2016 Nissan GT-R

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
April 28, 2016

Buying tip

One of the first things you should do when you buy a GT-R is invest in a high-performance driving school. Also set aside some cash for replacement performance tires. A reverence for the Nissan GT-R's otherworldly performance envelope is a necessary and potentially life-saving starting point for enjoying this car.

features & specs

2-Door Coupe Black Edition
2-Door Coupe NISMO
2-Door Coupe Premium
16 city / 22 hwy
16 city / 22 hwy
16 city / 22 hwy

With four seats, sub-three-second 0 to 60 mph times, an advanced all-wheel-drive system, and a reasonable sticker price, the 2016 Nissan GT-R is in a class by itself.

In its base guise, Nissan's GT-R spins out a very healthy 545 horsepower, and a track-oriented NISMO model cranks that up to 600 hp.

The 2016 GT-R ranks as one of the world's top-performing production cars. With a seemingly brutish character that hides a surprising level of capability and accessible performance, it's pretty much a class of one.

New for 2016 is a 45th Anniversary Gold Edition model. It comes with the same "Silica Brass" paint color used on the 2001 Skyline GT-R M-Spec, as well as a gold-toned VIN plate in the engine compartment, and a commemorative plaque on the interior center console. Nissan says fewer than 30 of these cars will make it to the United States.

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In addition to the new model, Nissan has dropped last year's Track Edition, which didn't have a rear seat, and outfitted the base car with 20-spoke RAYS aluminum-alloy forged wheels in a near-black finish.

Objectively, few cars come close to the GT-R's 0-60 mph times of less than three seconds, or its brilliant all-wheel-drive handling. Every model delivers blistering acceleration, hooking up perfectly with awe-inspiring traction from the GT-R's brainy all-wheel-drive system. But this isn't a car just meant to go in a straight line. A rigid body structure, special springs, and custom-developed Bilstein DampTronic dampers in front help balance ride with track-ready handling. The all-wheel-drive system aids handling, too; rear-biased, it can send all the power to the rear wheels, or up to 50 percent of it to the fronts. Nissan also provides several drive modes, including an "R," or Race, mode to tune the driving character to the conditions.

On the road, the GT-R isn't the same raw beast it once was. While Nissan engineers have raised the power on an almost annual basis, they've also dialed in more refinement, improving steering, ride, and interior quality along the way. That makes the current GT-R fairly easy to live with given its supercar capabilities.

Its jagged outline is perhaps the only non-sequitur; it reads more tuner car, more body kit, than instant classic. The components cut interesting swaths across its luxury-coupe outline: a tomahawk cut at the roofline chops into the rear end, and carbon fiber trim gives the plain interior just a dab of intrigue.

The GT-R's looks have indeed always been controversial—part edgy performance car, part exotic, part race-influenced. The 2016 GT-R NISMO adds to the race-influenced theme by using aero components inherited from GT3 racing. Thanks to a new rear spoiler, tapered rear bumper, and various front-end improvements—mostly in carbon fiber—the NISMO has a reduced coefficient of drag and extra downforce for high-speed stability. It rolls on black six-spoke wheels inspired by Nissan's GT500 race car.

With four seats, the Nissan GT-R makes rare concessions to practicality. It's almost impossible to name another supercar with a pair of rear seats, other than the Porsche 911 Turbo—and the GT-R's will actually accommodate a pair of kids. There's great, usable space in the GT-R's front seats, as well as a useful trunk. While engineers have tuned some of the road noise and "mechanical charm" out of the GT-R's cabin in recent years, it's still not optimal for long-distance hauls.

Inside, the 2016 GT-R NISMO gets a number of improvements, including Alcantara trim, carbon-fiber-backed Recaros, and a three-spoke steering wheel with Alcantara inserts. Through a connected services advanced performance telemetry system, drivers can download and see their on-track performance.

Every model in the GT-R lineup comes with a great 3-D navigation system, Bose audio, and Bluetooth. An inexpensive-looking cockpit is the GT-R's most visible flaw, but if you opt for the Premium Interior package, it provides Infiniti-grade luxury in a car with NASA-grade acceleration.

Value is the other rather surprising side of the GT-R's appeal. You'd have to spend a lot more than the Nissan GT-R's $103,365 base price to sling yourself to 60 mph any faster on four wheels.

As it stands, the GT-R commands respect from a cadre of cars straight out of the exotic section—cars like the 911 Turbo, Corvette Z06, and practically the entire AMG and M lineups. Key it to life, and your attention needs to be laser-focused, even though it's one of the most predictable supercars ever. You'll roll up into triple-digits speeds—even in sweeping corners—before you can catch your breath. 

According to the EPA, the GT-R is rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 19 combined. Those figures aren't quite as good as a standard Porsche 911 or Chevrolet Corvette, both of which reach the upper 20s on the highway. But if you can keep your enthusiasm under control, the GT-R's turbo V-6 can be more efficient than V-8 or V-12 engines that make comparable power.


2016 Nissan GT-R


Though brawny and distinctive, the 2016 Nissan GT-R's styling is almost restrained for the exotic car it is.

The Nissan GT-R has an instantly recognizable shape and style, just like Corvettes, Vipers, 911s, and Veyrons.

The GT-R can seem like a combination of automotive ideas, in spirit, function, and form. It's part extreme tuner car, part exotic, and it even has elements of an ordinary coupe. If you view it as the latter, it seems to be clad with boisterous fender flares, deeply scooped air intakes, and a comically large rear wing. And if you step up to the NISMO, you'll fine GT3-inspired aero work, which seems an even more extreme departure from an everyday coupe.

From the front, the GT-R remains more of a luxury coupe wrapped in anime armor. Neither as instantly familiar as the Porsche, nor as lurid as any Italian, the GT-R has its finer points. The roofline chops into the rear end like a tomahawk, and the circular taillights are an easy marker, now even more so that the 'Vette isn't using them anymore. We find it attention-getting, albeit a bit too digital for some tastes.

The GT-R's cabin has improved much over the past few years, although the fundamental layout has carried over. Thanks to all those upgrades, it's now much more in keeping with Infiniti levels of luxury. The dash and instrument panel don't resemble anything else in the current Nissan lineup, and center-stack controls are angled toward the driver, as you perch, rather upright, in heavily bolstered seats. The Black Edition earns kudos for its special black and red interior and Recaro seats.


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2016 Nissan GT-R


The GT-R is capable of relentless grip, sub three-second 0-60 mph runs, and blazingly fast laps times.

The GT-R is one of today's more insane performance bargains, but how does it get there? By letting a pair of turbochargers rampage all over a 3.8-liter V-6 and sending that power through a fast-acting dual-clutch transmission to all four wheels via one of the most advanced all-wheel-drive systems on the market.

With 545 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque on tap, even the base form of the GT-R is so astonishingly fast—0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds—that you can become bleary-eyed before you reach its ragged edges. It's not surprising that we, and others, have found the driving experience to be a little video game-like at times.

The transmission and related bits live in the rear end to give the car even better weight balance than its rear-biased setup would normally provide. The all-wheel-drive system is rear-biased as well, and it can vary the torque split from 100 percent to the rear to 50/50 depending on speed, lateral acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate. The GT-R also has adjustable suspension, transmission, and stability-control settings to relieve its stiff ride and neural responses when you're just tooling around for admiration.

In "R" mode, all those reflexes are sharpened. It's a life-changing experience to wind the GT-R into long sweepers at triple-digit speeds and feel almost complacent as it just hangs on, drama-free, ready for you to throw on its Brembo six-piston front, four-piston rear brakes.

Constant improvement has made the GT-R a brilliant road car and an even better track machine. Early GT-Rs generated a lot of driveline clatter, but the car is now more refined. The shift feel is improved, and the steering is lighter at low speeds and no longer twitchy on center. Front suspension changes have reduced the number of small corrections needed at highway speeds. The only downside? It's now easier to vault this car forward even more nauseatingly quickly.

Of course, there's also the 600-horsepower, $150,000-plus GT-R NISMO—the fastest GT-R ever produced, including special racing-inspired aerodynamic pieces, carbon-fiber lower aero work, a carbon-fiber trunklid, and Recaro seats, plus a specially bonded body for increased rigidity and, of course, a specially tuned suspension. In all, it builds on some of these base-level GT-R changes, but it's a mother lode of items gleaned from GT3 racing, all properly integrated and ready for the road or track.

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2016 Nissan GT-R

Comfort & Quality

Active noise cancellation helps make the GT-R an almost civil long-distance cruiser, and the GT-R's backseat is actually usable.

The 2016 Nissan GT-R is a pure performance machine, but it's more comfortable for street duty than just about any other supercar. Nissan says active noise cancellation, which was added for the 2015 model year along with additional sound insulation, cuts a whopping 10 decibels of engine boom alone.

The cockpit isn't quiet, but drivers hear a faint and very tolerable amount of road noise; some welcome engine howl (this is a supercar, after all); and a symphony of mechanical noises, including gearbox lash, the occasional graunching of the dual-clutch gearbox, and the whine of the differential.

The GT-R's performance bucket seats are supportive and wide enough to be comfortable for Americans. Leather upholstery is standard, as are power adjustments. Perhaps best of all, they're much easier to get into and out of than the seats of most other 200-mph supercars.

Those who need to carry around more than one passenger will be pleasantly surprised by the rear seat. It will accommodate two kids just fine, but the sloping roofline limits adult space in back even more than the lack of leg room. You'd have to move into softer touring cars like the Maserati GranTurismo to find better four-seat space. Also, keep in mind that you can choose to delete the rear seats if track driving is the car's main purpose.

Trunk space in the GT-R is also a pleasant surprise; it will swallow a suit bag and a roll-aboard. The rest of the interior is functional. It's a step above stark but not all that plush, and is highlighted by some soft-touch surfaces and contrast-stitching. Thankfully, Nissan hasn't opted to deny owners the convenience of cupholders.

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2016 Nissan GT-R


The low-volume GT-R hasn't been crash-tested and probably never will be.

As a performance car, the 2016 Nissan GT-R isn't overly unencumbered by modern active-safety systems. The nannies common to luxury cars in this price range aren't found here, but Nissan still has all the safety basics covered.

Airbags and stability control are mandatory, and the GT-R also has all-wheel drive and several modes for the stability control system that increase safety during conservative street driving or allow more of a margin for full-on track action. You can disable the traction aids, but that would be foolish during street driving. You can have plenty of fun within the limits of these systems and even posted speed limits, but there's a fine line between control and chaos when you reach this car's boundaries, even for experienced performance drivers.

One modern concession to the GT-R's keep-it-simple safety equipment approach is a standard rearview camera; it's essential, as those thick rear pillars can get in the way for lane changes or parking.

The GT-R is a rare supercar, and it hasn't been crash tested by either the federal government nor the IIHS. Don't expect those agencies to conduct testing any time soon.


2016 Nissan GT-R


The GT-R offers amenities like a navigation system, smartphone connectivity, and high-end audio.

The 2016 Nissan GT-R lineup includes Premium, Black Edition, a new 45th Anniversary Gold Edition, and race-oriented NISMO models.

The GT-R isn't the bargain it used to be. The price has shot up by more than $30,000 over the years and now surpasses six figures. However, Nissan has also added equipment, improved interior quality, and constantly improved power and performance to justify the price hikes. The standard GT-R Premium is well-equipped at $103,365, and the $113,105 Black Edition gets a sharper look and more performance goodies.

Standard features on all versions include a leather interior; heated front seats; power windows, locks and mirrors; a navigation system with real-time traffic and 3D mapping; Bose audio with Bluetooth streaming audio; and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 summer performance run-flat tires, 255/40R20s up front and 285/35R20s out back.

The Black Edition wears lightweight 20-inch six-spoke RAYS wheels with a black finish; a carbon-fiber spoiler; red-and-black Recaro seats, and red-and-black interior trim.

The NISMO gets Alcantara inserts and a red center mark on the steering wheel; special suspension tuning with reduced weight and additional roll stiffness; and an aero kit with a carbon-fiber trunk and rear spoiler, carbon-fiber front and rear bumpers, and a carbon-fiber front undercover.

The GT-R's video game-style performance gauges are pretty much a feature in themselves. Tap the screen, and the GT-R reveals a set of digital gauges that let drivers record how they're performing, whether it's grip, acceleration, or elapsed times. It's customizable, too, and Nissan even hired designers who worked on Sony's "Gran Turismo" game to help render the interface.

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2016 Nissan GT-R

Fuel Economy

The GT-R is one of very few cars that can deliver 500-plus horsepower and 22 highway mpg.

While it's certainly not fuel efficient, the 2016 Nissan GT-R isn't as thirsty as the typical supercar.

According to the EPA, the GT-R is rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 19 combined. Those figures aren't quite as good as a standard Porsche 911 or Chevrolet Corvette, both of which reach the upper 20s on the highway. But if you can keep your enthusiasm under control, the GT-R's turbo V-6 can be more efficient than V-8 or V-12 engines that make comparable power.

Fuel economy isn't the point of this car, but we kept track of our mileage during a recent test. In a 250-mile stint with a 2015 GT-R Premium, we saw nearly 17 mpg over a combination of spirited driving on back roads plus uneven, congested freeway travel.

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June 22, 2016
For 2016 Nissan GT-R


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It is a great and awesome car with a lot of cool features from the inside to outside. Very good balance of quality-price and so on. It's a car designed to crush cars that could be more expensive and are... + More »
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