Full 2013 Nissan GT-R Review
What's New for 2013
For the 2013 GT-R, Nissan has increased the engine's output and tweaked the transmission for smoother operation. Elsewhere, the GT-R gains revised suspension tuning, new gauge illumination and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler for the Black Edition. Finally, a rearview camera is now standard on all models.
The recipe for mouth-watering supercars is typically equal parts high technology, high performance and high price. The 2013 Nissan GT-R manages to provide the first two in abundance without requiring nearly as much of the third as its rivals. While its very brutal, Japanese-style bodywork might not be as voluptuous and beautiful as the Ferrari 458 Italia, this exotic Nissan provides nearly all the thrills at less than half the price.
Nissan continues to make yearly improvements to its iconic GT-R. This year brings an additional 15 horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque, as Nissan tries to keep pace with the latest breed of 500-hp supercars from other companies. Some 545 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque should do the trick. Other improvements for the 2013 GT-R include a retuned suspension for even more impressive road-holding. There are also some refinements to the transmission for smoother, quieter operation, although the shift action remains somewhat clunky in stop-and-go traffic.
These upgrades will likely shave a few tenths of a second from the time it takes a GT-R to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and indeed our driving impressions confirm that the 2013 Nissan GT-R does feel quicker. Of course, average drivers will probably find the addition of a standard rearview camera and a handmade carbon-fiber rear wing (for the Black Edition) more tangible improvements.
Even before all of these enhancements were made, the Nissan GT-R has provided incredibly high levels of performance at a fraction of the cost of traditional exotics. With an intoxicating blend of high technology and brute power, it will likely remain an object of desire for driving enthusiasts everywhere.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sport coupe with a 2+2 seating layout. It is offered in Premium and Black Edition trim levels.
Standard features on the Premium include 20-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, Brembo brakes, a rearview camera, an electronically adjustable suspension, leather/faux-suede upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. Also standard is a multifunction information monitor and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and weather as well as 9.4 gigabytes available for audio storage.
The Black Edition adds lightweight black wheels, a carbon-fiber rear wing, a unique black and red interior and leather Recaro seats. Options are few and include a no-cost Cold Weather package (darker wheels, Dunlop all-season run-flat tires and a unique coolant mixture for faster engine warm-up) and an extra-cost "Super Silver" paint job that has been given three layers of clear coat and then polished by hand.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Nissan GT-R is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine that generates 545 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission routes this power to the ground via an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
By any recorded performance measurement, the GT-R is simply incredible. Rocketing to 60 mph is a scant 3.1-second exercise, with the quarter-mile dispatched in just 11.1 seconds. And despite its rather bulky size, the Nissan posted a 73.7-mph blast through our slalom and a sticky 1.01g on the skid pad. EPA fuel economy estimates are pretty impressive for an exotic sports coupe, with ratings of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.
Standard safety features on the GT-R include antilock brakes, stability control and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing of a previous GT-R, we recorded a best 60-0-mph stopping distance of 98 feet, which ranks among the shortest distances we've ever recorded.
Interior Design and Special Features
The rather austere cabin of the 2013 Nissan GT-R is meant to convey an impression of performance and technology. The front seats have prominent bolsters and faux-suede inserts to hold occupants in place during high-G maneuvers, yet they remain comfortable during long-distance drives. The interior itself is well constructed, with plenty of soft-touch materials, and most controls have a solid, positive feel. Opting for the Black Edition spices up the interior's appearance significantly.
The navigation screen can be used to display a variety of parameters, such as g-force during cornering, steering input, gear position and lap times. If this all sounds a bit like a video game, there's good reason. This interface has been designed by Polyphony Digital, the developers of the popular Gran Turismo series of driving-simulation video games.
Entering and exiting the GT-R takes no gymnastic aptitude, a rare thing among high-performance exotics. The rear seats are much smaller and difficult to access, but they are adequate for child-size passengers. Trunk space is commendable for this type of car, and the deep well of storage can accommodate up to 8.8 cubic feet of cargo.
The 2013 Nissan GT-R achieves an impressive level of performance by utilizing technology rather than brute force. Instead of a large-displacement V8 that makes a burly rumble, there's a twin-turbo V6 that sounds like a jet engine. All four wheels work in concert to maintain a tenacious grip on the asphalt, and the car accelerates to triple-digit velocities with startling immediacy. Braking is likewise as urgent and powerful.
The GT-R really shines on serpentine roads or racetracks, where its handling limits rank with the top supercars. The suspension is unfazed by speed, so the car tracks through curves with robotic precision. The steering is as communicative and responsive as we've ever experienced in an all-wheel-drive car. However, the GT-R's curb weight of 3,800 pounds keeps it from feeling as nimble as a Porsche 911. Road noise and ride harshness can be intrusive at times, but that's a small price to pay for the 2013 Nissan GT-R's otherworldly performance.
The GT-R feels much less polished in the confines of a congested city. Despite this year's transmission refinement, there's still a decent amount of clatter while trundling around at walking speeds and it can still be clunky, especially in stop-and-go traffic. Of course, once the GT-R hits the open road, upshifts are ridiculously quick, while downshifts are accompanied by perfect throttle blips every time whether in automatic or manual mode, and this racing-style performance is what you're after in the first place, isn't it?