The Nissan GT-R is past the point where we can refer to it as aging. While the likes of competitors such as the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Mercedes-AMG GT coupe are relatively new and boast fresh engines, chassis setups, and gearboxes, the Nissan GT-R has been evolving continually but remains basically the same as the car we first saw in 2007. Under the hood is a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 that now generates 565 horsepower and 467 lb-ft of torque in standard form. In the middle is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. It's still a ferocious combination, and achieving 0-60 mph in just 2.7 seconds is still ludicrously quick - no matter the age of the setup that allows it. But is blistering acceleration still enough to make the GT-R worthy of consideration in 2021? Considering that the 911 Turbo is just as quick, we're not so sure.
The new Nissan GT-R lineup has been reduced for 2021, with the Track Edition being removed from the catalog. Since the 50th Anniversary Edition was built for the 2020 model year, that trim is also now absent. It's not all bad news, however. The 50th Anniversary's exclusive Bayside Blue paint that is most often associated with the iconic R34 Skyline GT-R has now been made available to the regular Premium trim of the Nissan GT-R we review here.
3.8L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
The exterior of the Nissan GT-R coupe hasn't changed all that much since its launch, but it's still a good-looking machine. A hood with two small vents indicates that the GT-R doesn't need to showboat - you know it's fast. Multi-LED headlights and fog lights are integrated into the design in a way that is still coherent while the helmet-visor wraparound windshield tapers with the glasshouse ending above fat hips at the rear. The front fenders feature vents ahead of the doors while the rear houses a large wing, a functional rear diffuser, and two sets of twin-exit exhaust tips. 20-inch forged-alloy wheels from RAYS are standard too.
The styling of the GT-R makes it appear as if it would have much larger dimensions, but the blocky styling is actually housed in a fairly compact body. Length measures 185.4 inches while the width is rated at 74.6 inches. The wheelbase has a measurement of 109.4 inches and its height is 53.9 inches. With a body made predominantly of aluminum, the curb weight is rated at 3,935 pounds. If that still sounds a little lardy, you can always upgrade to the more extreme Nismo version that we review separately. Thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber, that car weighs just 3,867 lbs.
The 2021 Nissan GT-R is offered in five colors, with two of those hues available at no extra cost. These are Solid Red and Jet Black Pearl. However, the latter color requires the addition of the Premium Interior package, and this costs $4,280. If scarlet shades don't do it for you, you can choose Pearl White TriCoat for $1,000 or Super Silver QuadCoat for a whopping $3,000. The iconic Bayside Blue is the same price as the Pearl White hue but requires the addition of the same package that is bundled with the Jet Black shade. Nevertheless, you can't put a price on nostalgia and this blue color is something special in the metal.
Whatever else you can say about the R35 Nissan GT-R, you can't deny its performance ability. That 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 may have been around for the better part of a decade, but it was highly advanced at its time of launch and is still competitive today. Sure, some components have been refined over the years to deal with the strains of more power, but the basic configuration of the engine is still the same. Speaking of power, today's GT-R generates a potent 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic with launch control helping you get from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds in real-world testing. With the Sport Chrono package, the 911 Turbo is capable of the same time, but you're spending a lot more money for the German sports car. The GT-R impresses on a long, straight road too. Nissan no longer brags about acceleration and top speed figures, but the GT-R was previously claimed to have a top end of 205 mph, which is more than you'll ever need and enough to keep some much more expensive metal in your rearview mirror. However, for all its brilliance in terms of acceleration and outright speed, the GT-R is best when put to work on a track or a winding mountain road.
Just one configuration is offered in the current Nissan GT-R offering, with the exception of the extreme Nismo model. Called the Premium, this variant of the GT-R is more luxurious than any before it but it still has the go to match the show. A 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine delivers the grunt, of which there is plenty. The GT-R produces 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque and it does so in a way that makes it clear that you're not in a typical supercar. It's rorty and unrefined, and all the better for it. The acceleration in any gear, under any circumstance, is brutal and brazen. There's noise and a sense of old-school mechanical engagement that makes it impossible for you to lie and say you didn't know you were speeding when you inevitably get pulled over. Funny how that works, since when it was first launched, the GT-R was accused of being too digital and devoid of feel. Still, there's a limit to how much "mechanical feel" is good, and the GT-R's six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with rev-matching is one of the parts that highlight just how old the R35 is getting. It's quick and responsive, but not exactly smooth. It can be particularly clunky at lower speeds and lacks the intelligence of Porsche's PDK, but for a racecar in the suit of a usable sports car, it's still pretty damn good.
Although seemingly more feelsome and connected today than many of its rivals, the Nissan GT-R can still be referred to as a "PlayStation car". That's not to say that it doesn't provide feedback or that it is disconnected from the road in any way. What it does mean is that the GT-R handles so brilliantly that it feels unreal. The ATTESA E-TS Pro all-wheel-drive system combines with a mechanical rear limited-slip differential that glues this thing to the road in a way that still pulverizes our neck muscles every time we take a corner - whether it be a tight hairpin or a sweeping curve. Helping to keep the GT-R flat is a DampTronic suspension setup from Bilstein, and it works remarkably well. The result is that it is near impossible to unsettle the GT-R, but if you do get it sideways, you simply keep your foot flat and aim where you wanna go. No matter the situation, the GT-R never stops scrabbling for traction. These cars have been popular on drag strips for their immense potential down straights, but corners are just as well-handled.
However, unless you're on a smooth road or a track, we'd recommend sticking to the suspension's Comfort mode, as the other settings are focused almost exclusively on minimizing body roll and compliance. With such an exceptional result from all other tests, you may be wondering how the GT-R performs when asked to stop. With Brembo providing the brakes, that's not an issue either. As much as the powertrain can make your neck muscles ache when accelerating and as much as the AWD system can make your internal organs reshuffle themselves around bends, the brakes can have the exact same effects when you stand on the pedal. Despite this, they're not unwieldy and you can deal with stop/start traffic easily. Sure, the GT-R is aging in comparison to its most direct rivals, but it was so ahead of its time when it launched that the competition is only now surpassing it.
Fuel economy and good gas mileage are not phrases typically associated with cars of this caliber, but you may be surprised to learn that the 2021 GT-R will potter along for around 350 miles if you're conservative with the loud pedal. This is thanks to official EPA test results indicating that the GT-R will return 16/22/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The gas tank is capable of holding 19.5 gallons of premium, so although its EPA figures are identical to those of the base Mercedes-AMG GT, it'll stop a little sooner than the German car with its 19.8-gallon tank. That's the cost of Nissan GT-R ownership, though.
Everything about the GT-R is about refining and perfecting the original recipe. This is evident in the interior too, where you will find a layout that hasn't changed much since its original design. The only thing that has changed is the quality of the materials, which have evolved much since their first release. Still, there is evidence of this car's age in the analog cluster and the preference for buttons over touch-sensitive screens everywhere - not that we're complaining. And just as with a Porsche 911, the two rear seats are utterly impractical for anything more than a shopping bag. Here, everything is angled towards the driver, highlighting the GT-R's focus on driving above all else.
The front seats in the GT-R are both heated and feature power adjustment. The driver gets eight-way adjustment while the passenger makes do with four levels of adjustment. Regardless of which seat you're in, there's plenty of support thanks to the thick bolsters. While this may be great on the track, you may expect some discomfort on long trips. Fortunately, the cushioning of the leather seats is great, and you get just as much comfort as support. Getting in and out is easy too, and visibility, for the most part, is great. Checking your blind spots is a real challenge though, and the rear seats are suitable for no one old enough to form their own sentences.
As standard, the interior of the GT-R is appointed with black leather and faux suede inserts. These are complemented by aluminum accents on the pedals, steering wheel, door handles, and other places. It's not overdone either and is balanced by a wash of dry carbon fiber in a matte finish that somehow manages to look both classy and racy. If you want something a little more premium, semi-aniline leather is available in Kuro Night, Rakuda Tan, Red Amber, and Hai Gray alternatives. Each of these requires the addition of the Premium Interior package at $4,280, but at least if you get some of this premium cow-hide (we recommend the black of Kuro Night), you can also paint the body in that gorgeous Bayside Blue finish. As standard, the steering wheel and shift knob are wrapped in leather.
Can't we just skip past this part? It's clear that the GT-R is a car built with a singular purpose in mind: to go as fast as possible as efficiently as possible with less of a focus on all the other, regular uses one would assign to a car. Yet, despite being a racy vehicle, the trunk space of the GT-R is actually pretty competitive. There are 8.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats - enough for a couple of golf bags or some weekend luggage for you and your sidekick. Obviously, if having more cargo space than a 911 driver isn't impressive enough, you can use the pitiful rear seats for extra luggage or shopping.
In the cabin, you get a pair of narrow door pockets, a reasonably sized glove box, a center console tray, and a storage bin in the center armrest.
The GT-R lacks the modern features that you'd expect to find in something that is so good in so many other respects. You won't find a digital cluster, ventilated seats, or soft-closing doors here. Instead, you get what is deemed as necessary, with standard equipment limited to dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power-adjustable front seats, cruise control, power-folding heated wing mirrors, keyless entry with push-button ignition, automatic LED headlights, hill start assist, DampTronic adaptive suspension, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a rev-matching system for the gearbox, and a variable Fujitsubo titanium exhaust. Okay, so what about the options list? Besides some miscellaneous accessories, there isn't really one. That Premium Interior package we've mentioned a couple of times now refers only to the finish of the available semi-aniline upholstery.
For a car described as "too digital" when it first arrived on the scene, the GT-R is surprisingly outdated by today's standards when it comes to its infotainment system. It's comprised of a Nissan Connect eight-inch touchscreen display with multiple buttons for supplementary input and supports Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. Besides that, you get HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio, along with navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth audio streaming, a pair of USB ports, and an 11-speaker Bose sound system with two subwoofers. On the whole, this all sounds great, but the system responds too slowly and really ought to have been upgraded by now. At least the audio quality is excellent.
Although you may battle to get your phone to connect, at least you shouldn't have to worry about reliability in the GT-R. No recalls have been issued for the car since the 2019 model was released, and its only recall was a minor one: the rearview camera images would sometimes not be displayed.
If anything else impedes your enjoyment of the car, it is covered by a basic warranty for the first three years/36,000 miles. You also get coverage for the powertrain for the first five years/60,000 miles. Roadside assistance runs for three years or 36,000 miles.
Safety is an important part of the decision-making process for many new-car buyers in the USA, but when it comes to vehicles in this price range, reviews from the IIHS or NHTSA are hard to come by and the car has no official safety rating. That said, Nissan's more accessible offerings generally perform well and the GT-R should be more than capable of keeping you safe from harm in the event of a bumper bashing.
So what safety specs are we looking at? Well, the US has very strict guidelines about the minimum requirements for a car to be sold here and one such requirement is the inclusion of a rearview camera, which this car gets alongside front and rear parking sensors. The GT-R also features hill start assist, your typical traction and stability control systems, and a set of six airbags. These include dual frontal, seat-mounted side-impact, and side-curtain airbags. But if you were hoping to get modern driver-assist tech like blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control, you'd best look elsewhere.
Is the GT-R as good as the Porsche 911 Turbo? The short answer is no. As good as the plucky Nissan is, the Porsche outshines it for sheer purity of handling, ultimate performance, and luxury. The Porsche is also the beneficiary of the latest in convenience features and advanced infotainment tech. Does that mean that you should discount or avoid the GT-R altogether? In our book, no. There's still something magnificent about this car, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it hasn't followed the crowd with modern updates like electric power steering and driver info displays that can bombard you with information. The GT-R keeps things remarkably simple on the outside while its computers and algorithms work out just what to do to get you around a corner far too fast without killing you. Sure, it could do with some updates (quite a few of them in fact), but the point is this: we love the GT-R because it feels raw, mechanical, real. Basically, we're still enamored with it, and we only hope that its successor, should it ever come, will be just as engaging and visceral. So should you go for a test drive in an R35? Well, you're not going to have many more chances to get a brand new version of one of the greatest super sports cars ever, so we say yes. Hell yes. One day, when your only automotive choices are powered by electricity, you'll wish you had experienced a GT-R on something other than a Gran Turismo game.
The 2021 range of the Nissan GT-R is free of clutter from multiple configurations and there's only one base price you need to take note of. With the Nismo version reviewed separately, the so-called base model starts at an MSRP of $113,540 before a shipping and handling fee of $1,795. It comes almost fully loaded as standard, but you can still inflate the price with premium leather and fancy paint, bringing your Nissan GT-R's price total to a little over $122,600 including destination.
With just one model in the range for 2021, the Nissan GT-R is one of the simplest cars to understand. You get one spec - Premium - and it's all but fully equipped from the factory. How much you pay for it will depend on your choice of paint and leather more than anything else, but all GT-Rs are powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to both axles with the aid of a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that helps the car achieve a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds. A mechanical rear limited-slip differential helps this car handle just as well as it accelerates. Road holding is bolstered by the standard inclusion of lightweight forged wheels from RAYS Engineering, measuring 20 inches in diameter while a Bilstein DampTronic suspension adds versatility to the GT-R's ride quality levels. Inside, leather with faux suede is standard alongside carbon fiber and aluminum trim accents. A Nissan Connect eight-inch touchscreen display manages the infotainment and sends output to an 11-speaker sound system created by Bose Audio. Navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio and Travel Link, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth audio streaming are all standard in this Nissan GT-R model.
There is only really one package/option available on the GT-R and it's the Premium Interior package. This allows you to upgrade from the standard leather upholstery to semi-aniline leather in a variety of colors for $4,280. This package also unlocks the option of Bayside Blue exterior paint. Besides this, the only options are accessories like branded carpeted floor mats ($277) and a branded chrome jack ($299). Floor mats with carbon fiber inserts are also on offer at $1,085, but none of the available options here add any real value to the car, so we'd skip past all these accessories.
There's only one variant of the GT-R available for the 2021 model year unless you consider the extreme Nismo version. As a result, your choices will come down to personal preference and taste and will be limited to things like paint finish and color and leather type. The standard red hue is pretty attractive, and the suede inserts on the stock leather seats are grippy and comfy too, so unless you don't like the standard color scheme, we'd recommend leaving the GT-R just as it is.
If you're looking for an iconic Japanese badge at an affordable price, the Toyota GR Supra is probably your best bet. It's now available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but that doesn't stack up well to the GT-R, so we'll only consider the 3.0-liter straight-six turbo. Shared with the BMW Z4, it's a great engine that is highly capable of more performance. However, even in the most expensive A91 Edition, you only get 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. The plus side is that the Supra comes with a really modern cabin, albeit one that is clearly just remodeled after existing BMW products, and it's half the price of the GT-R - literally - at $54,490 for the 3.0 Premium. Nevertheless, there's more to love than just a fancy cabin. You also get rear-wheel drive, something that the GT-R lacks. Ultimately, the Supra will be less capable in almost every metric, but it provides fun and thrills in a manner that the GT-R cannot. That said, the GT-R truly is a super car, and for that reason, we'd have the R35 given the choice.
Starting at around $60,000, you can have two Hellcats for the same money as a specced GT-R. Not that you need two of them to match it for output. The Hellcat is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that is supercharged to produce an astounding 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque in Redeye guise. With outputs like that, even the GT-R looks underpowered. The Hellcat is also more practical thanks to a massive trunk and rear seats that are actually usable. Coupled with the fact that it is insanely capable in a straight line, the Hellcat seems like the better choice. However, the Dodge muscle car is something of a one-trick pony, whereas the GT-R can do quarter-mile runs right after attacking a circuit that winds and curves more than the Coca-Cola logo. We love the Hellcat, but sadly for it, the GT-R is the more complete package and is far more exciting to drive hard. As a daily cruiser, we wouldn't mind the Hellcat, but the GT-R would get our pick any day that we get to drive the way we want.