2015 Nissan GT-R Review

Sodegaura, Japan
7:08.679 seconds.

For Nissan, that string of digits -- seven minutes, eight seconds, and change -- was the mantra of the GT-R Nismo, chanted at the recent Tokyo motor show reveal by everyone from Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn to test driver Michael Krumm. For the world's sports cars (excepting a couple of million-dollar babies), the Nissan's lap time at Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife course represents a fearsome new bogey.

For all the tiresome obsession with 'Ring times -- the simplistic, reductive refuge of fanboys the world over -- the Nissan's time, a record for a volume production car, says something objective about its real-world capabilities. That lap is fifty seconds quicker than Cadillac's in 2008, when the 556-hp CTS-V became the first showroom sedan to run below eight minutes. The Nismo's lap beats the GT-R's previous best by ten seconds.

So a pit-lane, champagne hose-down for the Nissan, yes. But also caveats: The stratospherically expensive McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder have smashed the seven-minute barrier at the 'Ring. And the GT-R Nismo ain't cheap. The 600-horse bruiser will start at about $150,000 beginning this summer, and it should surpass 160 large with the track package that helped Krumm escort his camouflaged "time attack" GT-R so stirringly around the 12.8-mile course.

That's a lot of dough for a Nissan that, when standing still, might get confused for a Tokyo-tuned Ford Mustang. It costs decisively more than a Chevy Corvette ZR1 and is on par with a Porsche 911 Turbo or an Audi R8 V10, to name three sports cars that add refinement to the endorphin rush. And it's double the price of the first Godzilla to stomp ashore in America, which came in at $70,850 for 2009.

But fear not, PlayStation pushers. A modestly reworked 2015 GT-R is now hitting showrooms. Compared with the Nismo's Hyde, lying in wait to murder unsuspecting exotics, the standard GT-R isn't exactly Jekyll, not with the carryover 545-hp, 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 and idiot-proof all-wheel-drive system.

Hiroshi Tamura, the GT-R's chief product specialist, did focus on the "GT" side of the name, aiming for a more mature, less punishing car without sacrificing a jot of supercar performance.

That goal has been met, although visible changes are subtle. New adaptive LED headlamps and four-ring taillamps flare to life on start-up. Interior fit and finish are improved, although the available ivory leather seems almost effete for a child wild enough to rock a loincloth.

Nissan actually softened stabilizer and damper rates of the adjustable Bilstein shocks to reduce load fluctuations among the wheels and to boost suspension stroke at high g's. Steering effort is lighter at city speeds. Brembo brakes are recalibrated for more linear response and improved wet performance.

In tandem with twenty-inch Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires with stiffer sidewalls and a new compound, the added compliance translates into more grip and confidence by better pinning the tires to undulating pavement -- as experienced on the 'Ring, one reason that it's the world's leading gauntlet for handling development.

Captain Nismo's ship makes 481 lb-ft of torque, up from 463 lb-ft in the base GT-R, and spools up its 55 additional horses by using larger, GT3-racing-derived turbos, a higher-pressure fuel pump, and revised ignition timing.

A carbon-fiber wing flips a salute from the carbon trunk lid. There's a ground-scraping lower front fascia and flaring bumpers, with more carbon fabric wrapping the Nismo's nether regions. The body changes generate an extra 220 pounds of downforce at 186 mph. Stiffer adjustable Bilstein dampers join revised front links and more rigid wheel-hub bolts. The body is adhesive bonded. A hollow, 0.7-inch rear antiroll bar trims weight and adds stiffness.

Inside, the Nismo has carbon fiber this and Alcantara that, including a suede-y three-spoke steering wheel. But some obligatory materials, even the stellar Recaro seats, can't paper over the general impression: in contrast with other six-figure supercars, the Nissan's interior is like Carl from Caddyshack guzzling brews in the Bushwood dining room.

GT-R fans, of course, would choose Carl over pompous Judge Smails any day and would take the Nissan over some precious Porsche 911. To them, the GT-R's kill-the-rich personality is integral to its charm.

To gauge the Nismo's charm attack, we were granted some teasing test laps. Clawing around Japan's cozy Sodegaura Forest Raceway, the Nismo felt insanely, unstoppably fast. What else is new? We'll await side-by-side testing of both models to offer judgment.

On two-laners, a standard, right-hand-drive GT-R showed its near-criminal talent -- contributing to the delinquency of grown-ups -- but with welcome gains in civility and ride quality. Added sound deadening and noise cancellation via the Bose audio system quells nasty powertrain frequencies. Shift quality from the six-speed, dual-clutch automatic will no longer provoke panicked calls to the dealer. The driveline feels less lashy, noisy, and mechanical.

Some diehards, we suspect, will accuse Nissan of wimping out. But two miles on brutalized pavement in the 2015 GT-R should quell complaints, along with extraneous whirring, clacking, and trembling. Now -- giving the Nismo its numerical due -- if we could only shut down the white-noise 'Ring debates, the world would be a better place.

2015 Nissan GT-R/GT-R Nismo

On Sale: Now/mid-2014 (GT-R/GT-R Nismo)
Price: $101,000/$150,000 (GT-R/GT-R Nismo, est.)
Engine: 3.8L twin-turbo V-6, 545/600 hp, 463/481 lb-ft
Drive: 4-wheel
Est. Fuel Mileage: 15-16/22-23 mpg
Donga Rajni
wow
Prince Pranay Jyoti Sarkar
nic
JiWiz
This whole article seems to be dripping with disdain. Almost as if a German wrote an article about a supercar that single-handedly overthrew decades of German sportscar superiority propoganda. 
AMXLNT
Still as ugly as it ever was.  Spending over 150 large should get one some panache, shouldn't it?  Like, say, a Jaguar XFR-S, a Viper, or a couple of Corvettes.
fanbaseforumscom
The author cant hide his disdain for the GTR even in the face of a record setting ring lap. "Idiot proof four wheel drive"??? No Sir the idiot is the person who picks a rear wheel drive car that cant be controlled except by the best of professionally trained drivers and even then its never guaranteed. So call me an idiot as I leave you at the lights.
leader_medo
@NissanUSA Now with 2015 model the GT-R well complete it's 10th years with it's current gen.
Chris Story
Says new, but looks exactly the same.
jabrother
Why are you comparing this to the ZR1 which is not even in production any longer.  Are you serious that the ZR1 is more refined than GTR Nismo?  That seems insane to me.
Maggi2121
@NissanUSA @automobilemag amazing
Christopher Wesley
I'm going to come to the defense of manufacturers who post ring times. I think whoever wrote this already came in with a negative view over the topic and it kinda struck a nerve. Look, its not a bragging right as some may believe. Buyers know by now that they will NEVER achieve those times but just know that their car is simply capable. Porsche did the same thing and not one of your articles said anything about them doing it. Because it was under 7 minutes then its okay to make it so special. Wait, its the same thing. Oh well. But I'd rather have the HP4 in the post below. Motorcyclist don't worry about such things.
John Hand
The interesting thing is: All this with just a V-6. Who woulda thought?
Ross Mazin
Love it
logicalthought
I think Nissan should offer a model for $30,000 over the base unit that uses enough aluminum and carbon fiber to remove 500 pounds without sacrificing comfort. (If BMW can save 800 pounds vs. conventional construction with the new i3 then Nissan should be able to do the same for an extra $30K.) I think that would be a much more interesting car at $130,000 than it is today at $100,000.
Johnny.5sp
I think Automobile Magazine should to a retrospective article on this whole “Ring” phenomenon. Starting with the history of the ring itself (remember it used to be a lot longer “The Green Hell”) and discus how we got to this point that the Ring and its lap times became such a benchmark for sports cars.It should also debate how or whether “ring times” are really relevant to everyday enthusiast, and perhaps talk about the rules governing whom gets credit for what and, how close do the cars really resemble what we can buy for legal use. In the meantime kudos to Nissan for pulling off this feat!
Bossman
Its a mega boosted V6 with a PTWA coated engine block patented by Ford and used in the Ford GT and the GT500
AMXLNT
@Johnny.5sp OR, put a real person, instead of a professional driver, who's probably already logged hundred of hours in this car on this track, behind the wheel, and see what happens.  Ultimately, these things are about as useful as luxury cars in commercials racing through clouds of dust in the desert, spelling their names in tire tracks, and warning "don't try this at home".  Silly.
Just Anon
@AMXLNT @Johnny.5sp Yeah no, that's total BS.
Ring times using professional drivers absolutely are an indicator of the upper limits of a cars capabilities.
99% of the complaints are only so vehement because it's a Japanese car that dared do well.
Mags *always* publish lap times and closed track times, and I don't see anyone complaining.
So VIR or Laguna np, but the Ring problem?  Hmmmm... Wonder why...  What a crock of hypocrisy
Its a clear case of EU and domestic zealot outrage because Nissan specifically has been harassing Porsche and the American cars havent been able to replicate their domestic track success on that particular track
Look at the FANATIC response to the Z/28 tests on a couple of US tracks.  So of course THAT's ok, but not Ring times.
What a joke

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