Godzilla still has some tricks up its sleeve.
It was way back in 2008 when the Nissan GT-R first graced American roads. Then in 2015, the Nismo model arrived as the fastest production car to ever lap the Nurburgring. Now more than a decade old, Nissan continues to make subtle improvements, stealthily keeping Godzilla competitive with more modern rivals. The car was given an update for the 2020 model year including a 50th Anniversary Edition as well as an improved Nismo model.
We were sent a 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo to review for a week, and we quickly learned that the sports car known as Godzilla still has a few tricks up its sleeve. The Nismo carries a price tag of $212,435, which is nearly $100,000 more than the base GT-R Premium. Here are some of the cool features you get for your $100,000.
In order to extract the most performance from the GT-R, you have to play around with the drive modes. Nissan has included three drive mode controllers for the drivetrain, suspension, and traction control, each of which can be adjusted independently. Drivers can choose from normal, save, and R modes on the drivetrain, normal, comfort, and R on the suspension settings, and normal, off, and R for the traction control settings. Our preferred setup was R for the drivetrain and traction control with comfort on the suspension.
Placing the drivetrain and traction control into R mode enables the GT-R's party-piece, launch control. Since the GT-R arrived in 2008, it has been well-documented as one of the quickest gasoline-engined cars off the line. In Nismo form, the GT-R rockets to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph. Unlike more modern supercars like the Acura NSX and McLaren 720S, the GT-R Nismo does not roll smoothly onto the power with a lower rpm launch. It builds the revs to 5,000, drops the clutches, and lets the AWD system and tires figure out the rest. The result is a savage launch that even caused our cameras to jolt out of their mounts on one occasion. If you aren't ready for it, your head will slam against the seatback.
The savage launch control comes courtesy of the GT-R Nismo's VR38DETT engine. It measures 3.8-liters in displacement with two turbochargers which, for the 2020 model year, now use the same design as the GT3 racecar. The result is 600 horsepower with 481 lb-ft of torque and a 20 percent increase in responsiveness. Each GT-R engine is hand-assembled by one of four master craftsmen in Japan. Our particular test car had a V6 assembled by Izumi Shioya. The engine is linked to a six-speed dual-clutch transaxle, putting the power down to rear-biased all-wheel-drive.
As part of the Nismo trim level, the GT-R rides on RAYS 20-inch black wheels that house massive carbon-ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear. The brake rotors measure 16.14 inches in the front and 15.35 inches in the rear. Nissan then wraps the wheels in special Dunlop high-performance run-flat tires that were designed especially for the GT-R.
The GT-R Nismo clearly looks different than a base model, as evidenced by all of the carbon fiber bodywork. The front and rear bumpers, front fenders, hood, roof, side sills, trunk, and rear spoiler are all made from carbon fiber are help shave 23 pounds off the curb weight. With other weight-saving measures, the Nismo weighs in at 3,865 pounds, which is 44 lbs less than the GT-R Premium.
The interior of the Nismo trim has a few changes to help differentiate it from a normal model. There are plenty of red accents including a red tachometer, gear lever, and Recaro seats, which are more bolstered than a standard GT-R. Nissan has also covered the upper dash, steering wheel, and headliner in Alcantara.
Although we question their usefulness when driving on a race track, the GT-R's performance screens are a pretty cool feature. They were designed by Polyphony Digital, makers of the Gran Turismo racing games, and can be configured to show various data points of the car. There is even a lap timer, which is controlled using buttons on the steering wheel. With the next-generation GT-R, we'd like to see Nissan include a data recorder with built-in cameras like the Corvette.