What is it?

The result of Nissan’s frustrated performance-car engineer’s obsession with bettering the 911 Turbo: this is the brand new Nissan GT-R. And this is the first place you'll read a UK drive story on it.

Allowing for currency fluctuations, it costs about £58,000, but you’ll need to import one yourself because Nissan isn’t bringing official cars here until next year. Oh, it also has 473bhp, 434lb ft of torque and it weighs 1740kg. That last figure could be a bit of a worry.

What’s it like?

Well, the aforementioned would be a worry if Nissan hadn’t decided to alter the laws of physics and make a 1700kg lump more agile, entertaining and capable than you’d imagine possible.

There is just one problem with the Japanese spec Skyline on UK roads –the ride is very firm. With the three-way dampers set to hard it is undriveable, with them set to normal it feels stiff enough to lap Silverstone (but still far too unyielding for the road) and with then clicked into comfort it is just about good enough. But only just "plenty-of-jiggle, head-toss-and-poinging-from-cats-eyes" acceptable. The Bridgestone RE070s are noisy too, but they make up for that in other areas.

Otherwise, this is a brutal demonstration of what can be achieved by an engineering team fixated on creating the ultimate point-to-point machine. It may have 473bhp, but that figure means nothing if the driver can’t use it: the driver of the R35 can use all of it, all of the time.

There is only one performance car with a better powertrain than the Skyline, and it is made by Bugatti at considerable cost. With the double-clutch gearbox set to automatic you only feel a slight judder from first to second and thereafter it is, for want of a less sickly phrase, seamless.

Brush one of the steering wheel paddles and it instantly becomes a manual (you can do this on the gearlever too). Changes happen faster tan you can comprehend and, with the gearbox mapping set to the fastest shift setting, you still don’t feel anything other than sustained acceleration. 0-60mph takes just 3.5sec, a standing quarter 11.7sec and 190mph comes up flat-out.

If the car’s dynamics are a big surprise, its desirability as an object comes as an even greater shock. People love the way it looks, the cabin is well trimmed and spacious and it has a forbidding presence on the road. Parked next to it, a Porsche '997' Turbo looks rather apologetic.

The steering is the key to the GT-R's agility; you can thread this car with surprising accuracy and even though it can appear to just bludgeon roads into submission, there is real sophistication to the way it handles. And, unlike its predecessor, the R35 doesn’t just spit you in to oversteer. It simply catapults you away from slow turns.

Should I buy one?

I want one now! If you can’t wait for a UK car some time next year then you’ll need to personally import one. But believe me: if you're after the ultimate performance weapon of the moment, there is every reason to.

This is the best value performance car not on sale in the UK.

-Chris Harris

Join the debate


Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 47 weeks ago

P*ss poor writing.

So, in my hands, I can use the car as Lewis Hamilton would use the car? Bollox. On that basis, can I drive his company car please (?) - that's full of drivers aids so I should be able to use it as he does. Yeah right!!

Hamilton could get around the Ring quicker in my Picasso than I could get around the Ring in that Skyline - total fanboy, nonsensical writing IMO.

More Sutcliffe signature moments - G loading through the bends etc.

When will these journo's learn (?) - does he have a template for this sort of thing (?) - the names can be chopped and changed but the detail remains the same.

On the car though - I really like it. Anything that spanks a teutonic backside get's my vote.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 47 weeks ago

Great looking car, with a badge of a no less reputable manufacturer on the back than Porsche. Lets face it Porsche is the BMW of the sports car world, i.e. plenty of them around. The GT-R is a car with a long history and pedigree that many people will not know about.

Sounds like it would lap Nurburgring faster than the 911 Turbo, even with a boot full of luggage. Oh, luggage, a word a 911 driver will not be familiar with. So I will spend 30K more for the privelidge of the badge, then go out and spend another 25K on a BMW to carry the luggage. Prat.

I hate people who follow the pack then look down their noses at those who don't have the latest badge on the bonnet as they do. Look mate I chose to expercise my right to chose my car, rather than follow the pack. You cloth eared clown.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 47 weeks ago

i hate people who look down on others because they buy their cars on the basis of looks and image rather than technical merits. cars have analogies to clothes and people buy clothes on the basis of looks and how it makes them feel, whats wrong with that?

everyone has different needs and wants from a car and therefore their choice is based on their requirements and should be respected.

some people buy a porsche because they want a weekend toy (and it is a good weekend toy) and choose to have a BMW as a second car for daily use. why do you have to call them a prat?

i would agree that if someone made a buying error based on their requirements then we can look down and laugh at them. e.g. if someone wanted a practical car to carry 7 people and then went out and bought a Smart because it looked cute.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 47 weeks ago

Calm down dear, it's all tongue in cheek.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 46 weeks ago

Fantastic. I drive a 350Z and the GT-R is the car that I stupidly thought the 350 was going to be near to, but clearly the 350 is miles away. The 350 is a new Ford Capri with lots more torque, nothing more, and the with the GT-R Nissan have nailed the price/performance argument for this decade, much like the did with the R34 some years earlier. Trouble is the badge brigade won't like it 'cos Fred nextdoor doesn't know what it is and might even think you've fallen on hard times, changing an (old) 996 for a (new) Nissan and all that, shameful. If you're cute of course you can just smile and wait in a side road for Fred to drive by in his Aston in a side road sometime. I have been sent a pack from Nissan that gets me a test drive when it's here, quite how they think I can raise the extra £30k over what I paid for the 350 new beats me, but drive it I will. I expect I'll be immediately smitten, but I also hope Nissan have built in some excitement. That's why I didn't buy a Boxster, it's far too benign to be fun. If the GT-R is as much fun as it is dramatic, I might just mortgage the kids. Best of all, it's likley you could buy it new, do an intergallactic mileage, and nothing will ever break. As for another poster's comment about Lewis hamilton and Joe Bloggs, I reckon Steve is not far off right, and I think the comments originated from an article I read 15 years ago in Car magazine, when they got an ordinary Joe, and from memory Roland Ratzenberger, to drive round a circuit in an R32 V-Spec. Joe got with a couple of seconds of the now departed ace. The most interesting line I remember about that article was something like "To do the best time you need to keep the throttle nailed because the electronics can always give you less (than you ask for) but not more". Now electronics can play dances with engine torque and performance, and all the clever yaw and roll rate stuff has to be brilliance inscrutably excuted as only the Japanese seem to know how to do. I bet Joe would get closer in a GT-R.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 46 weeks ago

The exterior of the car is fascinatng. No matter what angle I looked at it from - there's something about it which really grabs me, ruffles my hair and slaps my backside.

But the interior - oh dear.

But are car's like this about the interior?

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 46 weeks ago

Rather like it inside and out. at least all the buttons seem within reach and well laid out, something Porsche struggles to do.

As for electronics, did you see the Renault F1 car Hammond was attempting to drive? When in the end they modded the electronics so the engine played god save the queen, bloody show off's.

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 44 weeks ago

Bottom line is the majority of the world out there will still see it as a 'maxed' Nissan. Worse than that it will be associated with the likes of Max Power and boy racers, like the R33/34's.

It's a shame as the GT-R is one of the finest cars out there and a bargain for what you get but a 'real world' fact is at 55k+ , the badge does matter.

I don't think Nissan are going to win over prospective buyers of a 911 Turbo or even regular Carrera buyers nor other marques that occupy this market sector . I am in the market for a 55-65k sports car and I will look at a used 911 Carrera S, V8 Vantage or Bentley Conti GT.

However, if I was still in my early to mid 20's i'd be at the front of the queue!!

The other concern I have is the lagtime between the launch ( Dec 07) and Uk sales (March 09)- that's 16 months!!. The car market will have moved on by then, will it still be such an impressive car then?

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 44 weeks ago

Maj1c (your number plate?) - can i ask what your buying criteria are please?

I'm interested as I think that right now, this is probably my favorite car of the moment, but my 20s were a few years ago now. I would consider the GTR to be a more mature version of the Evo and Scooby brigade. It even has 4 doors and a half decent boot.

True that second hand, the world is your oyster at this price point, but I would reckon that this GTR would hold its value even more fiercely than it holds the road.

The other reason why I'm interested is that I love helping people to choose cars, I feel it is the duty of every car nut to assist/ debate options when someone is buying :)

Re: Nissan GT-R

6 years 44 weeks ago

oooh, just thought. if MAJ1C is your number plate... then are you Paul Daniels??!!

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