Tech-laden supercar isn’t the bargain it once was
- Supercar performance
- Superb handling
- Aggressive styling
- Technology fest
- Limited availability
- Requires frequent servicing
- Automatic-only gearbox
Frequently lauded as the supercar for the Playstation generation, but don’t be dissuaded from trying one – the Nissan GT-R is infinitely more visceral than it is virtual in its appeal.
While the initials GT-R have a history stretching back to 1969 in the car’s Japanese homeland, official sales in the UK only began in the late 1990s, with restricted numbers of what aficionados refer to as the R33 and R34 generations of the Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Dropping the Skyline name for this R35 iteration, the GT-R is much more brutal in style and performance, yet is less expensive than key rivals such as the Porsche 911, M6 versions of the BMW 6 Series and the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe.
Nissan’s development has come a long way during this generation GT-R’s time on the market. When launched back in 2009 the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine produced 480hp, but the latest revised editions for 2017 have upped the ante further to 570hp, while the range-topping Nismo packs 600hp.
Officially, all of the current models have a top speed of 196mph and although 0-62mph times aren’t quoted, it’s fair to expect them all to be sub-four seconds.
A number of other improvements were ushered in for 2017, all of which are designed to enhance the GT-R’s performance: revised aerodynamics improve stability, a stiffer structure enhances grip and modifications to the twin-clutch automatic gearbox means it’s much less jerky when driven at urban speeds.
Naturally a car offering this degree of performance isn’t inexpensive to run, so consider GT-R ownership with your eyes wide open: an average of 23.9mpg is claimed while CO2 emissions are 275g/km.
Despite the swathes of leather, the Nissan GT-R’s cabin felt a bit on the cheap side compared with its high-performance rivals, something largely addressed as part of the facelift ushered in at the end of 2016.
Not only did material quality improve, the shape of the dashboard was subtly altered and the vast quantity of buttons and switches was significantly reduced.
What remains is an array of on-board electronics, including real-time graphics displaying everything from G-forces to laptimes – the latter data set can be downloaded and played through a Playstation rendering your circuit exploits in 3D graphics.
Although the GT-R’s a physically large car, the cabin itself is a tight squeeze for four adults, those in the back especially bereft of both head- and legroom.
Restructured 2017 GT-R line-up
Nissan reorganised its GT-R line-up as part of the styling revisions at the end of 2016, with the range comprising of five distinct trim levels. Pure is the entry-level grade – although at around £80,000 it’s far from basic – with Recaro (with sports seats from the German brand), Prestige (wider, comfier seats), Track Edition (now more power but some Nismo styling and suspension components) sitting above, with Nismo as the balls-out range topper.
All come with electric seats, LED lights front and rear, an 11-speaker Bose audio system and dual-zone climate control as part of a long roster of standard kit.
Nissan GT-R coupe model history
- April 2008 – R35-generation GT-R available to order in Standard, Premium Edition and limited availability Black Edition trims. All models initially announced with 480hp.
- December 2008 – European mechanical specification announced with the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine upgraded to 485hp, while torque remains unchanged at 588Nm. Pre-order prices increased by 3.8% from those placing orders from this point.
- April 2009 – First UK deliveries of the GT-R – no Skyline badge this time around – begin.
- November 2009 – Model year improvements for 2010 include the first round of suspension modifications designed to improve both ride comfort and roadholding. Gear ratios were tweaked to permit quicker downchanges in the lower gears, while CO2 emissions dropped to 295g/km without any loss of power. Nissan also took the opportunity to upgrade the multimedia equipment.
- December 2009 – Celebrating four decades of the GT-R badge, just 40 examples of the limited edition GT-R SpecV were available in Europe. Performance increased marginally, with extra high-gear boost for the turbos, while carbon ceramic brakes reined in the speed. A titanium exhaust ensured it sounded purposeful.
- October 2010 – Mechanical revisions for 2011 see power increased to 530hp, suspension modifications to improve handling, a carbon composite strut bar in the engine bay and restyled bumpers, the front one of which incorporates LED day-running lights as well as aerodynamic modifications that improve downforce by 10%
- December 2011 – Revisions for 2012 see power increased to 550hp, yet the GT-R is also marginally more efficient. Nissan also tweaked the gearbox and stiffened the GT-R’s structure around the engine bay. The range comprises of two trims – Premium and Recaro – both of which feature a reversing camera. GT-R Track Pack also available, specifically for the UK market. No extra power available but the Track Pack features even stiffer suspension, enlarged cooling ducts for the brakes and lightweight Rays alloy wheels, but loses its rear seats.
- April 2013 – Improvements for 2013 include modifications to the body making it stiffer and suspension set-up, aimed at reducing bodyroll. Although power remained static at 550hp, the engine’s responsiveness was remapped, lowering the 0-62mph time to 2.7 seconds.
- April 2014 – Further enhancements made to the GT-R’s suspension, brakes, steering and tyre specification all with the aim of improving handling. Visual modifications include LED lighting front and rear, and new interior colour schemes with ambient lighting.
- April 2015 – With race car-developed suspension, brakes and steering, the GT-R Nismo goes on sale, with power uprated to 600hp. Additional carbonfibre wings are claimed to add up to 100kg of extra downforce to help the Nismo get its power down.
- May 2016 – Facelifted GT-R line-up launched with revised aerodynamics and a stiffened body structure to improve handling. Power increased to 570hp, with improvements to the twin-clutch automatic gearbox for smoother changes between first and second. Revised trim structure comprises of Pure, Recaro and Prestige, all models featuring a heavily revised interior.
- September 2016 – GT-R Track Edition goes on sale with various Nismo-engineered modifications to – as the name implies – improve the Nissan’s handling on race circuits. Power remains at 570hp.
- November 2016 – Facelifted version of the race car-derived GT-R Nismo with 600hp engine and bespoke carbonfibre body panels available to order.
Read the full Nissan GT-R review to find out how good this Japanese supercar really is.
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