brakes. Each side incorporates an LED daytime running light fitted with a large-diameter reflecting surface emitting a high-intensity white light.
A newly-designed rear bumper with a lower centre of gravity has been created and features a sculptured lower part with an extended rear end. By extending the rear diffuser, underfloor cooling performance is enhanced, with reduced air resistance.
Cooling performance for the rear exhaust silencer is improved while by introducing a rear bumper air outlet, which removes air in the rear wheel housing, rear downforce is also increased by about 10 per cent.
Other visual changes include the four tailpipe finishers, which have been enlarged, while a high intensity LED rear fog lamp is now incorporated within the extended rear diffuser. There are six exterior colours, including two new shades: Metallic Black (replacing solid Kuro Black) and Daytona Blue (replacing Titanium Grey).
Behind the wheels, the GT-R combines special ‘sense of occasion’ yet remains a very ‘normal’ car in many ways – roomy, comfortable and airy.
The interior styling undoubtedly evokes the car’s performance capabilities, but it is also highly practical, with readily intuitive, easy to use controls. The driver grips a small diameter, multi-function steering wheel trimmed in soft, hand-stitched leather also used on the gear shift lever and on the dashboard, centre console and door trims. A red start button on the centre console is activated by the Intelligent Key system.
The main instruments are analogue dials ringed in chunky bezels which are ‘meshed’ to resemble engaged gears: a large tachometer in pride of place, red-lined at 7000rpm, is in the centre, with a smaller gear indicator, water temperature and fuel gauges to its right and the speedometer on its left.
They’re complemented by the multi-functional 7-inch LCD instrument display in the upper centre console at the same height as the main instrument cluster. This enables the driver to view a wide range of vehicle telemetry, and the graphics have been developed in conjunction with Polyphony Digital Inc., designers of the Gran Turismo game for Sony PlayStation.
The customisable displays include lateral and transverse g-forces, accelerator opening and steering angle and a wide range of mechanical data including oil temperature and pressure and turbo boost. There’s also an ‘optimal gearshift map’ to encourage economical driving. For the more serious-minded driver, the system means you can also keep a detailed log of driving characteristics. The multi-functional touch screen also doubles up as the display for the satellite navigation, as well as the audio controls.
Below the multi-function display is a cluster angled towards the driver containing switches for the air conditioning, audio and set-up switches used to change the tuning of components, including the dampers, gear shifting and VDC.
The GT-R is equipped with Nissan’s ‘Premium Connect’ combined audio and navigation system, offering improved ease-of-operation as well as new and updated features. At its heart is a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) navigation system with 40GB of memory space. This makes for faster operation and greater data storage capacity.
Among the many benefits are vastly extended mapping which now includes Turkey, Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as a new easy to follow 3D navigation guidance with improved graphics and a more realistic depiction of the road and landmarks ahead.
The high-resolution screen with newly developed WVGA (wide video graphics array) high resolution display is a liquid crystal monitor that has four times the number of pixels of a conventional satellite navigation screen. Real time traffic information is supplied via RDS-TMC, but quicker operation allows the system to offer re-routing in a fraction of the time.
Users have access to Point Of Interest (POI) information supplied by Michelin, with comprehensive information on restaurants, services, museums and other tourist attractions in 20 major European cities.
It uses a touch-screen interface, maximising both ease of use and safety not only for the navigation, but also for other functions such as Bluetooth phone connectivity and entertainment. It is also possible to operate the system using voice recognition.
On-screen instructions can be displayed in eight different languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Russian – while voice recognition is supported in seven – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch.
Another benefit of the HDD information and entertainment system is the incorporation of a 9.3GB Music Box library which can store music from up to 300 CDs. The download takes place automatically when a CD is inserted into the CD player, if selected.
But for those wanting a wider music selection at their fingertips, the system also allows iPod/USB connection with full control via the screen and/or steering wheel switches. In addition, song, artist and album information is displayed on the screen. Other audio devices can be played via the unit’s Bluetooth Audio Streaming function.
Changes for the 2011 GT-R are subtle and are designed to enhance that sense of occasion. A re-shaped pad and finisher surround the navigation display featuring uniform stitching to enhance the feeling of quality. The heater control panel now has a real carbon finish surrounding the switches, finished in matt black, while the paddle shifters are now fabricated from magnesium.
Chrome-plated rings in the console and air conditioner outlets now have a sporty smoked black finish.
Perhaps the most significant change to the 2011 GT-R is the availability of two different interior treatments. One accentuates the sporting nature of the GT-R while the other underlines its luxurious side: there is no additional cost regardless of which treatment is chosen.
Recaro Black, as the name implies, features black leather covered Recaro bucket seats. The seats are finished off with red side flashes while there’s also a red flash on the gear lever. A dark headlining sets off the interior.
The second treatment is a premium leather covered seat available in light grey or black and complemented by a light grey coloured headlining to provide a lighter, airy feeling to the interior.
Both seats provide an improved level of comfort and safety while cornering. In addition, fatigue levels are reduced for the thighs and lower back by changing the shape and extending the length of the seating surface. They come with electric adjustment for forward, back and height, along with two switch levels for heated seat intensity.
The twin rear seats, easily accessed using the entry/exit switch on the front seats, are better suited to children or for carrying bags and jackets, although they are perfectly comfortable for most adults on short journeys. The boot provides a 315 litre (VDA) capacity, easily big enough for two sets of golf bags or for substantial holiday luggage, emphasising the GT-R’s everyday usability.
The standard specification list remains as strong as always. The 2011 GT-R has Premium Connect HDD satellite navigation, Bose stereo system, iPodTM connectivity, hard drive music storage, Bluetooth phone connection, 20" alloy wheels, runflat tyres, and individual climate control air conditioning. The only option is the choice between Premium Edition and Black Edition.
Add that to the performance delivered from the V6 twin turbo through the GR6 dual clutch system, with the aid of the 4-wheel drive system, and its remarkable on the road price, the GT-R remains untouchable.
Right from its launch, the GT-R has combined a remarkable blend of performance and practicality. Where conditions permit, it has breathtaking performance and exceptional levels of grip… yet is as docile as a family hatchback in town.
The 2011 GT-R builds on that base, extending its performance parameters still further yet remaining as complaint in the city centre as it is spectacular on the Nurbürgring.
“The GT-R has rewritten the supercar rulebook again,” said Andy Palmer.