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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Powerhouse Amuse GT R under investigation for warping space/time

Even after the 2009 Nissan GT-R was introduced, the public was still waiting for something more. First thing, they wanted to know how much horsepower it had. The second thing, they wanted to know how much more horsepower it could make.

Well, the Japanese tuners have stepped up to the challenge and PowerHouse Amuse has delivered its own version of the Nissan GT-R R35, the Phantom GT-R. Don't let the name fool you, though; it is not to be laughed at. With 600 horsepower on tap, the 2009 Nissan GT-R by PowerHouse Amuse can tear up the pavement like a track car. Not only is its performance ability unreal, the Phantom GT-R also sports carbon-fiber body pieces that look as if they came straight out of the Nismo catalog.

And the best thing is, the 2009 Nissan GT-R by PowerHouse Amuse leaves intact all the luxury features that Nissan has built into the car.

Massaging the Beast
Though the R35 version of the GT-R is deadly fast from the factory, the late Hideki Tanabe (sadly, he passed away in September 2008) of PowerHouse Amuse analyzed the parts that might be upgraded for higher performance. Tanabe had already proven PowerHouse Amuse's expertise with his Skyline GT-R R35 Carbon-R time-attack car and a Honda S2000GT1 that had been featured in Gran Turismo 4, so he knew what to do.

The first step was to get the new GT-R on the track, so Tanabe made the trip to Tsukuba Circuit, as every Japanese tuner must do. The factory suspension was deemed more than capable to get the job done, but for a little more composure in the corners the Amuse R1 adjustable suspension kit has been added. Adjustable ride height helps bring the car lower to the ground, and now it's easier to toss into the corners. The stock Dunlop SP 285/35R20 tires remain in place, as these are the fastest of the two tire choices that Nissan provides for the GT-R. (In fact, this was the tire brand used for the GT-R's quick time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.)

More power was coerced from the twin-turbo VR38DETT V6 beast by totally replacing the exhaust system with a three-piece system, the R1 Titan Extra STTI. The system's 10 percent increase in diameter helps the monster motor breathe, and it also looks like a piece of art that Michelangelo might have welded up himself (too bad it has to be hidden beneath the body). Four massive exhaust tips finish off the system. Aside from the power increase, the titanium system reduces the weight of the exhaust plumbing to a skimpy 19.6 pounds from the factory system's 38.5 pounds.

Of course, just slapping on a free-flow exhaust won't get you optimum power. The Amuse Hitech ROM-HBL engine control unit takes full advantage of the R1 exhaust system and squeezes out every last bit of power available from the twin-turbo V6. It allows you to adjust SPL data, fuel, timing, throttle, VTC (variable valve timing) control, and then also raises the rpm limit to 7,200 rpm from 7,000 rpm. And just for fun, it disables the speed-limiting device mandated by the Japanese government.

During testing, Amuse noticed that once the boost was increased at high rpm, the stock ECU would lower the pressure. Instead the Amuse Hitech ROM-HBL maintains boost at 17.2 psi. This relatively simple combination of upgraded exhaust and recalibrated ECU produces 603 hp at 6,563 rpm and 571 pound-feet of torque at 5,270 rpm.

Phantom Good Looks
Since this is a track car, your attention is drawn right away to the Phantom GT-R's aerodynamic bits. The front aero splitter and the new rear wing are both fabricated from carbon-fiber by PowerHouse Amuse. A little extra downforce gives the GT-R more grip in the corners.

These bits look good enough to have come straight out of the Nismo catalog, and they're built well, too. Though the splitter looks like a spatula designed to flip pancakes at 200 mph, three grown men can stand on this carbon-fiber piece without breaking it.

The interior has been left mostly stock, so all the modern amenities are in place. At the same time, the stock seats have been swapped out in favor of a set of Recaro SP-As, while a removable steering wheel expedites entry and egress during track days.

Thanks to the new seats and exhaust system, the Phantom GT-R weighs 100 pounds less than the stock GT-R, something Dr. Atkins would appreciate.

Putting It Down
The combination of the R1 Titan exhaust, Hitech ROM-HBL tuning for the ECU and a 100-pound weight reduction produces smashing results. Tanabe's Phantom GT-R pulled a super-quick 59.061 seconds on the Tsukuba Circuit. Then it backed up this performance with a 1.49.807 lap at Fuji Speedway, earning this car the honor of the fastest lap yet recorded by a GT-R R35, despite its stock Dunlop tires.

These upgrades are priced at $20,000, more evidence that it isn't cheap to compress time. Of course, the 2009 Nissan GT-R by PowerHouse Amuse is still usable as a road car, since the audio system and other electronics remain in place. You just happen to get to your destination quicker than anyone else.

PowerHouse Amuse assures that the Phantom GT-R is not the ultimate GT-R R35. It's already working on an engine setup with bigger turbos.