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Since the Nissan GT-R’s introduction for the 2009 model year, the car has received much attention and praise for its ridiculous abilities to outperform nearly every other supercar on the market, let alone at its price point. Thanks to a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, a quick-shifting, dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive, the GT-R proves itself to be a worthy successor to the previous generations of Nissan sports cars.

The GT-R has steadily undergone improvements over its six-year lifespan. Increased power, transmission tuning, and a slight exterior redesign all play roles in keeping Godzilla roaring. Things continue in that direction for 2015, as engineers have tweaked the suspension tuning and anti-roll bars to make it a more manageable daily driver without sacrificing its at-the-limit handling.

I recently got the chance to spend a week behind the leather-wrapped wheel of a GT-R. My tester showed up wearing the Premium trim package – which, ironically is the entry trim level – and the upgraded interior package. This meant I had the 545-horsepower version of the force-fed, 3.8-liter V-6 rather than the even more ridiculous GT-R NISMO.

So how do the changes affect the car? Keep reading to find out.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ for the full review

  • 2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    Six-Speed Daul Clutch
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Energy:
  • Displacement:
    3.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.0 sec.
  • Quarter Mile time:
    11.2 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    192 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Midship; AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage


2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The GT-R’s appearance remains unchanged since its 2011 facelift. At that time, the front end saw a revision that improved cooling while reducing drag. It also added LED lighting elements, which were quickly gaining popularity at the time. The GT-R still looks modern and fresh, though a redesign is already in the works.

The car received tons of comments and even a few thumbs up and engine revs from other drivers.

My tester came coated in the beautiful Gun Metallic paint with nearly matching 20-inch aluminum wheels. The paint did a great job at showing off the car’s curves, cuts, swoops, and angles as the light fell across it. The GT-R certainly isn’t the prettiest car on the market, but it has its own unique stance.

The car did receive tons of comments from folks, and even a few thumbs up and engine revs from other drivers. Several people had a hard time wrapping their heads around the huge coffee-can exhaust tips and massive brake rotors – myself included.

Nissan did a nice job, including some treats in the design, with my favorite being the carbon-fiber rear diffuser pan. It just barely pokes from under the center section of the rear bumper, but travels all the way up to the rear differential.


2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Interior
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Interior
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Interior
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The interior of the GT-R came wrapped and stitched in $4,000 worth of extra leather dyed a look-at-me red. The leather felt great and the by-hand stitching added a special touch. Most of the other touch points in the cockpit were covered in quality materials as well. Nevertheless, the cockpit won’t be confused with a high-end, luxury interior.

Ergonomics, particularly switch placement, is really good. Things are within reach and logically laid out, but the extra buttons and dials will definitely take some time to learn for GT-R neophytes. I really appreciate the placement of the three main drivetrain switches just above the gear shifter. From left to right, the three-way rocker switches adjust the transmission, suspension, and traction control. Hold each in the up position for two seconds, and the GT-R comes alive.

Beyond the leather and ergonomics, the interior is awash in technology.

Rear seat room is just barely adequate for short trips. I’d hate to subject a full-size adult to an extended trip back there. And yes moms, a car seat does fit, but have fun trying to connect the seat to the deeply buried tether points.

Up front, the two main seats offer good bolstering and support, but I was never really able to get comfortable. When raising and lowering the seat, just the seat bottom moves, repositioning your back against the fixed-position lumbar support.

Beyond the leather and ergonomics, the interior is awash with technology. The gauge cluster and infotainment screen display some impressive vehicle stats. Starting with the infotainment screen, there are several customizable screens with digital gauges for nearly every fluid and heat-generating object. There’s also a torque-split gauge, a G-meter, boost gauge, and digital stopwatch.


2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Interior
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Drivetrain
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2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Drivetrain
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It all begins with a hand-built, twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-6 that cranks out 545 horsepower

Of course the real story of the GT-R is under its hood. It all begins with a hand-built, twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-6 that cranks out 545 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent rearward through a driveshaft first, and then into the rear-mid-mounted, dual clutch transmission. The front axle is then fed by a second driveshaft off the side of the transmission, that runs parallel with the first, entering the front differential that sits nearly under the engine. Speaking of differentials, the GT-R actually has two of them, unlike say the Corvette, whose rear-mounted gearbox holds the output shafts like a transaxle.

That transmission has six speeds and a dual-clutch design. Full-throttle shifts happen at lightening-fast speeds, ensuring that boost is not lost and forward momentum is not impeded. When not buried in the throttle, shifts still happen quickly, though they are accompanied by clunks, jolts, and noises. The experience is unsettling at first, but becomes a welcomed treat when crawling around town.

Driving Impressions

2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven Exterior
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For me, those shifts from the six-speed dual-clutch turned out to be the life of the car, and one of its more memorable characteristics. Some have said the GT-R is soulless and isn’t as fun to drive as other more ‘organic’ sports cars. I disagree. The GT-R has its own feel and personality. Yes, it is much different than every other sports car I’ve driven, but that doesn’t make it bad. The clunks and jerks in the driveline make it feel taut and ready to pounce. They only serve to remind you of the awesome engineering that went into the car, and for me, that’s plenty of soul.

Those shifts from the six-speed dual clutch turned out to be the life of the car

Beyond the transmission, the overall experience is surreal. Speed feels slow behind Godzilla’s windshield. Acceleration happens so quickly and effortlessly – even when you’re not trying. Passing is a point-and-shoot exercise. It just happens; no fuss, no muss; you’re just moving faster by double-digit speeds in mere seconds.

The steering is properly weighted and has almost no on-center deadness. In fact, the car tries to follow groves and crowns in the pavement like a hound dog sniffing a trail. Outward visibility is okay, though blind spots exist. Overall comfort is good, save for the issues I had with seat adjustment. Good ergonomics make the experience more rewarding as well.

I did take issue with the gauge cluster being too difficult to read at a glance. It mostly centers around the useless analog speedometer and the smallish digital one. I like the size of the tachometer, but the speedo needs some lovin’ too.


2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The GT-R has long been heralded as the best performance-to-dollar values on the market, and for good reason. Nowhere else can you hit 60 mph in under three seconds so consistently for what the GT-R costs.

In its base form, the MSRP is set at $101,770. My tester came optioned with the Premium Interior Package that included the Red Amber, Semi-Aniline leather seats for $4,000 and the special carpeted floor mats with the raised GT-R logo for another $295. Add to that the $1,595 destination charge, and my testers final price came to $107,660.


Porsche 911 Turbo S

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo High Resolution Exterior
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The 911 Turbo S remains one of the GT-R’s biggest competitors, as the two are fairly evenly matched. The Porsche on the other hand, has decades of practice making a refined machine that’s not only built for speed, but also luxury. Its AWD system, rear engine layout, and fancy PDK transmission ensure the 911 keeps its performance edge as well.

That engine is a 3.8-liter flat six-cylinder that makes use of twin turbochargers to produces 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The seven-speed DSG gearbox fires off shifts quicker than a gnat’s wing flap while the AWD puts power to the tarmac. The sprint to 60 mpg comes in just 2.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 197 mph.

The 911 Turbo S is certainly not cheap. Its base price starts at $182,700 – or roughly a base Corvette Stingray Z06 and a GT-R.

Audi R8 V10

2014 - 2015 Audi R8 V10 High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi R8 may be another Volkswagen competitor for the GT-R, but just as the Audi brand stems from a separate branch of the VW tree, so does the R8 take a slightly different approach than the Porsche 911. The Audi’s massive V-10 engine is mid-mounted for better weight balance, though it still powers an AWD system.

The V-10 engine displaces 5.2 liters and makes 525 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It propels the R8 to 60 mph in a relatively sluggish 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 196 mph. Customers can have their choice of a six-speed manual transmission or the numbers-oriented S tronic transmission.

Pricing for the R8 V10 starts at $153,900 for the manual and $162,900 for the S tronic. Either way, you’re still paying a lot more over the GT-R.


2015 Nissan GT-R - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The GT-R lived up to its reputation as a brutally fast machine. Its outrageous powertrain and AWD system lend themselves to some jaw-dropping performance stats that are only more impressive in person. Its abilities are simply otherworldly.

Admittedly, it did take most of the week to fully appreciate the GT-R for what it is. The more I drove it, the more I learned it. Like a long relationship with your girlfriend, the bond grows over time. At the end of the week, it wasn’t too hard to give back (mostly thanks to those seats), but my respect and admiration for it was deeply ingrained.

  • Leave it
    • Seats takes some getting used to
    • Speed hard to read at a glance
    • Could use more interior sound deadening
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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