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.
Additionally, Nissan announced the T-spec special edition for 2021, which will be available in limited numbers at an MSRP of $138,490. It boasts two iconic - and exclusive - exterior paints, gold wheels, a Mori Green interior, and some exterior bits and pieces that set it apart.
See trim levels and configurations:
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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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.
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.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Nissan GT-R: