Prior to the GT-R bursting onto the scene, Nissan and Porsche were not competitors. They serve(d) two completely different market segments. They have little to no history as competitors in motorsports and until the introduction of the Nissan GT-R to the US, they were not really thought of as a sports car company (and no, I’m not forgetting about earlier Datsun and Nissan Z cars.) Why then is there all this commotion about Porsche vs. Nissan? Are we, the online and print media, the reason for this rivalry? Or, was it part of the Nissan marketing plan all along?
We won’t go through all the minutia of how and when things started. If you’re interested you can see the complete history in this article where Porsche stated they couldn’t replicate Godzilla’s time on the Nurburgring.
The exact statement by Porsche’s August Achleitner, the 911 product chief was,
This wonder car with 7:29 could not have been a regular series production car. For us, it’s not clear how this time is possible. What we can imagine with this Nissan is they used other tires.”
Soon there after Nissan responded with the following,
Quite simply we’re not going to get into a war of words with Porsche,” said Neil Reeve, Nissan’s European spokesman. “The final word from us is that it was done on absolutely standard tires, which are available to customers in the showroom. They’re not trick tires – absolutely standard tires, normal road tires. The GT-R comes with Bridgestone and Goodyear (Dunlop). One tire gives slightly better times around the ‘Ring. We did it on Dunlop. They’re available with the car.”
But let’s not blow it out of all proportion,” said Reeve. “We’re not crying about it. We’re not going to sook (sulk?) about it. I’m cheeky enough to say it’s flattering that Porsche has bought itself a GT-R and flown it to Germany. They want to try it. I guess that’s some kind of stamp of approval. It’s great to have the competition. We’re absolutely proud of the GT-R. It’s a fabulous sports car, really epic. The level of performance that it delivers is really so impressive for the price at which it’s positioned.”
Read closely the words in bold above and then read the quote below from an article in Road and Track Magazine that accompanies their comparison of the GT-R to the Porsche 911 Turbo (along with the Corvette Z06.) Road and Track states,
That Nissan engineers used the 911 Turbo as their benchmark is not secret. At every GT-R event we’ve attended, a Porsche 911 Turbo was always lurking in the background, presumably used by Nissan engineers as a target vehicle.
If Road and Track is to be believed (and we have no reason not to) then not surprisingly, and “no secret”, the original source of the rivalry begins with Nissan. What is unfortunate is that Porsche continues to propagate it and add validity to it with their comments. This in-turn provides a windfall for the automotive media in terms of content. Why not just let the proverbial sleeping dog lie?