An unforgettable track day with Nissan’s all-new Z car and new GT-R

It’s hard to believe that a pricey sports car with supercar performance could be upstaged by another sports car that’s substantially below it in terms of price and power.

I’m talking about the almighty Nissan GT-R, which was somewhat upstaged by its own all-new Z car sibling during a track day at Clark International Speedway in Pampanga late last month.

Of course, that’s purely because we’re quite familiar with the GT-R (and have driven it on the track before) whereas this is the first-ever all-new Z car Nissan Philippines has officially brought in.

The retro-styled all-new Nissan Z
The retro-styled all-new Nissan Z

Even if its platform is still based on the previous Z (hence the internal designation of RZ34 instead of the expected Z35 from the previous-gen’s Z34), the latest Z was arguably the world’s most anticipated new sports car when it was unveiled, first as a prototype in 2020, followed by the production version in New York the following year. The new Z is also the first of the series not to have a numerical designation on its name, which previously indicated the car’s engine displacement. It’s simply the “Nissan Z.”

And now we get to play with it on the track.

Kudos to Nissan for having the confidence to allow journalists and content creators to go as fast as they were comfortable with on the track—and on the full track, no less. There was no follow-the-leader pace car, just a driving instructor riding shotgun and giving instructions on where to brake or turn in.  

The author behind the wheel of the all-new Nissan Z

Needless to say, these cars are way above our pay grades in terms of performance. Their acceleration, braking, and road-holding were nothing short of phenomenal (especially the GT-Rs).

It was an absolute blast to apply full throttle after every corner and seeing the speedometer needle climb and climb—especially on the straightaway. Both cars could easly approach 200 km/h, although I never saw the actual speed near the end of the straight as you’d have to be focusing on your braking and turn-in point—which would always be approaching frighteningly fast at those speeds. 

Previous-generation and new Z cars and GT-Rs were provded for a back to back sampling of each car.

In a previous Toyota Vios Cup race that I joined, the cars would be hitting 170-175 km/h at the end of the main straight, but that was with the cars exiting the last corner at speed. With the GT-R and Z, we had to negotiate a tight chicane just before entering the main straight (for safety), which means the cars would have to be accelerating from 50-60 km/h while ther Vios race cars were exiting that same final corner already at 100 km/h. 

But it’s a testament to these sensational Nissans that the cars are hitting higher top speeds despite started from much slower speeds. Braking power was stupendous, thanks to pizza pie-sized brake discs and huge multi-piston calipers.

Equally impressive was the sheer cornering power of these cars, especially the all-wheel drive GT-Rs. Applying power too early before straightening the steering wheel would cause the car to hop sideways a tiny bit (simply because it has so much power), but the chassis electronics would always catch the car and just rocket it forwards.

A heritage display of previous generations of Z cars and GT-Rs

The Z is a bit less intense but requires as much concentration because of its rear-wheel drive dynamics, which has a greater propensity to oversteer (the Z is one of the most popular drift cars in Japan). The sound from the 400hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 was music to the ears. The GT-R’s 565hp twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6, on the other hand, was nothing less than Godzilla’s roar. If you’re listening trackside, it will make the hairs on your arms stand.              

In addition to the track activities, the event featured a captivating display of heritage cars, showcasing generations of the Z and the GT-R through the years. This retrospective exhibit paid tribute to the rich history and iconic design evolution of these models, highlighting their enduring appeal among automotive enthusiasts.

“The all-new Nissan Z and the new Nissan GT-R represent the pinnacle of Nissan’s performance and engineering excellence,” said Juan Manuel Hoyos, President of Nissan Philippines. “These vehicles are a testament to our commitment to delivering innovative and thrilling driving experiences. We are excited to share these exceptional cars with our customers in the Philippines.”

What lucky customers, indeed.

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