Nissan GT-R (2016) review

Published:28 May 2016

2016 Nissan GT-R
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and now running sister title Motor Cycle News's website

By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and now running sister title Motor Cycle News's website

► We test the updated Nissan GT-R
► Twin-turbo V6; 0-60 in ~2.7sec
► On sale in September for £80k

The Nissan GT-R, first launched in 2007 but harking back to Playstation favourites the Skyline R32, R33 and R34, has been given yet another update. We blasted from Dusseldorf to Spa-Francorchamps to see just what the changes mean for one of the top performance-per-pound cars on sale right now.

This time the revisions are aimed primarily at making the gargantuan coupe not just quicker, but better to live with day-to-day. With that in mind, a more compliant suspension set-up has been installed, making longer journeys more pleasant, while the interior has been updated.

Wait: the GT-R’s not slower, is it?

Erm, no. Take a look at the new grille. That’s no styling exercise. It offers improved airflow, helping cool the slightly more powerful engine – upgrades to which include a tweaked cylinder-specific ignition system and a touch more boost. More importantly, though, the spread of torque has been increased so that 3.8-litre V6 is more flexible than ever. You can sense this on the road, though it did make us wish on occasion that the gearbox had another ratio for more relaxed high-speed cruising.

An optional titanium exhaust ensures the V6 sounds the part, too. There’s even a switch to alter the engine note’s volume (a blend of real and synthesised) placed awkwardly under the steering wheel above the throttle pedal, but it doesn’t seem to do a huge amount whatsoever.

Still, the GT-R’s performance is no less than incredible. On the Autobahn the GT-R accelerates at a ferocious rate and carries on going right up to the claimed top speed with little hassle. It feels planted even at silly speeds, and the engine doesn’t even feel that strained.

The six-speed dual-clutch gearbox has been tweaked for better drivability at low speeds, and Nissan has focused on smoothing out the transition between first and second. It’s had a marked effect, making the GT-R more pleasant around town and at lower speeds, but the car’s size coupled with a noisy and agricultural driveline – which shunts along and feels very old-fashioned – means it still isn’t as smooth as it could be.

But who wants to drive it slowly, anyway?

Not us, so onto Belgium’s famous F1 circuit to see if the softer suspension has an adverse effect on handling. Swinging into the first corner of our track drive – a tricky little number you may have heard of called Eau Rouge – it’s clear there’s a lot more body roll than we’re used to in the GT-R.

It’s well controlled and easily judged, however, which means you can work with it to help the car turn in at the right point, carving a fine line through sweeping bends. Admittedly it won’t be as quick as firmer set-up, but don’t forget this is a road car first. There’s a new NISMO on the way for track addicts.

Doesn’t the GT-R drive itself, though?

It’s a clever bit of kit, but actually despite its obvious heft the R35 has real talent as a driver’s car. You can go full hooligan if you like, switching the electronic safety nets off and hanging the tail out in big, controlled slides. Those massive sticky tyres won’t last long, but it’s a whole heap of fun.

Dialled back a fraction the grip and traction on offer is still astonishing, and so are the brakes. The front floating discs measure a hilarious 15.35 inches in diameter, which is larger than the aftermarket alloys I put on my first car. The pedal has a long travel, which can be disconcerting at first if you’re used to other performance cars, but fade simply doesn’t occur and we reckon that’s quite impressive considering they’re conventional cast iron discs – and have to gather up close to two tonnes once a couple of occupants are taken into account.

If we’re being completely honest the steering still doesn’t sing in the way a fast Porsche’s does, but this is a big, heavy car that still obeys your inputs, entertaining and inspiring confidence through its predominantly rear-driven chassis.

So what else is new?

The cabin’s also been updated with improved sound deadening and a new eight-inch touchscreen media system that is quicker and better to use. There are fewer buttons (now numbering 11 as opposed to 27), too, as the touchscreen takes care of more of the car’s systems.

There’s leather pretty much everywhere, which does make the GT-R feel more aligned with its climbing price tag, but look closer at the screens in the instrument panel and it’s still a bit ’90s.

Other cabin tweaks include paddles on the steering wheel instead of the steering column (a retrograde step in our eyes) and new seats, which can be supplemented by far better Recaro items at extra cost.

Verdict

The 2017 Nissan GT-R is better on the road than any R35 before it. While it’s not going to be as outright rapid through corners, it’s still amazingly capable and entertaining. It’s still not perfect by any stretch, but it’s a marked improvement over its predecessor. 

Read more Nissan reviews

Specs

Price when new: £79,995
On sale in the UK: September 2016
Engine: 3799cc twin-turbo V6, 563bhp @ 6800rpm, 470 lb ft @ 3300-5800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 2.7sec 0-60mph (approx.), 196mph, 23.9mpg, 275g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1752kg/Aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4710/1895/1370

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Photo Gallery

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By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and now running sister title Motor Cycle News's website

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