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Nissan Gt-r Reviews


Although it looks largely unchanged, Nissan's latest version of the GT-R offers recalibrated suspension, smarter looks and a plusher cabin. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Although some eyes may be drawn to the Nissan GT-R's price creeping up, if anything the value proposition is now stronger than ever. With yet more dynamic ability, the GT-R is fully prepared to face down the next generation of rivals who are only now responding to the shock of the GT-R launch in 2007.

The 'modern' Nissan GT-R legend began with 1989's multi-race winning R32, was bolstered by the N??rburgring-crushing R33 in 1995 and went stratospheric with the 1999 R34, hero of the Gran Turismo PlayStation game. Even so, few were prepared for the relentless annihilation of all rivals by the 2007 GT-R. Here was a car that was offered for sale for less than £60,000 but which could make a £100,000 Porsche 911 Turbo appear out of sorts. Somewhat remarkably, the car's creator noted in 2007 that as jaw-dropping as that car was, the real deal would emerge gradually as the result of year-on-year iterations. The latest doesn't look much different. Still the same somewhat brutal styling, still the same rumble of the 3.8-litre V6. So let's take a closer look.

We haven't yet had the chance to give the latest GT-R a thorough appraisal yet, but the somewhat unfathomable thought is that it could actually get much better than it already is. Even the original 479bhp GT-R was a car that, if you'd never driven one before, would blast your performance goalposts into the next postcode. The latest car doesn't offer any more power - that was already upped to 550PS for the 2012 model year - but it does handle better what it has thanks to fine-tuned suspension to reduce load fluctuation between the four wheels, aiding stability and grip. More constant contact from the grippier Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT tyres has been achieved through optimised electronic control of the shock absorber valves. Plus the braking calibration has been retuned and the steering made easier to handle at low speeds. As a result, this improved GT-R is more responsive, has better high-speed stability and a more refined ride. The 0-62mph time remains at 2.7 seconds and the car is even faster around the classic Nurburgring Nordschliefe, lapping the famous German circuit in 7min 19.1 seconds when undergoing testing.

To the casual observer, this latest GT-R looks much the same as the 2007 original. Which it is, of course. But look closer and enthusiasts will note some styling tweaks. These include high-intensity multi-LED headlights with an AFS Adaptive Front Lighting system that turns with the corners. In recent times, bodyshell rigidity has been improved by reinforcing key areas around the rear of the engine. Nissan claims the front spoiler alone increases downforce by 10 per cent while a rear diffuser throws sucks the rear end of the car to the tarmac. The attention to detail is stunning. Airflow management under the car has been optimised to cool the rear exhaust silencer and front brakes, while a vent pulls air out of the rear wheel housing. A high-intensity LED rear fog lamp is incorporated within the extended rear diffuser and the standard car gets some striking alloy wheels. The interior features some new colour schemes and extra stitched leather. There's also genuine carbon fibre on the centre console and magnesium is used for the shift paddles. It all helps the cabin justify the £70k+ price and prospective owners will like lovely detailing like the blue lighting blended into the rev counter ring to match the shift position indicator light. They'll also find a standard reversing camera and rocking bass speakers for the Bose sound system.

Expect to have to find in the region of around £75,000 for this car. Though that's hardly an insubstantial amount, it's still pretty good value when you consider that to achieve comparable performance in, say, a Porsche 911 or an Audi R8 would set you back well over six figures. And even then, you wouldn't get this car's 2.7s 0-60mph sprint capability. Now, more than ever, this car deserves its 'poor man's Veyron' tag.

Although the Nissan GT-R has been hailed as the performance bargain of the decade, don't let that fool you into thinking it's remotely affordable to run for anyone with a normal salary. Everything about this car is big money. It munches consumables at a prodigious rate, chewing through tyres and clutches with abandon if used in anger. Fuel economy, although improved from 23.5 to 24mpg for this latest model, is still pretty eye-watering too and residual values are no longer the unimpeachable proposition they once were. Insurance is a full-house Group 50 and many insurers will load premiums when they hear those three magic letters. Although ongoing costs may be steep, few owners will regret their purchase because the GT-R is something very special. It's a vehicle that carries a weight of personality well beyond its price level.

The Nissan GT-R is a car that, more than ever, appears to bend the laws of physics to its own will, defying conventional measures of power to weight and generating traction where none apparently exists. It's the genius in its chassis engineering that has had other manufacturers scratching their heads and winding up power outputs to obscene levels in an attempt to keep pace. The latest GT-R will have them reaching for their drawing boards again. There will be those who decry the Nissan as a one-trick pony, a vehicle that can shine on a lap of the N??rburgring but which possesses an otherwise narrow band of talent. The latest GT-R broadens its appeal somewhat - albeit at a price - but those who doubt the Nissan are usually those who have never driven one. The GT-R is a complex, capable and charismatic car that just got a whole lot better. More power to it.

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