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2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition: The Gran Turismo Car

Under Godzilla's Hood: The VR38DETT Motor

Previous Skyline GT-Rs relied on a twin-turbocharged RB-series inline-six motor to propel the vehicle. The last-gen (R34) model had a 2.6-liter RB26DETT that officially sent 276 hp to all four wheels. That number sounds modest by today’s standards, given 268 hp Toyota Camrys and 280 hp minivans. But there was a mythical gentleman’s agreement among the Japanese automakers to not release domestic cars with power greater than that to avoid a possible horsepower war.

That was more than 10 years ago, and Nissan's GT-R tosses the old RB26DETT out the door to make room for an exclusive VR38DETT motor with immense amounts of power. Gone is the inline six-cylinder layout, creating space for a V6 derived from Nissan’s VQ-series engines. This family, which includes the VQ35 found in our previously-reviewed 2013 Infiniti JX35, delivers anywhere from 260 to 350 hp, depending on the application. But don't expect the GT-R's motor to share any resemblance with the V6 found in your Altima, because it's a completely different beast.

In the GT-R, displacement is increased to 3.8 liters, up from 3.5 or 3.7 liters across the rest of Nissan's line-up. Of course, the most significant difference between the VR38DETT and more run-of-the-mill VQ-series motors is a pair of turbochargers sourced from IHI Corporation. The dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) motor debuted with an impressive 478 hp with 434 lb-ft of torque back in 2008. However, the company's engineers continually upgraded the VR38DETT to the point that the 2013 GT-R offers 545 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque.

Other notable features of the VR38DETT motor include a variable valve timing system applied to the intake valves, an aluminum cylinder block, and aluminum pistons. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Nissan takes the AMG approach and hand-builds the VR38DETT at its facility in Yokohoma, Japan. The company employs specially-trained technicians to assemble the motor with extreme precision, too.

Nissan tops the VR38DETT with a red engine cover, which debuted with the 2011 model year, replacing the black cover used since launch. The red-topped VR38DETT reminds us of reading up on SR20DET motor swaps, where automotive forum members debated the pros and cons of black versus red tops. It’s a nice throwback touch to the Nissan faithful, in our opinion. 

The VR38DETT is a work of art that we'd have no problem putting on display in a man cave, were it affordable or practical to do so. Nissan took a mundane engine found in your dad's Altima or mom's Pathfinder, and transformed it into a race-ready beast. It looks beautiful in the GT-R's engine back, adorned with a carbon fiber strut tower brace.

  • blackmagnum
    Supercar bang-for-the-buck...Win!
    Reply
  • k1114
    A car review I actually didn't skip over.
    Reply
  • daswilhelm
    blackmagnumSupercar bang-for-the-buck...Win!
    110 grand is bang for the buck now?
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10742284 said:
    blackmagnumSupercar bang-for-the-buck...Win!
    110 grand is bang for the buck now?

    When compared to vehicles that cost $300k+, yes its quite the bargain!
    Reply
  • daswilhelm
    10742298 said:
    10742284 said:
    blackmagnumSupercar bang-for-the-buck...Win!
    110 grand is bang for the buck now?

    When compared to vehicles that cost $300k+, yes its quite the bargain!

    i'd spend my money at the porsche dealer, and not worry about imploding transmissions.

    Reply
  • jossrik
    No pics of the car from the side? Just that one drawing at an angle. I'm interested, but the pics don't really give a good idea what the car actually looks like.
    Reply
  • barto
    Will wait to watch on Top Gear to listen to Jeremy squeal like the first time he drove it in '09.
    Reply
  • jcurry23
    is the GTR known to have imploding transmissions??
    Reply
  • Jerky_san
    I doubt that car has many problems.. That's Nissan's pride and joy.. The engine being hand built kind of shows that.. Even though its minor tech oriented the pure precision and technology that went into making this beast of a car is amazing.. Blows my little evo x out of the water ;-; but I feel happy lol..
    Reply
  • natoco
    It is a great bang for your buck car, but I lacks what the 300k cars have, soul and sound. Yeah I gets to 100 quick but it sounds like a vacuum doing so rather than a supercar. Would still love to have one though
    Reply