FIRST DRIVE | 2019 Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition is golden
Phuti Mpyane takes a drive in the latest incarnation of the brand's much-loved supercar
It’s among the world’s motorised indulgences. That’s the point of most of these super and hyper car types isn’t it? They are playthings rather than essentials.
Yet no matter how pragmatic you can be in your thinking, walk up to the spectacle that is the new Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary with its special 20-inch Rays forged-alloy wheels and 50th Anniversary graphics, and all sarcasm melts away.
From the outside, it's difficult to argue that it isn't a hugely good looking car, particularly when specified in Bayside Blue and white stripes — a colour combination that evokes liveries from the era when the car was affectionately known in racing circles as "Godzilla".
The Nissan GT-R is among some of the big-hitters offered in an extremely tough sports car sector in terms of competition, and more so in the quotable heritage stakes. But is it a special car?
Indeed it is and it’s more than capable of challenging anything in its vaguely defined class. Is it a track car, a dragster or a grand tourer? It’s all of the above as I discovered driving it last week at its launch event in the Magalies mountain area.
The current R35 version of the GT-R first appeared in 2007 as the latest in a line of cars conceived in 1969. The car has been refined to go faster, handle better and look more sensational with every one of its many iterations over the past 50 years.
Nissan Motorsport (Nismo) alchemists have managed to further refine the wonders of the 2019 Anniversary car. It features new turbochargers that increase the efficiency of the engine response to throttle inputs at low rpm and improved reaction out of corners. The exhaust manifolds too have optimised turbo flange attachment points for easier servicing and potential for added tuning while there’s a new titanium exhaust system featuring finishers in the same material with burnished blue tips.
Additionally, the GT-R’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission has been revised for a more refined "R mode" which now feels more aggressive as you rifle through the gears. The adaptive shift control is also programmed to learn a user’s driving style and deploy ideal change shift schedules when driven in full auto mode. You can still dictate to the transmission using manual mode from enhanced steering-wheel paddles.
On the road, the 410kW and 632Nm twin turbo 3.8l V6 produces fearsome pace. You can launch it from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 2.9 seconds and quickly reach a limited top speed of 300km/h.
Nissan says the electronically controlled suspension has been tuned to provide even more superior cornering stability and a smoother ride. This is true. It felt a better resolved car than the 2012 GT-R which I last drove.
It still corners like it is on rails but there’s now a palpably softer ride even on the most uneven of road surfaces in place of the bone-jarring ride quality of old.
It’s excellent at civil driving speeds.
It also shrinks around you in a better way that the GT-R never quite did thanks in part to revised cabin ergonomics and a simpler digital menu to prod with your left finger.
Add in a sizable boot, comfy seats and conventional doors and any of the three flavours of GT-R are cars that you can confidently take on long journeys or easily use as a daily drive. The rear seats still leave no practical room for passengers though.
Premium Edition: R2,250,000
Black Edition: R2,360,000
GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition
Pearl White with Red Decals: R2,405,000
Ultimate Silver with White Decals: R2,405,000
Bayside Blue with White Decals: R 2,415,000