GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS


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Nissan R390 GT1 (road car)

gt4_r390-gt1.jpg

Year: 1998
Class: Grand Tourer / Sports Car
Type: Coupe
 
Country of Origin: Japan
Host: GT4 & GT5
 
Price: 1,000,000 cr. (GT4 Classic lot, and GT5 Used Car Lot)
 
Mileage as Tested: 0.0 in either game
 
Construction: carbon composite monocoque
 
Length: 185.8" // 78.75" // Height: 44.9"
Wheelbase: 107.1"
Track: 68.9" [F], 65.7" [R]
Ground Clear: 3.93" (max, GT4)
Weight: 2,601 pounds
 
Steering: unassisted rack & pinion
Layout: mid engine / rear-drive
Tires: 245/40ZR-18 [F], 295/35ZR-19 [R]
F&R Suspension: dual wishbones, coils, shocks, anti-roll bars
Brakes: vented discs, with ABS
 
The car in both games has specs derived as-is, with no oil change or engine rebuild, 0.0 miles in both cases. The GT5 car's specs are currently Starting specs only, not break-in 
 
Track testing was only fully performed in GT4.
 
Engine: 3.5 liter DOHC V8
Construction: aluminum block & heads
Aspiration: intercooled twin-turbo
Fuel System: SPFi
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.35 x 3.03"
Compression: 9.0:1
 
Horsepower: 352 @ 5,200  
Torque:     361 @ 4,000
 
Credits / HP: 2,840.90
Pounds / HP: 7.39
Lbs. / Torque: 7.20
HP / Liter:  99.28
 
GT4 Idle: 1,000 // Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,250
GT5 Idle: 800  // Redline: 8,000 // RPM Limit: 8,250
 
Transmission: 6-speed sequential manual
Differential: ? Probably limited-slip
 
Most track testing derived from GT4
 
0-60 mph: 4.150 seconds
0-100 mph: 9.083
0-150 mph: 23.916
 
0-400 M: 12.426 @ 116  mph
0-1 Kil: 22.215 @ 147 mph
 
 
Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,750
Test Track Lap: no test
 
Top Speed at Redline:
1st: 50 mph
2nd: 68 mph
3rd: 89 mph
4th: 110 mph
5th: 130 mph
6th: 155.92 @ 7,250 rpm (tach/RPM limited)    
 

r390_powerslide.jpg

EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------

So the other day, a man handed me the keys to his Porsche. Literally. He gave me his keys, and wanted me to test drive the 911 Carrera he was thinking of buying. Apparently, my opinion as a mechanic would influence his ultimate decision. The Carrera was painted a silvery-blue. 30,000 miles, thereabouts. New tires. Obviously garage-kept. Such a thing doesn't happen everyday, especially at my job, which usually features an unending litany of Camrys, Civics, and CRVs.
 
As I tried to keep my face straight, grabbed his keys, and then lushed his car around my local neighborhood, getting in a few rear-end engine whips out of a couple turns, yet getting nowhere near the 300 horses this car's supposed to put out (hey, I'm not going to lose my job after overcooking an engine I just met), I began to muse upon another one I'd like to drive, this one a sports car much more unique. The car I'm about to drive, test, and review is one which I believe no other car reviewer in the entire world has had the pleasure of driving, testing, and reviewing. Why?    
 
The '98 Nissan R390 GT1 is an exotic (which means beautiful, outlandish, and rare) sports car which is never-seen upon our roads. Unlike many other exotics which exist in greater numbers, there will be no specialized teams of surrogates aiming to hunt one down. There will be no billionaire sheikh quietly lurking at some auction house, after receiving a discreet tip that Chassis # 429 is slated to appear at Barrett-Jackson. Only two R390 GT1 road cars exist, period. Which is rather sad, in my opinion, for lots and lots of reasons.
 
If you ask me why I've gotten the urge to review this one, I'll tell you that I have grown to love the R390 GT1. And if you don't ask me this, um... bottom line is: I wasn't expecting to ever write about it. The reason I have chosen to do so  (while passing by a few Ferraris and other supercars) is going to become evident throughout the rest of this article. 
 
I have a friend who disagrees with me on this topic, by the way. Not quoting directly here, but in his opinion, the R390 is one which should not ever be touched (at least by him). He has no interest in it. To race one in Gran Turismo is like bringing a rocket-powered sled to a downhill go-kart derby, it would seem. Well, I aim to enlighten him, and anybody like him, on how this rare machine fits into the world of GT quite nicely.
 
This car appears in every GT so far except the very first one, but I'm focusing on the R390 as it appears in GT4 and 5. There are a few random facts I can discuss from earlier games, so let's start with Gran Turismo 2. 
 
 Oddly, there are two model years found in GT2: 1997 and 1998, but this is not so in any other game. The '97 is a prize, and the '98 can be bought at any time, provided you've got a million credits just sitting around, getting bored. The real-life versions were offered for $1,000,000 as well, but Nissan apparently still owns one of these. Both cars are blue, but a third car (a prototype) was painted red. This prototype was apparently a dummy, made for wind-tunnel testing and such. Although info is sketchy, it probably could not be driven.   
 
The R390 GT1 racing car was active during the late 1990s in Federation International Automobile (FIA) racing's GT1 class. Rules at the time stated that only one road-going version would need to be created to compete in this class, not 500 or some other greater number (greater than one, that is). If the R390 had been produced more than twice, this would ensure a lucky few get to share, at least.
 
The GT1 class is not about proving whether or not a carmaker has some sort of link to everyday driving reality; instead it seems to be more of a testing ground. Experimental and developmental. Manufacturers enter GT1 so they can (1) prove that they've got one of the fastest grand tourers on Earth, but also (2) do some high-grade testing as they compete. Some of the ideas they form from their 'tests' might just be a great thing to have in their production cars, so this is one of the reasons marques such as Benz, Jaguar, and Nissan enter this class.  
 
Oddly, the road-going versions of the R390 were created before the racing versions. Usually, this happens the other way: racing versions get built first. The twin road cars had an apparent dry weight of 2,420 pounds (and 2,601 with all fluids, as seen in our games). They also borrowed headlight assemblies from Nissan Z-cars of the time, giving these two beauties rather familiar eyes.  
 
The R390 GT1 replaced Nissan's highly-modified Skyline GT-Rs. Due to a lack of competent regulations in this class, other manufacturers (Porsche, Benz, etc.) were using loopholes to make their cars faster / better, while Godzilla finally struggled. So Nissan (not to be outstaged) set out to do something about this.
 
Three R390s were entered into the 1997 Le Mans, but only one of them finished. It made an admirable 5th place in its class (12th overall). Oddly, Nissan did not choose to compete in any other races during the 1997-98 season, only Le Mans. In 1998, four cars were entered, and this time, all four of them were able to finish. At best, one of these was able to gain 3rd place, with Porsche's 911 winning overall. Still though, 3rd place is not so bad for a car which had just been created a year before. Nissan set a goal here, and pretty much achieved it. 
 
After 1998, the FIA changed its rules, making them tougher. And this meant many cars found in the GT1 class were now outlawed, including the R390. How about that?  So, to summarize, this means we've got an automobile in our game with a two-year racing history, which is also one of the rarest cars on Earth. Eight racing versions were built in total, which were mocked from the two road-legal cars. Ironically, real-life versions of this devil rarely see (or saw) action, before their days  were done. After teams and collectors realized there would be no more R390s, those which had already been built quickly succumbed to a life of sitting around somebody's garage, or maybe they wound up in some museums. Nobody drives or races them anymore, I am guessing.  
 
 Virtual versions see plenty of action, though. All over the place!  Not just as playthings for us, but also for those virtual drivers we often face as we're racing. Because of Gran Turismo, we've seen R390s thousands of times, raced against them hundreds of times, and now I'm going to drive and race one, dozens and dozens of times.  
 
Buckle the **** up, yo. 
        

r390_cellpic.jpg

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------

 
Here. Right here. This is the reason I am writing this review, and why the Nissan R390 has captured a spot on this site. And it's not because this 3.5 liter V8 is any sort of power-demon, not because it can launch from zero to 1,000 meters in less time than it takes to microwave coffee, not because it can possibly beat grand portions of our games in less than a day. It's not because this powerplant has it all: V8 torque mid-range, but high-end turbo action. No, it's because this car is underpowered.
 
What did you say? Underpowered? Yes, it's underpowered. Check it out. Compared to many other supercars, the Nissan R390 GT1 lacks in its power department. In many cases, we'll find others of this so-called "supercar" class (Paganis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsche / RUFs, Cadillac Ciens, Saleens S7s, Bugattis, McLarens, Tommykairas, and on and on...) making 400, 500, 600 horses or more, entering into our races with unfairness and blatant overkill. They start with this much power, not "they can be modified to" .... they BEGIN their careers this way. So, to buy and then race one of these horsepower freaks is (in many cases) simply a guaranteed win, no matter what, assuming the driver can maintain a modicum of control.
 
But why would you want an 'underpowered' supercar, Parnelli?  
 
Heh heh, glad you asked, unseen doubter #739.
 
In comparison to many others, the Nissan R390 GT1 offers us not 600 horses, not 500, not 450, or 400. NO, we've got just 352 horsepower at 5,200 (341 @ 5,500 rpm before engine break-in with GT5), with 361 foot-pounds at 4,000 in either game. Which is far below the specs of many others within its domain. Due to this relatively low power, the R390 can safely be entered into races against those with happier horsepower, compete fairly against them, and now the wins garnered in this Nissan feel as though they've truly been earned, not bought or notched. 
 
And the thing is, it's odd that Polyphony Digital has decided to include Nissans with this sort of power; those two real-life versions were supposedly offered with just under 500 hp and 470 foot-pounds, according to Supercars.net and several other websites. So why has PD dumbed-down this action?  I don't know, and I don't care. I simply love the fact that I can race this machine, yet I still need to work to make things happen.
 
This car features an all-aluminum V8 engine which was derived from some of Nissan's Group C racing cars. The fact that this engine was already extant (and proven) is one of the reasons the R390 got developed so quickly. Torque is broad and flat in the lower-to-middle range of RPMs, but power is usually rather spikey. Which means: Technically, we can plant this one's accelerator at any time and get some decent movement, but there are times it feels best to simply keep those revs on the higher end.   
 
Power is intercooled and twin-turbo'd, but my acceleration results in GT4 are slow compared to real-life. Real-life cars could make it to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, which gets compared against 4.1 seconds in-game. But let's remember two things: the real-life versions had a LOT more power, and the in-game one suffers from a few slight moments of downtime off the line, as its clutch is properly landed in first gear. Wheelspin is also a bear to deal with, but once this car starts moving, be prepared to deal with some flattened organs within your tummy!
 
Side note: It's a shame I can't track-test this guy in GT5. I lost my ability to machine test after my PS3 died last August. GT5 has a history of lower acceleration numbers than GT4 does.
 
Another discrepancy between real-life and virtuality is with top-speed. Real-life versions are supposed to be able to top 220 miles per hour, which would make these the fastest-ever Japanese road cars, and 3rd-fastest overall for their time. Only the TVR Speed 12 (245 mph) and McLaren F1 (231) were faster in 1998. In game, this Nissan could only achieve a  "disappointing" 153 mph, tops. The RPM limit is met just seconds after this one takes off, which makes no sense at all. It's probably PD's fault though; this car (as portrayed in both GT4 and 5, and probably others) has a rather short close-ratio gearbox from the dealerships, limiting top-end, and this is why the R390 does so well at certain races as an opponent car, yet lags at those tracks with longer straight sections. Full-custom gearing fixes this problem easily for us, but unfortunately the bots don't have this luxury.   
 
Let's have a look at maximum power. In GT2, we can boost the '97 prize car to 833 hp (WoWzA), and the '98 version slightly higher, to 837. GT3's R390 road cars can make a ridiculous 1,205 hp @ 7,000 rpm max. In GT4, Nismo apparently didn't want to face any lawsuits, so they brought max power (from a Stage 4 turbo) back down to 868 hp, with 805 foot-pounds. Surely, this one can theoretically take on ANY race we can find, in any game (except rallies) making the R390 GT1 road cars quite the winners in our games, while the real-life versions doze off in their faraway paddocks. 
              

redwinged_r390.jpg

CHASSIS / HANDLING----------

 
And now, the other main reason the R390 is to be coveted: its handling traits. I am about to perform the task of driving and racing this car, in two separate games, and can have all the fun I want (unlike when I drove that baby boomer's Porsche, which consisted of only a couple moments of fun).
 
In Gran Turismo 4 and Gran Turismo 5, results vary wildly, as we're about to find out. It boils down to the R390 being one of the easiest supercars I've ever driven in GT4, but one of the most tempermental in GT5.  
 
GT4
Here we go, back to 2004. It's been literally since 2011 that I touched this PS2-era game. I went back mostly to buy myself an R390, and safely track test it, with zero fear of losing this game's Test Curse. 
 
 
What races to attempt, though, as I write about this one? After doing some research, I finally settled on the Supercar Festival, a set of five races which the R390 might just overkill, but only if I don't include the very top models which can possibly show up. So, let's put those models on higher spots (even Pole) for extra challenge. Before doing these events, I drove this car on its factory-given medium sports around Infineon Raceway's sports car course, which is (in my opinion) the most dynamic track of the SF.
 
I kept all the settings I can possibly modify bone-stock, so this includes suspension settings (with an 85 mm ride height, and dampers set at 6 front and rear) and downforce (40 & 55). Right away, it's noticed how compliant this car is, and also easy-to-point. It's a feeling that this one has .... all bumps (any bumps) are noticed and felt, yet this car still manages to nose safely and predictably into many turns, no matter how off-camber or rough they may be.
 
The R390's only worry (with stock settings) is with rumble strips. Some of these are pretty severe at Infineon Raceway, meaning that if the car rolls over one too violently, some positioning might be needed to get back into the orbit which was so diligently present a moment ago. None of this is a surprise, though. This is a racing car with street-legal status, after all; it's supposed to handle with precision, yet its ride is supposed to be rough. Cornering is entirely flat, just as it should be. Viewed during replays, the R390, if it's leaning, dipping, and squatting at all, does so in a way which the human eye doesn't notice. Not on a flatscreen TV, anyways. 
 
But things are not entirely roses and cupcakes. They can also get oily at times.  
 
Understeer. There it is. Understeer, especially during those off-camber, undulating turns. By default, this car's front end will push, long before anything bad gets noticed from its rear, assuming power hasn't been augmented, yet.
 
Understeer sucks, but it's also not so bad most of the time, not nearly as bad as what's found in a Saleen S7 or Jaguar XJ220 in this game. It's not  surprising (this is GT4), and not at all welcome, but also not entirely demanding during those turns. Unlike those other 'supercars', it's easy to make what little push there is go away entirely, if a slightly wider angle is taken, or a little less gas (or no gas) is given.
 
If some front-end push happens to show up, a bit of lift-off is often a near-immediate cure. Most of the time, not all of the time, but most of the time, it's possible to minimize or avoid understeer in the Nissan. Most of this car's under-pushing shows up while entering turns, and also mid-turn, assuming the driver gets throttle-happy too early. Virtually none of it exists during exits, unlike those two others mentioned.
 
Then again, there are those moments when (sigh) we go too far, especially during lower-speed areas when downforce isn't helping anymore, and there's so much push going on up front that all we can do is wait for it to go away. At higher speeds, this car's got downforce noticeably pushing its front-end down to Earth, which is a good thing, but still, this is not a slot car. Like I said, its front-end pushes by default. So keep your speed within realistic terms at tracks with lots of downforce action (Midfield, Fuji, Grand Valley, etc.), but especially in slower areas. If this car is rolling below 70 mph, THAT'S when some understeer can happen which we might not be able to dispel within a flash.    
 
The front-end isn't really my main concern, though. The part that bothers me is this car's rear end.
 
We can push and push and push it, give some odd angles in an effort to break it, yet never does it do so. Traction is always guaranteed, at least while power is near-stock. While this may seem like more of a Pro than a Con, I'd prefer this car to have something more violent going on back there, which is only realistic. GT5 will provide this, no doubt.  
 
Only when getting some higher turbo stages in the R390 will it finally begin to drive more like an actual rear-drive car, in which lateral motions must always be considered out of turns, or else. For instance, with Stage 1 action (479 hp) the rear still maintains its flawless traction most of the time, but now there are moments when it can suddenly lash out if too much steering angle is matched with too much throttle. These moments do happen, especially in 1st or 2nd gear, and they are easily controllable, but the thing that sucks is it's often a 'slip or grip' phenomenon. Either the rear is lashing out with anger, or its traction is 100% complete. There is no middle-ground at all.   
 
Then we stack on Stage 2 (562). Now, we begin to lose even more of this car's unshakable traction. It is possible to get some 3rd gear squealing, and those rear tires are going to be heating up much faster than the fronts. Stage 3? Sure, that'll bring us up to 629 hp. Which makes the rear-end feel like a set of roller skates if we get it all wrong. There is a Stage 4, but my lawyer advised me not to utilize it during this write-up. Insurance purposes, and all that. Suffice it to say, this mild-mannered supercar becomes more and more of a devil, as heaps of power are added.    
 
I actually prefer this car with its stock power, and this is all I needed most of the time during the Supercar Festival. Only once did I need a Stage 1 turbo, at New York, with a Tommykaira ZZ-II on the grid. With this lower sort of power, limited-slip tuning is simply not needed at all. To add these extra gears is to ask for a less flexible, less pointable machine, and we don't want that. Well, I don't want that.  
 
Overall, the Nissan R390 is exciting to drive virtually in this game, especially as it reacts to road conditions of all kinds. Lift-off oversteer (or slight front-end grabbing) is often guaranteed, even if the front-end was dominating with push a moment ago. The car also throttlesteers, assuming the driver wants it to do this. The only thing it doesn't do is try to destroy us out of those corners and curves, not while power is low. It's like the front-end is shod with sport tires, while the rear has racing slicks.
 
Speaking of racing, I started at Seoul Central, which calls for 372 horsepower in a 2,600 pound car (according to my GT4 racing guide), but it's impossible to meet this exact number since exhausts, intercoolers, and other such parts cannot be exchanged. Nismo only gives us those four major turbo stages, with no 'fine-tuning' parts available. So this one started with its stock 357 hp instead of 372.
 
A Saleen S7 began on Pole, with a VW W12 on 2nd place, a Ford GT on 3rd, and the monster Cadillac Cien on 4th. Certainly, an All-Stars sort of lineup here. I had my crew play with suspension settings a bit. Lowering and beefing, but also softening those shocks, and kicking those rear wheels out with extra camber, in an effort to gain some sort of slip-action back there. Extra downforce up front, soft sport tires underneath, but not much else. Braking? Already tops. Limited-slip action? Um... Why?      
 
Under pressure, and with cold tires to start, some flaws begin to shine, but they're not overwhelming. The car still feels great, as it noses into turns with an ultra-precision which is so razor-sharp, it becomes downright easy to zip by walls and curbs with full confidence, and centimeters to spare. Mid-engine cars often require longer brake distances in GT4 (I have proved this during numerous braking tests), yet the R390 manages to use the same braking zones as the Skyline GT-R I drove not long ago. Seoul is mirror-smooth, with an occasional rumble strip causing interrupting moments, yet these smaller rumblies do not cause the car to lose its entire orbits, the way the rumblies at Infineon did. 
 
But then, "that guy" occasionally shows up here and there, the same guy we've seen so many times before. Yeah, you guessed it: Mister U. He does occasionally show up just when we don't want him to, so it's a good thing this car is so good at dealing with him.
 
Oftentimes (once those tires warm, especially) there's a pattern which begins to happen. Understeer / grip / understeer /grip. The understeer happens a little too easily when gas (sometimes brakes) are given, but a momentary lift makes it go away. There was even a moment (when I was outbraking the Cien) that the front-end finally grabbed with force, yet this sort of grabbing was actually welcome, especially in this game which includes several high-powered mid-engine vehicles which never grab, or tuck-inwards with trail-braking.
 
Most of time though, the front-end does what it's supposed to: it steers-in, with minimal grab, and minimal push, assuming proper braking zones are kept. The R390 does its best to work with us, most of the time.
 
That flawless rear-end I was complaining about earlier only becomes an asset during races. Gas can often be started early, sometimes while the car is still understeering. Do it right, and the entire car will now take on a tighter exit, passing by some laggards in the process if the path is clear. That's the tricky thing though, because the R390 (like many supercars) is a wide vehicle, with 78 inches of girth. Getting an over-eager exit while passing by some slower car can be difficult at times, simply because the R390's too big to squeeze through. So it's often a two-stage process: (1) get the car ready for launch (2) hope and pray some other idiot doesn't claim our exit line. If both of these stages are accomplished, that's when this underpowered tourer starts to smile.       
    
Oh, and the Nissan? It won that race, but did not necessarily walk over it. Each car that got passed took a bit of work on my part, and catching that leading Saleen actually required all 8 laps to accomplish. 
 
Well that was pretty fun, but it's not enough. How does this car really handle? How should it really handle?  I don't think GT4 really captured the true magic of the '98 Nissan R390 GT1. So let's have a look at the next game.                                    
 
GT5
I decided to try two series of races in this game: Supercar Festival, followed by the prestigious World Cup. The first set of races is always done with sport tires equipped, while the second involves the much-more-grippy racing slicks. The R390 handles closest to real-life with sport tires on, so let's head off to High Speed Ring and Nürburgring. I bought an R390 in this game, probably after searching for a very long time. Painted it red too, just like that real-life prototype, only MY car can actually move.
 
In GT4, this Nissan mostly handled with a bit of push up front, and not much going in the rear (other than some mild lift-off and throttlesteer). While racing with soft tires, now the front-end would occasionally grab.
 
Well in GT5, all the rules have been changed. I decided to drive this one around High Speed Ring first of all, on hard sport tires. Minimized downforce to 15 front / 30 rear, as well. I made a discovery here: we can buy a wing kit from GT Auto for this car, but downforce is still malleable, even without this kit. The kit only increases rear downforce, but we already have enough of this from the factory, anyways. I turned off the brake balancer, and set default tunings for the suspension and differential. The only thing that got changed was this car's transmission. Nothing worse than allowing a car to over-rev down some straight section, when we have the option not to have this happen at all.
 
At speed, on those banked curves, the R390 does nothing but what we'd expect it to do at first: grip the road, with some light understeer at times. The car's front always reacts to our input, just as it did in GT4. I tried boosting downforce all the way to 35 (which is max) front / 42 rear, and now the front end actually grabs a bit if we want it to. Turn the front while releasing the brakes?  This one usually grabs. 
 
All of that is expected, though. What's not expected, and what is completely at odds with GT4, is this car's rear. Understeer, which was an occasional annoyance during the fourth game, is now virtually non-existent most of the time, assuming this car's factory tires are upgraded. Goodbye understeer! And that's the last you'll hear me mention that dreadful word during this portion of the article, isn't that nice?  
 
But the rear's a different story. I spent almost two entire months with GT4 folks, racing many cars (and wasting money on improving many of them) until I could finally afford a GT1. So I'm used to this game, with all its lazy oversteer portrayals (or complete lack of them). 
 
NO. In GT5, we MUST be careful with this one, and not just while exiting tighter areas. The R390's rear has been completely overhauled for this game. A touch too much gas (even half-throttle sometimes) will send this one off in a circle if we're not careful. It's very demanding, and at times infuriating. Obviously, that limited-slip will need to be tuned, which is not the case at all for the previous game, not with near-stock power, anyways. The good news is that with LSD in place, the front-end won't suddenly become the understeer-fest I was fearing, and this is true even with some rather aggressive Accel + Decel settings.   
 
Like I said, it's not just the tighter turns that we must worry about. There were a couple moments when this car overcooked its rear on a banked curve, at 111 mph and in 5th gear!  Since the front-end is so grippy, what often happens is the rear will slip, the driver countersteers, so the front grips in this direction. If some gas (too much gas) is given, which doesn't seem as though it would cause a problem, because, well, many other 350-ish hp cars can handle this sort of gas, we can be right back where we started.
 
The good news is that sometimes we can force some gas anyways. The rear goes crazy, but since GT5 allows us to maintain burnouts and drifts, sometimes it's actually better to overwhelm this car, rather than baby it. Let's not make these moments a habit though. The R390 is like many supercars: it doesn't exactly feel comfortable with dancey behavior. It's entire purpose (handling-wise) is supposed to be designed to avoid such behavior.     
 
This is a hard rear to tune, too. It's not just matter of slapping in some parts and walking away, the R390 needs some quality time, and better tires, before it can become somewhat reliable for racing. I wound up with 15-45-30 for LSD settings, lowering the car nearly all the way, and tightening up its rear coils to max, as well. A full-custom suspension will need to be used at some point, no doubt about it, if the driver wishes to make this car handle nicely all the time....which is NOT the case for the same car in GT4. I also boosted rear downforce, which helped eliminate those moments of high-speed jackknifes entirely.
 
The car is still problematic though, in those slower areas, especially. Settings won't help, and neither will any part made out of metal.
 
It turns out that equipping some soft sport tires is the best answer. Now, the rear might occasionally get in trouble, but it goes from being 90% problematic to maybe 10%. Most of this car's rear-issues go away, and it becomes possible to occasionally use that extra bit of gas sometimes, let the rear slip slightly, but without any former worries and concerns. The rear might slip a bit if we force this, and it'll lose it all if we really force this, but we can now give a lot more gas out of slower areas, and the car will safely throttlesteer, instead of trying to perform some Grade D drifts.
 
NOW WE'RE READY FOR RACING! But, notice that it takes some effort and planning to actually get this car to the point where it'll be race-ready. Not true in GT4 at all, right?  This car is delicate and nervous at first, and needs some actual fiddling. Anyways, off to the races!
 
At High Speed Ring, with traffic to contend with, now it's obvious just how much better the R390 handles, now that it's been tuned. Racing lines can vary wildly, and be changed on-the-spot. Even during high speed areas, we can loosen up this car's steering to get around one car, but tighten it to get around another, during the same turn, and often with full or nearly-full throttle.
 
I found myself beating the first race I tried a little too easily, with a 4-second lead at the end. During the second one, I chose similar racing grids that I did in GT4, with the best cars up front. Only then did my 'underpowered' R390 GT1 finally feel at home. 
 
This car lost at Daytona, only posting 3rd place at the end of this 3-lapper. The reason?  It simply could not maintain a decent lead after drafting some other car. I attributed this to too much downforce. And at Nurburgring GP/F, the Nissan R390 made it past most of the group early, but then needed to work to catch the leading car, which was a Jaguar XJ220. Overall handling at this track is decent, but (again) care must be taken not to overcook into tighter areas, otherwise that word which I promised not to say a few paragraphs ago begins to happen. The rear also needs attention. Too much gas?  Too much sliding.
 
The World Cup was also done in this car, which didn't surprise me since I've brought Mustangs and 300Cs here, but the bottom line is the R390 doesn't just walk by everyone else it meets. With its downplayed power, settings, tuning, and driving are still pertinent, but this 1,000,000 credit car still brings it home.
 
Summary
Here we have a machine which driver and car can connect, almost in a 50/50 manner. Worth the drive, in my opinion, but is it worth the price?  That becomes the ultimate question.
 

r390_blurrear.jpg

PROS-------------------
 
1). Lack of starting power (surprisingly) is #1 on my list. Lack of power means lack of overkill, you see. 
 
2). A body shape so slippery, due to the mirroring of its racing versions. Downforce can be manipulated as well in some games. GT4 (for instance) allows us to modify downforce, even though a wing kit cannot be attached. GT5 allows downforce manipulation, even before we buy a wing kit!   
 
3). Advanced parts (sport suspensions, for instance) are included as well in some cases, meaning some settings can be played with from Day 1. Fixed, non-tunable parts (straight-pipe exhausts and Dot 5 braking) are also provided in many games.  
 
4). Despite its downplay of power (compared to real-life), the R390 is no slacker, and makes some magic numbers right away. Power can also be thrown at this car to astounding heights; four figures of horses in some games. 
 
5). GT4: near-flawless traction out of many turns, while power is kept lowish. Limited-slip tuning often not needed. I see this as more of a Con, but others may see it as a Pro.
 
6). Tires wear out slowly, even in GT4 with softs underneath. 
 
7). Lovely idle-to-midrange sounds from the engine.
 
8). Handling traits that are easy to work with, especially in GT4, but also (eventually) in later games. You won't need to be a pro or a veteran to win in an R390 road car, though some expertise with mid-engine cars is recommended.  
      
 
CONS-----------------------
 
1). Yikes. A million credits? In my opinion, the car's worth it, but there are still many others which can do the same jobs for less (much less).  
 
2). Short-throw gearbox limits top-end speed, and oddly the real-life versions did not suffer from this, because they got taller gearboxes. The real-life R390 was one of the fastest cars in the world during its time, yet in-game we can only make just over 150 miles per hour.  
 
3). Despite the lack of power / lack of overkill, there are plenty of times this car can overpower / overkill others, simply due to its racing heritage.
 
4). Quite a beast to train (especially in GT5) due mostly to its tempermental rear-end. This car hasn't got as much mid-engine traction as some other MRs. In my opinion, the GT5 car is not race-worthy, or even drive-worthy, at first. It must be tuned to get there.   
 
5). Lack of minor tuning parts (such as sports exhausts) make it difficult to fine-tune this car, especially in GT4 and earlier games, since power cannot be limited. This car can either be a monster or a mouse, depending. If it over-qualifies a race by (let's say) 50 horses, it's difficult to do anything about this.
 
6). Somewhat generic-sounding exhaust once those revs get to their peak areas. Sounds good, but it's not unique to this actual car, I am betting.
 
7). GT4: lack of oversteer issues = lack of reality.
 
8). This car is sleek and aerodynamic, but also rather big and wide. It can be difficult to pass others cleanly due to this.
 
 
9). GT5: only one mirror (center) to see out of when using the in-car view. And no horn.
 
10). GT4: can only be had in blue. 
 
11). GT5: can be painted any color, but good luck finding one of these in this game's used car lot!          
 
 
Published: May 3rd through 10th, 2015
 

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