From Le Mans to the street: Next Nissan GT-R could get race-derived engine

The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO shares its name with the Nissan GT-R road car, but surely that’s where the similarities end, right? What could a 1,250 horsepower hybrid built to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans have in common with anything available n showrooms?

It turns out that the racer’s GT-R branding could soon be more than just a marketing exercise. Its designer, Ben Bowlby, told Top Gear that the next GT-R will use a version of the LM NISMO’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6.

Bowlby said the direct-injected V6 isn’t as highly strung and temperamental as normal racing engines, and called it “an early ancestor of what will be a future GT-R engine.”

That would be pretty remarkable in today’s world of highly-regulated race cars and road cars. Many production engines have been modified for racing, but it’s rare for a race-bred engine to make the transition to production in anything resembling a mass-market vehicle anymore.

In race trim, the V6 produces around 625 hp, which is matched by the output of the car’s hybrid system, according to data published in the print edition of Road & Track. That’s just over the 600 hp produced by the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 in the current GT-R NISMO road car.

That means engineers won’t have to severely detune the engine to make it suitable for road use. Bowlby claims it’s also well-mannered, revving to just 6,500 rpm, not the stratospheric heights of most race engines.

However, while Bowlby is the man in charge of the GT-R LM NISMO, it’s unclear how much pull he has when it comes to the GT-R road car. The decision to use the race engine – or modify it beyond recognition – may not be his.

Regardless, there is one thing the next GT-R is expected to have in common with its Le Man namesake. Earlier this year, Nissan design boss Shiro Nakamura said the road car will have a hybrid powertrain, although it will probably differ in design from the race car’s setup.

The connection between production cars and racing has a romantic appeal, but it’s more of myth than reality these days. The regulations governing the two sides are often too strict for any common ground.

So getting a piece of the Le Mans technology manufacturers are spending millions of dollars on in a car mere mortals can actually buy would be quite a coup.

We won’t find out Nissan’s true plans for some time, though. The next GT-R, codenamed R36, isn’t expected to debut until 2018 at the earliest. Nissan feels there is still some performance to be wrung out of the current R35 model, which has been on sale since 2008.


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