With a new model costing from £80,000, today’s 562bhp Nissan GT-R faces a fistful of rivals, at least on price.
But how about a seven-year-old model touting 479bhp for £35,000? Alternatives that inspire the same shock and awe are thin on the ground, although you might consider a used Audi R8 of 2007 or a new Ford Mustang V8 GT.
Only ‘might’, though. The fact is, the four-wheel-drive GT-R that was launched in Europe in 2009 – and subsequently lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7min 26.7sec – is rather different from these and most others.
Every schoolkid knows the GT-R’s tyres are filled with nitrogen (assuming owners have resisted forecourt airlines) and its twinturbo 3.8-litre V6 is hand-built. Only the swot at the back of the class, however, can tell you it has the world’s first independent four-wheel drive transaxle, mounted at the rear and incorporating the dual-clutch automatic gearbox and final drive for near-perfect weight distribution, and that the suspension is Bilstein’s DampTronic active set-up.
Just 10 Nissan High Performance Centres (it’s what sellers mean when they write ‘full NHPC history’ in ads) were appointed to handle sales and servicing of the R35-series GT-R. Early cars came in a choice of three specs: standard, Premium (Bose sound system, automatic headlights) and Black Edition (powered leather seats). All three can do 0-62mph in 3.5sec, with a top speed of 193mph.
Only a few months later Nissan’s GT-R team updated the car with revised suspension and tweaked the engine and transmission software for better low-speed behaviour and more aggressive gearchanges. Inside, the infotainment system gained an improved sat-nav.
In October 2010 power was raised to 523bhp, the body was stiffened and a new R mode permitted faster standing starts (when the oil temperature was at a safe operating level). A raft of body tweaks improved stability and cooling performance, while detail styling changes included magnesium in the paddle shifters. The new £70,000 starting price for all of this is one reason why 2009 cars resist depreciation so well.
In early 2012 the GT-R’s power rose again to 545bhp, bringing 0-62mph under three seconds. The car gained an asymmetric suspension set-up providing a firmer spring rate on the left side to counter the combined weight of the driver and propshaft on the right. The Recaro edition with Recaro seats joined the line-up, too. Fuel economy improved by 0.5mpg to 24mpg. Incidentally, road tax is £515 across all models.
In the spirit of continuous betterment, subsequent years have brought further ride, handling and performance improvements to the GT-R, culminating in today’s £150,000, 592bhp GT-R Nismo – a cool £115,000 dearer than the starting price for a 2009 car, which is our pick for supercar value.
An expert’s view...
IAN LITCHFIELD, LITCHFIELD
“The GT-R’s engine is so strong we warrant it at 750bhp without any internal strengthening. Equally as strong are residual values, partly because Nissan keeps raising the new prices. The GT-R was £53,000; today, prices start at £80,000, and at heart it’s the same car. Each time Nissan launches a new one, it gives used ones an extra boost. You just can’t buy another supercar for the money that’s as usable or tunable. But they are expensive to run, so just as the performance isn’t for the fainthearted, neither are the bills.”
Chains can stretch, causing tensioner wear, and should be replaced at around 70,000 miles. It’s a £2k engine-out job. Noises from bell housing could be flywheel shaft bearings. Interrogate the ECU to check the number of launch control starts, plus additional historic data (see ‘Also worth knowing’).
For pre-2012 cars, services are six months or 6000 miles; thereafter, 12 months or 9000 miles. Bills can vary hugely, so check if a big one is due.
Transmission is noisy, so don’t worry unduly. Gearbox selector problems aren’t unknown on 2008 Japan-spec cars. Transaxle needs a fluid change every 18 months or 18k miles. Steering lock unit was a recall on early cars.
Older cars can suffer weeping dampers. Front lower arm bushes can crack on high-mileage cars but are simple to replace. Appetite for tyres and brakes is ferocious.
Early cars had stereo issues, plus recalls for failed instrument lighting.
Paint chips easily, causing rust spots; neglect here could spell neglect elsewhere. Some early cars had bubbling paint under the door mirrors, fixed by Nissan. Check fit/alignment of the bonnet. The single-use pedestrianfriendly item can cost £10k to replace.
Acres of plastic can deteriorate in direct sun (surfaces become sticky) and be easily scratched.
Also worth knowing...
Nissan’s High Performance Centres are equipped to maintain GT-Rs and can interrogate your car’s software. For around £55, they’ll download its performance history, so you’ll be privy to all of your car’s darkest secrets.
How much to spend...
Private and dealer 2009 Premium and Black Editions. Also Litchfield Stage 1 or 2 Black Editions plus dealer-sale Premium cars.
Immaculate 2009 cars but 2010s within range, including dealer cars.
Lots of 2011-2013s, including approved used 2012 Recaros and low-mile Litchfield Stage 1 and 2 cars.
Low-mileage 2012-2014 cars, most of them Recaros.
Low-mileage, approved used 2014- 2015 Recaros and Premium Editions.