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Friday, January 9, 2009

Nissan GT-R Spec V Revealed

TOKYO — Nissan is now ready to tell us a lot more about the GT-R SpecV, the extreme, long-awaited limited-edition version of Japan's award-winning sports car. At a news conference in Tokyo today, the SpecV faced the media, including Inside Line, for the first time. On hand were chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno and his GT-R team.

The GT-R to date has been the "everyday" supercar. But the lightweight, hard-core $169,000 SpecV is aimed at a far more specialized audience: buyers shopping for a Porsche 911 GT2 or a Ferrari 430 Scuderia, for instance.

The starting point is the improved 2009-spec GT-R that launched in Japan on December 8. This means the SpecV runs with the now stock 478-horsepower twin-turbo V6, albeit with a twist.

The SpecV gets a high-gear boost-control device to broaden the car's 434-pound-feet torque curve by an extra 15 lb-ft between 3,500 and 5,000 rpm. You engage the system via a small steering-wheel switch, but to get the full effect you have to wait as long as 80 seconds, according to Nissan, which might lead some to wonder exactly how wondrous this new device is.

There are no reported changes to the GT-R's brilliant all-wheel-drive system, and body dimensions stay the same, but Nissan has worked hard to knock off the pounds, so the SpecV comes in 132 pounds lighter than normal at 3,704 pounds.

Losing the two rear seats has certainly helped. There are now simple vinyl covers where the rear seats used to be.

Up front, the SpecV gets slimline, super-stylish carbon fiber bucket seats. Outside, carbon fiber is also used for the rear spoiler, the brake ducts and across the front grille. Under the hood, the engine cover for the GT-R's formidable 3.8-liter VR38 DETT power unit is now black instead of gray.

Suspension, with Bilstein Damptronic struts, is set up to be ultra-stiff, to racing spec, and the SpecV also introduces Nissan's first carbon-ceramic brakes for production. These massive brakes, co-developed with Brembo, save 11 pounds per wheel and generate titanic stopping force (up to 2.0 G at the Nürburgring) but cost more than $50,000 to overhaul.

Lightweight 20-inch Rays forged alloy wheels shod with high-grip Bridgestone Potenza RE070R run-flat tires are also unique to the SpecV, while the titanium-coated exhaust comes over from the Nismo Club Sports GT-R that bowed in Japan last September.

The theme color for the SpecV is a moody, mysterious Ultimate Opal Black that changes color depending on the light (yes, really) but costs an extra $6,180. It's not so different from a color famously used on the R34 GT-R in Japan, but if you want to save money, standard-issue white, red and gray are also available.

Nissan is expecting to build the SpecV (which has yet to be approved for the United States) at the rate of 20-30 units per month, versus the global build run of 1,000 units per month for the "normal" GT-R.

So, it's going to be very select. Nissan won't yet say how fast it is, or how quickly it can zap around the Nürburgring. But you can be sure Porsche will be among those wanting to find out.

Inside Line says: Americans will be watching for news of U.S. approval