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Next-Generation ‘R36’ Nissan GT-R - Coming In 2023?


Next-Generation ‘R36’ Nissan GT-R - Coming In 2023?

Is the 'R36' Nissan GT-R coming soon? The much-awaited replacement for the aptly called Godzilla – the (R35) Nissan GT-R – will feature a heavily revised version of the current powertrain, and forego any of the previously rumoured mild-hybrid technology, according to Japanese website BestCarWeb.

The next generation, which according to best insider estimates is slated for launch in 2023 will carry forward the GT-R’s existing 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 powertrain, and dual-clutch automatic transmission albeit with a comprehensive redesign, numerous chassis, and body updates, and a fresh suspension setup and tune.

2021 Nissan GT-R50 exterior

However, according to the same report, the upcoming GT-R’s interior won’t stray too far from the current architecture. It will carry suitable upgrades to meet current safety standards and offer an up-to-date infotainment system.

Any form of hybridization will be put off until the following generation when it is expected to go full electric, making the GT-R possibly one of the final bastions of the internal combustion engine, and a fitting salute to the end of an era for one of Japan’s most legendary cars. However, what could the next generation hold?

You can only push a good design so far

Classic Nissan Skyline R34 and R35

The current R35 GT-R has been around since 2007 making it one of the longest-running models on sale today. In fact, the GT-R was originally envisioned to topple the (997) Porsche 911 Turbo – which it did – however, Porsche has already launched the 991 and 992-generation 911 Turbo generations since, while the GT-R has largely remained the same.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo

Note also, that even Ferrari (a relatively small company compared to Nissan) has introduced the Ferrari 458, 488 GTB, and F8 Tributo in the corresponding period.

Therefore, despite its macho looks and impressive aerodynamic efficiency, its design has aged. Numerous aesthetic updates, notably in 2012 and 2016 have done well to help it through the years, a thorough redesign is much needed if Nissan wants the GT-R to keep up with newer metal from Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GTRAnother GTR that is taking the fight to the Nissan GT-R

The two leading indicators of how the next generation could look like is given by the Nissan GT-R50 by ItalDesign which started life as a concept car but eventually has become a limited edition version (50 units total).

2021 Nissan 400Z

Though exterior proportions are largely the same, the GT-R50 has a thoroughly reworked front and rear end that could well inspire the front and rear fascia of the upcoming model. The second model is the upcoming Nissan 400Z, which beautifully recreates the Nissan Fairlady Z’s original design with a firm nod towards the future.

Evolution and not revolution is good for now

The powertrain isn’t exactly the limiting factor of the GT-R. Throughout its 14-year existence, Nissan has continuously improved its driving performance through adding power, beefing up componentry, and introducing hardware and software updates that have kept the GT-R’s overall package very powerful. Therefore, moving forward with a proven package makes sense whilst updating it to meet current and perhaps even future emission standards.

2021 Nissan GT-R50 engine

Nissan can variably achieve this through downsizing the engine (destroking), software upgrades, and revising the car’s gearing to improve fuel economy. If anything, it’s well documented how potent the GT-R’s (VR38) engine is given the plethora of updates that has seen Nissan bump power figures from 480hp in its 2007/08 model to 565hp in the 2021 version, or even up 710hp in the GT-R50 special edition, aftermarket tuners have taken those number much further.

Therefore, if anything, Nissan would be focussing on adding efficiency while dropping the overall weight of the powertrain package of the GT-R, in the 2021 version the GT-R adopts newer turbos and exhaust manifolds, lifted straight off the Nissan’s GT3 racing program, in addition to a ‘hand-formed titanium exhaust to keep weight down and aid exhaust cooling.

2021 Nissan GT-R exhaust

Hence, though it’s been around for a while, the GT-R powertrain is genuinely up to date with its immediate competition. Given, constant technological evolution has also served cars such as the Porsche 911 well (a car that isn’t going to be a hybrid either), it makes sense for Nissan to soldier on with the VR38 engine in the next generation of the GT-R.

A transmission that will keep on shifting

The drivetrain of the GT-R was truly ground-breaking in its time and remains remarkable to this day. Given its front midship architecture, the GT-R’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission and the Atessa E-TS AWD system's transfer case are mounted in the rear of the car, creating an independent rear transaxle layout. The AWD systems can shift up to nearly 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels, or divide it equally depending on conditions. This provides the steering feel and response of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and the traction of an AWD vehicle when needed.

2021 Nissan GT-R50 interior

The transmission and AWD system setup gives the GT-R its hallmark acceleration of the line and phenomenal traction in the corners. Numerous updates throughout the years have strengthened transmission and made it shift ever faster. The challenge for Nissan with the next generation would be to improve the overall refinement, whilst improving the car’s overall efficiency. It remains to be seen if Nissan will add additional ratios to allow for better response and better mileage numbers.

A thoroughly reworked suspension

Nissan will be refreshing the suspension setup of the GT-R which should improve on its already stellar road holding capabilities. In its latest version, the Nissan worked with Bilstein to introduce its DampTronic system which increases comfort (Comfort drive mode) while improving road-holding when the GT-R is switched to its selectable ‘R’ mode. The latest version sees increased use in aluminium components and certain components such as the springs updated with learnings from its racing program.

2021 Nissan GT-R

As Nissan has continuously improved the GT-R suspension through the years, we may see a refreshed version of the current setup adapted for use in the next-generation model.

When could it see the light of day?

Industry reports say the new model will be released early in 2023, a limited final run with up to 710hp as in the GT-R50 is said to be planned for 2022 when the current GT-R will finally cease production. Though it would seem a long time coming, the ever-vibrant Japanese sportscar scene has already seen the return of iconic models such as the Toyota Supra, the latest generation GR86/BR-Z, and the upcoming Subaru WRX certainly makes a strong case for the return of the GT-R.

2021 Nissan GT-R range

The only question is, will it be the supercar-killing Godzilla we have all come to know and love after all these years?

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