2021 Nissan GT-R

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
October 2, 2020

Buying tip

The GT-R Nismo model is priced like a supercar, but the performance gap between it and the base model doesn’t match the upcharge.

features & specs

NISMO Special Edition AWD
Premium AWD
16 city / 22 hwy
16 city / 22 hwy
16 city / 22 hwy

The 2021 Nissan GT-R is still a performance monster, but it’s no longer the value that it was when it debuted more than a decade ago.

What kind of car is the 2021 Nissan GT-R? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sports car that competes with the likes of the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Audi R8, and Acura NSX. It debuted in the U.S. in 2009 and has been updated several times since (with numerous price hikes along the way), but it’s never been completely redesigned. 

Is the 2021 Nissan GT-R a good car?

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The GT-R excels at its mission of violent acceleration and track-ready handling, but those price hikes have eroded the value it carried initially when it was priced as low as $77,000. However, the updates have made it more livable to go with its exemplary performance. We rate it a 6.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Nissan GT-R?

The 2021 Nissan GT-R changes little. It adds only a new color, Bayside Blue, and it loses the mid-grade Track Edition model and the 50th Anniversary Edition, leaving only Premium and Nismo trim levels. 

It’s been on the market for a dozen years now, but the GT-R still looks modern. It can be priced like a supercar, but it’s not as overt as a Lamborghini. It sits low and wide and presents a Japanese take on the performance coupe. Yes, it looks mean, but not nearly as mean as it performs when you jam the throttle to the floor or throw it into a corner on a racetrack. 

The GT-R is designed to put a lot of power to the pavement. It has a front engine and a rear 6-speed automatic transaxle, and comes standard with all-wheel drive that can send 50% of the power to the front axle. That power comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 565 horsepower in base form and 600 hp in the Nismo model. Both versions rocket the GT-R from 0-60 mph in a mend-bending 2.7 seconds. 

The GT-R’s design also helps it turn corners at high speeds. The transaxle contributes to a balanced front/rear weight ratio and the all-wheel-drive system helps pull it out of corners. The tires have lots of grip and the brakes come in two flavors: strong and stronger. 

Unlike early versions of the GT-R, the current model works as a daily driver thanks to supportive seats, a relatively roomy cabin, soft-touch interior materials, up-to-date infotainment, active noise cancellation, and a reasonable ride quality.

When it comes to safety, the GT-R gives away its age. It has none of the active safety features that have become ubiquitous throughout the auto industry, and it’s never been crash tested.

How much does the 2021 Nissan GT-R cost?

The 2021 Nissan GT-R starts at $113,540 for the base Premium model and the Nismo model costs almost twice as much.

Where is the Nissan GT-R made?

Kaminokawa, Japan.


2021 Nissan GT-R


Large, wide, and sinister, the Nissan GT-R manages to look contemporary even after 12 years on the market.

Is the Nissan GT-R a good-looking car?

The Nissan GT-R is now 12 years old in the U.S. but it still looks contemporary. It’s low and wide, and comes off as sinister but not overwrought. We rate it an 8 for its iconic look.

The GT-R has aged well because its design doesn’t scream performance with a lot of scoops and wings. It’s more modest, and comes off as a Japanese version of a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Corvette, though with an even sleeker design. However, the GT-R is a big car in size and weight, so it won’t ever be mistaken for a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

The notable design elements start with a central maw up front flanked by headlights that flow vertically into the hood. The widely flared fenders are highlighted by squared off air extractors behind the front wheels. The roofline slopes down toward the rear, and the squared off tail sports four iconic round taillights. The Nismo model is closer to exotic due to the copious use of carbon fiber exterior panels and trim.

The interior isn’t exotic either, but rather sporty and ergonomic. Interior quality has ramped up in recent years, but it’s still not much better than you’d get in a Nissan Maxima. Nissan provides an appropriate number of buttons and switches, a standard center touchscreen, and thickly bolstered seats. About the most exotic element is the array of digital gauges that can be displayed on the center screen.

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2021 Nissan GT-R


The 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers track-ready performance with reasonable street comfort.

Raucous power, track-ready handling, strong brakes, and agile moves earn the 2021 Nissan GT-R a perfect 10 for performance. It’s not bad on the street, either.

Is the Nissan GT-R AWD?

The Nissan GT-R has standard all-wheel drive, and it’s one of the most unique systems on the market. Since the car has a front engine and a rear transaxle, the power flows from the engine to the transmission in the rear and then up to 50 percent of the power can go all the way back up front to add all-wheel drive. The system can also send all the power to the rear axle.

How fast is the Nissan GT-R? 

The GT-R twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 spins out 565 hp and 467 pound-feet of torque, while the version in the Nismo model ups the ante to 600 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 teams with the AWD system and 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to launch the GT-R from 0-60 mph in an astounding 2.7 seconds for both the base model and the Nismo. The top speed is 186 mph.

Unless you use the launch control function, the V-6’s power pauses due to turbo lag before coming on strong. Then it just pins you back in your seat as you hang on for the wild ride. The Nismo uses turbos from the GT-R GT-3 race car that provide 20% better engine response. That doesn’t make the Nismo faster, it just makes the throttle response sharper.

The GT-R’s pure performance credo extends to handling and track performance. It boasts quick steering, prodigious grip, and agile moves. The Nismo is priced like a supercar and is certainly track-ready, but it’s not supercar lithe, so it can’t keep up in a slalom or through ess curves. Braking is strong even with the base model’s Brembos; the Nismo’s carbon-ceramic brakes provide even more stopping power and can last longer on a track. A series of drive modes allows Godzilla to be reasonably comfortable on the street without punishing occupants.

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2021 Nissan GT-R

Comfort & Quality

It may be old, but the Nissan GT-R has modern amenities to go with decent space for a sports car.

In recent years, the Nissan GT-R has caught up to both the market and its price point in terms of interior materials and modern amenities. Its back seat is small but we appreciate it in a performance car. Still, the GT-R isn’t luxurious and the new Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche 911 have better cabins. The GT-Rs strength—comfortable and supportive front seats—is offset by its cramped rear seat, and we rate it a 5 out of 10 for comfort and quality.

The GT-R started as raw and basic, but it has added higher quality materials and modern amenities in recent years. Its infotainment system is in line with the times, its leather and trim are more worthy of the price point, and its front seats are comfortable and thickly bolstered. Active noise cancellation and adaptive dampers also make the base GT-R comfortable enough to drive daily, but the Nismo model is more high strung and rides harder. 

The GT-R is a 2+2 with a small rear seat that will fit a couple kids in comfort but not a pair of average adults. We appreciate it, frankly, since rivals such as the Audi R8 and Corvette have no rear seat at all. 

While the trunk is small, it’s larger than some of the cargo areas of rival sports cars. It’s only 8.8 cubic feet, but that’s more than you get in a 911’s frunk. The Corvette has both a frunk and a rear cargo area behind the engine that add up to more space.

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2021 Nissan GT-R


The 2021 Nissan GT-R lacks active safety features and crash-test results.

How safe is the Nissan GT-R?

Developed when George W. Bush was in office, the GT-R is old school. It completely lacks active safety features that have become requisite on all but high-performance sports cars. It’s a good thing for Nissan that the GT-R hasn’t been crash tested because that lack of safety equipment would hurt it, though its stiff structure could help. Without those crash tests, we can’t give it a safety rating. 

The only safety features on the GT-R are those required by law. Items like airbags, stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes are so common now that we don’t even mention them. They’re also the only features that will save you when you lose control of a car that begs to be driven fast. The only other safety item you get with the GT-R is front and rear parking sensors.

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2021 Nissan GT-R


The 2021 Nissan GT-R commands high prices, but its base model is still a performance value.

The Nissan GT-R has increased in price by almost $40,000 since it was released in 2009 without a new platform, though it has certainly become more refined. With a six-figure starting price, the 2021 GT-R comes with lots of standard equipment, as it should, but it’s no longer a bargain. Instead, it delivers what it should: amazing performance for a hefty price. We rate it a 5 out of 10 for features.

The 2021 Nissan GT-R lineup is down to just two models, Premium and Nismo.

Which Nissan GT-R should I buy?

While Nissan charges a lot for the base Premium model, the company charges almost $100,000 more for the Nismo, which is the ultimate performance model. That makes the Premium the clear choice. The Premium comes standard with leather and synthetic suede front seats with 8-way driver and 4-way passenger power adjustments, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, a pair of USB ports, satellite radio, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, front and rear parking sensors, a titanium exhaust, adjustable dampers, Brembo brake calipers, LED headlights and taillights, a rear spoiler, and 20-inch summer performance run-flat tires on forged aluminum wheels.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Nissan GT-R?

The Nissan GT-R has an eye-watering supercar price of $212,535. It features the 600-hp version of the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6, but gets much more. The roof, front and rear bumpers, hood, front fenders, rear spoiler, and trunk lid are all carbon fiber to reduce weight and improve performance. It also gets carbon-ceramic brakes, additional body bonding, Recaro front bucket seats, and additional performance gauges in its digital multi-function display.

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2021 Nissan GT-R

Fuel Economy

The Nissan GT-R drinks fuel but not as much as it could given its power and weight.

Is the Nissan GT-R good on gas?

No car with more than 500 horsepower is fuel efficient, but by opting for a twin-turbo V-6 instead of a V-8, the 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers respectable efficiency for its ungodly power. Still, we rate it fairly low at a 3 out of 10 for fuel economy. 

Both versions of the GT-R are rated the same by the EPA at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined. The GT-R requires premium fuel.

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