Category: Race

NISSAN GT-R 2017

Way back in 2007 a car came along which changed everything. Performance wise, this vehicle destroyed almost anything that was put against it, its acceleration was blistering and it’s on track performance was mind blowing. This vehicle was probably one of the most technically advanced cars of that era, many called it “the supercar slayer”. Yes, I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R R35. Recently at the SA Festival of Motoring, the new 2017 Edition was released with some slight adjustments and Refinements.

 

Performance

In the performance area, the hand built 3.8L V6 twin turbo has a power increase from 397 KW to 408 KW and a small torque increase of 4nm, bringing the total to 632 NM. This power increase comes from increased turbo boost and individual timing control on each cylinder, Nissan say these upgrades will also provide more performance in the mid-high rev range.

Along with the performance upgrades, the gearbox and gearshifts have also been improved.  These two factors added with Nissan’s state of the art launch control system gives a 0–100kph time of under 3 seconds, that’s Porsche Turbo S territory. Nissan has also added a new titanium exhaust system which unfortunately is “enhanced” by Nissan’s Active Sound Enhancement System, fake sound does not do it for me.

Handling upgrades have also taken place with a more rigid suspension structure and chassis to further improve track performance, Nissan also claims they have improved the everyday drive and comfort of this 2017 model.

 

Interior

Nissan has also worked on the interior with their aim to make it more  “upmarket” and simplified. The upmarket feel has been introduced with Nappa leather and “real” carbon fibre,  sound dampening and an acoustic glass windshield has also been installed to keep unwanted exterior noises out. I do wonder though if the acoustic glass will improve my wife’s in car singing voice ? after all, it is acoustic.

In their aim to simplify, Nissan has reduced the number of buttons in the cabin from 27 to 11 with most of the functions moving to an 8” touchscreen display. As long as the audio and A/C controls are not digitally controlled then I’m happy, that really gets on my wick.

 

Pricing

The 2017 GT-R will be available from September with the first batch already sold out. The Premium Edition comes in at a price of R1 950 000 and the Black Edition at R2 050 000. The supercar slayer is edging towards supercar prices!

 

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Super Car or Super Saloon?

How would you spend your R1.9M?: Mercedes Benz AMG GTS tested.

Years ago, a supercar was the pinnacle of automotive excellence. Driving such a car was not only an indication of wealth, but a symbol of success for those who have been afforded the opportunity to make such a purchase. Brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche were always the top tier supercar “must haves” for the rich and powerful. This all changed when niche brands entered into the market, take McLaren for instance. In a relatively short period of time, the brand has clawed away market share from the aforementioned brands, creating an unbalance in the supercar hierarchy.

Interestingly, mainstream car makers have also dipped their feet into the supercar market, adding further to the confusion of the consumer. As a result, cars like the Mercedes Benz SLS and the Audi R8 V10 made buyers think twice before going to the “big three” brands. Now with inflation playing a major role on the prices of everything, gone are the days where you can buy a new Ferrari for R2 500 000 or a Lamborghini for that matter. This has opened up the entry level supercar category, for those not wanting to spend upwards of R4 000 0000. Porsche has always dominated that market, with cars like the 911 Carrera. We now have cars like the new Mercedes Benz AMG GT and GTS which seek to seduce Porsche’s clients to their offering.

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All that and a big V8:

Mercedes Benz have brought a nuclear weapon to a gun fight with the power-plants offered in the AMG GT and GTS. A 4.0 litre Bi-turbocharged V8 offering 350kW in the GT or 375kW in GTS guise. We had the lovely pleasure of sampling the latter, which so happens to propel its driver from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds. Needless to say that this car is as fast is it looks, another factor which shows Mercedes’ seriousness to compete in this segment. Visually the car makes no mistake to prove that it’s here to do damage, it’s low and hunkered down and it snarls and barks at onlookers oogling it. The soundtrack is one of thunder and lightning especially when the exhaust valves are open, allowing eight cylinder expletives to escape from the exhaust pipes. All this drama for a cool R1 910 000.

Is it good enough?

Is the new AMG GTS competent enough to face off with the Porsche 911 in a dual? Most certainly, but for cars such as these we feel that the biggest fight is not an internal one, it’s from a different segment all together. A segment that has plagued Porsches and Ferrari’s for years, the super saloon. It’s no secret that cars like the BMW M5, Mercedes Benz E63 and Audi RS7 all have the ability to annoy and at times humble some supercars. These saloons also have a different appeal to that of a supercar which is space, most times lots of it. Price wise, the most super of super saloons won’t cost anything less than R1 600 000, in fact the BMW M5 we tested alongside the AMG GTS cost a staggering R1 780 000 with all the extras. The most notable extra on the car being the Competition package and Carbon Ceramic brakes, which bumps up the power to 423kW, 57kW more than the GTS.

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Pros vs Cons:

We slipped into wealthy executive mode to weigh up the advantages of both cars versus the disadvantages. For the AMG GTS, you have a unique experience visually due to the way the car looks and feels. The car is also a different sensory experience because you’re so close to all the action. You feel as if you’re sitting on the rear wheels as the car takes you to a different dimension. The downside to this is that the cabin can be lonely at times, a very special person has to be chosen to share your supercar experience with you. If you’re a family man, chances are the GTS will only be used on a weekend, especially if you have the school run to do.

This is where the M5 appeals to the same client, the car is simply more usable for day to day activities. With five comfortable seats available mixed with those power figures, the car truly is a family supercar. Not to say that one would do the school run at warp speed, but after the kids are dropped off, if the opportunity allows, one can enjoy the car’s capabilities. The sacrifice one makes for buying a super saloon over a supercar is that the rawness of the AMG is replaced by refinement, making the super saloon not seem as fast as a supercar, even if it is.

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The not so mature test: The drag race.

To fully convince ourselves what we would choose between the two, we had to put theory into practice, so we found a quiet space to test the cars. Could Bobby’s dad in the BMW M5 win over Bobby’s cool uncle in the AMG GTS? On paper the GTS’ 0-100 time had it in the bag. With sweaty palms we jetted off, not using launch control as the GTS would have the advantage, but something interesting happened. The 650 Nm of torque in the GTS made for a tail happy start, whereas the heavier rear end of the BMW M5 got the car off the line cleaner. Obviously the GTS’ supercar strengths would reel the M5 in right? Well no…See 423kW is a difficult number to catch up to when it’s going and going and going. To our surprise Bobby’s dad won.

What does all this mean? 

The question this test answered was where do you spend your R1.9M if you had the choice of one special car? Do you A: Buy a supercar like an AMG GTS or a Porsche to use on special occasions or when the kids are visiting their grandparents? Or do you B: Buy a ridiculously fast saloon that can be used daily for R100 000 less?

The answer lies with who you are and your vehicle usage. If like us you have no children and spend most of your time working very hard, reward yourself and buy that special supercar. Chances are you’ll find any opportunity to drive it. On the other hand, if you have a family, what’s the point of spending so much money on a car that will spend most of the time in the garage? Rather buy something you will use which offers the same type of performance as a supercar, but is a normal road car too. Unless you have enough resources to have both cars, in that case we congratulate you and envy you at the same time.

These two cars are from different ends completely and they wouldn’t be traditionally put up against one another from a motor journalism point of view. From a consumer point of view though, many who are looking to spend this kind of money for a car often wonder what is the best choice. As mentioned it all boils down to your lifestyle. Whatever you choose, as long as the car doesn’t live in the garage, you won’t regret it. The AMG GTS is a superb vehicle indeed, in its segment it is a definite podium choice, but if your lifestyle does not allow it, it’s good to know that you great have options such as the BMW M5.

 

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At last BMW’s M2 driven.

“The most anticipated BMW this year” is the term thrown around for Bavaria’s latest introduction to the family. As glossy as that phrase is, it’s true, an entry level M model is exactly what BMW has needed since their current offerings in the M stable have been slightly out of reach for many. Leveraging off of the popularity and cult culture around the 1M, BMW’s new M2 has big shoes to fill and new shoes to fill too. Maintaining the excitement of the current M cars whilst trying to create an “affordable” one aimed at new clients is a tough ask indeed. Have they succeeded in doing this? Have they created a future classic?

Frankenstein’s four wheels:

The M2 is basically a hybrid creature made up of majority M235i mixed with stolen body parts from the BMW M3/M4. Items such as the pistons, braking system and most importantly the M-Differential have all been morphed into this car to create a faster and more focused vehicle. To add to this a new exhaust system has been fitted, that adds both power and decibels to the beefy bruiser. The result is a 272kW/465Nm car with an over-boost function that spikes the torque figure to 500Nm when needed. A sonorous in line 3.0 litre six cylinder engine is welcome, especially in a segment that is primarily dominated by four pot’s making the same GTI-esque sound.

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Bag of chips?

Let it be known that the new BMW M2 is not an M4 rival, it’s disposition is not the same as its older brother. Whilst it shares some components with the M3/M4, it’s a car that you can really enjoy without the fear of being punched in the face by its brutish attitude, something the M4 does. That being said, the new BMW M2 is powerful, exciting and manageable behind the wheel. It’s the right combination of a non-intimidating yet highly intuitive compact sports coupe aimed at a new audience of M car drivers.

This car comes at the right time because the M4 has progressed from a car that could be somewhat “disrespected” to a car that can be lethal in the wrong hands and that’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re a younger buyer lacking experience. Interestingly the M3 (before the confusing name changes happened) was the car aimed at younger to middle-aged executives. Ever since the new generation of M3/M4’s came into production that changed, creating a gap for BMW in that segment, a gap that the Mercedes Benz A45 and Audi RS3 operate in. So to claw those clients back, this new M2 was created and from that perspective, BMW has succeeded in creating a car for that market.

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Purist car or not?

Another big question is if the new M2 is a true successor to the first BMW Frankenstein creation, the 1M? It must be noted that BMW’s focus has shifted between creating these cars. The 1M was a limited edition once off, manual only, enthusiast orientated car. Whereas the M2 is not a limited edition hardcore car, it’s a full production model that gives the buyer much more options than the 1M did. As a result the car may not have the same future appeal that the 1M has due to its limited numbers, but it may be remembered by many as their first M car instead.

If the M2 is remembered in such a manner, those will be good memories indeed. Memories of how exciting the car is to drive and how rev happy the engine is. Memories of how much grip the car has through tight corners and how controllable it is at high speed. Lastly for those really enthusiastic drivers, those memories will be documented through video shot by the GoPro app that allows you to film your lap time and share it with your friends. Yes the M2 may not be as wild as all the current M’s available, but it sure is wild enough for its potential target market. Visually, it forces onlookers to look twice and take in its wide stance, large intakes and quad exhausts, something young successful people will enjoy.

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At a starting price of R791 000 some may complain that this price is still too high, but looking at what you pay for super hatches such as the Mercedes A45 and the Audi RS3, you soon realise that the M2 is priced very similarly. If you are a purist, the manual version of the M2 would be something to consider as it’s the only car in this league to offer a third pedal. For everyday use and for incredibly fast gear changes, the M-DCT gearbox is the best option. Whatever guise you buy an M2 in though, guaranteed will be the smile on your face each time you open the garage and each time you get behind the wheel.