• Here’s why the Nissan GT-R Is Still Top Dog On The Enthusiast Market

The reason behind the greatness of the Nissan GT-R hides behind more than just impressive figures

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Ah yes, the Nissan GT-R – a topic that is as banal as the R35’s 14-year production cycle. There is a lot that can be said about the Nissan GT-R and most of it is good. But why is it still one of the best high-performance offerings you can get? There are many things about the GT-R that make it a great proposition for car enthusiasts, both when it was new and on the used market. The reason behind The GT-R’s greatness is a mix of facts, some of which you may not have known.

With a Nissan GT-R, you don’t pay the brand tax

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It’s a well-known fact that when the Nissan R35 GT-R came out, it was aiming for the Porsche 911 (997) Turbo. In fact, the R35 came around the same time, the 997.2 was introduced. The Nissan not only proved to be quicker than the 997 Turbo, but it was also nearly twice as cheap. One of the GT-R’s goals was to be affordable, or at least as affordable as a supercar killer can be. Of course, part of the reason why the GT-R was almost half the price of a 997 Turbo was simply because of the Nissan badge.

It kept evolving over the years

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Another well-known fact is that the Nissan GT-R defies the laws of physics. The Japanese sports car was developed through unconventional methods, which essentially, threw out the rulebook. Through most of its generations, the GT-R never relied on being light. Instead, it relied on high-tech features like all-wheel-drive, torque-vectoring, rear-wheel steering, and twin-turbocharging to extract the absolute most of its platform.

While the R35 GT-R is very Japanese, there’s a British connection. Although the R35 GT-R platform is dubbed Nissan Premium Midship, it was actually developed by Lotus. It is comprised of a steel monocoque along with aluminum front and rear subframes, and suspension components. Aside from the rear quarter panels, most of the body is made of cast aluminum. Because of this, the R35 has a curb weight of 3,858 pounds (1,750 kg).

The VR38 DETT engine doesn’t need an introduction, as the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 has already proven to be a very stout unit, capable of extreme performance. If taken care of, it should last a long time without issues. The GT-R’s rear-mounted, dual-clutch transmission, which was jointly developed with BorgWarner, is the one place where the GT-R’s age might show. Although the DCT unit was significantly revised for the 2017 model year, it’s not as quick as some of the more modern DCT transmissions used by the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, or McLaren.

Moreover, no two R35 GT-Rs are the same. This is due to the fact all engines are hand-assembled by “Takumi” master craftsmen and individually “married” to their dual-clutch transmission. Moreover, each model year brought numerous revisions and changes. This means that a late FBA (Phase 3) model from 2020 or later is superior to an early FBA model from 2017. In fact, the 2020 Nissan GT-R received new turbochargers and a revised transmission logic. In a quarter-mile drag race, this results in the 2017 car losing to the 2020 car by one and a half car lengths.

The R35 GT-R’s power output may have always been underrated

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Even earlier, CBA variants of the Nissan GT-R were known to be underrated. This was due to the aforementioned hand assembly of each engine and transmission, which happened in a special, “clean” room. Despite that, the power output may differ from GT-R to GT-R even if they are from the same year. Earlier R35 models were rated at 480 to 485 horsepower, but dyno tests have revealed figures like 507 horsepower.

Later, DBA models were rated at 523 and 545 horsepower, depending on the model year. FBA models (2017 and newer brought power up to 565 horsepower with peak torque being in the 470 pound-feet (640 Nm) range. While we don’t know how true the official figures are, we mentioned the apparent performance gap between the 2017 and 2020 model years, which comes with the upgraded turbochargers and transmission strategy.

We cannot go without mentioning some of the Nissan GT-R’s insane figures. While it’s interesting to see how different versions of the Nissan GT-R stack up, all versions are capable of sprinting to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.2 to 2.5 seconds, in the case of the NISMO GT-R, cover the quarter-mile as quick as 10.8 seconds at 125 mph (201 km/h), and reach a top speed of up to 199 mph (320km/h), despite the short gear ratios.

One of the most usable high-performance cars money can buy

Here's why the Nissan GT-R Is Still Top Dog On The Enthusiast Market
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For all its incredible performance, the Nissan GT-R is surprisingly practical. The rear seats, while not meant for long trips, are actually usable, and not entirely terrible. The ergonomics of the interior are spot-on even if a bit too “function over form” compared to some exotic offerings. With 11.12 cubic feet (315 liters) of trunk space, the GT-R is also surprisingly practical for what it is. This is, genuinely, one of the most practical and usable high-performance cars out there.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Dim's fascination with cars began when he was just six. Born into a family of car enthusiasts and racing drivers, he started learning basic mechanics and driving from an early age. While he loves writing for any car, Dim is most interested in exploring obscure and forgotten cars as well as finding the best deals on the enthusiast car market. His passion took him to car restoration in the Malta Classic Car Museum, where he briefly worked on a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Junior. In Malta, he also graduated Media and Communications, which further improved his skills as an automotive journalist. Dim is always ready to get behind the wheel of any car and tell you all about it later.  Read full bio
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