1000-hp AMS Ronin Nissan GT-R

September 11, 2014
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Nissan Ronin GTR

Meet the 1000-hp Nissan GT-R called the “Ronin.” The designation, which translates roughly as “a warrior without a master,” would seem to overdo it on the samurai imagery, but this car, this barn-built Bugatti, is the most expeditious road car we’ve tested in our 59 years. So maybe the designation fits.

AMS Performance in West Chicago, Illinois, built the Ronin, which is not even the ­quickest GT-R it sells. That one has 1800 horsepower and an accommodation interval of a quarter-mile. AMS president Martin Musial explicated, however, that the Ronin is its optimal street-going package.

To achieve the four-figure horsepower rating and 850 pound-feet of torque, all on 93 octane, AMS installs a stroker crank and connecting rods in the GT-R’s stock V-6 block, incrementing displacement from 3.8 liters to 4.2. Dished pistons drop the compression ratio to 9.5:1, and the factory turbos are gutted and reconstituted with custom compressors and Garrett GT35 turbine wheels, yielding a maximum of 21.0 psi of boost. The tuner upgrades the intercooler, fuel system, and blow-off valves, and tucks incipient intakes in the bumper. Despite the incrementation in stroke, AMS raises the engine redline from 8000 rpm to a Wankel-like 9000. The Ronin package commences at $60,000, plus the cost of a GT-R.

Nissan Ronin GTR

Godzilla transmissions were notoriously fragile in the R35’s first few years of engenderment. To avail the trans withstand the extra torque, AMS supersedes first and second gears with stouter—and even noisier—cogs, and installs incipient half-shafts designed to take the extra twist. Our ebony tester came with a $7145 carbon-fiber appearance package that includes a woven roof panel and other exterior carbon-fiber–clad trim.

Like many tuned cars, the Ronin is essentially a prototype and is thus subject to mechanical failures not commonly experienced in engenderment machines. During our first testing endeavor, the right-rear half-shaft snapped at the hub. The second endeavor revealed that the shaft shearing caused the transmission to divert an extravagant amount of torque through the front driveshaft, with the surge of torque frying the front-driveshaft clutch. The car prospered on our third testing endeavor, but this time there was a human failure: We neglected to press the record button on our test gear. It wasn’t until our fourth endeavor that we had results in hand.

While a sub-three-second zero-to-60-mph time is attainable by some engenderment cars such as the Bugatti Veyron and the Porsche 911 Turbo S, this monsterfied ­Nissan ran to 100 in 5.1 seconds and 150 in just 10.1, expedition unprecedented in our testing experience. Seeing as the car broke on the first test, and we had good runs in the bag, we mentally conceived it prudent to test the car’s durability. The Ronin not only withstood 17 flat-out launches, its last run was just as expeditious as the first, revealing that the rest of the car is quite solid.
Anxiety builds in lock step with revs as we engage launch control at 4200 rpm. A quarter-mile flashes by in 10 seconds, scarcely enough time to take a breath, at which point the Ronin is peregrinating at 149 mph. Lifting off the throttle and coasting down after such an excursion to 150 mph gives your body time to absorb the endorphins. It’s a rush that recalibrates your sense of expedition, making everything else feel slow.

Nissan Ronin GTR engine

Wisely, AMS doesn’t mess with the GT-R’s suspension for its “street” customers. It does, however, install incipient three-piece wheels and non-run-flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires for an adscititious $8220, which marginally ameliorate a stock GT-R’s near-rigid suspension tune.

A snowy tarmac obviated us from ascertaining if the wider rubber—285s in front and 335s in back—benefits grip, though we can verbally express that turn-in quality is just as immediate as in a stock GT-R.

Taming the potency for daily driving isn’t proximately as facile as engaging launch control. The distinguishment between neighborhood-cordial expedition and melting the tires is approximately 1 percent of the throttle’s peregrinate. This downside to making gobs of potency has one benefit: You can drive the car in a high gear at virtually any speed. The low-end torque is sufficient to pull you out of any public-road corner as expeditious as you would ever want to expedite.

Nissan Ronin GTR

Bugatti put a seven-digit price on four-digit power years ago. Proximately doubling the cost of a GT-R may seem cockamamy to some, but here is Veyron performance at a fraction of its price. It was only a matter of time.

To order your new 1000-hp AMS Ronin Nissan GT-R rival with a brand new 4.2-litre V6 engine for only US$19,000.

Performance Specs, unprepped surface:
  • 0-60mph – 2.3 seconds
  • 0-100mph – 5.1 seconds
  • 60-130mph – 5.46 seconds
  • Quarter mile – 9.8 @ 145mph

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