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First drive: Nissan GT-R 2017MY. Image by Nissan.

First drive: Nissan GT-R 2017MY
The Nissan GT-R may be getting old, but it's still a hugely impressive car, especially with its 2017 upgrades.


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Nissan GT-R 2017MY

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Ten years ago Nissan upset the performance car hierarchy with its GT-R. They've since caught up, so the GT-R is no longer quite the daunting rival it might once have been. Extensively revised in its tenth year, the R35 GT-R remains deeply impressive, and ludicrously quick.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Nissan GT-R Prestige 2017MY
Price: from 83,995
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 275g/km (Band M, 515 per year)
Combined economy: 23.9mpg
Top speed: 196mph
0-62mph: 2.7 seconds
Power: 570hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 637Nm at 3,300- to 5,800rpm
Weight: 1,752kg

What's this?

Nissan's 2017 model year GT-R, which, to the uninformed, might look like just any other GT-R. It's not; while the R35 has been around almost ten years now, this series of revisions is as big a change as Nissan's made to it in that time. There's a stiffer shell thanks to a new windscreen surround, improved interior, better cooling, revised aerodynamics, more power and torque, enhanced refinement, greater comfort and, says Nissan, a more sophisticated, comfortable drive. All with the same massive, near foolproof performance that the GT-R has always delivered.

That it's taken this long for Nissan to actually need to improve it tells you everything you need to know about how far head of the game it was ten years ago. In all that time things have moved on a bit, and the GT-R remains a niche proposition however expansive it's capabilities might be. It looks little different outside, the changes subtle, but useful, insofar as increasing its aerodynamic efficiency. Inside, there are new instruments and materials, and while it's undoubtedly moved the game on significantly in the cabin, it still feels a decade behind the best for everything from material quality, fit and finish and even the graphics on the big touch and button operated central screen. The new seats in the Prestige model look good, but their squabs and bolsters are far from comfortable, so the Recaro seat option is infinitely preferable.

How does it drive?

There's never been any denying the GT-R's enormous, once giant-killing, performance. This is a car that's capable of a few mph shy of 200mph, and although nobody can be pinned down to admit it on the launch, a 0-62mph time of around 3.0 seconds. The old car was quoted as 2.7 seconds - however believable that might actually be. We'll just leave it there, as the internet fans will claim it more accelerative than a scramjet, and certainly quicker than anything the Italians, Germans or anyone else could possibly make. It's fast then, though with the 2017 model year Nissan is promising a bit more maturity, adding some civility to the ride through revised suspension (hanging off a stiffer structure), as well as improved refinement thanks to a switchable exhaust and some clever active noise cancellation. It has substance, too, the Nissan GT-R being a lot more refined in day-to-day use, the cabin quieter, the ride far more composed, and neither rob the GT-R of any of its appeal.

The steering remains a hydraulic power-assisted set up, giving it more feel than many rivals' systems, while the paddle-shifted six-speed twin-clutch automatic still changes gear with speed at speed, even if it remains a bit noisy at times when shifting at more sedate pace. The engine gains 20hp with the revisions, the 3.8 twin turbo V6 now pushing out a faintly ridiculous 570hp. There's a tiny increase in torque, too, though the changes mean that the 637Nm peak is produced over a wider spread of the engine's rev range. This makes the GT-R feel that little bit more accelerative in its mid range, not that it ever felt it was lacking, mind. There's little aural incentive to trouble the rev limiter, but then that's always been the case, the turbocharged V6 and the quad exhaust it vents its spent gasses through never having sounded brilliant.

Still, there's always been the compensation of massive performance, and so it proves with the new car. Its performance may not be so far removed from its rivals' (ignoring for a moment the price point it starts at), but there are still masses of fun to be had with the GT-R. The changes bring more compliance to the suspension on the road, without being detrimental to control. It's faster as a result, the steering too being uncorrupted by bumps, this a GT-R that rides with more fluidity and composure than its predecessors. That's a neat trick, as it allows you to use more of its performance more of the time. This really is a car you can carry massive speed with, with so little effort. The sophisticated four-wheel drive system will push power to where it's needed most, though it's largely rear biased in normal use, juggling the torque forwards when you reach its limits of grip and traction. You'll be doing well to do so on the road, they're so high. Take the GT-R to a track, or extend it to its maximum on an unrestricted autobahn, as we did on the launch, and it reveals a breadth of ability that's genuinely startling.

On those unrestricted autobahns the GT-R can exploit even the smallest gaps in traffic to run up to big three digit numbers with ridiculous ease. That's all with the reassurance that the brakes will easily wash of the speed quickly and repeatedly, if necessary, while the aero revisions make it feel hugely stable even at the top end of its performance. On a track it's impossible not to be impressed how well the big, heavy GT-R hides its mass, the brakes in particular shrugging off repeated requests for 130mph stops, often downhill at the very testing Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

With all the engine, transmission and stability and traction systems set to R the GT-R will flatter its driver, delivering the sort of eye-widening pace on a track that's incredible given its weight; it's freakishly adept at getting around a track quickly. While there's some feel, predominantly through the steering, the GT-R isn't necessarily a sharp tool; effective, undoubtedly, and hugely rapid, but if it's big speed you're after combined with real engagement and interaction then you'll be better served elsewhere. That said, there's nothing we've ever driven that'll take the sort of punishment on track and drive home like it's never bounced heavily over a painted kerb, or carried 140mph repeatedly into a braking zone, without some worrying tell-tale signs. The GT-R's strength is that it's seemingly impervious to abuse, not punishing you when you're over ambitious, its massive breadth of ability remaining deeply impressive, even nearly ten years after its original introduction. The revisions Nissan has made for 2017 and beyond only build on that, even if it's not quite the giant-killer it might once have been.


The GT-R remains epic. A car that's freakishly talented in almost every area, it might not be the most purist drive out there, but its sledgehammer pace, talented chassis and incredible ability to mask its ample bulk is deeply impressive. It is sure to appeal to its existing, dedicated, audience, though whether the changes Nissan has made to it will pull in other customers remains to be seen. That's not to take away what it has achieved with its new GT-R, as it's addressed many of the old car's shortcomings, if not entirely. An oldie remains a goodie, then - we're looking forward to seeing how the Track Edition and Nismo models take it further still.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Kyle Fortune - 1 Jun 2016    - Nissan road tests
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2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.

2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.2016 Nissan GT-R. Image by Nissan.


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