If you buy one used, that is.
Few nameplates elicit as much excitement from Japanese car enthusiasts as 'GT-R.' The GT-R name once signified the fastest and most powerful version of the Nissan Skyline, a car that was never sold in the United States. American enthusiasts learned of the GT-R thanks to the car's inclusion in video games like Gran Turismo and from appearances on television shows like Top Gear, but the car remained forbidden fruit.
Then, in 2008, Nissan finally answered the prayers of enthusiasts when it split the GT-R nameplate into its own model and began to sell it in the US market. More than 10 years later, the GT-R remains on sale (mostly unchanged) and used examples have become a dream car bargain.
The GT-R's performance figures may seem middle-of-the-pack for a sports car in 2019 but when it first arrived back in the 2009 model year, it was untouchable. No one in 2009 could believe a car with a Nissan badge had the ability to beat the likes of the Chevy Corvette and Porsche 911 Turbo. The GT-R may not be the prettiest sports car on the market, nor is it the most comfortable but for fans of Japanese cars, few cars have ever been cooler. A new GT-R is fairly unobtainable - with a starting price of around $100,000 - but a used one can now be had at a fraction of the price.
The GT-R was a relative bargain when it arrived for the 2009 model year with a starting price of $78,000, especially considering a 911 Turbo cost around $130,000 at the time. Prices for the GT-R now range from around $100,000 to around $175,000, so it's not far off supercars like the Acura NSX and Audi R8. You've been able to buy an early GT-R for less than $50,000 for a while now, which is still incredible value for such a potent sports car. Even the post-facelift cars from 2011 onward can now be found with relatively low mileage for less than $60,000.
Don't let the Nissan badge fool you, the GT-R has expensive components and the bills can rack up if any of them go wrong. We should warn you that GT-R ownership isn't for the frugal minded. Most of these cars are no longer under warranty, so be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection before you pull the trigger.
The original GT-R (manufactured from 2007 and 2010 ) produced 479 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, which went out through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission to all-wheel-drive. This was at a time when launch control was just starting to be introduced on sports cars, so the GT-R's 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds was blistering. Output was increased to 523 hp and 451 lb-ft of torque in 2010, then again in 2012 to 544 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. With the increase in power, the GT-R could break spines with a 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds.
Nissan didn't update the GT-R's interior until the 2017 model year when the car enjoyed its first major facelift. These cars can be found starting at around $80,000 and feature a new steering wheel, dashboard, and improved cabin materials. All of the models before 2017 had a noticeably cheaper-feeling interior that was fine by Nissan standards but lacking compared to rivals like the Porsche 911. Many of the buttons and switches are lifted from cheaper Nissan models and the interior hasn't aged well in the 10-plus years it has been on the market.
You may think that a hardcore sports car would be hideously impractical but the GT-R manages to be fairly livable. It includes rear seats, though they are more suitable for children and very small adults. The trunk boasts 8.8 cubic feet of storage, which is only slightly less than you'll get in a Ford Mustang. Fuel economy for the original GT-R was 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, though the latter number has improved to 23 mpg in subsequent model years.
We still don't know what the next-generation Nissan GT-R will be like. For now, the R35 generation car offers over 10 model years to choose from, each of which was incrementally improved over the years. The earliest examples start at around $50,000 and the price only goes up from there. If you're a fan of Japanese sports cars and the new Toyota Supra is a bit too German for you, why not buy a used Nissan GT-R instead?