Sitting in the HKS factory for over 10 years can take its toll on the suspension. With this in mind, HKS stripped down every component from under the car - including the sub-frames, and replaced all bushings, links and suspension arms - with Nismo parts. This sharpened up the steering and the handling to offer a more aggressive geometry; and will work beautifully for days at the local circuit. A special custom version of the HKS Hyper Max II coilover kit was fitted specifically for the Zero-R. Braking needed to be addressed too, as the old AP Racing calipers, although still pretty good, just didn't offer the same performance as modern set-ups. So in went 6-pot AP Racing calipers at the front, while the rear is balanced with some 4-pots - again from AP Racing. These both bite down on grooved discs with Performance Friction pads.
The exterior of the Zero-R has been left untouched - a testament that the original BNR32 design has stood up to the test of time. Within the dress-up, the Zero-R sports a complete body conversion made up of a vented front bumper, chunky side skirts and an aggressive rear-end - courtesy of the twin-exit exhaust system, which peeks its thick tail pipes out of a vented shroud. The exhaust is, in fact, the reason why the Zero-R has no rear seats. Since a lot of space was needed to somehow fit the two rear silencers, the fuel tank was removed and custom mounted where the stock rear seats would be. This might not be such a great idea, as you are actually putting a great deal of weight high up in the car's chassis. However, there is no arguing that the rear end conversion looks superb. The original Italian Tecnomagnesio wheels were specially designed and built for the Zero-R; so the owner decided to keep them on, albeit ten years later, for the complete look. The interior has been mostly left untouched, aside from the rear fuel-tank enclosure.
On the original Zero-R, two reclining Recaro seats replaced the stock items. However, on this particular car the owner has just fitted a BNR34 seat on the driver side, which he is trying out for a bit before making his final selection on seat choice. Ahhh, must be nice to have money. Gauge-wise, the 360 km/h rated speedo and other meters have been left untouched; and are now joined by a host of modern toys like a set of Defi gauges, the HKS Black Limited EVC boost controller, HKS torque split controller and the HKS V-Cam unit. To keep an eye on Kobe's traffic, an Alpine hard-disk navigation system takes center stage in the interior; while small details like the HKS shift knob and HKS Zero-R original steering wheel finish things off.
But, no matter how many promises and talk of numbers or power curves, there is nothing like taking a car for a drive to find out what it's really like. Could this be the ultimate street GT-R? Wishing to find an answer we kindly accepted the keys to the Zero-R from Mr. Kikuchi, who let us take the car for a very memorable drive. It's special to drive a Zero-R: there are only two on the road in Japan, and the latest modifications have transformed it into a spectacular ride. As with every 2.8-liter GT-R, you feel the extra capacity the instant you get on the gas. The engine feels gutsier and more willing to pull at lower rpm. But, the Zero-R has a few tricks up its sleeve thanks to the V-Cam. This little gadget maximizes engine breathing continuously, boosting power and torque at every engine speed; but it's from 2,500 rpm and 6,500 rpm that you really feel it work.
GT2530s might be one of the smallest turbine kits you can put on an RB26; but on a 2.6-liter engine without variable valve timing, they always feel very laggy until about 4,500 rpm when they begin to generate some real boost. On the Zero-R they come into play at 3,000 rpm with well over 1 bar of boost available. Out on the streets, this translates to immediate acceleration no matter what gear you're in. But it's when you really tap into those 600 PS that the Zero-R begins to fly. Despite the maps on the HKS F Con V-Pro not being fully refined yet, there is an impressively smooth and unrelentless power delivery. Needless to say, 600 PS is a hell of a lot of power; and it's almost comical when you look at the needle on the speedometer rise. The BNR34 Getrag transmission feels just perfect with a nice and tight shift pattern making the best of all the engine's capabilities. The AP Racing brakes offer a strong bite at any speed, just make sure you look in the rearview mirror before jumping on them.
HKS has definitely made one of the most impressive GT-Rs out there. Sure there are more powerful ones, but finding such widespread electrifying performance is not as easy. Having accessible power in any gear and at any speed is precisely what makes the Zero-R such an exhilarating drive. The most ultimate GT-R ever? We certainly think so.