by Gabe Beita Kiser
The R35 Nissan GT-R, or Godzilla as many like to call it, has been around for well over a decade, and in that time has become notorious for destroying more exotic machines down the drag strip and around the track. For 2019, Nissan has updated its range-topping GT-R Nismo with a few added infotainment and appearance features, but the carbon fiber clad exterior, 600 horsepower twin-turbo V6, and trick suspension setup remains the same. The Nismo car represents the pinnacle of Nissan performance motoring, and with big brands like Recaro, Brembo, Rays, and Bilstein on board, you know that the GT-R Nismo is going to be special. An outdated infotainment system, a serious lack of safety features, and a high asking price of $175,540 count against it - but, with such a loyal fanbase, Nissan won't have to worry about losing sales to the likes of the Audi R8 or Acura NSX, despite their more contemporary offerings.
Nissan has kept this car familiar, and the GT-R Nismo hasn't received any model-specific updates; but, the GT-R range as a whole has been treated to some appearance and infotainment updates that keep things fresh for 2019. Visibility and looks receive a nice upgrade thanks to a set of LED headlamps with integrated daytime running lights, and inside the cabin, you'll now get NissanConnect navigation with voice recognition as well as Apple CarPlay integration.
The bold styling of the 2019 Nissan GT-R has become synonymous with massive performance, and anyone who calls themselves a petrol head should be able to recognize one from a mile away. The 2019 Nismo edition takes the aggressive look of the standard model and sharpens it up with a more track-focused look. A carbon fiber trunk lid and spoiler, along with front and rear bumpers and a lower front undercover, were specifically designed to increase downforce - and look totally badass as a side benefit. A larger dark chrome grille improves air intake performance, and the hood has been structurally reinforced to stand up to high-speed stresses. When all is said and done, the 2019 Nismo produces more downforce than any other Nissan production car to date. Other details worth noting are the new LED lights and black wing mirrors with red striping. Fans of JDM culture will drool over the lightweight 20-inch RAYS-Nismo wheels wrapped in Dunlop Sport Maxx tires.
Those who have seen a GT-R in the flesh will know that it's a sizeable car that takes up a big chunk of space on the road, and gives it much of its overall presence. Pull out the measuring tape, and you'll see that the GT-R Nismo is 184.6 inches long, slightly shorter than the standard car, and 74.6 inches wide. The Nismo stands 53.9 inches from the ground and rolls on a 109.4-inch wheelbase. With a curb weight of 3,911 lbs, the GT-R Nismo is far from being a lightweight sports car; it's more like a heavyweight brawler, and weighs over 300 pounds more than a Corvette Z06.
A limited-edition model deserves a unique look, and Nissan has kept that in mind when selecting the exterior paint choices for the 2019 GT-R Nismo. Although the palette is limited to only four colors, they perfectly suit the more aggressive bodywork and should stand up to years of track abuse thanks to Nissan's anti-chip and double coat painting process. Colors on offer for 2019 include Jet Black Pearl, Solid Red, Pearl White TriCoat (which is classified as a premium color), as well as the exotic four-stage metallic Super Silver QuadCoat, which gives the GT-R Nismo a true Japanese Touring Car Championship look.
If you think the standard GT-R is a technological marvel, the Nismo edition will simply blow you away with its complete dedication and attention to detail, which all culminates into one of the fastest real-world street cars around. Nissan has left no area untouched: the 3.8-liter V6 engine gains some extra power thanks to the addition of GT3 race car parts, and the body structure's strength is increased. It is matched with excellent Nismo-tuned suspension, and the aerodynamics are set up to produce never before seen levels of downforce for a Nissan production car. The AWD-only Nismo produces 600 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm, which allows it to sprint to sixty in only 2.5 seconds and lap the Nurburgring in 7:08.679, placing it in some truly elite company.
The now-legendary 3.8-liter V6 VR38DETT engine has been given a serious once-over by the team over at Nismo, who share a long and proud motorsport legacy with Nissan. The 2019 GT-R Nismo borrows its camshafts, turbochargers, connecting rods, and more from the GT3-spec race car catalog. Finer details such as plasma-sprayed bores, symmetrical independent intakes, and a thermostatically controlled oil-cooling system have resulted in a maximum power output of 600 hp at 6,800 rpm, and 481 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. A lightweight, Formula 1 grade titanium exhaust system is cooled by underbody ducts and gives the GT-R Nismo a bark that will send chills running up the spine. An aluminum plate mounted to the front of the engine displays the name of the craftsman who put the engine together.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a sequential six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which can switch between city cruising and race car precision at the press of a button. The transmission uses a sequential-shifting transaxle that separates the wet clutches between odd and equal gears, and preselects a low and high gear for ultimate response and includes downshift rev-matching. In town, the transmission is slow to react from slow speeds; you need to keep the revs above 2,500 rpm to get some actual response, but once you're up and going, it's electrifying. The engine and transmission combination makes fast driving and accelerating easy, but the high focus on performance makes it clunky to drive on the road.
Despite its reputation as a robot to robot drag racing legend, the Nissan GT-R, and more specifically, the Nismo, has been designed to provide a complete driving package, which means it handles as well as it accelerates. Nismo has poured thousands of hours into the development of the suspension setup, and it shows when you're carving through a set of twisties. An independent rear transaxle mated to an ATTESA all-wheel-drive system has been optimized for weight distribution by sitting slightly lower in the car, and the rear-biased system can send all of its power to the front or rear according to steering angle, tire slip, and yaw rate. Combine this with racing-inspired suspension setup, which features custom Bilstein dampers, a lightweight 17.3 mm rear anti-roll bar, and three damping settings, and you have yourself a car that feels telepathic. Turn-in is razor-sharp, and corner grip - aided by a 1.5-way mechanical limited-slip differential - is brilliant, but new buyers will immediately drive to the nearest tire shop to replace the standard Dunlop tires.
Getting the GT-R Nismo to stop is taken care of via a Brembo brake system, which features six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers attached to the diamond-pattern ventilated brake discs. Stopping power is brutal, and you won't have to worry about brake fade at your local track day. Steering is well-weighted, and the entire setup inspires confidence in even the most humble of drivers.
If you're going to make a purchasing decision based on gas mileage, you've come to the wrong party. Although Nissan doesn't give specific numbers for the 2019 GT-R Nismo, it does provide a generalized EPA estimate of 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined for the GT-R range. We're sure that the performance camshafts, individual intakes, and more efficient turbochargers will see that number drop, but the biggest reason for the abysmal gas mileage figure will most likely be due to owners making that gorgeous sounding titanium exhaust system scream at every given opportunity. Despite all its motorsport DNA, and relatively heavy curb weight, the GT-R Nismo offers better efficiency than the 'Vette Z06 (15/22/17 mpg) as well as the BMW M5 (15/21/17 mpg). A 19.5-gallon fuel tank gives the Nismo and estimated range of 351 miles or 157 of the most sedately driven laps around Laguna Seca imaginable.
The interior of the 2019 GT-R Nismo has aged well, and thanks to constant updates, can keep its head up amongst rivals such as the Corvette Z06, but falls short of matching the build quality and elegance of German rivals such as the Audi R8 or the other GT R from Mercedes-AMG. The interior cocoons the driver in a small but comfortable space that places all controls within easy reach. Generously proportioned doors make getting in and out of the Nismo easier than most of its rivals, and finding a good driving position is a straight forward job, but the lack of lumbar support adjustment is a silly oversight. Nismo loves to leave its mark in the small details: new owners and fans alike will appreciate the custom Nismo tachometer and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with red center marking. Nissan has kept things simple, and it adds to the purposeful feeling of the rest of the car, despite not offering as many gimmicks like some of its rivals.
The GT-R Nismo isn't small by traditional sports car standards, which has its benefits, one being that front seat occupants get a generous amount of space; front-seat legroom is measured at a leg-stretching 44.6 inches, and taller drivers will be pleased to hear that the 38.1 inches of headroom leave enough space for six-footers. Forget about trying to fit your larger friends and family in the back of the 2019 GT-R, though; with an available 33.5 inches of headroom, and only 26.4 inches of legroom, the rear seats are best used for extra storage but can be used for kids and small adults in a pinch. Holding the driver and front-seat passenger in place is a set of exclusive Nismo Recaro bucket seats that look the part, and offer superb support when chasing Porsche 911s up Angeles Crest. The Recaro seats offer height, cushion raise, fore, and aft angle, and recline adjustability, but don't include lumbar support, which isn't great news for smaller or older drivers - especially since the suspension setup is particularly bone-crunching in Nismo form.
The GT-R Nismo doesn't pretend to be a European-style GT car; instead, it offers a built-for-purpose interior that champions function over form. The overarching interior color motif is that of red and black, and black and red. This makes complete sense when you consider that the Nismo logo consists of these two colors; the black lettering of the cult tuning house is ended with a red "o". The seats are upholstered in black leather with red synthetic-suede inserts and red cross-stitching, and are topped off with Nismo and Recaro badging. The gauge hood and steering wheel are covered in Alcantara, adding to the race-car experience. Overall the material quality feels good, but at the price Nissan asks for their meanest Godzilla, you'd expect more carbon fiber and other expensive materials, not that it really matters when you're lapping your favorite track.
Voted as one of America's most practical family cars of 2019 by internet warriors without either a GT-R or a family, the Nissan GT-R Nismo is the perfect match for large families or doggy daycare businesses - not. Seriously though, when it comes to storage space and trunk volume, the Nismo should be considered a two-seater track car. Total trunk volume measures in at 8.8 cubic feet, which is enough space for a floor jack and two racing helmets, or about 76 Corvette license plates, but a Corvette or AMG GT offers more. The GT-R Nismo does benefit from a set of rear seats that can be used as extra storage and greatly improves the usable storage space. Personal items can be kept in the door-mounted storage nets or a small center console bin. There are a set of cup holders, but they don't do a great job of keeping drinks and water bottles in place due to a lack of not-slip surfacing.
The performance-minded Nismo doesn't have an impressive list of features in the normal sense of the word. Instead, it boasts a number of more technical features that set it apart from the rest of the GT-R lineup. GT3 race-style turbochargers and camshafts, a 1.5-way limited-slip diff, Brembo brakes, and an F1 grade titanium exhaust system are some of the mechanical features that are worth mentioning, although the list can go on and on. The exterior features LED headlights and a range of lightweight trim pieces that include a carbon fiber trunk lid, engine brace, cross member support beam, and front/rear fascia, side sills, and rear spoiler. Inside, you get basics such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a HomeLink universal transceiver, Recaro bucket seats trimmed in black leather and red synthetic-suede inserts, as well as aluminum pedals. The Alcantara covered steering wheel features a red center stripe, and there's a glaring red Nismo tachometer lurking in the background. Driver assistance? There's a steering wheel, does that count?
To further highlight the all-out driving focus of the GT-R Nismo, you have to turn to the eight-inch multi-touch color display: it's been developed in collaboration with Polyphony Digital, the creators of the world-famous Grand Turismo driving simulator, which adds to the arcade-style experience you get when driving this beast. The NissanConnect infotainment system features full navigation with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay integration, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio, SiriusXM Traffic, Travel Link services, Bluetooth streaming, and two USB ports. A dial mounted on the center console allows the driver to operate the system without having to physically touch the screen. The harsh truth is that the infotainment system is outdated and clumsy when compared to offerings by competitors such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz; voice commands are often misheard, the navigation system will get you close to your destination, but not to the front door, and there's no Android Auto integration. The 11-speaker Bose sound system is just loud enough to mask the mechanical noises emanating from beneath the car.
The intricately technical Nissan GT-R Nismo, which features more software control systems than the Mars rover, has proven to be supremely reliable. Over the past few years, the GT-R has been recalled only once for an issue with the backup camera, but other than that, the GT-R range has been problem-free. The standard warranty isn't as impressive as some of its rivals, but it offers industry standard time and distance coverage. A basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty includes a five-year corrosion warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty as well as a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan.
The low-volume Nissan GT-R hasn't been tested by any of the major safety rating agencies, nevermind the exclusive Nismo model, so it's hard to say how safe the car actually is. Nissan has put lots of time and effort into designing the GT-R for fast road and track use, so it should be safe to assume that the GT-R Nismo will keep most of your body parts attached in the event of a major accident.
The lack of safety features on the 2019 Nissan GT-R Nismo is quite shocking, but even worse is the fact that there are no available safety options. What you do get is six airbags, traction control, and a rearview camera. For a car that's capable of touching the 200 mph barrier, it is astonishing that Nissan doesn't offer even basic active driver assistance tech such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision avoidance, or lane-keep assist. Still, high-performance suspension and brakes are tasked with keeping things in check, and the trick AWD system and stability control systems will work overtime to make sure you don't drive beyond your limits. It's no computer game, though, and computers can only prevent so much.
Nissan has been honing the GT-R for well over a decade, and with the help of tuning legends and motorsport cohorts, Nismo, the 2019 GT-R Nismo is the sharpest and most accomplished GT-R ever produced. Looking at the features list from the perspective of an ordinary car owner will leave one perplexed as to why the Nismo is such a special car, but enthusiasts will know that most of the changes lie beneath the skin. First off, the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine has received a number of GT3-level racing parts, which include high-flow turbochargers, camshafts, stronger connecting rods, and improved oil cooling. The suspension setup has been updated with custom Bilstein dampers, and a number of carbon fiber aero parts work together to offer amazing downforce. Significant downsides include a basic interior considering the price, an infotainment system that is old and clunky, and besides a set of seatbelts, there's barely any safety equipment. The GT-R Nismo isn't the safest, most comfortable, or refined in its class; neither is it the most affordable, but you won't find another car on the road that is as easy to drive at supercar speeds, and for that, it remains the people's hero. Perhaps it's time for a retirement party, though?
The 2019 Nissan GT-R Nismo goes for an MSRP of $175,540 which places it well above the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT, and almost $100,000 over the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe. That's a hard pill to swallow, considering the fact that the 'Vette produces more power and is almost as capable around a track. The only consolation on offer is the fact that the GT-R Nismo comes as is, so there are no hidden costs lurking around the bend. Thankfully, the GT-R brand enjoys a loyal following of fans across America, so limited edition Nismo models should be scooped up in no time.
The 2019 GT-R Nismo is a stand-alone model, so there's only one trim on offer, which includes all the available features. On the performance side of things, the twin-turbo V6 engine has been reworked with race-inspired components such as high-flow turbochargers, high-lift camshafts, and strengthened connecting rods, resulting in a power increase of 35 hp and 14 lb-ft of torque. The suspension has been upgraded with custom-developed Bilstein dampers, and the braking system consists of Brembo six-piston calipers in the front, and four calipers in the rear. The exterior has been enhanced with front and rear carbon-fiber fascias, side sills, trunk lid, and rear spoiler. The interior features dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch infotainment display with navigation, satellite radio, and an 11-speaker Bose sound system. The black leather Recaro bucket seats get red synthetic-suede inserts, and the steering wheel and gauge hood are covered in fine Alcantara.
3.8-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Nissan offers no additional options for the 2019 GT-R Nismo, although they provide small items such as an optional first-aid kit, wheel locks, premium valve stem caps, and even a chrome-plated jack with GT-R logo (you'll have to pay extra for the jack rod. Seriously, Nissan?).
Since there is only one option, we'll tell you why it's worth buying. The GT-R Nismo represents the ultimate driving machine that Nissan has to offer, and those who know the rich history behind the GT-R name will understand why this car has such a large and loyal following. There are few cars on the road today that are capable of making ordinary drivers feel like superheroes in the way that the GT-R can. Its arcade-like handling and ferocious acceleration are unforgettable, and it manages to do the daily driving thing better than fully dedicated supercars. What makes the Nismo edition so special is not only the fact that the red and black lettering of one of the world's most famous tuning houses sits on the back of this turbocharged beast, but that major mechanical changes have taken place beneath the bodywork. For loyal Nissan fans, the Nismo represents the ultimate in Nissan motoring; for the rest, it's the motorsports equivalent of a cheat code.
The Chevy Corvette is an all-American hero that has offered cost-friendly performance for over half a century. The 2019 Z06 is no different: for only $80,900, you get a fire-breathing supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly more than you get in the Nissan. Fuel consumption is almost identical to the Japanese performance monster, and so is the 'Vette's Nurburgring lap time. Neither car impresses with its interior: both the Z06 and Nismo feel slightly outdated and less refined than newer offerings from Acura, Mercedes, and the rest of the club. Out on the road, the Z06 drives beautifully, and feels less serious than the Nismo - but put it on the track and the Z06 shines. The Nissan won't be much quicker around the track, but it will smoke the Corvette in a straight line dash. For almost half the price, you'd be stupid not to look at the 2019 Corvette Z06 - a newer sports car with newer tech, and at half the price.
The names Acura NSX and Nissan GT-R will evoke fond memories to those who used to play Gran Turismo until sunrise. These cars have gained a cult following over the years, but the Acura NSX is the new kid on the retro-revival scene. Acura took a more traditional supercar route when they designed the NSX, which is powered by a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V6, mated to a more futuristic hybrid system. In total, the NSX produces 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque. A lighter curb weight combined with hybrid power makes the NSX a more efficient car capable of 21/22/21 mpg city/highway/combined. The added weight of the hybrid battery system can be felt in the way the NSX transfers its weight, but it still delivers a beautifully balanced and blisteringly quick drive that rivals that of more exotic offerings from Italy. The GT-R Nismo is a more practical car to live with on a daily basis but lacks the supercar appeal of the NSX, and with a starting price of $157,500, it should be high on the list of cars in this category.