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Will The Next-Generation Nissan GT-R Be Electrified?

Interview / 18 Comments

Nissan says we should “keep the faith” about the GT-R’s future.

Nissan recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the GT-R with the debut of a new special edition model at the 2019 New York Auto Show finished in the R34's iconic Bayside Blue color. But what about its long-awaited successor? The current GT-R has been on sale since 2007, making it one of the oldest cars on sale today. Yes, it's been refreshed a few times, but the Japanese sports car is still 12 years old – that's ancient in the fast-moving auto industry.

Nissan has already confirmed that development of the next-generation GT-R has started, but it looks like we still have a long wait for it to arrive - especially as there still hasn't been a concept car previewing the R36 GT-R. Top Gear recently caught up with Philippe Klein, Nissan's board member in charge of planning, to find out what we can expect for the GT-R's future.

"Yes, you should keep the faith, because we do!" he said when asked if the GT-R still has a future in Nissan's lineup. "The driving experience is very high on our priority list. EVs are very fun to drive. And we're moving our petrol powertrains to electrification with hybrid e-power. In the end we would like the regulations to take nothing away from how fun the car is to drive."

Klein went on to say that engineers are "working hard on different options" for the next-generation GT-R's powertrain and that regulations "bring a lot of concerns, so the question is how to answer these constraints and still offer a car that's fun to drive. There are different options and we're working on them. We're defending the sports car."

This suggests the new GT-R will be electrified in some way to meet increasingly strict emissions laws without sacrificing the driving experience. Of course, the challenge will be countering the extra weight of the battery considering the 2019 GT-R Pure model already weighs 3,929 pounds, but Klein insists hybrid GT-R would not negatively affect how the car drives.

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The GT-R is one of the most technologically advanced sports cars on the market, but the next-generation model could take this further by adopting autonomous technology. Don't worry, it will still have a steering wheel and pedals if the technology is approved, but Nissan wants to add computers that superimpose their actions over yours to correct your mistakes on a track or even give you a thrill ride or teach track driving techniques.

"I like to think about turning up to the Nurburgring in your GT-R, and being able to select one of the famous laps and the car just taking over", Richard Candler, an engineer high up in the Global Advanced Planning department in Nissan's Japanese HQ, told Top Gear. "The latest Nismo did 7m08s with Michael Krumm at the wheel; you could just select the Michael Krumm setting, and you're launched round the track. Something that most people could never achieve suddenly becomes very accessible."