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First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)

2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-600x450 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)

It’s hard to believe that the R35-generation Nissan GT-R has been around for almost a decade. So long, in fact, that it’s creator Kazutoshi Mizuno has already retired and chilling on a beach somewhere. But development of the car continues, as a new version debuted late last year. We finally got a chance to get behind the wheel of the latest version, if only briefly, at the Dubai Autodrome.

The 2017 GT-R has a mildly-redesigned front-end, with the new grilles offering better engine cooling. A new hood has been “significantly” reinforced, while the rear bumper has been redone around the exhaust tips for better aerodynamics, but otherwise, the new car looks largely the same as the old one.

Inside, the entire dashboard and instrument panel are new, with an 8-inch touchscreen doubling as both a navigation/multimedia unit as well as a display for secondary gauges and performance data. There are also far fewer buttons on the dash than in the old model.

2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-600x450 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)  2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-5-600x400 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)

The shift paddles are now mounted to the redone steering wheel, allowing drivers to change gears in mid-turn without having to take their hands off the wheel.

The GT-R’s hand-built 3.8-litre V6 24-valve twin-turbocharged engine carries on with minor updates, now delivering 565 hp at 6800 rpm and 467 lb-ft of torque. The changes, including more boost from the turbochargers, apparently improves acceleration above 3200 rpm.

Out on the track, the extra power isn’t easy to feel, and that’s because the GT-R has now gone a bit soft. There’s more sound-deadening materials to make the cabin more quiet, while the suspension has apparently been tuned to improve ride quality. This was an intentional move to make the GT-R more competitive against the likes of Porsche, as the previous GT-R versions were all overly harsh. But while the exhaust note has been retuned, the GT-R still doesn’t sound as exciting as several of its rivals. There is still a Nismo version for those who want a harder car.

It’s still a darn fast car, reaching at least 200 kph on the straights of the Dubai Autodrome. The GT-R brakes hard as well, as good as any other supercar, although being steel rotors instead of ceramics, they need regular cool-down periods.

2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-600x450 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)  2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-5-600x400 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)  2017-Nissan-GT-R-in-the-UAE-3-600x402 First drive: 2017 Nissan GT-R in the UAE (video)

But more interestingly, the latest version of the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission now features smoother shifts and less clunking noises, while offering smoother take-offs from standstill, all of which were complaints we had with the old model. It shifts very quickly in automatic, although it isn’t as aggressively responsive as, say, the Ferrari 488 GTB’s uber-sensitive gearbox.

The GT-R was always built for the singular purpose of destroying racetracks, and the new model offers a more rigid body structure and new suspension to continue doing just that. Body roll is pretty much non-existent, and there is immense grip from the rubbers on the 20-inch forged-aluminium wheels. However, at the extreme limit on the tightest turns, there is an obvious tendency to understeer, while there isn’t even a hint of oversteer which could’ve made things a bit more interesting.

In Nissan’s own words, despite all the performance enhancements, the 2017 GT-R is the most comfortable model to date. While it may seem blasphemous to those who’ve never rode in one, we actually hated driving the old one anywhere other than the track. The current changes make the GT-R a much more realistic proposition as a daily driver, and while it isn’t as fun on the edge at the track, we assume it will probably be more than capable on the streets.

Check out Arabic editor Tammam’s video for a walkaround as well as track-driving footage.

Photos by Nissan Middle East.

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