First DriveNissan’s performance poster-boy grows old with surprising grace but is falling behind the pace of the super-sports elite
First DriveSubtle changes make standard GT-R more appealing to drive, but by creating the GT-R Nismo, Nissan has left us with the job of choosing between the two...
What is it?
The Nissan GT-R hardly feels old tech these days; it was only launched three years ago and it is still considered a benchmark for engineering and value. But it wasn’t without fault and so this is the Japanese maker’s answer to the critics.
Power is up to 523bhp, torque is up to 451lb ft through a wider rev range, a carbonfibre strut brace now straddles the engine bay, the tyres get new compounds, there are some new seats and some subtle revisions to the styling inside and out and the price is £10k higher.
What’s it like?
This is the first time we’ve driven the new 2011 car in the UK, where the extra 44bhp and 18lb ft may seem irrelevant considering the already brutal performance the GT-R offers, but there are some noticeable differences. More than the extra power it’s the 451lb ft of torque, which now stretches from 3200rpm to 6000rpm instead of 5200rpm, that is the most useful element. It makes the GT-R’s performance a little more accessible, a little more of the time.
An altered ‘comfort’ mode for the suspension brings more pliancy at speed – particularly for motorway driving – but don’t expect a wafty experience at any point. On a typical B-road the Nissan suffers from some noisy and severe crashing and rebounding, though this always feels a justifiable compromise given the GT-R’s nature even if some rivals offer a better-resolved ride for UK surfaces.
If there is any upgrade here that is truly useful in the UK it is the extra pointiness and more involving handling at low speeds that the improved rigidity has brought. It is still an endearingly blunt car in some respects, particularly the brutal power delivery, but adding a touch more immediacy at normal road speeds is something that will be welcomed by any enthusiast.
Adding a touch of finesse to the GT-R may be the equivalent of making a suede-coated knuckle-duster, but the changes only enhance what made it extraordinary in the first place. It is still monstrously and brilliantly unsubtle, and it still feels entirely a product of the electronic age. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
Should I buy one?
The only unwelcome element of the new car is its price hike. In 2010 Nissan will charge £59,645 for the base GT-R, but when this new model arrives in 2011 it will ask £69,950. Some may query whether there is five-figures worth of upgrades but given that the price includes a VAT increase, improved specification and a hefty power upgrade it’s easy to see why Nissan thinks it’s worth it.
To put it in perspective, anything offering similar performance is well into six figures, so it still looks like rude good value by comparison. Should you buy one? Ideally we should all buy two.
Nissan GT-R 3.8 V6 MY11
Price: £69,950; Top speed: 196mph (est); 0-62mph: 3.5sec (est); Economy: 23.5mpg; CO2: 279g/km; Kerb weight: 1750kg (est); Engine type: V6, 3799cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power: 523bhp at 6400rpm; Torque: 451lb ft at 3200-6000rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed dual clutch auto