Litchfield R35 GTR - My romance
An article paying homage to the best car I have ever driven, and had the pleasure to own. The Nissan R35 GTR!
Few things in life are timeless. Leather jackets, whisky, and Crash Bandicoot 3 are some rare exceptions to this rule, but the vast majority of cars, sadly, are not. Its 2020, over a dozen years since the R35 platform was released, yet, Godzilla, at least in my books, is bearing no wrinkles…
My example is approaching its 8th birthday, but fanboys everywhere will know that 2013-2015 model years, are the GTR’s to get. Launch control gen 5 released in 2013, which gives this car a 0-60mph time of well under 3 seconds. The software enhancements since its initial launch significantly reduced gearbox casualties too, and with a small amount of money spent on tuning, the monster-like 0-60 time can be quashed even further than its far from meagre 550 horsepower can muster alone.
Pre-2011 cars, known as "CBA" GTRs, were plagued with a plethora of problems, some of which were triaged in the later post-2011 "DBA" GTRs. Issues include spun solenoid valves, sheered gear teeth from launching with too much boost, dashboard lighting failures, and of course, all of the other standard GTR design flaws which worsen with age.
A clicking noise from the wheel hubs, rusted transmission oil sump pans, and pressure build up in the fuel tank after aggressive driving to name a few. But hey, these problems are easy to remediate as long as you treat Godzilla with an ample amount of respect, and a few flaws give character.
The VR38DETT engine platform, a twin turbocharged V6 with 3.8 litres of displacement; the beating heart of Godzilla, is a tuners dream. Some bored-out boosted builds are breaking the 3000bhp barrier, and bolt-on mods are readily available for more attainable stats, perfect for the speed-hungry, slightly above average Joe, as stock internals are good for up to, and sometimes over, 800 horses.
Horsepower is a bit of an abstract statistic anyway. It’s true, the new Dodge SRT Hellcat is boasting in excess of 700 horsepower these days, along with other competitors like the latest Shelby GT500, and these are from factory! So the GTR, even with a remap, would be left dead in the water… Right? Wrong. Power is a very subjective statistic, for it means nothing without traction, and those horses in less sophisticated cars, might as well be Shetland ponies!
Neither of the aforementioned american automobiles can get to 60 in under 3.5 seconds, and don’t make up any more time in the standing quarter either. You do look especially silly being “gapped” by a car with less power after boasting about your power output. What these cars lack, is pulsing through Godzilla’s every fibre…
Godzilla is intelligent. A four-wheel drive system gives Godzilla a driven rubber footprint almost twice that of these rivals, allowing the front wheels to claw deep into the asphalt. The on-board computer is able to cleverly distribute power too, depending on each individual wheels load and rotational velocity. Additionally, the boxy appearance of GTR is deceptive, as it has a drag co-efficient of 0.26, in layman's terms, makes it cut through air like a katana! Even weight is distributed with precision. The chassis has the double clutch 6 speed gearbox mounted at the rear end of the vehicle, keeping the centre of gravity both low, and central; a refined balancing act with the engine; a unique design choice only found in the R35 platform. Brain’s always beat brawn…
While all of the aforementioned is working behind the scenes to maul the competition, the driver is greeted with a unique soundtrack. An almost jet-like turbo induction noise gives the beast a mechanical, spaceship like tone, which still sounds futuristic today, and eerily, almost ethereal… The shifts in “R” mode are absolute, and ensure the cars is consistently deploying power with NO discernible pause in output, critical for cornering stability, while the stark difference of “Comfort” makes the shifts gentle, yet unobtrusive. The suspension however, is harder than a coffin nail in all modes, but “R” is especially useful if you want all of your teeth shaken out. Another small sacrifice in the name of outright speed and unfathomable mechanical grip.
“R” mode on the traction lets the car over-steer ever so slightly, but audibly releases boost to control your slip angle, making you feel like a true driving hero. While traction is on, slip is countered by the on board systems almost immediately, but with traction fully off, the car lights up all 4 tyres and will chew you up and spit you out, hence the fitting nickname. I feel people who say this is an easy to drive video-game car, did not have the courage to take on Godzilla in his full “R” form, or push the chassis to its limits. A flick of a switch and the cars systems do not feel obtrusive, especially when paired with Litchfield's custom traction control... On the other hand, having traction fully on is very reassuring on my daily commute and in the wet; a monster with a split personality.
Unfortunately for all of you Vegans out there, there is a surprising amount of leather upholstery, several dead cows I would imagine, although, not a dozen dead cows like a Rolls or Bentley… The Recaro seats are leather, heated, and are incredibly comfy for nigh-on racing buckets, and as an individual who suffers for room in a Polo, the driver’s seat has yet to burden me with any form of discomfort. The screen displays enough technical data to render an OBD2 reader almost redundant, even to the extent that my blinker fluid pressure is a genuine cause of stress sometimes… It’s a nice place to be overall, a little too much plastic, but you paid for the privilege of being in one of the fastest car on the road, not the most luxurious! Oh, the rear seats? One word. Inhumane.
Fans of the GTR legacy everywhere are waiting with bated breath for the R36, pondering why Nissan are yet to announce anything concrete. Like me mortgaging Godzilla at 21, I fear Nissan may have peaked too early, and have no clear direct route for progression. The R35 is far from perfect, but it does so many things so well, that I feel almost every manufacturer would struggle to release such a complete package, even over a dozen years on. We probably don’t have an R36 yet, because improving on the R35 is an almost insurmountable task.
If you want a raw, almost uncompromising driving experience, and to find the limit of your driving capabilities, don’t hold out. Get an R35, and if you have gonads big enough, chuck on a few stage upgrades. You will NOT regret it…