What Started The Porsche vs. Nissan Rivalry?

Illustration for article titled What Started The Porsche vs. Nissan Rivalry?

The Nissan GT-R may or may not be faster than the Porsche 911 Turbo, but Nissan has clearly scored an Axelrod-esque media victory over Porsche in the Porsche 911 Turbo v. Nissan GT-R Nürburgring controversy. The full extent of the triumph wasn't obvious to us until we read 993C4S's rivalry history lesson posted over at CarDomain today. Nissan, it appears, is even better at this than we imagined. A quick history of what we thought we knew.

  • Nissan runs a 7:29 'ring lap time, pointing out this is faster than the Porsche 911 and turbo. A lap around the Nürburgring ring is, of course, Germany's performance benchmark of choice.
  • Porsche then states that they ran a GT-R with stock tires and couldn't get the same time, suggesting that Nissan cheated by using racing tires or some other performance enhancement.
  • Nissan then responds by saying that they used a stock version weighed-down by recording equipment and let out a snarky note stating that "... We offer performance driving courses for prospective and current GT-R owners to help them get the best performance from their car." The suggestion is, of course, that Porsche engineers can't drive.
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With all of that information it merely seemed like Porsche got themselves into an argument they couldn't win. Maybe the Porsches are faster than the GT-R around the 'ring. Maybe not. But Nissan just generated tons of media attention for their GT-R, all of which mentions their car in the same breath as the Porsche 911 Turbo and, not surprisingly, a lot of these articles mention the price difference between the two. So what can Porsche do? Either they let the assertion that the GT-R is cheaper and faster stand or they challenge the assertion and raise a lot of media comparisons and, in this case, set Nissan up to make a classic dig at the automaker. But could this have been Nissan's original plan? Perhaps we're giving them too much credit, but the tidbit uncovered from a Road & Track article by CarDomain makes us wonder:

That Nissan engineers used the 911 Turbo as their benchmark is not secret. At every GT-R event we’ve attended, a Porsche 911 Turbo was always lurking in the background, presumably used by Nissan engineers as a target vehicle.

The question we must answer is obvious: is it more likely that a Porsche 911 Turbo always happened to be around when the reporters and a GT-R were in the area or is it more likely that it was done on purpose to manufacture some sort of controversy? We've got a good guess, though we can't imagine that Nissan knew just how hard Porsche would bite down. [Source: CarDomain]

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DISCUSSION

dearthair-old
Deartháir

Yes, but it is keeping the careers of Stud Beefpile, Kyle Thrustmaxer and Thad Longlove successful.

Okay, here's a further thought I want to toss out there for consideration. Why do we care? The current-model Porsche has been around for, what, 4 years? (Or is it new? I can't tell.) So a brand-new GTR is better than a 4-year-old Porsche. Great!

When the RS4 came out, it was better than the then-current M3. Great! It was 5 years old at the time, your car is better than a 5-year-old BMW. Bully for you. Then the new M3 came out, and it was (to some.... not to me) better than the RS4. Great, it's better than a 3-year-old Audi.

None of this matters. Next year, or two years from now, Porsche will roll out a new 911 and spank Godzilla all over the 'Ring, and it'll be back to the drawing board for Nissan.

Personally, I'm still on Porsche's side, because they made this achievement through good old refinement over years. Every year, making something about it just a little bit better. Nissan used 13-year-olds with computers. Still impressive, but not as organic.

Reporting live from the Porschebunker, I'm Stud Beefpile.