No car better embodies Nissan's philosophy of building outstanding performance cars at earthly prices than the GT-R. It is, quite simply, the best performance car for the money. Its power output and handling dynamics rival that of top European sports car models, without the attendant six-figure sticker shock.
Behind the GT-R's potent ability is a technological tour de force, including a dual-clutch automated manual transmission, an advanced all-wheel-drive system, an adaptive sport suspension, and a heaving twin-turbo V6 delivering power in a head-spinning jet rush. That's not to say the GT-R is without flaw. It's large and hefty for a supercar. The transmission bumps and staggers in slow traffic. And it may be awhile yet before a Nissan key fob carries the prestige of the European marques. But as a successor to the legacy of the Skyline GT-R -- a car never officially available in the United States -- the GT-R is truly one of the greatest cars ever produced.
Current Nissan GT-R
The Nissan GT-R is a 2+2-seat high-performance sport coupe offered in one trim level known as Premium. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, an electronically adjustable suspension, leather/faux-suede upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, keyless ignition/entry and an 11-speaker Bose CD/MP3 audio system with two subwoofers, satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio.
The GT-R is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 sending 545 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. The standard transmission is a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox that can shift gears in just 0.2 second after the driver fingers the steering-column paddle shifters. The GT-R bolts from zero to 60 mph in a physics-defying 3.1 seconds -- quicker than just about everything else on the road.
The GT-R's PM ("Premium Midship") chassis is unique within Nissan's lineup. To achieve an optimal weight distribution, the transmission is mounted at the rear -- unusual for a front-engine design and unprecedented for an all-wheel-drive layout.
The multilink suspension has electronically adjustable dampers that can be set to Comfort, Normal/Sport and R-modes. The latter is really only suited to the track, and even Comfort mode hardly coddles. Normal/Sport is ideal for charging along an empty back road, where the GT-R tracks through curves with robotic precision. The steering is as communicative and responsive as we've ever experienced in an all-wheel-drive car. If anything, the GT-R is almost too easy to drive quickly, lacking the sort of drama one expects from a supercar. Still, changes over time have made it a little more involving.
In total, the Nissan GT-R is one high-performance supercar that delivers friendly, everyday drivability and road trip comfort. Credit a reasonably spacious cabin and a features list that includes leather upholstery, keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, an 11-speaker audio system with a 9.4GB hard drive for storing music files, navigation, and an in-depth vehicle system and performance display (the latter co-developed with Polyphony Digital, developers of the Gran Turismo video game series).
Used Nissan GT-R Models
The Nissan GT-R was introduced to the United States for 2009, and each year has seen noteworthy changes.
The inaugural batch of GT-Rs featured a launch control system that overstressed the transaxle, and Nissan generated ill will with buyers when it threatened to void the warranties of cars that used the system. Halfway through the '09 model year and fully for 2010, launch control was reprogrammed to remedy the problem and actually improved acceleration.
First-year GT-Rs had 473 hp and came in two trim levels: base and Premium. Base models lacked a few features such as the Bose audio system, and weren't available with front seat and side curtain airbags. For 2010, Nissan retuned the suspension and increased horsepower slightly to 485, while side curtain airbags were made standard across the board.
For 2011, the suspension was retuned for greater comfort and the base trim level was killed off, while the Premium gained additional standard features like automatic wipers/headlights, an iPod interface and Bluetooth streaming audio. Bigger changes were in store for the 2012 GT-R, which got a healthy power bump up to 530 hp. The GT-R also received its first styling freshening, though this was subtle. That year's limited-release GT-R Black Edition added lightweight black wheels, a unique black and red interior and leather Recaro seats.
Read the most recent 2014 Nissan GT-R review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Nissan GT-R page.