With the GT-R, Nissan tore up the supercar rulebook. Using a geeky, scientific approach to design and manufacture, it produced a car that put the frighteners on the performance car establishment with its ferocious acceleration, advanced four-wheel-drive system and high levels of technology. The Japanese manufacturer’s philosophy of continual improvement has seen the GT-R fettled and honed, with each year bringing a slightly new and updated model. With the 2014 edition due to hit showrooms imminently, Motors.co.uk headed to the Alps to test it out.
What is it?
Arguably the most outrageous car that Japan currently produces. The GT-R is a large (enormous actually) two-door coupe, with a 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine firing 542bhp at all four wheels through a slick and responsive twin-clutch gearbox. Electronic trickery means that power is delivered cleanly to the tarmac, resulting in a scarcely believable 0-62mph time of 2.7 seconds and a top speed just shy of 200mph.
With such power on tap, 2014’s updates have focussed on making the car more civilised, with revisions to the suspension aimed at softening the car’s notoriously brutal ride quality. It’s in no way gone soft, as we were soon to find out, and remains a hard-edged thrill machine at its core. The new model also sees some minor changes to the exterior styling for only the second time since its launch in 2007, including ‘Z’ shaped daytime running lights built into the headlamp clusters and flashes of chrome on the flanks.
What’s it like to drive?
Make no mistake, the GT-R is an uncompromising performance car. Fire it up and the deep blare from the artillery-piece exhaust pipes leaves you in no doubt as to its intent. Moving off, the gearbox chunters and whines and the flex-free chassis feels like a clenched fist, unyielding as it moves over imperfections in the surface. At normal road speeds, the car disguises its performance potential well, remaining relatively quiet and easy to drive. The slick automatic gearbox and relatively good levels of visibility make it a doddle in traffic, too, with the revised suspension taking enough of the sting out of potholes to make life bearable.
Explore the deeper reaches of the GT-R’s throttle pedal and it soon takes on a much different persona. Emitting a deep and purposeful – if not especially tuneful – noise, it erupts forward with a ferocity you’d not think possible, particularly if you’re used to Nissan’s more conventional offerings. It’s full-on supercar quick, though where a Ferrari would be bucking and writhing on the roads of our Alpine test ground, the GT-R remains resolutely planted; its vast brain and clever differentials maximising available grip from its bespoke (and therefore rather expensive) tyres, and allowing for obscene cross-country pace.
What’s it like inside?
The cabin follows the same function over form principle of the exterior. The driving position is excellent and everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be. It’s all fashioned from high quality leather and plastics too, but doesn’t offer the same sense of occasion or tactile delight as the more avant-garde offerings from Aston Martin and Maserati. New for 2014 is a range of full leather interior trim options in red or ivory. They’re Nissan’s way of improving the GT-R’s luxury tourer credentials, but arguably the standard two-tone leather and Alcantara sports trim is more in keeping with the car’s persona.
Is it practical?
For such a large car, the GT-R’s cabin is surprisingly snug. The rear seats are only usable for baby seats or luggage – anything with legs simply will not fit. The boot isn’t exactly what you’d call commodious either, but it will take enough luggage for two on a weekend away. However, compared to most cars of comparable performance – which are invariably mid-engined and equipped with two seats – the GT-R is usefully more practical, with only the Porsche 911 Turbo managing to best its combination of space and pace.
Should I buy one?
The GT-R’s road crushing, Terminator approach to driving will hold appeal with many drivers. It is a technical tour-de-force that will leave you in awe of its ability. Some, though, will likely get bored with the sheer lack of opportunity to use the car to its full potential on UK roads and its lack of playfulness at normal speeds. But, with its potential to embarrass supercars with price tags twice as expensive, and the ability to be used as a daily driver (provided you like spending time at petrol stations), the Nissan GT-R is an undeniably compelling package in the premium sports car sector.
You can search for a used Nissan GT-R here
Nissan GT-R Model Year 2014
List price: £77,995
Engine: 3.8-litre, six-cylinder, twin-turbocharged
Max speed: 196mp
0-60mph: 2.7 seconds
Fuel economy: 23.9mpg (combined)
Emissions: 275g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested