We test every generation of Nissan GT-R from the R32 to the R35, on the same dyno
As you may have already seen, thanks to Caradvice we had access to a brand-new Nissan R35 GT-R Nismo recently. This time around, we had the car for a week - so we had to figure out a few interesting things to do with it.
We have always wanted to line up every generation of GT-R for a photoshoot, so we started reaching out to local GT-R owners in Queensland.
This, it turned out, was easier said than done. Finding stock GT-Rs is far harder than you would imagine, so we started calling out to our contacts on Facebook in the hope we could get the cars we wanted. And, instead of getting just the three cars we needed (white R32, R33 and R34), we decided we may as well make a little meet out of it.
With every call, and every Facebook post we made seeking the hero cars for the shoot, our collection of local GT-R owners interested in attending our little meet grew. In the end we managed to attract around 30 GT-Rs to a Tuesday-night gathering, which is a fair effort considering we only gave three days notice.
Our Tuesday meet attracted everything from R32s, R33s, right through to a very rare R34 Vspec II NUR (the last of the R34s), and of course our own R35 GT-R Nismo Edition. Some of the cars in attendance boasted insane power levels, especially a few of the R32s, which ranged up to a ridiculous 1000+hp, proving just how much potential the GT-R platform has.
Above: This is the end of the car that most other drivers will see. It's no wonder Nissan made them look so good from behind. (Photo credit: Jon Pumfrey)
Above: Everything from R32s to R35s showed up to our impromptu gathering. (Photo credit: Tessa Whyte)
Now that we had 30 GT-Rs at our disposal, we selected four for our photoshoot. Since our Nismo was white, that became our theme. We also decided it would be interesting to not only photograph them, but get stock examples of each generation on the dyno to measure just how much power each of them made.
I mean, back in the 90s, the GT-R's factory-claimed power figure of 280hp was considered impressive, but fast forward 20 years and even a humble Toyota Aurion makes around 300hp from its 3.5L donk.
You may even question why we would need to dyno them, considering we already know the factory power figures? Well, I'm glad you asked!
Nissan, just like every other Japanese manufacturer, used to adhere to a "gentleman's agreement" that they would not produce vehicles that exceeded 280hp. We can only speculate that this was to increase safety by stopping people from getting themselves into too much trouble, just like they restricted the top speed by means of an electronic limiter to 180kph.
Above: The majority of the vehicles were unfortunately not stock, which would make our ability to get a base line figure for each vehicle difficult.
Every GT-R was quoted by Nissan to produce 280hp (207kw). R32? 280hp. R33? Yep that was 280hp as well. Then came the R34 with all that new tech, bigger turbos and larger injectors, how much power? You guessed it, "280hp". We know this is obviously not correct, so that is one of the reasons why this test is interesting. That and the fact that manufacturer claims can quite often vary wildly with real-world scenarios (see our article about the Huracan dyno test results).
The majority of the cars on show were far from stock, so they would be no good for our dyno comparison, but thankfully we were able to locate at least one stock (or close to stock) GT-R from each generation.
While we were at it, we organised a stock standard 2017 GT-R (non Nismo edition) so we could compare the base model to the Nismo. This brought us to a total of five cars to test. R32, R33, R34, R35 and R35 Nismo.
Our next stop after the photoshoot, was GT Auto Garage in Slacks Creek, QLD. There we were able to put each generation of GT-R onto the hub-dyno for accurate "at the hubs" power readings.
For those unfamiliar with dynos, they measure the power at the wheels, whereas manufacturers quote power at the flywheel. So, regardless of what you read in the brochure for the car, the "wheel horsepower" is generally substantially less than the quoted factory "flywheel horsepower". The dyno (or dynamometer) is used to measure the power at the wheels (or in this case, the hubs).
The video of all the runs mentioned below is below, and the remainder of the article follows.
The first car to get loaded up was the R32 GT-R. This was one of the cleanest, most original, unadulterated R32 GT-Rs we have seen.
Most R32s went through a period where they were very cheap, and since they are so easily modified to make power, not many people had the forethought to leave them stock. Thankfully for us though, this example was perfect for our purposes.
The R32 laid down a healthy 173kw (230hp) at all four wheels. It should be noted that since this was a completely stock vehicle, it hit the 180kph speed limiter that older Japanese cars had from factory as part of their Japanese design rules at the time.
That being said, the power was already starting to drop away at the higher revs anyway, so it should not have impacted our max-power reading.
Next we had the R33. The white one from the meet was heavily modified, so we had to use a different vehicle. This one was mostly stock, with the speed limiter removed, and a set of HKS air filters.
This particular vehicle was a customer of GT Auto Garages, and even though it was bought as "stock" from Japan, it has always been considered a "freak" with higher than usual power outputs, even before the air filters were added.
The power output from the R33 tipped in at an impressive 213kw (285hp), 55hp more than the previous generation.
Now, time for my personal favourite, the R34 GT-R Vspec II NUR.
This was the last of the Skyline GT-Rs ever produced, with the R35s losing the "Skyline" badge. Being the "Nur", it was the most powerful production car Nissan had produced at that point in time.
It comes with an "N1" block, N1 oil pump and N1 turbochargers. They are substantially larger than the base model units, and would have been comparable to the current "Nismo" edition when it was released.
The power output from the R34 managed to lay down 230kw (308hp), 23hp more than the previous generation.
Now we bring out the current model GT-Rs. GT Auto was able to track down a practically brand new, stock standard 2017 R35 GT-R which we loaded up first.
The new generation of GT-R is the first to be powered by a twin-turbo V6 VR38-DETT engine, a vastly different power plant to the old faithful straight-six RB26-DETT as seen in the previous model GT-Rs from 1989 to 2002.
They displace 3.8L compared to the RB26's 2.6L, and like their predecessors are extremely strong and easy to make big power from with relative ease.
While the R35's V6 engine arguably sounds nowhere near as good as the RB26, it put down a massive 349kw (469hp), and nearly double the torque of the previous generation.
It becomes very easy to see why the old straight six was retired in favour of this powerhouse.
Lastly it was the "Nismo's" turn.
With a factory claimed power of 591hp, we were interested to see exactly how much power the creme de la creme of Nissans would produce.
Laying down a staggering 385kw (517hp) to all four wheels, we were blown away. This either suggests the Nismo's drivetrain is extremely efficient, only losing around 13 per cent, or Nissan's figures are a little understated. Whichever one it is - we were suitably impressed.
With this much power and over 600Nm of torque, it's no wonder the heavy girl gets up and boogies. Though we have to admit it feels substantially laggier than the standard 2017 version, due to the much larger turbos that are rumoured to be the same as those found on Porsche's GT2 RS.
Now we know exactly how much more power your $120,000 over the standard 2017 GT-R gets you. 48 horsepower. That is $2500 per horsepower. Bargain!
There we have it, every generation of AWD GT-R tested on the same dyno, under the same conditions.
Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, some of the vehicles tested had minor modifications like intake and exhaust. On top of this, since the vehicles range around 20 years it is impossible to get factory showroom power figures, so there will no doubt be some variation in results compared to what we would have seen had we managed to get a time machine back to 1989 and wait to grab one GT-R from each generation over the subsequent 13 years.
So, until we get access to that time machine, this is about as good as it's going to get for now.
Many thanks to the owners of the cars who came to the meet, those who took time out of their day to let us run them on the dyno, and of course GT Auto Garage and Nissan.