Review

Nissan GT-R coupe

Price  £79,995 - £91,995

Nissan GT-R coupe

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • One of the fastest mass-production cars ever
  • Great grip and handling
  • Good-sized boot
Cons
  • Not as prestigious as rivals
  • Uncomfortable
  • Very small rear seats

At a glance

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“While it’ll be too hardcore for many drivers, if you can put up with the noisy motorway experience and high bills, the Nissan GT-R is one of the fastest cars in the world.”

It may seem strange to say that car costing around £80,000 offers good value for money, but there are few cars that can match the outright performance of the Nissan GT-R, which can go from 0-62mph in just 2.7 seconds thanks to its 562bhp 3.8-litre turbocharged engine.

A standard Porsche 911, for example, costs roughly the same as a GT-R, but takes 4.6 seconds to do the 0-62mph sprint. Even the super-fast Porsche 911 Turbo is fractionally slower than the Nissan, and that specialist model is around £45,000 more expensive.

You do have to make some compromises for all that speed, though. For some drivers at this end of the market, the allure of the Nissan badge simply isn’t strong enough, for example. Others may blanch at the GT-R's 24mpg fuel-economy figure and £515 road-tax bill – although these figures are actually reasonable, given the car's speed.

If you’re willing to overlook these costs and can put up with a slightly noisy motorway cruising experience, the Nissan GT-R has a lot to recommend it beyond speed alone. The back seats are small, but they’re a welcome addition nonetheless, while the 315-litre boot is by no means vast, but it's larger than most comparable sports cars’. All GT-Rs come with four-wheel drive as standard, making the car seriously rapid when cornering and providing plenty of grip in almost all road conditions.

If you like the sound of this performance and are keen on the GT-R, Nissan is launching a revised model later this year. While it's essentially the same car underneath, the new GT-R boasts improved handling, as well as some significant interior upgrades; these partially address the slightly underwhelming interior, which some feel let the GT-R down when it was launched.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3 / 5

For the performance on offer, the GT-R offers reasonable economy

There are no two ways about it: if you want a car that provides the sort of speed offered by the Nissan GT-R, you have to be prepared for big bills. Road tax is £515 a year and insurance is as expensive as it gets, while servicing, tyres and general maintenance will also be pricey. Fuel economy is heavy compared to most cars, at 24mpg, but reasonable considering the GT-R’s performance. Given the speed on offer, the only thing making the GT-R look expensive to run is the Porsche 911 Turbo, which returns 31mpg and costs £295 a year to tax.

Engines, drive & performance

4.5 / 5

The GT-R is so fast and capable you need a racetrack to explore its full potential

There’s little that can prepare you for the sheer speed the Nissan GT-R offers: using even half the power on offer pins you to your seat and puts a grin on your face. That’s not to say it’s unmanageable on the road, though. In fact, the four-wheel-drive system and some complicated electronics mean the GT-R can go around corners faster than most other sports cars. The only caveat is that it’s so quick you’ll need a serious amount of self-discipline to drive it at a sensible speed.

It is a slightly noisy experience, though. All those sophisticated mechanicals produce a variety of clunks during low-speed driving, while the motorway experience is best described as boomy – although it’s lessened slightly thanks to noise-cancelling technology, which uses the car’s stereo speakers to block out some of the intrusion.

Another slight niggle is an automatic gearbox that – while reasonably smooth – isn’t as slick as the Audi R8’s. We also found the GT-R was slightly prone to following imperfections in the road, requiring a vigilant hand on the steering wheel.

In truth, though, these are minor quibbles. On most roads, most of the time, the GT-R is as thrilling as it’s possible for a car to be. The GT-R offers so much grip and so little body lean when cornering that we can understand why some jokingly asked if Nissan’s engineers rewrote the rules of physics when developing the car. It careers towards the horizon on a surge of power when you want it to, accelerating with unending ferocity.

Interior & comfort

2 / 5

Stiff suspension means the GT-R can be uncomfortable

In case you’re in any doubt, the Nissan GT-R is a hardcore car designed primarily for speed. The stiff suspension allows it to go around corners quickly, but also means potholes and drain covers produce uncomfortable jolts through the seats – even when the softest of the three driving modes is selected.

If you’re after a sports car that can cruise comfortably when you want it to, a Porsche 911 may suit you better. The GT-R is too stiff and noisy to be a relaxing motorway companion, although if you’re willing to put up with those compromises, the supportive and comfortable leather seats mean you’re unlikely to develop backache.

Inside, the recent update means dashboard materials are of a higher quality than they were previously, while Nissan fits a generous amount of equipment, too. All cars come with leather seats, sat nav, cruise control and a host of digital displays, which give you all sorts of information about how you’ve been driving.

Practicality & boot space

3.5 / 5

The GT-R’s rear seats and decent boot make it a surprisingly practical car

The Nissan’s rear seats are small, but few cars with the GT-R’s performance can seat more than two. The 315-litre boot is also impressively big for a supercar; it can accommodate a couple of suitcases or a set of golf clubs. General visibility is decent, although the large turning circle means a three-point turn may become a five-point turn on all but the widest roads.

Reliability & safety

4.5 / 5

Sophisticated electronics and a good reputation mean the GT-R should be safe and reliable

While it sells in too few numbers to have gone through Euro NCAP safety testing, the GT-R has a sophisticated four-wheel-drive setup and electronic stability control system that do their best to prevent you crashing in the first place. The GT-R also has a strong reputation for reliability – although be warned that if you take it on track to exploit it to its full potential, it’ll need more maintenance than if you drive it solely on the road.

Price, value for money & options

3 / 5

Considering the performance on offer, the GT-R is a relative bargain

Yes, £80,000 is a huge amount of money to spend on a car, and yes, you could buy a small house for that price. Nonetheless, in the world of high-performance supercars, the Nissan GT-R is cheaper than anything else with similar performance. You’ll need to spend at least £45,000 to get anything that comes close, and the GT-R is actually faster than some hypercars costing over a million pounds.

In the real world, though, even considering the visceral speed offered by the GT-R, some may feel its interior isn’t special enough for the money. Even with the recent update, the Nissan GT-R can’t match the luxury offered by the Porsche 911 or Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Everything feels built to last, but it’s fair to say greater attention was paid to the GT-R’s mechanical design than its interior. The frustrating sat nav also feels out of place in such an expensive car and for some the GT-R just doesn’t look or feel special enough.

What the others say

4.6 / 5
based on 3 reviews
5 / 5
"At the GT-R's launch in 2007, chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno claimed 'the real car will arrive in three years'. So we’re guessing the heavily modified 2011 version is what Nissan always intended the GT-R to be."
4.5 / 5
"It's brilliantly and unashamedly Japanese in its design – a German or French manufacturer just wouldn’t make a car looking like this. With its bold lines and riot of creases, it fits into the Tokyo atmosphere perfectly, yet it's also aerodynamically tidy."
17 / 20
"A technical tour de force for the GT5 generation. Call it son of Skyline, but all it shares with that great beast is sensational performance and dynamic perfection. Oh boy."
Last updated 
29 Jun 2016
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