October 7, 2008

Nissan vs Porsche: catering to pimply teens and gullible journalists.

Must read of the day from SpeedSport:Life:

Some highlights:

"...Nissan knew that ‘Ring times would be a critical component of their marketing push for the R35 GT-R. Their potential buyers, weaned on Gran Turismo games and generally rather enamored of meaningless driving statistics, would accept no less. Never mind that the average GT-R owner would find himself being lapped by Showroom Stock Chevy Cobalts during a trackday; they’re a numbers crowd, they’re addicted to numbers, they repeat the numbers endlessly on the Internet, they love the numbers. The GT-R would have to develop the numbers.

What happened next was almost surreal. The impressionable people at Edmunds were invited to witness “production car testing” at the ‘Ring, where touring-car hotshoe/F1 washout Toshio Suzuki proceeded to set some very interesting lap times with a “production” car. These times were duly reported as a “new official record” and picked up by the world in general. Never mind that the lap times of a turbocharged car in factory hands require an entire shaker of salt to be taken seriously; never mind that the car could have been in any state of tune from the dampers up without Edmunds’ being any the wiser; never mind the fact that the car’s performance was very far away from what one might reasonably expect given the stated power and weight. Edmunds reported it anyway, and the “new production car record” flew around the Internet. Mission accomplished. Numbers delivered. Thanks, Edmunds!

A little journalistic integrity would have gone a long way here; it also would have helped to have someone on the staff who had, oh, I don’t know, raced something at some point in the past. It hardly mattered for long, as Nissan then cheerfully reset its own record to 7:29 in private testing. Again, this was accepted as gospel by the motoring press. A car with approximately the power-to-weight ratio of a Porsche 993 Turbo runs thirty-four seconds faster around the ‘Ring than said Turbo? Sure, why not? Must be the magic electronics and, er, downforce.

Journalistic stupidity is like blood in the water; it draws sharks who are eager to profit as a result. The next Mako to strike was General Motors, which proceeded to set a couple of “production car” times in caged cars! Here’s a hint, friends: Rollcages make cars faster. Simply replacing the Autopower cage in our ’94 Neon ACR with a stiffer custom cage took 1.5 seconds off our lap time around Mid-O – equivalent to seven seconds on the ‘Ring. Why? The car twisted less and planted its tires better. Caged cars go faster. It’s as simple as that. But GM claimed it was for “safety”, and the Press As A Whole swallowed the explanation without comment. The final blow was the Viper ACR’s outrageous 7:22 laptime, which is, ironically, probably the most “legitimate” time of the bunch despite being the lowest. The problem is that the Viper ACR is only nominally a street car; it’s America’s answer to a street-legal Radical SR8.

It’s now possible, therefore, for pimply seventeen-year-olds whose driving experience is limited to piloting Mom’s Camry around the local Fashion Bug’s parking lot to authoritatively draw a “comparison” between, say, the 8:28 laptime set eight years ago by von Saurma in a naturally aspirated 993 and the 7:24 of a Corvette ZR-1 - but it’s a house built on sand. The conditions are simply too dissimilar to really understand anything about the way the cars actually perform. For that, you’d need to have your own test drivers, your own private time at the ‘Ring, and standardized conditions under which to test.

Porsche happens to have all of the above, so it’s not really a surprise that they have, at long last, decided to enter the Nurburgring publicity game with a bang. Their new test times for the 997 Turbo and GT2 are more aggressive than what they have previously reported, and their GT-R test time appears to line up pretty well with von Saurma’s independent test of a production car. They’ve taken a relatively bold step in publicizing their times; it’s really the first time that one manufacturer has offered a direct public commentary on another car’s Nordschleife capabilities. Apparently, the gloves are off, which is probably bad news for competitors who rely on ‘Ring times to give their cars a little bit of that much-desired Green Hell mystique...."

Read the full article HERE


  1. I could probably do a 10:00 flat in my little Lotus, but I sure would have a blast doing it.

  2. 10 minutes is an easy drive if it's dry regardless of what Clarkson will have you believe ;0)

  3. The GT-R is an amazing machine quite possibly "better" than the Porsche Turbo. Get over it already, time step out of the shadow of your Porker fanboy-ism.

  4. BTW the Turbo is the least interesting current 911 to me.

  5. hmmm let me see every single magazine that has tested both cars has the GTR running faster than the 911 turbo, heck you can youtube future F1 star Bruno Senna who came to the same conclusion.. GTR is faster!
    However, for some reason when Porsche tests the car it's slower and their cars are faster? hmmm that's really strange...
    I've done a few track days where there was a stock GTR and let me tell you that car IS a beast. I've got a 997 C2S with full motons and cup car suspension, I could pull away on certain sections but on other parts that GTR carried speed so fast it left me for dead, the instructor in the car said it was way faster than a 997 GT3 he had out the week before which was running full racing slicks!
    Porsche can go crying home to momma, don't get me wrong I have one myself but know when your beat and shut up.
    On a side note I have heard that when GTR's are new they come with a base map, after break in the dealer downloads a new map that makes the car much quicker, don't know if this is true but that might account for Porsche's bad test numbers..

  6. Sure the GT-R is pretty fast, and probably faster than the 997TT in most circumstances (Porsche's test had the 997TT with PSCs vs. the GT-R on street tires!), but the whole point is that the performance has been grossly overstated as the fastest car eve around The RIng!

    My biggest concern now is reliability. Physics are real, and such a heavy car will take a major toll on components. Just check this thread:


    Unreal! (That's a major difference with P-Cars, Porsche does expect you to track your GT3 or GT2)

  7. Well, it's always a bit hard to tell WHAT is really going on on these forum threads but if indeed it's true that you have to sign a paper stating the warranty is void if you turn off the electronic nannies on a sports car....well, I find that borderline offensive.

    it does sound that much like an F117, the GT-R can only stay on the road if the computer is between you and the wheels...

    All sounds very strange.


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