The Nissan GT-R has always been synonymous with strong performance and great value. When the current model was released in 2008, it delivered 480 horsepower (suspected to be underrated), flew to 60 mph in the 3-second range and consistently run 11-second quarter-mile sprints, all for around $70k. Those performance figures were better than some of its rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini, which carried sticker prices that were several times north of the GT-R’s. It could even outperform the ultimate performance bargain, the Corvette Z06, in many categories for around the same price.
Twelve years later, Nissan is gearing up for the R35 GT-R’s 13th production year. However, just like its less capable 370Z sibling, the car has become somewhat outdated. Although still ferociously quick by any measure, it doesn’t carry the same advantage it once did. The cost has inflated to a starting price of $115,335, placing it right alongside many of its competitors. In addition, many of its formidable rivals carry at least the same level of potent performance. Even large super-sedans like the BMW M5 Competition and Mercedes-AMG E63 S are clocking sub-3-second 0-60 times and roasting the quarter-mile in the 10-second range. Also, it is still using the same chassis since its launch over a decade ago, while its contenders are based on relatively new platforms.
Another deficiency is its interior, which doesn’t have the same elegance and high quality elements found in many of its more premium challengers. The supercar segment has certainly become much more competitive and betting on an older winning formula is a risky approach. Nonetheless, the Nissan GT-R still has the incredible acceleration and superb handling that made it great. Its unique styling is also sure to attract buyers that desire something different.
The 2021 Nissan GT-R still uses the magnificent 3.8 liter twin-turbo V6 that delivers 565-horsepower. The mighty engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power is shrewdly put down through its all-wheel drive system that makes the most of what the powerplant produces. With its efficient launch control system, the GT-R is capable of impressive levels of grip and acceleration. Nissan dropped its Track Edition and 50th Anniversary edition models for 2021, so the Premium and NISMO trims are the only options available.
The NISMO variant uses the same 3.8 liter twin-turbo V6, but also comes with quicker-spooling GT3 turbos, Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, Recaro seats, Bilstein DampTronic dampers, several carbon-fiber body panels and an asphalt blistering 600 horsepower. However, at a starting MSRP of $212,535, it is a hard sell. Both the Lamborghini Huracan and Porsche 911 Turbo S offer superior performance in a premium package and at a lower starting point.
In the cabin, you won’t find the upscale materials and sophisticated designs that its German counterparts provide, but it is well laid out and there is plenty of leather and synthetic suede surfaces. Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, RearView Monitor and carbon fiber interior trim. The programmable multi-function display provides helpful performance information such as turbo boost, oil temperature, lateral acceleration, cornering force and brake pedal usage. Eight-way adjustable seats with aggressive bolsters provide sufficient support on track days. Although it is not a selling point, the car does come with modest rear seats that could be used for small passengers or additional cargo space.
The GT-R’s aging chassis may not create the buzz it once did, but for the amount of performance it delivers, it is still a bargain — albeit a more modest one. While we are glad the GT-R is still in production, we are anxiously waiting for its successor and hoping that it delivers the same awe-inspiring performance and excitement that the R35 did when it launched over a decade ago.
2021 Nissan GT-R NISMO
|$212,535 – $218,000 (MSRP)
|3.8 liter twin-turbocharged and
intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6
|600 hp @ 6,800 rpm
|481 lb-ft @ 3,600 – 5,600 rpm
|6-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual mode
|8.8 cu ft
|WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION (F/R)
|54% / 46%
|20-in x 10.0-in Front
20-in x 10.5-in Rear
|0 – 60 MPH
|2.9 sec (est)
|196 mph (est)
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY
|City: 16 mpg
Highway: 22 mpg
Combined: 18 mpg