2009 Nissan GT-R Review

Pros & Cons

  • Face-distorting acceleration, world-class handling, exceptionally easy to drive, low MSRP.
  • No manual-transmission option, hefty curb weight, polarizing exterior design.
List Price Estimate
$16,614 - $27,740

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2009 Nissan GT-R delivers true supercar performance in a user-friendly package for less coin than a base Porsche 911. It had us at "Hello."

Vehicle overview

Technically, the 2009 Nissan GT-R isn't a Skyline -- that distinction now belongs to what we know as the Infiniti G series, which is marketed as the Nissan Skyline in Japan. But don't let the official nomenclature fool you. From its familiar twin-turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive layout to its telltale circular taillights, there's no mistaking the new Nissan for anything but a modern-day Skyline GT-R.

The big deal for Americans is that the 2009 GT-R marks the first time this legendary performance car will be officially sold stateside. We also happen to be getting the most ambitious version yet. The great-granddaddy of the new GT-R, the "Godzilla" R32 Skyline GT-R produced from 1989-'93, was designed to equal the performance of the iconic Porsche 959. Nissan's benchmark for the 2009 GT-R? The mighty Porsche 997-series 911 Turbo.

That's a tall order under any circumstances, but Nissan's President and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, sent the degree of difficulty skyrocketing when he agreed to green-light the GT-R project on two conditions: first, the base price had to be about $70,000; and second, the car had to be profitable, i.e., not merely an image-boosting "halo car" that would be sold at a loss. Improbably, the GT-R has succeeded on all counts. Ghosn's conditions have been met, and we can confirm that the 2009 Nissan GT-R is indeed a match for its Bavarian benchmark at the track. Never before has such stratospheric factory performance been available at such a reasonable price; in fact, you'd have to look long and hard to match the GT-R's performance at any price.

How does the GT-R do it? As far as that bargain-basement price tag is concerned, we'd put it down to a mixture of modern mass-production techniques and magic. Performance-wise, the gnarly Nissan has a long list of co-conspirators to thank, among them a 473-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6, a thoroughly revised version of the previous GT-R's ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive system, a trick suspension with adjustable dampers and a dual-clutch transmission that ranks right up there with the best in the business.

Credit also goes to the GT-R's all-new PM ("Premium Midship") chassis, as distinguished from the FM platform that underpins the 350Z and the Infiniti G35. The GT-R's 53/47 weight distribution (50/50 under full acceleration, Nissan says) is due in part to the PM chassis' rear-mounted transmission, unusual in any case for a front-engine design -- only the Corvette and a few other high-end performance cars have one -- but unprecedented for one with all-wheel drive. What's more, to guard against inconsistencies from one GT-R to the next, the car's suspension and body are assembled on a jig, racecar style. The result is an honest-to-goodness supercar -- except for the bottom line.

Demerits are few and mostly insignificant next to the GT-R's colossal capabilities. First off, the car is a bit heavy given its sporting mission, tipping the scales at 3,800-plus pounds -- but in light of the GT-R's physics-defying cornering ability, who cares? Probably the only time owners will really notice the extra weight is at the pump, and folks who buy 473-hp sports cars aren't likely to lose sleep over a few miles per gallon. Likewise, the angular exterior styling isn't for everyone -- but then, when a $70,000 car can get you to 60 mph faster than any Ferrari or Lamborghini currently in production, does it really matter how it looks? At the end of the day, the only unequivocal complaint we can lodge against the GT-R is that it lacks a manual transmission option. As good as the GT-R's exclusive clutchless manual is, you can still shift many competing models the old-fashioned way if you want, and we wish the same were true of the GT-R.

But that's the biggest nit we can find to pick, which is a good indication of just how special the 2009 Nissan GT-R is. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the only other sports car at this price point that offers remotely comparable bang for the buck, and its performance numbers are yesterday's news compared to the GT-R's. Provided that you can live without a stick, have more than $70K to play with and can find one (it's said that only 1,500 are being allotted for the United States market, and those will no doubt command a hefty premium), the GT-R should be at the top of your sports car shopping list. For the time being, it's probably the most thrilling ride for the money that the automotive marketplace has to offer.

2009 Nissan GT-R models

The 2009 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sports car available only in coupe form with a 2+2 seating layout. Two trim levels are offered: base and Premium. The base model comes standard with 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, Brembo brakes, a rear spoiler, an electronically adjustable suspension, leather upholstery, power front seats, aluminum-trimmed pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, keyless entry/start, automatic climate control, a six-speaker sound system, XM Satellite Radio, a multifunction driver-configurable information monitor, an in-dash Compact Flash card reader and a navigation system with a 30-gigabyte hard drive, 9.4 gigabytes of which can be used for audio storage.

The Premium model adds higher-performance tires, an 11-speaker Bose audio system with two subwoofers, heated front seats, front passenger side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Notably, side and side curtain airbags are not available on the base model.

2009 Highlights

The long-awaited 2009 Nissan GT-R debuts, replete with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, all-wheel drive and legendary Skyline heritage.

Performance & mpg

The 2009 Nissan GT-R is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that generates 473 hp and 434 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission routes this prodigious power to the ground via an advanced all-wheel-drive system.

In our instrumented testing, the 3,836-pound GT-R teleported to 60 mph in a drama-free 3.3 seconds, thanks to its launch control function, and turned in a blistering 11.6-second quarter-mile at nearly 121 mph.


Standard safety features on the 2009 Nissan GT-R include massive Brembo brakes with antilock capability, stability control and traction control. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on GT-R Premiums but unavailable on the base model.


Nissan enthusiasts were dismayed when the company revealed that the new GT-R would employ a V6 in place of the iconic inline-6 from previous Skyline GT-Rs. They needn't have worried. This engine makes big power everywhere, and displays none of the coarseness that afflicts other Nissan V6s at higher rpm. Moreover, the 2009 Nissan GT-R is as graceful as it is powerful. When we drove a GT-R at Nissan's test facility in Japan, we were amazed at how easy the car was to drive at the limit. The GT-R also felt incredibly poised both in tight corners and on high-speed straights, an impression supported by the otherworldly 7:29 lap the GT-R has turned in at the Nürburgring's famed Nordschleife loop. Its Teutonic target's best time, by the way, is 7:40.

As capable as the GT-R is at the racetrack, it nonetheless manages to be bearable on the street, even if no one will mistake it for a luxury coupe. The transmission's automatic mode is surprisingly civil, and although the GT-R's ride is never less than stiff, the suspension settings can be fiddled with so pavement imperfections need not be treated like land mines. We still yearn for a stickshift, but we know a good thing when we see it -- and the 2009 Nissan GT-R is unquestionably one of the best performance cars ever.

Read our Nissan GT-R Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test


The 2009 Nissan GT-R's interior is a somber but appropriately driver-centric environment in which to make haste. Snug sport buckets and a high center console envelop the driver and front passenger, and rear passengers won't complain as long as their legs aren't long enough to dangle off the seat cushions -- which is to say, as long as they're under the age of 3. Ingress and egress -- for the front passengers, at least -- is a piece of cake by exotic-car standards.

The GT-R also boasts a trick multifunction performance monitor that features 11 different informational displays. The monitor was developed in consultation with Polyphony Digital, which created the Gran Turismo video game franchise.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Nissan GT-R.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

THE modern era supercar!
Manraj S Dhillon,02/07/2009
Premium 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM)
I researched this car for over a year against BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG, Audi RS4, Corvette Z06 and I was coming from a WRX STi and I kid you not, this car does it all. I had heard that it had a hard ride and was noisy but it is not the case. It handles beautifully and turns immediately when you want it to.The power is indescribable and the sound of the car, in my opinion, is just right (V8s are overrated). The interior is quality crafted and it has all the modern tech you could need or want. Do not buy if you need usable rear seats. It does better MPG than my STi did and the sound system is great. You had also better get used to the attention you will receive because they are so rare. The BEST
Automotive orgasm
Premium 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM)
I have had my GTR for 4 months. There is an unnamed river road that is windy, twisty and has dips. There are even a few straight lines. This road brings out the best in this vehicle. It will stick like glue, easily handling anything I can dish out. Amazing! It is also my daily driver. Taking off slowly in first was initially unsettling, but you get used to it. Excellent sound system.A car like this was a dream for me. I'm really a Porsche guy, but the price of a late model turbo is out of my reach. But the GTR is the finest performance machine I've ever driven. Update 14,000 miles later: I continue to love driving the GTR. I still have the Michelin Pilot Super Sports with 6/32 left. I had to replace the front air dam. That's been my only big expense. It's hit over 120 degrees here in the desert. The GTR doesn't even notice. The A/C is cool, as are all fluids. 36,000 mile check coming up. All fluids have to be changed, so I'm looking at another $1500. Not too bad for an 8 year old exotic car. I will drive it until the wheels fall off! I'd like to do some of the Cobb tuning when funds permit!
Only the transmission
Premium 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM)
Had the car for 5 months now with 11000 km. Transmission started to make severe mechanical noise, couldn't shift from 1st to 2nd. The dealer transplanted a new transmission... I still love the car, enjoy the acceleration and cornering. If not for the transmission, it's a reliable car on every aspect. When you can beat Porsche Turbo at about 1/3 the price, I couldn't complain.
Phenomenal Rocket Ship with Amentities
Premium 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM)
If anyone out there is considering a purchase of a Nissan GTR, do yourself a favor and buy it now. No other car has the performance, suspension, technology and safety out there for the money. I'm not into being followed by others wanting to take pics of the car but this car really has rock star status. I cant ever go to the gas station without someone coming up and wanting to gaze or gawk at the car. I've had it now for about six months &I have no gripes. This thing is just an absolute awesome experience to drive &it performs on the track (both 1/4 mile and autocross) beautifully. Simply put, the best car I've ever owned and I did test drive the M3, M5 AMG SL63 and Z06 before buying.

More about the 2009 Nissan GT-R
More About This Model

You're going to giggle. Or yell "Woo hoo!" or "Holy (preferred expletive)!" There's just no other way to react when you lay into the 2009 Nissan GT-R for the first time. Cars don't behave like this; airplanes do. And it's not just the intense acceleration that's more in line with aeronautics than automobiles. The engine and muted exhaust are so effortlessly smooth you'd swear the lustworthy noises infiltrating the cabin were emanating from a jet rather than six turbocharged cylinders. We always heard the mythical Skyline GT-R from Japan was incredible, but now we know for sure.

And yet, you probably knew that already if you've ever heard the name Skyline or read anything about this automotive legend-in-the-making aptly nicknamed Godzilla. This is a car with a 473-horsepower twin-turbo V6 (485 hp for 2010), all-wheel drive and enough performance to give Porsche 911 drivers nightmares. But the real question is, what's it like to live with Godzilla? Can you drive a GT-R every day, or does its max-attack attitude turn it into nothing more than a weekend plaything?

Rather conveniently, these questions can be answered. We bought a 2009 Nissan GT-R for our long-term vehicle program to see what it's really like to live with on a long-term basis. Turns out, you can live with this Japanese monster. Just be prepared to get knocked around a bit.

Used 2009 Nissan GT-R Overview

The Used 2009 Nissan GT-R is offered in the following submodels: GT-R Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM), and Premium 2dr Coupe AWD (3.8L 6cyl Turbo 6AM). The Used 2009 Nissan GT-R comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Nissan GT-R?

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Nissan GT-R?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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