Nissan GT-R coupe review (2009-2022)
“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”
- One of the fastest mass-production cars ever
- Great grip and handling
- Good-sized boot
- Not as prestigious as rivals
- Very small rear seats
Nissan is better known for affordable, reliable hatchbacks and its successful range of crossovers and SUVs than extreme, high-performance cars, but every now and then it breaks the mould. The GT-R is an absolutely ferocious car and one that’s capable of putting supercars with much more exotic badges on their bonnets to shame.
The GT-R gets its power from a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which produces a gargantuan 562bhp. It also has a launch-control feature, which sets the car up for the best possible acceleration off the mark; engage it, and the GT-R is capable of hitting 62mph from rest in an incredible 2.8 seconds. The figures alone have made it the stuff of legend and it has a huge, enthusiastic following.
It can trace its roots back to very humble beginnings, as its predecessor, the Nissan Skyline, started life as a fairly conventional saloon car in the fifties, but the Skyline GT-R, with its twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive, arrived in the late eighties and soon earned a reputation for extreme performance and grip, developing a cult fan base. Nissan dropped the Skyline name when the current GT-R was introduced in 2007, but it retains the same ethos of supercar-slaying performance and hi-tech components. Unlike the Porsche 911 Turbo, which has been replaced several times, the GT-R has been constantly updated over the years, in accordance with the Japanese tradition of 'kaizen' or ‘constant improvement’.
Unlike the old Skylines, the GT-R is not based on a more sedate Nissan. It’s a model in its own right and bears no relation to any other car in the range. The standard version is extreme enough, but Nissan has developed an even more powerful variant in the form of the GT-R Nismo, which has 592bhp. The manufacturer hasn’t officially released a 0-62mph time for this model, but it’s said to take around 2.5 seconds.
When you buy a GT-R, most of your money is going on performance hardware, not luxury or prestige. You aren't buying a car that you could ever describe as beautiful either. It’s not made up of artfully considered, flowing lines, but you can be assured that almost every aspect of its appearance was designed with functionality in mind. As a result, it's far faster than most sports cars costing the same amount.
Of course, power of this magnitude comes at a cost beyond the purchase price – the Nissan GT-R is unlikely to ever return much more than 20mpg in fuel economy and its 316g/km CO2 figure means it produces the emissions of three Nissan Micras. Insurance is likely to cost the kind of money that Ferrari owners are used to paying, too. One aspect will reassure you, though – the GT-R should offer the same reliability as any other Nissan.
It has other welcome Nissan traits, too. Despite its intimidating on-paper potential, the GT-R is a car that anyone can jump in and drive smoothly. It has a flexible engine and automatic gearbox that doesn’t get upset in urban conditions like some supercars do.
It’s also relatively practical. Granted, the rear seats are very cramped, but at least they’re there, and they also make a welcome addition to the car’s luggage space, which itself is generous compared to most rivals. Equipment is generous: all GT-Rs are equipped with sat nav, climate control and all the technology a driving enthusiast could possibly want.
The GT-R has been around for a while now, but has been constantly developed throughout its time on sale to keep it on par with the world’s most capable sports cars, and the latest Nismo version is likely to be its swansong. With no replacement on the horizon, it will be a sad day when it’s finally retired from showrooms.