New and improved is such an overworked, hackneyed phrase that many automakers abuse at will.

However when it comes to the 2012 GT-R super coupe that’s now on sale, there really are no other words to describe what Nissan has instituted. The changes are practical, evolutionary and have been undertaken simply to improve the car’s performance characteristics and not just to undertake change for change’s sake.

The original GT-R (nicknamed Godzilla by its loyal fans) that Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn first unveiled at the 2007 Los Angeles, Calif., Auto Show was outrageous beyond words. How dare his company try to take on the world’s most powerful and exalted sports cars and claim absolute superiority. But dare it did, and the result was a vehicle that could keep up — and often surpass — Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, and did so for a relative pittance.

In some quarters the purists still scoff at Nissan’s affront to tradition and good order.

 

Meanwhile, GT-R owners with less deeper pockets, but perhaps possessing more common sense, drive secure in the knowledge that their steeds can outperform nearly any other of a select field of hyper-machines.

Upon first inspection there appears little to differentiate the 2012 edition from the previous effort.

In fact though, the GT-R sports a redesigned nose with larger grille openings, reshaped front and rear spoilers, a new hood with aerodynamic “fins” and brighter Light Emitting Diode (LED) running lights. The result is a bit more downforce for added stability along with less wind resistance that, among other things, helps to improve fuel economy, which is now rated at 13.0 l/100 km in the city and 9.3 on the highway (previously 13.9/9.5).

More to-the-point updates can be found beneath the sheetmetal, including minor suspension tweaks, improved Brembo-brand brakes with larger front rotors and a new carbon fibre brace in the engine compartment.

What really puts some weight behind the GT-R’s new-and-improved claim are the upgrades to the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V-6. By adjusting (as in increasing) the boost pressure on the turbos, adjusting the valve timing and air/fuel mixture and enlarging the air intake and exhaust pipes, output moves up to 530 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque, versus 485 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque.

Joining the 500-horse club is an important benchmark for the GT-R since most respectable high-performance sports cars have reached or exceeded that lofty plateau.

Despite numerous price increases over the years, the updates and performance hike should make the 2012 GT-R a top wish-list item while adding lustre to its growing cachet.

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