Has Japan finally cracked the supercar code? Car Dealer pitches Lambo vs GT-R in a head-to-head to find out.
IN 1967, Spen King – the man responsible for the first Range Rover – told his bosses ‘I think we ought to watch out for the Japanese.’ His prediction, based on seeing the very first Japanese cars hitting UK shores, was laughed at.
Within 10 years, however, King’s words came to haunt the British car industry, as wave upon wave of cut-price, high-quality cars from the Far East landed on UK shores.
But while most of Europe’s mainstream car makers have taken a battering from the Japanese over the past 40 years, one area of the car market has proved strangely resisilient to the wily design and production methods of Far Eastern makers – supercars.
Although even the most casual of motoring historians will be able to name a handful of high-performance Japanese machines that have made their mark over the years, not one has ever mounted a sustained challenge to the likes of Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
But now there’s a new kid on the block. And this time, it seems that the Japanese have read the rulebook first. The Nissan GT-R not only comes with an impressive racing pedigree, it looks the part, and offers more bang per buck than anything in the class.
At a whisker under £60k for the whistles and bells Premium version, the 485bhp newcomer looks staggering value for money. Don’t bother looking for something similar in the price lists – it doesn’t exist.
So does the arrival of the GT-R mean that the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari are quaking in their Gucci boots? Well, not yet. The world’s greatest supercar makers haven’t survived for as long as they have without knowing their market, and it’ll take more than a pumped-up Japanese coupe to send the espressos flying in Modena and Sant’Agata. The GT-R may have the power of a supercar, but does it have the soul?
To find out, we pitched the Nissan against arguably one of the most desirable supercars in the world – Lamborghini’s Gallardo LP560-4. Like its Japanese rival, the Italian machine is a four-wheel drive rocket capable of crossing continents in a single stride. However, unlike the GT-R, it costs more than the average UK house to buy.
Armed with these facts, we hit the road to find out whether the Nissan really can claim to be Japan’s first ever supercar slayer.
by Mike Askew