Nissan R35 GT-R Review

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Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R
Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R
Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R
Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R
Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R Nissan R35 GT-R

Feeding Godzilla! How much does it really cost to run Nissan's new R35 GT-R?

Nissan R35 GT-R Review
Nissan R35 GT-R

 

Nissan R35 GT-R

From any angle Nissan’s new GT-R is a blisteringly fast device. Capable of sub twelve second time-slips for the 0-400 dash, and capable of dispatching 100km/h from a standing start in the ‘threes’ there isn’t much factory hardware than can run with the R35 GT-R.

In a short space of time the GT-R legend has been resuscitated after a 10 year rest, and rightly so.

It’s on the circuit that the GT-R shows its true strengths though, putting down its crushing power and torque through the most sophisticated mass produced chassis of all time, and a gearbox with shift speeds that rival dedicated race cars.

Lap times are scintillating with GT-R outrunning its Porsche GT3, GT2 rivals and even serving it up to the majority of Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the majority of Australian circuits. With an attractive driveaway price of around $170K for a Premium, this astounding performance comes at what seems to be a bargain.

There is however the not inconsiderable question of maintenance, with – depending on who you might ask – prices ranging from the normal ‘several hundred a year’ through to exorbitant amounts upwards of $10,000.

Such potential costs can seriously affect the viability of ownership, but with the GT-R so new to Australian customers achieving a solid demographic of service costing is currently near impossible.

So, we decided to ask Unique Cars contributor Martin Donnon – who also happens to be an eight month GT-R owner, the facts. Here’s what we gleaned

 

THE EXPLODING GEARBOX MYTH

Early (grey import) GT-Rs had an aggressive form of launch control as standard. Known in the GT-R world as LC1, the clutch would be ‘computer dumped’ at 4500rpm with traction control off, causing massive driveline shock, and the instances of extreme axle tramp, sometimes the fracturing of the first gear teeth.

After a handful of abuse instances resulting in first gear failure, Nissan quickly and carefully revised the procedure to be a much softer 3000rpm ‘clutch slip launch’.

This softer launch has been incorporated into all the Aussie cars, totally removing the prospect of breaking a transmission via launch, and costing only a few tenths in acceleration, which is worth it to most.

What doesn’t make much sense though is the servicing schedule for the GR6 transmission. Filled with a proprietary fluid from the factory, costing $100 a litre, the eye opener comes when you realize this ‘super trans’ takes just on 10 litres per change… that’s $1000 worth of transmission fluid.

Now the catch is this. Using its inbuilt data recorder codenamed ‘Flickr’ Nissan can see the peak temperatures recorded in the transmission. Get the temperature over 130C and you are up for a change.

Fair enough? Maybe, but consider it takes only three or four hot laps of most Aussie race circuits to push the needle that far and it starts to look expensive. Regardless when track work is involved Nissan recommends the fluid be changed at 3000km intervals.

The only option for a long life fluid at this stage is WR35TM from Willall Racing in South Australia. It costs less than the factory gear, can go three to five times longer between changes, and quietens down the transmission rattle. The catch?

Nissan can argue the warranty Aussie GT-Rs that take this route. In short then, the slick shifting GT-R gearbox doesn’t explode, but it can require regular and expensive maintenance.

 

ENGINE AND THE REST

Although much hype is made of the Plasma Bores in the GT-R, the reality is it’s a fancy name for spraying a wafer thin layer of iron on an alloy cylinder block. Extremely tough and durable, and the rumours of 80,000km engine rebuilds due to this lining process are just that… unfounded rumours spurred on by the froth and bubble of internet forums.

Making good power and torque the VR38DETT is hard on the factory 0-40W oil, and can require changes as regularly as 5000km when driven hard. The good news is that the engine oil is available off the shelf, and the oil filter is nothing fancier than that found on the engine block of a Nissan Maxima.

Differential fluid is a little more expensive, with Nissan charging (in the instance we quoted) $200 a litre for the change, and there are three litres required.

GT-R owners need to brace themselves for regular fluid changes if they track their cars hard and exceed certain temperature thresholds that the dealerships monitor. Fluids are expensive overall, and the labour charge varies between $188 and $195 an hour from the High Performance GT-R accredited dealerships we quizzed.

 

BRAKES

The GT-R stoppers are huge being 380mm at the front, with the pads pushed by six piston Brembo calipers. On the road they are phenomenal with the combination of drilled disc rotors and soft pads being the perfect combination for cold stops, as well as just about any mountain road you could throw at them. The only time the factory brakes ever struggle is on the track.

The sheer mass of the GT-R at 1750kg simply wears the braking system down. Pushing the pads and rotors beyond their factory specification sees the pedal ‘go away’ after three or four hard laps, but more disturbing is the damage this does to both the factory brake pads and disc rotors.

Three or four hard track days will see the rotors crack severely through the drill hose as pictured. At this point you will want to consider a replacement, with most in the US looking to the aftermarket as the factory items are both very expensive and prone to failure again.

The gun choice is direct fit brakes from AP which makes both slotted and ‘J-hook’ designs as a straight bolt on for GT-R. These are much cheaper than factory at around $950 each (plus fitting), but it doesn’t stop there, as you will also need new pads to match. A good set of Endless, Carbontech, or Pagid brake pads will lighten the wallet around another $1000.

 

RUBBER

Last but not least is the GT-R’s hunger for rubber. At the track the GT-R suffers from mild understeer, which soon turns into severe understeer as the shoulders get ‘knocked off’ the Bridgestone RE070R run flat tyres. Driven hard the GT-R will wear out front tyres to rear at the rate of around two to one.

These run-flats aren’t real cheap though with the last price we were quoted having each front at $935 fitted. It’s quite possible to go through four a year…

At this stage tyre choices are limited, with the RE070R or the options Dunlop RSST (as used by Nissan at the Nurburgring) being as good as you can get. This is all expected to change mid year when the Toyo Proxes R888 and Bridgestone RE55 both come on line in 20 inch GT-R friendly sizes.

 

AND…

GT-R is a damn fast car and worth every cent for the track junkie. For those that are prepared to carry out some of their own maintenance the costs won’t be quite as bad.

However the ‘warranty carrot’ was used in the US, and if the car didn’t receive the regular pre and post track scheduled servicing then the car was officially wiped from the warranty register.

Still, these cars are so good, potential owners shouldn’t let the prospect of $10,000 a year in wear, tear, and maintenance bother them.


 

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