Nissan’s teasing the long overdue next generation Godzilla, the R36 GT-R, and it is one hell of a tease! The R35 GT-R has been withering away on the market for 11 years. And while it’s still fast, and still one of the best performance-per-dollar cars in existence, it’s really starting to lose its shine after over a decade.
Here in America, among enthusiasts, the R35 is even held in lower regard than the earlier generations, like the R32 and R34, and yeah, even the R33. That’s probably because our experience with the name “Skyline” has primarily been through movies like The Fast and The Furious where Paul Walker drove a few R34’s and immortalized them in Americana forever!
It doesn’t help that pretty soon the 25-year rule for importing JDM cars is about to make the R34 legal here in America. And if you made me choose between the R35 and R34, well, it’d be pretty tough to choose.
R32 GT-R – Godzilla
Today, the R32 GT-R is one of the best deals in JDM icons right now, with it’s no-nonsense aesthetic and unlimited tuning potential. You just cannot deny the power and respect the RB26DETT commands, pushing out a serious 276 horsepower, which are insane numbers for its day.
It’s still a great car to look at, and I’m sure it’s incredible to drive. It’s no wonder the damned things are worth real money.
R33 GT-R – Middle Child
And the R33, well, exists. It’s not many enthusiasts’ favorite, but it is a GT-R. This JDM middle child does come with that screaming RB26, now pumping out 301 horsepower, and is now legal for us bald eagles to own.
R34 GT-R – The Hype
But if you’ve got maple syrup running through your veins, you may just be lucky enough to be the owner of an R34. Up north in Canada, importing cars requires only that they be 15 years or older, making the R34 a common sight on the streets of Vancouver.
The R34 is the pinnacle of GT-R hype if you grew up on anime and Initial D. Often referred to as a Playstation on wheels, this was the generation that made the GT-R a tech marvel, with models ranging from 327 to 493 horsepower. This is the generation that gave supercar owners a good view of those four taillights in a drag race.
R35 GT-R – Supercar Slayer
Godzilla then came to American shores with the R35 GT-R, which showed its face over a decade ago in 2008. It’s seen some updates since then, but we’re now at the tail end of this car’s production. Most would say that the car is well past its “best before” date, but the specs have been updated just enough to stay not only relevant, but make it a ridiculous performer for its price tag.
Nissan has said that they’re retiring the R35 within two years, and as part of this farewell, Nissan’s sending out the previous generation with a bang, or two.
R35 GT-R50 – JDM On EDM
One such example is a car known as the GT-R50. This partnership between Nissan and ItalDesign is a no-limits reimagining of a GT-R with European style, while retaining Japanese construction and performance. And let me just say, yes. Yes, please. I mean, just look at the thing! It’s gorgeous!
The 50 in GT-R50 is meant to celebrate 50 years of GT-R. Sadly, that 50 in GT-R50 also stands for only 50 of these being made. I get it, exclusivity is what makes it special, but I want one of these more than life itself, and it’s sad to know that’ll basically be impossible, since these will be collector’s items on day one.
The GT-R50 isn’t just a pretty face either. Oh no, under the hood will be the ultimate iteration of the VR38DETT that powers the GT-R. The engines under the hoods of the GT-R50 will be handmade and pushed to their absolute limits with over 700 horsepower. It builds this level of power thanks to modified fuel and oil injectors and an enhanced ignition, paired with Brembo brakes and Bilstein suspension.
It’s really a shame so many of these will end up in museums and garages, because you can bet they’re an absolute blast to drive. Only one has been made so far, and it cost a staggering $1 million or more for that lucky owner to acquire. I’m going to guess that’s actually a steal compared to what these will go for in a few years.
Luckily, that’s not the only GT-R powered by this engine in the works. Good news, Nissan is promising a “Final Edition” GT-R to come as the R35 generation wraps up.
R35 GT-R Final Edition – Last Of Its Kind
And it’s a bit cheaper than the GT-R50! The Final Edition will get the engine that this new GT-R50 has without all the fancy bodywork. But, here’s the bad news, the Final Edition is even more limited than the GT-R50! There will only be 20 Final Edition GT-R’s coming off the line, and priced at a hefty 40 million Japanese Yen, or $375,000 USD.
It’s serious money, but considering the amount that every older generation of GT-R is commanding on the used market, it’s probably a strong prediction that these won’t lose a single dollar over the years. It’s probably a wise investment, especially since none of the buyers are likely to, you know, actually drive them.
Now, we don’t know very much about the upcoming R36, but many reputable sources are saying that its heart will likely be a hybrid-based motor derived from Nissan’s Le Mans race car.
R36 GT-R – Hello, Hybrid
The benefit of a hybrid motor would be the instant torque that only electric motors can deliver, compensating for the turbo lag that the R35 is notorious for. This electric motor would be just one component of a hybrid system that would center around a turbocharged gasoline engine.
Once the turbo or turbos spool up, the electric motor would quietly continue to provide assistance to the gas engine, and make for even more combined horsepower. Realistically, we can expect to see a combined number of more than 600 horsepower without batting an eye, which is about where cars like the Audi R8, Mercedes AMG GT R, and BMW M8 Competition are right now.
Yeah, hybrids aren’t just for Ubers anymore. Hypercars out there right now from big players like Ferrari, McLaren, and more are using hybrid power. So, while some purists will be sitting around moaning and groaning about a hybrid GT-R, a move to this type of propulsion would actually put the next Skyline into a whole new ball game.
It’s probably worth a mention that the complication of a hybrid system would add a significant amount of weight, meaning the R36 GT-R would still be given hell by armchair critics for being fat. And I kind of agree with that! Adding onto the whole weight issue will be the fact that quickly moving safety regulations are requiring every manufacturer to stuff a whole bunch of active driving assists into cars, including rear-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and more. Even more airbags are required now, along with actual structures that have better rigidity in case of a collision. All of this comes with added electronic gizmos and modules, which add even more weight.
Weight aside, the obvious advantage here to a hybrid system would be fuel efficiency, not that anyone’s really counting when you’re buying a GT-R. It does add up at the pumps, though, because while driving the current GT-R in a city setting, 12 miles to the gallon isn’t uncommon at all. Which, with the GT-R being a penny-pincher’s supercar, I guess cost of driving it does weigh heavily.
Now, how the upcoming R36 is going to actually look is the big question mark. But if we follow the trends that Nissan has been following, it’s not too hard to figure out what it could look like. Nissan unveiled the Vision Gran Turismo Concept earlier this year, you know, before the world effectively shut down.
It’s little more than a wildly-styled concept car at this point, but very obviously has cues that are certain to trickle down into the next GT-R. Nissan’s current V-Motion grill is the biggest giveaway, and the long sharp headlights going up the hood of the car are very obviously an evolutionary move to the R36. The profile is almost reminiscent of the Lexus LC 500, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and the low-slung supercar proportions are spot on for what Nissan should be going for.
The Vision Gran Turismo is also kind of resemblant of the new C8 Corvette, which means one of two things. One, there’s a chance this thing is going to be mid-engined. Number two is more likely, that the regular turbocharged gas engine lives under the hood, and the space behind the cockpit is going to house the electric motors. It’s a fat chance that the next Skyline will have just two seats, but in this world, anything’s possible.
What We Know (Sort Of)
So, what do we actually know? Well, Nissan has been pretty tight-lipped about everything, but using the game of elimination, it’s easy to figure out a few key points. The R36 Skyline will most probably be on the roads by 2022 or 2023, and this timeline will give Nissan the time they need to let the old one age out gracefully. The next Skyline is most likely going to have a hybrid powerplant that pairs multiple electric motors with a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder of some sort.
600 horsepower is likely a bare minimum, with tuned-up models probably offering at least 700, if not more. The price point will probably sit somewhere in the $100,000 range to start, which, when you compare the performance and tech it’s going to be packed with, is likely to be a bargain compared to the Ferraris and Lambos it’ll be beating at the Nurburgring.
We’re happy to see the R35 finally retire, and so excited to see what Nissan’s got planned with the R36. What about you? Are you excited about the R36? And what’re your favorite GT-R’s of all time? Go drop us a comment on our YouTube channel and let us know!