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Car Review

Nissan GT-R review

£81,805 - £172,805
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Published: 15 Jan 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The myth: GT-Rs are easy to drive fast and an uninvolving, underwhelming take on the supercar. The reality: quick coupes get little rawer and more nuanced in their behaviour than Nissan’s big brute. Even if you don’t fall in love with the way it drives, you’ll be an absolutely essential component in getting it from one end of a road to the other.

While its engineers have worked on building a bit of comfort into the experience, this is still a car with quite committed ride quality. The edges soften off if you click the dampers into Comfort, but not so much that you won’t be intimate enough with the road and to quite accurately date when it was last surfaced.

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Even though the GT-R grabs you by the scruff of the neck and demands you to get stuck in, it doesn’t leave you in the lurch. Think of it as a sparring partner. It’s on your side, but willing to jab you in the ribs to keep you alert.

That's best evidenced by the AWD system, which tends to favour the rear axle and feels a far cry from more 50/50-leaning systems elsewhere. Called ATTESA ET-S (which stands for Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrain with Electronic Torque Split), power is shuffled around as the car’s vast brain best sees fit. It takes in information from the six-speed DCT gearbox and that twin-turbo V6 while analysing slip, yaw and what you had for breakfast (among other things) ten times per second to work out how much of the 562bhp to shove to which corner and when.

However much it sounds like the car does all the thinking, your hands and fleet still play a very key role. The GT-R will more than happily oversteer out of a bend if you’re in a low gear (and in the thick of the powerband) and while you barely have to correct the steering – the AWD clawing you out of the turn rather mightily – it’s still a surprisingly analogue experience.

The reasons for this are numerous. Chief among them are the GT-R’s quite astounding steering – it’s so quick and intuitive for something so bulky – and its clunking diffs at low speed and industrial noise blaring out of the blue-tipped titanium exhaust pipes when you’re going a little quicker. Keep the ESC fully on, and power will be clumsily snatched away from you if you’re ham-fisted. Loosen it and you’d better be awake.

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And its performance? The GT-R probably catalysed the whole ‘too fast for the road’ performance car onslaught, giving Porsche a kick up the bum we didn’t know it needed all those years ago. But the fact its updates and improvements since have all been incremental mean it now sits at the other end of the spectrum, one of the few cars with 500bhp-plus that actually feels fast and dramatic at quite pedestrian speeds.

There’s a heap of lag, but it only serves to ramp up the drama when those turbos do light up at around 3,500rpm. While its six-speed paddleshifted transmission feels a bit hesitant now rivals have moved the game on, the ratios are also delightfully short and perfect for keeping the turbos on boost. Just prepare to be frustrated on the motorway, when you’re desperately clutching for a phantom seventh gear to quieten things down a bit. It’s as comfy as GT-Rs have ever been, but it’s still a bit of a toughie.

If you’re unduly worried about the car’s 2016 update softening things off too much, then a £16,000 upgrade will get you the Track Edition, with forged wheels and Nismo-tuned Bilstein suspension, while topping the range at a whisker over £180,000 (!) is the full-bore GT-R Nismo. It’s over twice as much as a base, £86k GT-R Pure, but it uses genuine GT3 racecar components and we reckon it can genuinely live with some of the supercars its price is knocking on the door of.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Nissan GT-R 3.8 V6 570 50th Anniversary 2dr Auto
  • 0-62
  • CO2316.0g/km
  • BHP570
  • MPG
  • Price£90,805

the cheapest

Nissan GT-R 3.8 Pure 2dr Auto
  • 0-62
  • CO2316.0g/km
  • BHP570
  • MPG23.9
  • Price£81,805

the greenest

Nissan GT-R 3.8 Recaro 2dr Auto
  • 0-62
  • CO2316.0g/km
  • BHP570
  • MPG23.9
  • Price£84,805

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