It seems increasingly likely – a formality, even – that the next iteration of the world’s favorite cut-price supercar-slayer will be powered by hybrid technology.
The 2017 Nissan GT-R, which could arrive late in 2016, is likely to capitalize on the Japanese company’s expertise in powertrain electrification. The current R35-generation car set new benchmarks in raw performance that the company recognizes will be difficult to emulate without innovating.
“I think it [a GT-R hybrid] is the obvious direction,” James Oliver, Nissan GB’s sports car boss, told Top Gear. “There’s been obsessive development of the GT-R over the year, and at some point we will move on the next generation car.
“The overall market is looking at different methods of powering car, and at Nissan we’ve got great expertise and investment of electric.
“We already have the capability in terms of battery production and electric vehicle technology, so I don’t think it’s a great stretch to think a future performance product would have some of that tech incorporated into it.”
Nissan is indeed under pressure to deliver another knockout blow with the new car, and would join the hybrid arms race behind Porsche, McLaren, BMW, Ferrari, and most likely Audi.
“When the R35 launched in 2009 it was a massive leap forward, and we need to make sure when the next generation comes, it’s a similar leap forward,” says Oliver. “Not just the car itself, but the overall effect for Nissan.”
Oliver’s comments follow those made Nissan’s hugely respected ex-marketing chief (now of Aston Martin), Andy Palmer, who last year described the ‘inevitability’ of electrification of all cars.
Palmer also cited the huge benefits to torque and power delivery that electric motors bring, as well as the lowering of emissions. “It’s win-win,” he told Autocar, “I’d expect to see some form of hybridization on the next generation of car.”
What exact form that hybridization takes in currently a mystery of all outside of Nissan. The GT-R capitalizes on heavily forced induction, meaning it would benefit from the sort of electric turbocharging technology that Audi has pioneered.
It could also, like BMW’s i8 (review), ditch mechanical all-wheel drive and use a powerful but compact electric motor on the front axle to maintain eye-watering grip while reducing weight. That Nissan builds its own battery packs suggest that this wouldn’t be at all problematic.