2017 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT500
Nismo redesigns the GT-R for the 2017 Super GT championshipby Ciprian Florea, on
The current Nissan GT-R, also known as the R35, was introduced in 2007 as a successor to the popular R34. Redesigned from the ground up, the R35 set many new benchmarks for the GT-R nameplate. It’s the first to no longer feature the Skyline name and the first GT-R to use a V-6 engine (previous generations have used inline-six units). More importantly, it’s the first GT-R offered globally, being exported to the U.S. and giving Nissan unprecedented popularity in the sports car market. Finally, it is also the longest-running GT-R model. While previous versions were produced for three to five years, the R35 is ten years old as of 2017. Although a bit long in the tooth, the current GT-R is still making headlines on both the road and the track, the latter fueled by numerous versions prepped by Nismo. One of them is the GT500 and it just received an update for the 2017 racing season.
Used by Nissan in Japan’s top-spec Super GT racing division since 2008, the GT-R has brought the company five championship triumphs in nine years. However, after winning the series in 2014 and 2015, the GT-R was defeated by Lexus and its RC F-based GT500 race car in 2016. Nissan wants to fix that in 2017, which brought significant modifications to the GT500 rule book, with a revised version of its Nismo-built, race-ready GT-R.
"We will make further development improvements during off-season tests and aim to create a race car that will shine brilliantly within the history of motorsports," said president and CEO of Nismo, Takao Katagiri. "We hope to thrill fans with a fast, more appealing GT-R that will excite fans as it lines up on the grid for the opening round competing against the new Lexus and Honda machines."
The new GT-R GT500 was unveiled at the Twin Ring Motegi along with entries for rival companies Lexus and Honda, and was showcased once again at the Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway in December. The 2017 Super GT Series is scheduled to begin in April.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Nissan GT-R GT500.
2017 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT500
Although it doesn’t seem to be different from last year’s car at first glance, a closer look reveals significant changes in the aerodynamics department. Because the new regulations for 2017 include a 25-percent reduction in total downforce on all GT500 cars, Nissan had to alter last year’s aero package. Un front, this is most visible in the bumper section, where the splitter is significantly shorter, while the outter intakes are a bit wider. The side canards have been revised too, now sporting winglets of their own. The engine hood also has different vents with additional strakes. The main grille is also new, now being identical to the V-shaped element seen on the road car.
Although it doesn't seem to be different from last year's car at first glance, a closer look reveals significant changes in the aero department.
Onto the sides, we can see revised side skirts and fender flares, but none of these are extreme compared to the outgoing model. Around back, the upper fascia was carried over from the previous race car, save for the wing, which is now wider than before. Now measuring 1,900 mm instead of 1,390 (74.8 versus 54.7 inches), the wing isn’t the product of Nismo’s new aerodynamics, but actually the result of Super GT’s new rule book, which set the new width as the norm for all cars in the series.
Down below, the height of the rear diffuser has been reduced by around 50 percent, which means that the device will generates less downforce than usual. The smaller diffuser left a big gap below the license place recess, which Nissan covered with a carbon-fiber panel with a red contrasting stripe and a tow hook. Like most modern race car prototypes, the presentation car was unveiled in bare carbon-fiber and matte black paint, but the customer cars will have liveries of their own.
As it is the case when it comes to race cars, there aren’t any photos of the interior, and there’s no information as to what changed on the inside. However, it’s unlikely that Nissan meddled too much with the car’s cockpit, so it’s safe to assume it’s very similar to last year’s model. Naturally, the GT500’s interior is a big departure from the standard road car, missing all of the comfort features you’d find in the production GT-R.
Note: Standard Nissan GT-R interior shown here.
The GT500's interior is a big departure from the standard road car.
The familiar dashboard was replaced by a simple panel without a lower section, which was removed to make way for a new center tunnel and a carbon-fiber center stack, while the steering wheel looks like a game controller rather than an actual wheel. The instrument cluster was also removed, with all the vital information displayed on a small screen atop the center stack. The latter is wider, oriented toward the driver, and houses most of the car’s race-spec switches and knobs.
The standard seats were ditched in favor of a race-spec, Recaro driver’s seat with a multi-point harness, while carbon-fiber door panels were mounted instead of the standard unit in order to save more weight. Much like any professional race car out there, the GT-R GT500 comes with a full roll cage, and a fire extinguishing system.
While the road-going GT-R gets its juice from a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 that can generate close to 600 horsepower depending on model and configuration, the GT-R GT500 runs a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. And, before any of you GT-R fanatics yell "blasphemy!" you should know that the four-pot comes with Super GT’s rule book and it’s not Nissan’s choice. There’s no technical or performance data available, but the 2.0-liter should be plenty powerful as the GT500-spec cars are known to produce in excess of 600 horsepower. And given that the car was developed by the folks over at Nismo, I doubt that the engine lacks performance. The transmission is likely a six-speed sequential box, while the suspension is stiffer than ever and tuned to handle the twisty and fast tracks in Japan.
Although contested by several nameplates in its first years, the GT500 series has been a three-brand affair between Nissan, Lexus, and Honda since 2006 (with an exception in 2009 when Aston Martin joined in with the DBR9).
Developed for the 2017 season, the LC500 Super GT500 is a brand-new vehicle for this series and replaces the RC F, which defeated the GT-R GT500 in 2016. Based on the new LC500, a luxury coupe that is larger than the RC, Lexus’ brand-new GT500 racer was also built to comply with the latest Super GT regulations and looks just as menacing as its competitors. With the LC500, Lexus hopes to achieve it’s first back-to-back success in the series since replacing Toyota in 2006.
Learn more about the Lexus LC500 Super GT500 here.
Loosely based on the Acura NSX you can find in U.S. dealerships, the NSX-GT joined the series back in 2014, when it replaced the HSV-010 GT. Even though it proved competitive in its first two seasons in the Super GT Series, it failed to rise above the Nissan GT-R and has yet to match the performance of its predecessor. With the NSX-GT, Honda is hoping to win its first championship since 2010. In 2016, no fewer than five teams used the NSX-GT, but the car has yet to win a race in the GT500 class.
Find out more about the Honda NSX-GT here.
Losing the championship to Lexus in 2016 was a big hit for Nissan, which barely had proper competitors in 2014 and 2015, but it was a big sign that Nismo had to update the existing GT-R, as well as devise a new strategy for the GT500 season. However, while there is a new GT-R that may be more reliable, there’s also a new Lexus LC500 and a new Honda NSX-GT, as all manufacturers had to redesign their cars due to the updated regulations. All told, it’s hard to tell who will win in 2017 and whether the R35 GT-R will become a Super GT champion for the sixth time.