New Nissan GT-R 2016 review

25 Jul, 2016 12:45pm Jonathan Burn

Latest revisions to the Nissan GT-R supercar are the most significant yet, but it has more 'everyday' supercar rivals than ever before

Verdict

4
For all its flaws you can’t help but admire the GT-R. If outright performance and pure speed is what you’re after then you can’t do much better than this. Nothing gives you as much bang for your buck. However, the repertoire of the everyday supercar has expanded beyond sheer performance and a dose of practicality. The McLaren 570GT, Audi R8 and venerable Porsche 911 Turbo prove sacrifices in terms of comfort and quality needn’t be made, in pursuit of speed and handling. But then again, you’ll need to fork out considerably more than £80,000 to put one in your garage.

The Nissan GT-R comes from legendary pedigree, so it's almost a guarantee that each new generation ups the game some more. The latest model is more powerful than the previous car - but it's more expensive, too. Can it do enough to make it worth the upgrade?

It may look largely the same as it did before, but Nissan claims the updates to this model are “the most significant” since the car was launched back in 2007. There’s a lightly tweaked front and rear, huge improvements in terms of quality and design in the cabin, plus updates to the suspension to make the GT-R easier to with day to day.

But Nissan is adamant that any changes made to this technical tour de force are not simply for change’s sake – every modification has a role to play in making this car better than before. The new nose has a larger air intake to increase cooling, the grille and sculpted bonnet are there to boost downforce, while the new NISMO-inspired rear bumper reduces drag. There is a singular and uncorrupted focus with the GT-R; making it as fast as conceivably possible. 

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So, lets talk numbers. Under the bonnet sits the same 3.8-litre hand built twin-turbo V6, which now develops 562bhp – 20bhp more than before – and 637Nm of torque. It’s hooked up to the same six-speed dual clutch gearbox, which means fast and smooth upshifts.

Nissan failed to provide an official 0-62mph time, so despite the power hike we can only assume the new GT-R is isn’t actually any quicker off the line. So, that means the benchmark sprint will be done in around 2.7 seconds, running out of puff at a considerable 196mph. As outrageous as those numbers may seem, we can believe every bit of them.

The way the GT-R builds speed is not only relentless but also entirely effortless; the rate of acceleration never seems to tail off as you constantly ride one big wave of torque and power. Nissan has also added a new set of vocal cords in the shape of a titanium exhaust system, which gives a more sonorous top end. That said, the soundtrack is still dominated by induction noise and spooling turbos.

Weighing just under 1,800kg the GT-R has always had a weight problem – and while 562bhp can hide that bulk in a straight line, it shows in the corners. It’s still agile but doesn’t feel as light-footed as an Audi R8. However, in spite of the ludicrous performance figures and portly kerbweight, the GT-R isn’t intimidating to drive fast. That’s down to the fantastic four-wheel drive system, which delivers unflappable traction.

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The trade-off for that accessibility is you really have to be giving the GT-R all you’ve got to get the best out of it. On the road, trying to harness all it has, will result in your license being removed from you faster than the GT-R can accelerate to 100mph. Most of the time, there’s more enjoyment and engagement to be had in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, with which its shares a similar price tag – if not quite similar levels of performance.

Despite being the most significant changes to date, the basic fundamental issues remain. The springs and dampers may have been tweaked to give a more cushioned ride but the GT-R is still firm – it’s a way off the compliancy you get in the R8. Refinement isn’t a strong suit either, with a booming exhaust note at motorway speeds and clunky transmission around town. 

But there have been improvements, with the interior being the most obvious and welcome change. The dash and centre console have been tided up with the majority of the car’s functions now being controlled via the new eight-inch touchscreen display – removing the maze of buttons scattered on the dash. Quality has also taken a step up, mainly down to the use of softer Nappa leather. Yet, frustrations remain, predominantly with the infotainment system, which isn’t the most responsive and uses graphics which look like they belong on a Sega Mega Drive from the 1990s.

But a lot of that is forgivable when you consider this is car that hides a spacious 315-litre boot and can comfortably accommodate two children in the back – even adults for shorter journeys. That’s something none of the GT-R’s rivals can lay claim to and something that makes this car so unique. 

Key specs

  • Price: £79,995
  • Engine: 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbo
  • Power: 562bhp
  • Torque: 637Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 2.7 seconds (est)
  • Top speed: 196mph
  • Economy/CO2: 23.9mpg/275g/km
  • On sale: Now