Godzilla has come a long way since its inception.
From the 158bhp Nissan Skyline GT-R that made its debut in 1969 to today’s 562bhp all-wheel-drive monster with a sub-3.0sec 0-60mph time, it’s a prime example of what five decades of progress can do to a performance car.
After its grand entrance in 2007, the latest model, referred to as the R35, made some significant waves in the automotive world. Built from the ground up to be a model in its own right, rather than a Skyline variant, the R35 GT-R arrived with immense performance and an ambition – that it realised – to take on rivals costing twice its original £70,000 price.
Even a £150,000-plus Ferrari 458 can’t keep up with it around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Italian supercar’s best lap time of 7min 32sec being no match for the GT-R’s 7min 27sec. The Nissan’s incredible traction, grip, power and quick-shifting six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox help it to overcome its 300kg-plus penalty over the 458.
Generating its deep reserves is a big, raucous V6 – a 3.8-litre unit – with a couple of turbos strapped to it. Initially it produced 473bhp, but a 2011 facelift bumped that up to 523bhp. Then, as part of a significant 2017 update that included revised styling, a higher-quality interior anda smoother ride, the GT-R went one step further and jumped to 562bhp.
That’s for the standard model, but there’s an even more focused, harder-hitting GT-R Nismo version, which first arrived in 2013. In its current form, it wields 600bhp. With go-faster additions such as lightweight carbonfibre panels, grippier tyres and the biggest brakes fitted to a Japanese production car to date, it can fly around the Nürburgring in 7min 8sec.
Being able to lap the Green Hell incredibly quickly is one thing, of course, but sheer bombastic pace doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an engaging, thrilling or fun machine to drive. But thankfully, it is all of those things, too. Its steering is old-school hydraulic and has a confidence-inspiring weight and feel to it.
Plus, its four-wheel drive system has a rear bias, so the car can be rotated nicely, despite its considerable size and weight. This, along with remarkable grip, allows it to hit you with some serious g-forces in the corners as well as the straights.
What we said then – 20 February 2008
“This is a brutal demonstration of what can be achieved by an engineering team fixated on creating the ultimate point-to- point machine. It may have 473bhp, but that figure means nothing if the driver can’t use it: the driver of the R35 can use all of it all of the time. The car’s desirability as an object comes as an even greater shock. People love the way it looks, the cabin is well trimmed and spacious and it has a forbidding on- road presence. Parked next to it, a Porsche ‘997’ Turbo looks rather apologetic.”