2017 model-year updates introduce some welcome refinement to this Nissan GT-R Prestige, along with more power

What is it?

Almost a decade after its launch, Nissan's asphalt-shredding Nissan GT-R has been given its most comprehensive revision yet. The early cars - limited to a trifling 479bhp - were far from faithful to their 'GT' prefix, with low-speed awkwardness, high-speed noise and a brittle ride among the glaring compromises Nissan made to fulfil the car's shock-and-awe performance mandate.

But with such responsibilities now ceded to the much-pricier GT-R Nismo and, to a lesser extent, the 'Nismo-lite' Track Edition, Nissan claims the standard GT-R has finally been ushered into genuine GT territory.

Yet in addition to the plusher interior, gentler ride, added refinement and friendlier gearbox mapping, there's an almost obligatory power hike for the familiar 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6, with 20 extra horses taking the latest total to 562bhp. An exterior facelift brings less drag, more downforce and better cooling, while structural enhancements also boost stiffness. This might not be a new model but it's as thorough an update as they come.

What's it like?

'Godzilla' has never been a dainty creature, but the newly angular nose and tail and fresh Y-spoke 20in Rays alloys bring yet more aggression to its brutish form. Slip inside, though, and you'll see a new layer of luxury has smothered the functional but ordinary, button-heavy cabin of the outgoing model. There's lots of decent-quality Nappa leather, and with the help of a new rotary dial behind the gear shifter, the infotainment button count has been slashed from 27 to 11. The dial usefully supplements the new touchscreen (an inch larger at 8.0in), although navigating the menus can be slow and unintuitive, while the sat-nav graphics are a bit basic and hesitant.

Our top-spec 'Prestige' test car is differentiated from the cheaper Pure (£79,995) and Recaro (£81,995) trims by upholstery alone. Its reprofiled front seats are soft-surfaced, comfy, supportive and electrically adjustable to your heart's content, while the steering wheel’s manual reach and rake manipulation is effective, if fiddly. The shift paddles are now helpfully attached to the steering wheel, instead of to the column.

A new neighbourly function claims to hush start-up exhaust clamour by 10dB, although we struggled to notice. Hard to miss, however, are the GT-R's newly improved and very welcome low-speed manners. There's still a little gear-gnashing and differential fizz when manoeuvring, but less than there once was, and throttle modulation and upshift smoothness among the bottom two of the dual-clutch automatic transmission's six ratios are no longer sore points. The steering is usefully lighter in town, too, albeit subject to a little stiction.

Likewise, motorway miles are now very bearable – you might even say comfortable. Improved sound deadening complements the noise-cancelling speaker tech introduced on the 2014 model, with road noise only an issue on coarse surfaces, and the drone that remains at about 2500rpm in sixth at 70mph is negligible.

But all this sophistication is for nought if the GT-R doesn't still distort your grasp of time and space, and when allowed to stretch its legs on the road, this 2017 model delivers such mania in spades. We've never decried the GT-R's power band, but the introduction of more boost pressure and the GT-R Nismo's ignition timing system have increased both the magnitude and spread of grunt. The 2017 model offers a relentless surge that fills the space between 2500rpm and the 7000rpm limiter like poured concrete in a mobster's boots. In kickdown, momentary lag is swiftly and smoothly assimilated, and full-bore upshifts are too quick for the powertrain to flinch. Despite 'good' engine and exhaust noise now being amplified through the speakers, the soundtrack doesn't quite match the acceleration, but it's at once silky and forceful.

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The softest of the three damper modes is now genuinely supple over all but the crustiest of back roads and still allows super-sharp turn-in and flat cornering at more than ample speeds. Even the suspension's middle setting is largely tenable, though you'll rarely need it on the road, and the steering's weight and feedback are nicely configured.

A stint on track at Thruxton – whose fast, sweeping bends suit the GT-R – allowed the car's monumental lateral grip to be explored more thoroughly, revealing depths of communication and engagement that belie its more point-and-shoot on-road character. The feelsome brakes also did their work efficiently, even when adjusting corner approach angles.

Another series of laps in the 21kg-lighter 2017 GT-R Track Edition – which costs £10,000 more than the Recaro model and gets forged Rays that widen the front track, a carbonfibre rear spoiler, stiffer bodywork and Nismo-honed suspension – revealed a nimbler, keener, even more confidence-inspiring iteration that yields yet another dimension to the GT-R experience.

Should I buy one?

Regular circuit users will be appropriately rewarded spending the extra £10,000 on the Track Edition. But having eradicated its most nigglesome foibles in favour of civility, the standard GT-R is now more recommendable than ever to a wider audience.

Despite a creeping price, it's still a bargain. It will still (unofficially) hit 60mph in less than three seconds, still maul any given corner on the public highway and still deliver track day thrills; except now it won't furrow your brow during the daily stuff, either. Notwithstanding the GT-R's now-venerable underpinnings, this is progress indeed.

Nissan GT-R Prestige 

Location Thruxton; On sale now; Price £82,495; Engine V6, 3799cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 562bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 470lb ft at 3600-5800rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1752kg; 0-62mph 2.7sec (est); Top speed 196mph; Economy 23.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 275g/km, 37%; Rivals Porsche 911 Turbo S, Audi R8 Plus

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Jaybond 6 October 2016


9 years on and the GT-R is still a giant killer. Hopefully its next replacement will also resurrect the Skyline nameplate..
si73 6 October 2016

Jaybond wrote:

Jaybond wrote:

9 years on and the GT-R is still a giant killer. Hopefully its next replacement will also resurrect the Skyline nameplate..

I think there is still a skyline in Japan, I have seen grey imports of what appears to be a four seat 350/370z/re-badged infinity with skyline written on the back.

Winston Churchill 5 October 2016

Horrible looking thing. I'd

Horrible looking thing. I'd be content with something slightly slower and not having the bragging rights. Wouldn't buy a Nissan for 80k.
geed 5 October 2016

It just shows how thoroughly

It just shows how thoroughly engineered the original R35 was when released way back in 2007. Still more than competitive with much younger more expensive vehicles. Kind of think the Nissan are finding it hard to replace such a great design. The new one will have to be something special to make such a bang on release.