Skip to main content

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 vs 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo - A Closer Look




This is the one every one has been waiting for, myself included. The two big giant killers - the Corvette and the Nissan GT-R. Let's cut to the chase, the Vette lost and people are surprised, disappointed or both. Around Willow Springs, the GT-R Nismo posted a lap time of 1:25.7 and Corvette Z06 posted a lap time of 1:27.1. That's 1.4 sec on a 1:25 lap which isn't insignificant.




I am surprised and disappointed myself. I thought the Corvette would have easily edged out the GT-R based on the handling tests, not just expectations:


Test Corvette Stingray Z06 (Z07)Nissan GT-R Nismo
Braking, 60-0 MPH91 ft97 ft
Lateral Acceleration1.17 g (avg)1.03 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight22.3 sec @ 1.06 g (avg)23.1 sec @ 0.99 g (avg)


The gap between the two is so large, you would be forgiven to think they are in two different classes. It's hard to believe it doesn't translate to benefit on the track. I think the fact that it didn't is down to a few factors:
  • The most obvious one is the fact that this particular Z06 had a manual and the GT-R only comes with a twin clutch auto. This is worth a few tenths probably. I would imagine it would bring the gap down to 1 second or a little under a second.
  • The Level 3 aero package (Z07) is clearly too much for this track. This is evident in the GT-R, which has 50 hp less and weighs over 350 lb. more, hitting a top speed that's 7 mph faster than the Corvette on the straight. They tried to remove the Gurney flap on the rear spoiler to reduce drag but saw a small gain in top speed (1 mph) for a big detriment in handling (increased tendency to oversteer) which produced an overall slower lap time. As a result, they concluded that removing aero isn't a good idea. I'm not sure how the testing team, including a professional racing driver (a seasoned one at that), didn't think of the fact (or point it out if they did) that reducing rear downforce without doing anything about the front will upset the downforce, and therefore handling, balance. Removing the Gurney flap will not produce results as good as having a car with the Level 2 aero package and I believe that a Level 2-equipped car would be a better fit for this track but the fact that the Michelin Cup tires only come with the Z07 package could hurt it so it's hard to say if it would produce better results overall.
  • Confidence, or lack thereof. It is clear from the individual test numbers that the Corvette is more capable when the road starts twisting. I would go as far say it is much more capable in terms of raw grip and stopping power. However, after looking at the track graph, there are a few spots where Randy turns earlier, brakes earlier or brakes harder and that should never happen in a car that has that much more grip and stronger brakes. The problem is mid-corner oversteer, according to the test. If that is the case, increasing stability mid corner should go a long way in improving lap times.
  • I think I read somewhere in the comments by Scott Evans that the car tested was an early production so maybe there are minor issues with it made the car more likely to oversteer such as shock tuning, differential tuning, etc. During the first test of the car, Randy said that the car is stable enough and he wants another 100 hp. Keep in mind, that car was a Level 2 so it has less downforce and less sticky tires. Both should make the car less stable, not otherwise. How could the less grippy car with less downforce be more stable?
  • Another possibility is that the automatic transmission, which was the one in the first track test of the car, has torque management that allows for much smoother torque delivery which would make the rear tires less likely to break loose. 
  • Different tracks favour different cars. That's why racing teams test and tweak at every track; to optimize for that track. This one may simple favour the handling balance of the GT-R over the Vette.
I do believe, though, that even if that same car, with the manual and Z07 package, were driven to its true potential (i.e. by someone who knows the car very well like Jim Mero) on that same track, it would beat a GT-R Nismo driven to its potential (i.e. by Toshio Suzuki or Michael Krumm). With that said, the average track goer isn't Jim Mero. Randy Pobst, a seasoned race car driver, couldn't beat his own time in the GT-R so the bottom line is, if you plan on taking it to the track and you care a lot about the last few tenths, you can't expect to beat a GT-R NISMO assuming both are stock, well driven. That, of course, all depends on this particular Corvette tested was a completely problem-free car and a good example of the breed.

What's most disappointing to me, though, is the overheating issue. I don't know if it really is a problem or it too could be a sign of the tester being an early production unit. I find it very hard to believe that Chevy would let the problem make it to production with such strong ties to racing and endurance racing in particular, let alone the fact that this is the top Corvette. I read somewhere that the reason the ECU reduces power is for emissions reasons not to protect the engine so maybe Chevy will have an optional ECU flash to disable that if you're at the track, the same way Ford offered the red (track) key with the Boss 302 for track use. Only time will tell. If it really is a problem, I would be hugely disappointed if GM does not address it.

As for the GT-R, although this particular model is far from the performance bargain it once was when this generation first returned back in 2008, it's still punching above its weight and it is good value. Starting above $151,000 USD, it's stepping into supercar territory pricing but it's nearly hypercar performance territory now. Still, it commands a nearly $50,000 premium over the top spec Vette with plenty of luxury options and the Z07 package. Being a Corvette fan, I would take the Z06 over the GT-R in a heartbeat without even thinking about it. It will sound better, look better and drive better in every day driving and for the few track days I go to, if it turns out to be actually slower, I will still have the perfect recipe for a performance car: a V8 in the front, a manual in the middle, and RWD in the back. If I had the money, though, I would probably go with the standard Stingray with the Z51 package. It would give me most of the thrills, non of the forced induction worries and plenty of money left over for track visits!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2020 Porsche 992 (911) Details

Unlike the new 2019 3-series that was officially revealed by BMW, the anticipated 2020 Porsche 992 (911) has not been officially revealed yet. But that doesn't mean a lot about it isn't known already. In a recent prototype drive by Car and Driver, Porsche discussed a lot of the changes. This update is very important in my opinion because the next 911 may have its work cut out for it judging by what we know about the upcoming mid-engine Corvette. The 911 vs Corvette rivalry is nothing new, spanning decades. While there has been very significant and revolutionary changes to the 911 - including switching from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, losing hydraulic power steering, and recently an all turbocharged lineup (short of the GT3) - none have been as revolutionary as the Corvette's planned change to switch from front engine to mid engine layout. So what is the next 911 coming going to be armed with? There are a bunch of changes, although most are just incremental but one…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 (Links: +Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1 & Part 2), I concluded that grip is where Chevys excel and decided to try and figure out how they do that by looking at test data from Car and Driver's Lightning Lap features. The first thing that stood out to me when the 5th generation Camaro 1LE came out was the wider tires compared to the Mustang Track Pack of the time and even the Boss 302. The tires on the ZL1 and Z/28 stood out as much.. only on those, they stood out compared to just about anything that isn't a supercar. So I decided to start looking there; tire sizes.

To evaluate tire sizes, I calculated a weight-to-tire-section ratio for each car. Similar to the idea of power to weight ratio, where the number tells you how much weight each hp is burdened with, this tells you how much weight each mm of tire section is burdened with, so to speak. For example, a BMW M235i weighs 3,490 lb, as tested during the LL feature. It has 225/…

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads. Combine that with the fact that I drive a good amount on the street during the summer, and I was very worried that they wouldn't last more than a handful of…

Street vs. Track Driving Tips

I haven’t done a post like this in quite a while so I figured it’s time to do one. I have someone helping me for this one, though. Meet Bridget Rebecca. Bridget is a bit more sensible than you'd have to be to waste as much on track driving as I do, but why would you need two track rats working on one post? You've got the best one right here (Kidding!). She's a real gear head, though. If you don't believe me, she's got a pretty good rap sheet. She owns a manual car. That car has a V8 in the front and sends power to the back. Manual, front engine, V8, and RWD, right out of the sports car gospel. She also drives that car in the winter. Did I mention that the car is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage? The same car that won the 2005 Top Gear Award for Best Noise of the Year. Told you she's a gear head.

This isn't her first gig. She's got her own Tribe under her name on DriveTribe and they recently sent her down to SEMA 2018 to provide coverage for the show. She…

Focus RS vs Rallycross

If you've read my last post - The Ram's Eye is going Rallycross - you already know that I'm starting rallycross this season for the first time. I started high performance driving 7 years ago in 2011 but have never strayed away from tarmac/asphalt. Living in Canada - which rightfully earns the name 'The Great White North' - means that I had to suffer serious speed withdrawals during the track off-season; that typically lasts from the middle of October to the middle of May. But there is a treatment for people with my condition and it has been available locally for nearly 20 years.

I went to my first event this past Sunday and spoke to a few of the seasoned rallycross veterans. I was told that local speed freaks started organizing rallycross events for that very reason around 1999; to get their speed fix during the winter. It took off a few years later around the 2001-2002 winter season and nobody looked back. I found out about those local rallycross events a couple …

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…