New & Used Nissan GT-R: In Depth
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Though its price has climbed steadily since it was introduced in the U.S., the Nissan GT-R continues to represent a relative value in the super-performance car world. Using its twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive powertrain and advanced electronics, the GT-R delivers performance on par with supercars costing three times its price or more. Its design, though familiar after more than seven years on the market, remains a head-turner. The GT-R competes with the more powerful versions of the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, and Audi R8, among many others.
For the 2015 model year, Nissan added a higher-performance NISMO model and improved the comfort and refinement of all GT-Rs. For more details, see our full review of the 2015 Nissan GT-R; driving impressions can be had in this 2015 Nissan GT-R Quick Drive.
The GT-R draws on a heritage of performance from a long line of Japanese-market Nissan Skyline sport coupes, not all of which were top-shelf sports cars. Today, just a quick look at the GT-R's spec sheet is enough to see that it qualifies as a supercar. It has a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6, now making up to 600 horsepower (up from 473 hp at its introduction), and it follows a unique layout for an AWD machine, with the engine in front and transmission in back. All-wheel drive does its best to put all that power to the road.
The GT-R's shape is nowhere near as exotic as those of most of its competitors; Nissan's all-wheel-drive coupe can appear downright blocky and chunky from afar. Once you approach, however, you start to see the details, like its cantilevered roofline, big rear wing, and iconic circular taillights. Inside the GT-R, there's a very driver-focused feel, something different from all other Nissan products, with a center screen designed and programmed with help from video game makers.
Whether or not you're a fan of the look, the GT-R delivers with dizzying acceleration, including 0–60 times of under 3 seconds and a top speed upwards of 193 mph. Shifting is handled by a dual-clutch, automated manual gearbox. In normal driving, it's hard to scratch the surface of the GT-R's performance potential, but once on a tight road or a race track the combination of the immense power and sophisticated all-wheel-drive components brings a video-game-like experience to go along with the central display—the car manages things that seem impossible, creating a surreal feeling of detachment for the driver. That said, handling is excellent and the variable power-split all-wheel-drive system not only makes the car fast but also safe and easy to operate, even for someone more accustomed to the static seat of Gran Turismo than traveling at high speed down a real-life front straight.
Like nearly every year since the current model was introduced, 2010 brought a few upgrades to the GT-R lineup. A brake upgrade consisted of more rigid lines, and there was an update to the stability-control programming. A Cold Weather Package, an iPod interface, and forged RAYS wheels with a smoked finish were added as well. There were two trim levels for 2012, base and Premium, with the more expensive one including upgraded Bose audio and heated seats.
Nissan discontinued the Launch Control feature early on due to excessive warranty claims. Since launch control had helped yield the GT-R's excellent acceleration times—with some testers saying the GT-R is a second or more slower to 60 mph without it—Nissan restored it in a limited way for the 2012 model year, while it also boosted total output to 530 hp. Those changes brought the supercar's 60-mph runs down to about 3.0 seconds, according to buff-book numbers. Other changes for the 2012 model year included a special "black" edition and revised interior trim.
Nissan brought a more extensive round of improvements for 2014. In addition to some structural reinforcements, the new GT-R got revised suspension mounts that lowered its center of mass. A special Track Edition was also offered. Peak output for the engine remained at 545 hp and 463 lb-ft, although mid-range response was improved with high-output fuel injectors and revised turbochargers. Pricing rose to a base of $99,590.
The 2015 Nissan GT-R brought the Nismo edition to reality, turning the wick up to 600 hp and 480 lb-ft, and setting a new GT-R Nürburgring lap record along the way. A Premium model offers slightly tamer performance with more focus on refinement and luxury, with the base price rising to $101,770, and there is also a GT-R Black Edition. The standard models get some updates, including new LED headlights, a Bose noise-canceling system to reduce engine booming, additional sound insulation, retuned shocks and chassis elements, and a Premium Interior package for the Premium model. Nissan also plans a 45th Anniversary edition 2015 GT-R, 45 of which will be sold, and in Japan only.
For 2016, the GT-R Premium model gets new 20-inch RAYS wheels. Nissan will also offer a limited run of 45th-anniversary GT-Rs in the U.S.; the model was previously announced for Japan only. Fewer than 30 of the 45th Anniversary Gold Edition cars will be imported, at a price of $102,770, and will include special gold paint, a gold-tone VIN plate in the engine compartment, and a special commemorative plaque on the center console.
Nissan has also borrowed the GT-R name for its new Le Mans racer, the GT-R LM Nismo. This unconventional machine is front-wheel drive with monstrous tires in front and also benefits from a hybrid flywheel that can send power to both the front and rear axles. Its engine is a relative of the street GT-R's 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6.