Goodwood Festival of Speed

The 2017 Nissan GT-R Is Brutal, And Don't Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

Especially violent when there's a racing driver with balls of steel at the wheel.

In the official press material accompanying the launch of the 2017MY GT-R, Nissan proudly claimed that the main focus of what could potentially be the last update to the legendary R35 was to place a more profound emphasis on usability. With a revised dual-clutch transmission, tweaked suspension, an extensively overhauled interior and better noise refinement levels, the GT-R is now about as cossetting as a nigh-on 600-hp road car that's been on sale for nearly a decade will ever be.

Placing such a huge focus on making the GT-R more comfortable is welcomed, but it did bring about concerns from some Internet comment sections that this would dilute the rawness that had defined such a crucial part of the car's character. We're very happy to report, then, that the 2017MY Nissan GT-R is still as blisteringly fast as it was back in those early comparison tests in 2008. As with our recent articles on the McLaren 650S Can-Am and Noble M600 Speedster, this isn't sadly through our own personal accounts from the driver's seat, but instead from our recollections from a stint riding shotgun. In this case, with the driver being Jann Mardenborough; perhaps the most talented chap to ever emerge from the GT Academy program.

Having never been in a GT-R before, I didn't quite know what to expect from the experience. As it turns out, anyone who finds themselves strapped into a Nissan R35 should brace themselves for a (and I mean this in the most flattering way possible) truly violent experience. Nothing this side of a million dollar hypercar forces you into your seat like a GT-R does. Hardly anything can match the brutality of an R35's acceleration from a standing start. We can't bring to mind any rivals to the Nissan that can equal the way it keeps piling on the speed. If this is what "playing a video game" must feel like, then those who play the latest releases with VR head sets and high-end motion rigs must be the biggest adrenaline junkies out there.

It also helps when you've got an incredibly talented driver behind the wheel. Mardenborough hadn't driven a racing car prior to his GT Academy triumph five years ago, but you wouldn't have guessed it through his incredible car control. Whether he was clipping grass verges or borderline brushing the hay bales, the driver from Darlington demonstrated a phenomenal ability to keep the rapid R35 in check whilst right on the raggedy edge. Even at more sedate speeds, I was left dumbfounded by his driving capabilities. Mardernborough himself may have claimed to be "acting the fool" when he edged the GT-R into deliberate snap oversteer, but we're more inclined to state it's a combo of cojones and raw skill.

Like my McLaren ride, a long wait was required before we made our run up the hill. And, as with the Macca journey, it was so worth it. The 650S and the M600 were eye-opening enough in terms of performance, but the Nissan is quite possibly on another level entirely over a route like the Goodwood hill climb. Nothing else at this price point can surpass the 2017MY GT-R's ability to render any attempt to prepare yourself for the car's rabid turn of speed utterly futile, and it's genuinely a car that can permanently warp your sense of speed. You're hooked on the 'Godzilla' bug from the moment you experience what a GT-R can do at full throttle, and there's no turning back from that point onwards.

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