2018 Nissan GT-R Track Edition first drive review: tracking Godzilla

Like a pilot preparing for takeoff, I flick a few switches before heading out. I reach down to the base of the center stack and push up on the transmission, damper, and stability control switches to set them to Race mode. It’s time to see what Godzilla can do on the 11-turn, 2.14-mile Gingerman Raceway road course in western Michigan.

Every GT-R is a bona fide performance monster, but the range has a hierarchy. If the GT-R Nismo is Godzilla at his deadliest, the Track Edition is one step down, the monster with only a slightly better attitude. It combines elements of the Nismo and the base model, adding some of the performance bits without the power bump.

Those bits start with the stiffer tune for the double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, including the Bilstein adjustable dampers. It also gets lighter, forged aluminum Rays 20-inch wheels, the wider Nismo front fenders, additional body bonding for improved body rigidity, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, and Recaro bucket seats.

2018 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, Gingerman Raceway, May 2018

2018 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, Gingerman Raceway, May 2018

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Nissan doesn’t mess with the twin-turbocharged VR38DETT 3.8-liter V-6. The same 13.5 psi of boost pressure is crammed down its throat and it erupts with the same 565 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 467 pound-feet of torque from 3,300 to 5,800 rpm. No 600-hp Nismo engine here. How will I ever survive?

The 6-speed dual-clutch transaxle is also unchanged from the base model. So is the ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system, which defaults to a 0/100 front/rear torque split and can send up to 50 percent of the torque to the front wheels when needed.

My test car is a 2018 GT-R Track Edition in Blaze Metallic, a deep, rich gold color that’s nearly a perfect match for my dad’s drag car 40 years ago. It’s a color that’s near and dear to my heart, and it adds $1,000 to the $128,490 base price. Carpeted GT-R logo floor mats with a first aid kit add another $420, and the delivery charge of $1,695 brings the total to $131,605. That’s almost twice the price of a new GT-R when it debuted in the U.S. in 2007, but comfort is much improved since then and so is performance.

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