Nissan GT-R. Just mention the name and you have the attention of performance car enthusiasts. The 2017 Model Year update brought more power, a better interior, and a new model lineup for Japan's most enduring supercar.
It’s still the benchmark car in this market segment, still top of the totem pole for technology and still one of our favourite cars.
Vehicle Style: High-Performance Coupe
Price: $195,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 419kW/632Nm 3.8-litre 6cyl turbo petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 11.7l/100kms | Tested: 14.0l/100kms
If it was a documentary script you’d swear it couldn’t be true: car company spending-up big in Australian motorsport develops a superior AWD coupe so the rule makers ban the car, tell the manufacturer to shove its millions of dollars in advertising and promotional expenditure and restricts the national touring car championship to a two-make series for locally-made ‘Fred Flintstone’ four-door pushrod V8 sedans.
Fortunately, the GT-R road car was not so troubled and global sales success has taken us through multiple generations to the present day.
TMR tested the Nissan GT-R Premium Luxury model ($195,000 plus on-road costs). The extra $6,000 over the ‘entry-level’ Premium model buys leather trim in a choice of four colours, individual rear seats separated by a centre console with a cup-holder, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-lever and Nappa leather trim for the dashboard, console and door inners.
This lineup was created at the most-recent GT-R model update which dispensed the previous Black Edition and brought a slightly altered exterior look (mostly for aerodynamics and cooling), a revised interior (a freshened look and some insulation removed to pare weight) and more grunt (now 419kW).
- Standard Features: Leather-trimmed sports seats (fronts heated and electrically-adjusted), Nappa leather-trimmed dashboard, console and door trims, aluminium pedals, two individual rear seats, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers
- Infotainment: 11-speaker Bose audio with CD and iPod connectivity, 2 USB ports, 8.0-inch touchscreen multifunction display, satellite navigation
- Cargo Volume: 315 litres
Our Nissan GT-R test car was the Premium Luxury model and this best illustrates the changes for the current generation -specifically the slightly more upscale interior.
There's no shortage of leather here, the two individual rear seats look terrific, although they seriously lack legroom, and there is a simpler style for the infotainment system. Nissan says the previous 27 buttons have been slashed to 11.
But state-of-the-art go-fast technology is the Nissan GT-R’s raison d’etre so rather than audio we preferred the eight-inch screen with one of several technical displays (with excellent graphics) for the likes of turbocharger boost and torque distribution.
For the record, audio is an 11-speaker Bose system and sound quality is excellent.
Not surprisingly, you sit low in the GT-R and lots of steering wheel (rake and reach) and seat adjustment delivers a terrific cockpit for the driver and the seats are snug exactly where they should be.
There are some carbon-fibre looking trim highlights around the centre console and larger paddle-shifter gear-levers were included in the latest model update but otherwise the GT-R interior is unchanged and perhaps showing its age a little.
Boot space? Not much.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 petrol (419kW @ 6800rpm/632Nm @ 3300-5800rpm)
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sequential manual , all-wheel-drive
- Suspension: Double-wishbone with aluminium arms (front), multi-link with aluminium upper arms (rear)
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs, 390mm rotors with six-piston front calipers, 380mm rotors with four-piston rear calipers
Zero to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds. Nothing from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, nor any RS-badged Audi, M-badged BMW or AMG-badged Mercedes-Benz can match the Nissan GT-R’s standing start (Lamborghini comes closest with 2.8 seconds for the Aventador LP750-4).
Suitably impressed? You should be because the Nissan GT-R is right up there on the automotive ‘awesome meter’.
And the noise from the four tailpipes as you punch through the gears with the paddle-shifters (you must be on your toes because the GT-R accelerates so fast the 7200rpm redline looms often)... well it’s guttural rather than say the pure sound of Ferrari’s twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8. Like most things in the GT-R, the exhaust is tuned for performance and that’s that - no flim-flam, artificial sound-track or embellishment for this car.
Oh, and a big thanks to Hiroyuki Ichikawa who hand-built the engine in our test car and affixed his signature to it (well if it’s good enough for Mercedes-AMG it’s fair enough for Nissan too - for the GT-R). Nissan also reminds us that the six-speed transmission is assembled in a pressure-sealed, dust-free air-conditioned room.
Even in the Normal modes in every-day traffic you get the sense the Nissan GT-R - while maybe softer and more refined than its predecessor - is straining at the leash and, in canine terms, just about pulling the kennel out of the ground. But get to some twisty roads, dial-up the R mode for the six-speed transmission, Bilstein dampers and the variable vehicle dynamics... well it’s off the leash and sprinting like nothing you’ve experienced before.
The massive Brembo brakes (also race car noisy when working hard) deliver incredible stopping power into corners and - with everything set to R mode - the Nissan GT-R’s ride is hard, very, very hard... just as a 1,765kg coupe with this much performance needs to be.
Get brutal with the steering wheel into a corner and the response is equally as sharp and instantaneous. Floor the throttle mid-corner and you’re soon winding-off steering lock, not to correct a slide but because the GT-R has rocketed through the bend and you need to straighten-up.
Like the Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Huracan or Aventador, driving the Nissan GT-R hard is brute force rather than refined precision... the string back gloves sort of sports car people might be struggling with this sort of technology and sheer pace.
But it is in every day driving around town where you notice the major improvements included in the latest generation - there is less clunking, crunching, graunching and protestation from the driveline in stop-start traffic and slow-speed parking maneuvers.
Speaking of parking, if you want to avoid curbing those beautiful 20-inch Rays alloy wheels, get on close terms with your GT-R’s reversing camera because the sports seats, high waistline and miniscule rear windows make for challenging maneuvering.
ANCAP Rating: The Nissan GT-R has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Six airbags, all-wheel-drive, traction and stability control ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, hill-start assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000kms
Servicing: 6 months/10,000kms. No capped-price servicing. Scheduled service prices range from $400 (regular) to $3,000 (major) and are subject to variances according to vehicle condition (eg track day wear and tear).
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Audi RS 5 Coupe is on the same page. Not as brutal, adjustable or equipped for the track as the Nissan GT-R, the RS 5 packs a 331kW/430Nm punch from its naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 and is of course Quattro all-wheel-drive. At $157,226 the Audi RS5 Coupe looks like a bargain.
And much the same can be said for the brilliant Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe (375kW/700Nm twin-turbo V8). Handily priced at $162,115, in this comparison the ‘Benz is hampered by its rear-drive chassis and, like the Audi, isn’t as ‘pure’ as the GT-R.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
This is the closest you’ll get to driving a race car on the road and, dollar-for-dollar, the Nissan GT-R remains the best high-performance coupe money can buy. We say that because those Porsche 911s with no rear seats, roll-cages and safety harnesses all start with prices north of $300K.
Putting that another way: Yes in some ways the Nissan GT-R is truly punishing but, when you tackle your favourite driving road, the fun-o-meter goes straight to the maximum reading. If Ferrari and Lamborghini owners think that sounds familiar they’re right - those awesome supercars too can be downright painful in day-to-day traffic and don’t even mention the challenges of reverse parking...
For all this speed, technology, roadholding, exotic materials, noise, fury and passion we must genuinely tip our caps to Nissan. Many times during the company’s often difficult past it must have been so tempting to put a line through the GT-R program - but Nissan hasn’t and today, as it did back in the early 1990s, this all-wheel-drive supercar is the idolised pinup of Japanese sports cars.
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