2011 NISSAN GT-R REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Two door high-performance premium coupe
Fuel Economy (claimed): 11.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 14.2 l/100km
It’s a monster, this car. A high-tech behemoth that’s savage in a straight line and blindingly quick - stomach churning - around bends. It's getting even tougher in 2012, but what of the current version?
Driving Nissan's GT-R will redefine your expectations of what a premium sports car can do. It is so quick, so competent and so complete, it will have you wondering why you’d pay more for any of its European competitors.
Quality: Dark cosseting leather, finely-grained plastic and carbon fibre give the GT-R’s cockpit a very refined feel.
Some of the silver-coated plastics around the gear selector can be prone to scratches though, so avoid the temptation to store phones and keys around there.
Build quality is exceptional; there is a solid premium feel throughout. The centre stack design is button-heavy, but its function-over-form appearance is part of its appeal.
Inside, at the wheel, the GT-R has all the focused character of the high-performance car: this ‘office’ hits all the right notes.
Comfort: The instrument cluster moves with the steering column, and the fully-electric leather front seats boast superb lateral support thanks to their deep bolsters.
Unlike Nissan’s other performance car, the 370Z, the GT-R’s steering column also adjusts for reach.
The back seats, on the other hand, are for occasional use only - or for carting around small children.
Outward vision is hampered by the GT-R’s high beltline and shallow glasshouse though, and with a low-hanging front bumper, expensive 20-inch wheels and a tall rump, it pays to be cautious when parking.
Equipment: The level of standard equipment is generous, as you’d expect for a car costing around $170,000. Standard features include dusk-sensing bi-xenon headlamps, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, auto-on wipers, a trip computer and keyless entry and ignition.
The GT-R’s seven-inch multi-function display can call up an array of datalogging functions, such as peak lateral/longitudinal G force, boost pressure, torque split and steering angle.
With 10 data screens (which can also be customised by the driver), the MFD is a car geek’s wet dream.
Storage: You can fit the requisite pair of golf bags in the GT-R’s boot, but don’t bank on squeezing in much more.
The rear seats aren’t foldable and the boot opening is very high, which, combined with its modest 315 litre capacity, makes the GT-R only slightly more practical than a 370Z.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: With 390kW and 608Nm emanating from its 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V6, the GT-R is not wanting for either power or torque. However despite its substantial mechanical grunt, it’s also surprisingly civil around town.
At low RPM, there is no sense of sluggishness nor belligerent ‘snatchiness’ from all that power straining at the leash.
It’s certainly not docile, but the transition into positive boost pressure isn’t as abrupt as some and won’t have you inadvertently launching into the car in front.
If you want to see what all the hype is about though, point it toward a clear patch of (preferably twisty) tarmac, floor the accelerator and hold on. The GT-R surges relentlessly forward, and the rate of acceleration scarcely slows as your speed increases.
Launch control is another GT-R party trick. Using it is as simple as flipping a couple of switches, then pegging both pedals before releasing the brake. It’s a brutal experience.
With launch control activated the GT-R will run from zero to 100km/h in a fraction over three seconds.
The GT-R’s six-speed twin clutch transmission is another technological tour-de-force that perfectly complements that twin-turbo V6.
When placed in R Mode it delivers lightning-fast shifts with perfectly rev-matched downchanges; in Normal and Eco mode, shifts are more sedate. Manual shifting can also be made via the large magnesium shift paddles mounted to the steering column.
Refinement: Refinement is not the GT-R’s strong suit. There’s plenty of whirring and clunking from the rear-mounted transmission, and the engine produces plenty of noise. These are all sounds that we expect of a sports car though.
Suspension: For ordinary road driving we’d recommend keeping the GT-R’s multi-mode dampers in the Comfort setting. The extra compliance makes the ride more tolerable, and also helps maintain traction on poorer quality roads.
In R mode the suspension is almost rock-hard. Great for the occasional track day, but not of much use anywhere else.
Body control and cornering stability is amazing though in this setting, and the GT-R’s clever AWD drivetrain means you’re never short of traction.
Braking: Massive Brembo-sourced braking hardware and a firm, responsive pedal make light work of stopping the GT-R’s substantial 1700kg kerb mass.
There are 390mm rotors up front and 380mm rear rotors at the back, each gripped by six and four-piston calipers respectively. The stopping power they provide is virtually fade-free, and easily capable of washing off the tremendous speeds generated by the GT-R
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: Standard safety features include ABS, EBD and multi-mode dynamic stability control with traction control.
Occupants are protected by driver and front passenger dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags and roof-mounted curtain airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000 kilometres
Service costs: Nissan's GT-R has special servicing requirements which, due to the high-tech nature of its mechanical and electronic systems and the specialised servicing and oils required, can be costly. Check with your dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
BMW M3 Coupe DCT ($162,302) - Slightly more affordable than the GT-R and boasting more brand cachet, but well down on power compared to the Nissan (the M3 has ‘only’ 309kW and 400Nm).
With power going exclusively to the rear wheels, the M3 also can’t match the outright grip of the GT-R (see M3 reviews)
Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro R Tronic ($287,500): Audi’s mid-engined R8 supercar: the right image and badge, but its 316kW 4.2 litre V8 is eclipsed by the GT-R’s twin-turbo six. Being mid-engined, it’s also much less practical than the GT-R as a daily drive. (see R8 reviews)
Porsche 911 Turbo PDK ($398,000) - Seen by many as the ultimate Porsche road car, the 911 Turbo marries a 368kW twin-turbo 3.8 litre flat six with an all-wheel drive drivetrain.
Also available with a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, the 911 Turbo is the closest European analogue to the Nissan GT-R, and even trumps it for torque (650Nm).
However, with the 911’s retail price nudging $400k, the Nissan soundly beats it for value. (see 911 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 4.5
There is simply no other car on the market that can do what the GT-R does for a similar cost. It’s unique and quite alone at its price point.
It offers bona-fide supercar performance in a half-price seat. It’s also reasonably practical, easy to drive and has space for four - things we don’t typically recognise as supercar attributes.
And one thing is certainly clear: the GT-R’s crushing performance will put it at the pointy end of any supercar grid. It’s the ultimate track toy, and, if you can muster the resources for the price of entry, it will never fail to leave a smile on your face.