Nissan has announced it will make an announcement regarding the long-running GT-R tonight at 8pm at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The big question is: Will it be the long-overdue R36 replacement, or will it simply be another update for the R35 which originally debuted way back in 2007.
The announcement will include some major Nissan executives, including brand CEO Ashwani Gupta, chief vehicle engineer Takashi Kawaguchi, and chief powertrain engineer Naoki Nakata. Suggesting something major is in the works.
Aside from the possibility of a next-generation R36 model, Nissan could simply be revealing a rumoured heavily updated version of the R35, possibly with a hybridised engine for the first time, and with major updates to its design inside and out, which was said to be due for the 2024 model year. Some US outlets are also suggesting some kind of global ‘final edition’ which upgrades the existing 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 to produce 529kW/780Nm to match the outputs of the extremely limited GT-R50 by Italdesign.
What is clear is the R35 is on its last legs. Aside from the model approaching its 16th birthday, the R35 GT-R has already had its final run in Australia, where the model was one of many which did not pass ADR85 side-impact regulations. Its run came to an end by November of last year. In 2022, Nissan sold just nine examples of the GT-R, and in 2021 it sold 72.
The GT-R was also discontinued in Europe alongside Nissan’s other sports machine, the Z, as both fall afoul of emissions regulations.
Despite ending its run in Australia and Europe, the R35 is still built for overseas markets and last received an update with new colours and wheels for the 2021 model year. If another global ‘final edition’ of the R35 is unveiled at the Tokyo show, ADR regulations will still rule it out for an Australian arrival.
Nissan has gone on the record to say it will not abandon the GT-R nameplate, and that a new-generation model will eventually arrive. It has not ruled out either moving the model to hybrid or fully electric, although unlike the new-generation Nissan Z it seems unlikely that the brand will invest in another purely combustion performance model.
The CEO of Nissan’s performance division, Nismo, has also suggested there will be a hybrid sports car separate from the Z and GT-R lines to be revealed for the European market in due time. Japanese outlet BestCarWeb has also suggested a purely electric sports car from Nissan, benchmarking the likes of the Porsche Taycan, is not due until 2028 thanks to the brand not currently having the technology it needs to be competitive in the space.
This leaves us with the most likely answer, which is the reveal of a heavily updated R35. While this model won’t be a completely next-generation offering, it will be a stop-gap measure until the brand can offer an electrified replacement. The current understanding from multiple sources is that the incoming car will have a slightly modified drivetrain, as well as an overhauled body and interior. If this sounds familiar, it’s essentially the same strategy Nissan employed with the new Z, modernising an old vehicle to meet today’s expectations.
Will it be called the R36? Will its underpinnings be updated enough to pass ADR85 regulations and be sold again in Australia? Expect to find out shortly.