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Which runs faster, GT-R or Porsche? Japanese and German carmakers fight an off course battle.

10, 17. 2008

   Porsche is challenging the record speed for a marketed car said to have been registered by the Nissan GT-R. Porsche is understood to claim that the Nissan car was tested for the speed using tires with racing specifications. Which is telling the truth?

Tires for race cars are used for testing? Nissan denies.

The article carried by the mass-circulation Australian newspaper Herald Sun
The article carried by the mass-circulation Australian newspaper Herald Sun
"Did Godzilla lie?"

   This was what was said in the sensational headline of the article carried on the mass-circulation Australian newspaper Herald Sun. Godzilla is the nickname used overseas for the Nissan GT-R. Besides the Herald Sun, other newspapers, mostly Australian, such as the Cars Guide have been reporting since Sept. 30, 2008, that there the record speed claimed to be registered by the GT-R was suspicious.

   Nissan Motor Co. conducted the test runs of the GT-R on the Nurburgring circuit in Germany on April 16 and 17, and the car registered the record rap time for a marketed car at that time of 7 minutes and 29 seconds 3. An official in charge of car development at Porsche of Germany reportedly told the Australian press, however, that the GT-R car used for the test did not represent marketed cars but it was suspected to be fitted with tires of racing specifications. According to the report, there was the possibility that the tires used had been those with racing specifications called "Semi-Slick".

   Porsche then bought one of the GT-R cars that had been sold in the United States since June and put it on a test at the Nurburgring circuit to compare with the "911 Turbo" and its high performance version "911 GT2". The result of the test showed that the GT-R car registered a rap time of 7 minutes and 54 seconds, as much as 25 seconds slower than the time registered in the test Nissan had conducted. The rap times were 7 minutes and 38 seconds registered by the 911 Turbo and 7 minutes 34 seconds registered by 911 GT2. Because of these results, the Porsche official reportedly said half jokingly that the GT-R was about 20 kilograms heavier than the 911.

   Nissan categorically denied what Porsche had reportedly claimed. A Nissan official in charge of the public relations said:

"One of the cars put on the market was used for the test. The rap time was recorded by the car wearing tires that were sold for the general public. I assure you that they were not those with racing specifications like the Semi-Slick tires. We invited the motor magazine Best Motoring to send someone as a third-party witness for the test. The test run was videoed and put on the DVD discs for adding as a supplement to the July issue of the magazine. You will know that there should not be any doubt about the test if you see the video. I understand Porsche registered different time, but I don't think we need to say something about it because we did not witness their test."

"Test was conducted with the model yet to be put on the market."

   The Japanese and German carmakers thus both insist that "our car is faster in speed" without any sign of reaching agreement. How should we see this "off course battle"?

   Kazuo Shimizu, former motor journalist and concurrently racing driver who tested the Skyline GT-R and Porsche tires, said:

"The Nissan car used for the test in April 2008 may have been the V-SPEC model that was yet to be put on the market. It's true the model is still not on the market, but it's also true that it is not a model with racing specifications. Porsche is wrong in saying it used racing tires but it used right tires."

   Shimizu made the comment as a professional driver who has rich experiences, including driving more than 5,000 raps at the Nurburgring circuit. Recalling his own circuit test, he further said:

"Comparing with the 911 Turbo, the GT-R is certain to be faster. But it can be said the 911 GT2 is faster than the GT-R."

   Then, there should be something suspicious about the test conducted by Porsche? Shimizu said on this question, "A new GT-Rcar was airlifted from America, and the car might have been driven for breaking in. Germany is very severe about the performance of cars. It should not be mistaken that a test was thoroughly conducted using one of the cars put on the market so that the cars might not be subjected to any claim later."

"The report is about the result of the test at Nurburgring. A comparison of performances of different products to be put on the market must be made voluntarily by a third party organization. Fighting by argument between makers won't go anywhere. But Porsche became angry because the Porsche Turbo was used too much as a benchmark in conducting PR for GT-R. Nissan is the one who started the fight. It must be that Porsche could no longer be patient."

   According to the PR section of Nissan, in the meantime, 11,000 units of the GT-R had been sold as of the end of August 2008 since they were put on the domestic market on Dec. 6, 2007. The cars were sold faster than expected. More than 1,000 units have been sold in the United States, where the cars are highly appraised. They are expected to be put on the market in Europe within the course of 2009.

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