It feels like just yesterday when I, a young, eager, bright-eyed car blogger still capable of feeling emotions, was writing about the next Nissan GT-R. It’d be faster than ever, I thought! It’d have hybrid power next time, like that Nissan LMP1 car nobody remembers now! We were even gonna call it Mecha Godzilla, because that seemed clever at the time. But like a next-generation Z, if you’re waiting for a new GT-R, you’re gonna be here a while.
GT-R boss Hiroshi Tamura told Australia’s Motoring that he’s ready to go make the next iteration of this beastly performance car. What he’s waiting on, he said, is the board at Nissan to give it a green light—even as he’s running up against mandatory retirement age:
Talking technology, Tamura says he is waiting for board-level choices on the powerplant for the next GT-R. He is now 58 and can see compulsory retirement coming at 60, but wants to drive the change through to the next generation.
“I have to wait. I am just the GT-R lead conductor for the orchestra. The company will show me the members of the orchestra. They need to decide who will play the violin and who will play the trumpet.”
And he said earlier:
“I have it in my mind, but not for outside. So nobody knows. I cannot tell you,” Tamura told carsales at the Australian launch of the 50th Anniversary Edition Nissan GT-R and 370Z this week.
“But I can say, imagining for a next-generation [car] is already in a chat. Talking about the solutions.”
In other words, the man knows what he wants to do there, but is waiting on the company to actually decide something.
That may take a bit. It’s no exaggeration to say Nissan is a company in crisis, at the moment. Former boss Carlos Ghosn is facing criminal financial misconduct charges in Japan, sales are down, brand identity and forward direction are unclear, the lineup is aging, jobs are being slashed globally and like everyone else, it’s staring down the barrel of another economic downturn. So it feels like a suboptimal time to put resources into an expensive and high-tech sports car, especially one that does a lot for street cred but doesn’t sell in substantial volumes.
The good news, I suppose, is that Tamura seems confident the current GT-R can still hang on for some time. Maybe even another decade, he told the magazine, although I think this comes with some hyperbole:
He believes the current GT-R program could easily run for 20 years without major changes to the mechanical package for the twin-turbo V6-powered all-wheel drive supercar, and points out that the existing R35 is only coming up for its 12th birthday.
“We are still just at 12 years. This body construction I want to keep for as long as possible.”
[...] But as Tamura points out, Godzilla was basically unchanged under the skin through the R32, R33 and R34 generations over 14 years, while the latest R35 was effectively renewed as recently as 2017.
“Yes, R35 is long [in terms of age]. But for model year 2017 it is almost a new body shape. The body is technology.”
In terms of performance, it can certainly stay relevant that long. Its modern example can do zero to 60 mph in under three seconds and can still squash much more expensive cars. We found out just how brutally fast the GT-R still is when we tested one last year.
But can it really stay in production another decade, as safety and emissions standards get ever stricter? The days of a single car sticking around that long are all but over, thanks to regulations. This is purely speculation on my part, but if it does, I could see Nissan pulling a Lotus and just choosing not to federalize it for the U.S. market.
I hope Nissan gets its shit together and figures out a real future for this car, maybe something that pushes the envelope further than ever. But it feels like a bad time to try.