Jeremy Clarkson - Nissan GT-R

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The problem is ... it’s out of this world

    [​IMG]

    Jeremy Clarkson
    June 8, 2008

    Fifteen years ago, I went to Japan, sat in a traffic jam for a fortnight and came home again, a bit worried that this festering, superheated example of unrestrained car ownership would one day spread right round the world, causing everyone to think Ken Livingstone might have had a point.

    The traffic did not crawl. It did not move at all. The only way you could garner even half an idea of what it might be like to be stationary for so long is to blow your head off. Tokyo, in 1993, really was twinned with being dead.

    So you might imagine that after 15 years of almost continuous global economic growth, things today would be even worse. That I could go back there now, and find the taxi I used for the airport run all those years ago still at the terminal, queueing to get back on the expressway. That there’d be people in jams all over the city with no idea the twin towers had come down.

    But in fact, Tokyo now flows like the arterial blood in a newborn baby. There are no fatty deposits, no furred-up tributaries, no clots. Recently, at two in the afternoon, I tore up Tokyo’s equivalent of London’s Marylebone Road at 100mph. And there was not a single car in sight. Not one.

    A communist might argue that this has something to do with Japan’s excellent public transport system, which classifies a train as late if it arrives more than 59 seconds behind schedule. But the system was just as good 15 years ago.

    A hippie might suggest that in the nation that gave us John Prescott’s Kyoto treaty, the average workaday commuter has hung up his wheels in shame and bought a bicycle instead. ’Fraid not, Mr Hillage. And nor have the city burghers invented a congestion charge that somehow cuts down on congestion, rather than just send a rude and impertinent bill every five minutes.

    No. What’s happened is very simple. Elsewhere in the world, cars have been getting larger. The current 3-series BMW is 4in longer than a 5-series from the late Eighties. Today’s Polo is bigger than the original Golf. And the 21st century’s Rolls-Royce Phantom is bigger than an Egyptian’s house.

    Whereas in Japan, the law says that you must prove you own a parking space before you can buy a car, unless the car is less than 3.4 metres (11ft 2in) long and powered by an engine no larger than 660cc. And because almost no one owns a parking space, demand for cars that would fit in a budgie’s lunch box has gone berserk. There are currently 58 different models on offer with the bestselling, the Suzuki Wagon R, selling to 250,000 people a year.

    Seriously, the cars they sell to us in Britain, which are the size of farms and skyscrapers – you hardly see them at all in Japan. Almost everyone has a car so small, many aren’t actually visible to the naked eye.

    The result is very simple. A traffic jam made up of normal cars will be twice as long as one made up of these Japanese “kei” cars. And a kei jam will clear more quickly, because in a car the size of a bacterium you don’t have to drive round and round the block looking for somewhere to park. You just pop it in your pocket and the job’s a good ’un.

    Sadly, there are some drawbacks. First of all, because these cars are so tiny on the outside, they are not what you’d call spacious when you step inside. This isn’t so bad in a country where most people are 18in tall but if you are say, Dutch, you will struggle. Certainly, there is no way that two people could sit alongside one another in a Daihatsu Mira if either of them had shoulders.

    This brings us on to the next problem. Because the kei car can only be 3.4 metres long, there’s no point wasting any of that length with a bonnet. So the microdot engine sort of fits under the dash and you sit right at the very front of the car. This must be strange when you are having a head-on accident because your face could be less than a foot from the face of the chap coming the other way and you still wouldn’t have hit one another.

    Then there’s the styling. Or rather, there isn’t. Any attempt to give these cars a tapering roofline or a curved rear end is wasteful of precious capacity, which means all of them look exactly – and I mean exactly – like chest freezers. And because they have such tiny wheels they actually look like chest freezers on casters. And that in turn means they look absurd. And no one is going to spend their money on something that makes them look foolish.

    To get round this, the car manufacturers try to inject their chest freezers with a bit of funkiness and personality by giving them unusual names. They do this by getting the English dictionary and picking out words with pins.

    This means you have the Mitsubishi Mum 500, the Suzuki Alto Afternoon Tea and from Mazda, the Carol MeLady.

    Would you go to work in a chest freezer called the Afternoon Tea? No. Neither would I, which is why, when I went to Japan last month, I got myself a 193mph, 473bhp four-wheel-drive, trixied up, hunkered down, road-burning controlled explosion. I got myself the new Nissan GT-R.

    It’s funny. In Japan, among the termite hill of kei cars, it felt like I was in a heavy metal blast from the past. It felt like I was blasting through a Girls Aloud gig in a rock dinosaur. But over here, things ought to be very different . . .

    The last time Nissan did a GT-R, it was based on the old two-door Skyline saloon. The company couldn’t do that this time round because the current Skyline saloon is too ghastly. So instead, a small team, in a hermetically sealed factory, set to work on a ground-up, handmade machine that would take the laws of physics and simply break them in half.

    The attention to detail has been extraordinary. For instance, the GT-R’s tyres are filled with nitrogen because ordinary air expands and contracts too much. And each gearbox is specifically mated to each handmade engine.

    It goes on. Japanese car companies rarely buy equipment from the round eyes. They always feel they can do better themselves. On the GT-R, though, you’ll find Brembo brakes. You’ll find a chassis that was developed initially by Lotus. You’ll find the best that Europe can offer mated to a computer control system that could only be Japanese.

    On the road, then, this £53,000 car – with its rear-mounted double-clutch gearbox and its handmade 3.8 litre twin turbo motor and its infinitely variable four-wheel-drive system – is quite simply, how can I put this . . . very underwhelming. The noise it makes is normal. The ride is normal. The steering is normal. You can adjust all the settings as much as you like but it’ll make no difference. It still feels like a big Sunny.

    It’s not pretty either. I know every shape and every crease serves an aerodynamic purpose but it’s like free-form poetry. It’s like it was conceived by Bartok.

    Annoyed that Nissan could have lost the plot so badly, I drove it a bit harder. And then a bit harder still. And still it refused to reveal its hand. It was like driving a car that had fallen asleep. Like there was nothing that me, a mere human being, could do that would cause it to break into a sweat.

    There were no clues that I was driving something that could lap the Nürburgring faster than a Koenigsegg or a McLaren Mercedes. That I was in a car that can stop just as fast as a much lighter, ceramic-braked Porsche 911 Turbo.

    Even when I found a mountain road and went berserk, the GT-R remained utterly composed, absolutely planted. Occasionally, you’d catch a faint whistle from the turbos or maybe there’d be a little chaffinchy chirrup from the semi-slick tyres. But that was it. There was absolutely no drama at all. No sense that I was in something incredible. And the brakes, even after I’d pummelled them for half a day, were still ice cold and sharp.

    This, then, is an extraordinary car, quite unlike anything I’ve driven before. You might expect it, with all its yaw sensors and its G readout on the dash, to feel like a laptop. Or you might expect, with all that heavy engineering, for it to feel like a road-going racer. But it is neither of these things. It certainly doesn’t feel like it could do a 7.29minute lap of the Ring. Even though I’ve seen a film of it doing just that.

    I dare say that if Michael Schumacher were to find himself in the eye of an Arctic blizzard, escaping from an exploding volcano, he might discover 10% of this car’s abilities. But you? Me? Here? Forget it.

    Nissan, then, has done something odd. It has built a car for a time and a place and a species that simply don’t exist.

    Verdict - Unfathomably good

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Benzo

    Benzo OT Supporter

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    ill take one for 20k and 87 gas
     
  3. BumbleBeeTuna

    BumbleBeeTuna excuse me, your balls are showing OT Supporter

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    when does Top Gear UK start again? :hs:
     
  4. GrassHopper

    GrassHopper Happiest motherf***er you're EVER gonna meet OT Supporter

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    Some charity BS for knocked-up teen
  5. Jackhole

    Jackhole New Member

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    The way he writes is painful to read.
     
  6. ThreeZOMG

    ThreeZOMG (•̪̀●) ̿̿̿̿ ̿̿̿̿ ̿̿̿̿'̿'\̵͇̿̿\=(•̛̺̀●)

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    dugg for the use of fortnight
     
  7. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    Sorry, I just see that as the epitome of over-rated. A car of that nature should inspire, and this simply does not.
     
  8. patina

    patina OT Supporter

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    Sounds boring.
     
  9. wizurd

    wizurd TRUE OT OG BRO

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    Nissan>*
     
  10. fr0ng

    fr0ng don't mind me, just passing through

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    yes plz
     
  11. [dRu]

    [dRu] Active Member

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  12. mondaynightmike

    mondaynightmike New Member

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    This sunday :bowdown:

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  13. mondaynightmike

    mondaynightmike New Member

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    :bowrofl:
     
  14. Pale James

    Pale James OT Supporter

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    Sounds boring to drive, not a surprise.
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    6/22
     
  16. CLOT

    CLOT OT Supporter

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  17. Coco Monkey

    Coco Monkey OT Supporter

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  18. Xin

    Xin OT Supporter

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    Fuck yes. I hope the stig gets his hands on one and we can see how it does.
     
  19. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    The GT-Rs I saw in Tokyo were so hot :wackit:
     
  20. DefBringer

    DefBringer Ronnie, if I don't do this, *that's* when I'm goin

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    Ok, so where are the people who are going to say that it is a boring car even though he never says that.
     
  21. mr_ecktid

    mr_ecktid New Member

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    gtr > hate
     
  22. dmora

    dmora Guest

    I'd still rather have an R34.
     
  23. SAKU39

    SAKU39 OT Supporter

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  24. dmora

    dmora Guest

    He did.... all over the article.
     
  25. SlowEvo

    SlowEvo New Member

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    No real transmission, no care.
     

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