The next GT-R could use autonomous driving tech in a way we've never seen before

At the ripe old age of 12, the R35 Nissan GT-R is seriously long in the tooth by performance car standards. And while its ability to set your trousers on fire and make your eyeballs bounce against the back of your skull are as impressive as ever, there can be no denying a refresh is long overdue.

The new 50th anniversary edition GT-R

Yet, despite Nissan’s assurances that the next GT-R has begun development, precious little has been revealed about the new car. We haven’t even had so much as a fantastical, over-designed concept car to drool over!

Now however, we’re finally beginning to get a picture of Nissan’s intentions for the next-gen GT-R. In a recent interview with Top Gear magazine, Nissan board member, Philippe Klein dropped some major hints on what we can expect.

The powertrain

It should come as no surprise that Nissan is seriously considering some form of electrification for its next car. Klein told Top Gear that “EVs are very fun to drive, and we’re moving our petrol powertrains to electrification with hybrid e-power” before assuring readers that “We would like the regulations to take nothing away from how fun the car is to drive”.

The idea of a hybrid (or even fully-electric) GT-R will no doubt horrify some diehard enthusiasts, but it’s the way the world is going – and in truth, electrification suits the personality of the heavy, high-tech GT-R better than most supercars.

Some sort of electric power sounds highly likely then, but it seems Nissan is yet to decide whether this will take the form of a hybrid system or a fully-electric powertrain. “There are different options and we’re working on them. We’re defending the sports car,” Klein says.

No more twin-turbo V6? We can live with that as long as those iconic brake lights make it onto the new car...

A self-driving supercar?!

But electric power isn’t the most controversial tech being considered for the new car. Even more intriguing is Klein’s suggestion that the next GT-R could utilise autonomous driving features in a way we’ve never seen before – to serve as your AI driving instructor and make you faster around a racetrack.

Like a piano that shows you how to play a tune by pressing the keys for you, Nissan hopes that in the new car you’ll be able to load up pre-programmed hot laps for whichever track you’re on – and let the car show you how it’s done.

“I like to think about turning up to the Nurburgring in your GT-R, and being able to select one of the famous laps and the car just taking over”, a Nissan engineer told Top Gear. "The latest Nismo did 7:08 with Michael Krumm at the wheel. You could just select the Michael Krumm setting, and you’re launched round the track. Something that most people could never achieve suddenly becomes very accessible.”

It’s a jolly exciting, if slightly alarming notion: sitting back in your shiny new GT-R as it bombs around the Nordschleife at race speed, without any input from you. Whether this kind of technology actually makes it to production remains to be seen, but it’s a clear indication of the ambition with which Nissan is approaching the new car. Whatever happens, we can be certain of one thing: like the current R35, the new GT-R will be a game-changing, mind-blowing tech-fest.