The problems Nissan will face with the R36 GTR
It was only the other day that renders were released of what the R36 generation Nissan GTR might look like. Designed by Enoch Gabriel Gonzales, the rendering is instantly recognisable as a GTR, and definitely can be construed as the next evolutionary stage in the car’s life. But beyond what people think of the imaginary aesthetics and subsequently how accurate they’ll be, seeing them has got me wondering about all the difficulties Nissan is going to be facing when developing the R36.
When you look at the position the R35 had upon its initial release, it was - as I like to say - a why-would-you-buy-anything-else-car. For around £50,000, Nissan were offering a 470bhp baby-supercar that retained a fair amount of practicality, yet could do 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds - quicker than Ferrari’s fastest hypercar in the day - and could also lap the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 29 seconds. It was, quite simply, even better than too good to be true.
As time progressed, the GTR became more powerful, making it faster - which is excellent! Unfortunately however, that came at a cost. Nowadays, the absolute minimum you’ll pay for a brand new GTR is a fiver short of £82,000. Yes, it may be better than it’s ever been before, and 11 years may have passed since the GTR was introduced - but in those 11 years, the overall game has moved on quite a bit, and the GTR is no longer the giant killer it once was. Could the R36 rectify the GTR’s original position that made people love it?
In short, I think that’s unlikely. Through our times of transition from internal combustion to electrification, it’s almost certain that Nissan will want to incorporate hybrid technology into the new GTR - which will only inflate the price further into the realms of inaccessibility. Not to mention that all the motors and batteries required for hybridity will also add weight - and while the designers behind the GTR have long favoured the feeling of mass in a car, the lard added by batteries will need to be saved elsewhere in order for the car to remain competitive.
When the R35 came along, it was - in many ways - revolutionary. And the echoes of that sensation is perhaps making people expect the R36 to be similarly innovative - which in our current climate, is much harder than it was 11 years ago. Through the entire life of the GTR - reaching back right through the Skyline - we find that the main revolutions only occurred once every few generations. Perhaps this is a historic clue not to expect too much from the imminent R36.
Then you have to think about exactly what hybridity will add to the R36. Take the current Honda NSX as a prime example. It produces a virtually identical amount of horsepower compared to the GTR, yet through all its electronic sophistication, it’s no faster in any discipline. Will motors merely contribute towards polluting the driving experience? Will they be there merely because the law dictates that they must be? Or will Nissan incorporate them because they make the car’s performance better in a way it wouldn’t have been had they used internal combustion alone? Only time will tell.
Another problem that Nissan will face is in regard to the R36’s rivals. When the R35 came out, it’s job was simple: to beat the Porsche 911 Turbo. And it did that convincingly - for much less money. The GTR first came out however in the era of the 473bhp 997.1 Turbo, and right now has to contend with the far superior 572bhp 991.2 Turbo S. Not to mention that Porsche has recently revealed the 992 generation 911, which will unquestionably have a Turbo and Turbo S version coming fairly soon. In other words, Nissan has to develop the R36 to compete with a rival that isn’t even out yet.
All in all then, the R36 GTR is going to be an incredibly difficult child for Nissan. Something that could quite easily become the victim of our changing automotive climate; something that could easily succumb to the precedent set by the R35. But it could also be a defining moment for Nissan. And I think I speak for all my fellow petrol heads when I say: I hope it’s the latter.
But what are your predictions for the R36 GTR? Do you think it will be a worthy successor, or do you believe that it can’t possibly live up to the legend the R35 created for itself? Let me know in the comments.
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