Well, well, well, look what’s not dead. Despite being killed off in Europe for not meeting new noise regulations, being killed off in Australia for not complying with new side impact rules, and not being sold in America as a 2022 model, the Nissan GT-R returns to America for 2023 in two very distinct trims.
Carrying a price tag of $212,735 including a $1,895 freight charge, The Nismo trim lists for almost $100,000 more than the GT-R Premium, so you’d have to be properly GT-R obsessed to buy it. Sure, turbochargers from the GT3 car, 600 horsepower, and carbon ceramic brakes are cool, but so is not eating ramen. In contrast, the GT-R Premium carries an MSRP of $115,435 including freight and includes forged wheels, Apple CarPlay, a Bose stereo, and Nappa leather, along with 565 horsepower of turbocharged V6 thrust.
While $115,435 before an unspecified freight charge may seem like a lot for an aging sports coupe, it’s actually an alright deal.
While the GT-R initially carried a headline-grabbing MSRP under $70,000 when it launched in 2008, there are some asterisks involved. The first is that the relatively cheap price tag was for the now-discontinued base model, while the second was that Nissan quickly hiked prices in September 2008 to $77,840 for the GT-R and $80,090 for the GT-R Premium, both including a $1,000 freight charge. If we take that second figure and adjust it for inflation, we end up with $110,408.83 in 2022 dollars. Paying an extra $5,026.17 for an extra 85 horsepower and nicer interior appointments doesn’t seem outlandish, so the GT-R might be a value player once again.
For context, a Jaguar F-Type R coupe also has two doors, a fixed roof, all-wheel-drive, and more than 550 horsepower. It starts at $109,775 including a $1,275 freight charge but gives up two seats to the GT-R and still can’t touch the Nissan’s blazing zero-to-sixty time. A Corvette with the Z51 package can roughly match the GT-R’s 2.9-second zero-to-sixty time, but good luck getting your hands on one should you place an order now. Then again, if we’ve learned anything about the car market over the past few years, it’s that manufacturer suggested retail prices are purely theoretical. Some dealers can and will mark up everything they can get their hands on, so the $115,435 GT-R could very well be a myth, even if the GT-R is a slow seller.
[Editor’s Note: In my eyes, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 with 1LE Extreme Track Performance Package seems like a better deal. It’s known to beat the GT-R around the track, and it costs over $30,000 less. Of course, it doesn’t get all-wheel drive, but for cars like this, I’m a numbers man. And a manual transmission man. -DT].
If anything, the GT-R shows just how much has changed in the performance car world over the past 15 years or so. Upon launch, Nissan’s halo car was vilified for its computer gadgetry and dual-clutch gearbox, with many enthusiasts claiming that the car basically drove fast for you, taking a great deal of skill out of the equation. Roughly a decade and a half later, and even the Shelby GT500 uses a dual-clutch gearbox, while all sorts of performance cars from manufacturers like Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari have made the jump to all-wheel-drive. Launch control and multi-mode traction control are now de rigeur, and despite the GT-R’s hefty curb weight, everything else has grown heavy too. For better or worse, the R35 GT-R was a new yardstick for what might be the last era of all-combustion performance cars. The 2023 model year might just be its victory lap.
All photos courtesy of Nissan
Not going to argue the existence of the R35, even if it’s not my favorite supercar, is soul quenching in a world of less noise, less combustion motors, less changing gears and less fun. However, if I had 6 figures to drop on a new car, it would be an Emira which, based on my driving impressions of the Evora 400, has the perfect ratio of power and performance that is actually useable / enjoyable on a public road. Last time I drove the R35, I had to resist clacking down a few gears and matting it simply because you’re going too damn fast. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to drive a “slower” car fast than the other way around…. if anyone wants to challenge that, come race with us in NASA SpecE30 🙂
+1 for SpecE30 from the 2012 National Champion 😉
$115K and it includes Apple Car Play!!?? Holy crap! What a performance value!
Like, literally so what? 28% percent of the market and I have to pay for an interface I’ll never use?
Of course I’m not in the tax bracket or interest bracket for a GT-R so I suppose 99% of those who are use Apple products, so whatever, what do I know.
The GTR’s have been overpriced ever since their initial revival. The GTR and the Supra are meant to be competitors, and they always had been priced that way in the past. Nowadays, the new Supra starts at $43K, and the GTR costs anywhere from 3 to 6 times as much. That’s a large price to pay for a boaty, overweight land-yacht with numb steering, and a poor quality of materials.
Not to mention they dropped their legendary straight-six RB platform in the process, giving us a V6. Nissan owners are not nearly as outraged about that as they should be, because I’m pretty sure Toyota owners would riot if a V6 Supra was made. V platforms are also a lot more difficult to work on and for someone that does their own repairs/maintenance (AKA a real car enthusiast), that’s a real problem.
There’s also the fact that the GTR is only made using a fun-sucking automatic gearbox with flappy paddles, and way too many handholding driver assistance features. That’s a system designed for car lovers that can’t drive, and is practically dummy proof. Automotive purists and enthusiasts drive stick, and the less DSC assistance the better. We went insane when Toyota released the Supra without a manual trim option initially.
Why have Nissan owners fallen out of love with driving?
“Nissan owners are not nearly as outraged about that as they should be, because I’m pretty sure Toyota owners would riot if a V6 Supra was made. ”
But dropping in a BMW motor is OK?
Ive managed to get a few shots of these over the past 15yrs. At first.. it was nearly impossible, but then a few popped up.
I do have a shot of one as it made the dealer rounds.
Jeez David and Thomas, you can’t drive a spec sheet. The cars you’re listing here all drive incredibly differently from each other. Stop focusing on 0-60 and lap times.
As for the GT-R… you’re going to miss it when it’s gone. Claims of it being a “digital supercar” are laughable today. Compared to today’s choices, this car is practically analog. Hydraulic power steering, physical handbrake, clutch-pack rear LSD, physical gauge cluster and tiny/irrelevant “infotainment”. Hell, even the “digital” parts of its drivetrain are simple and straightforward, with an ECU for the engagement of the center diff, and an ECU for the on-the-fly damper adjustments of the suspension.
In my experience, the R35 and its extensive aftermarket make it the most capable jack-of-all trades supercar. pure track performance, drift car, snow machine, comfortable GT, family cruiser, backroad bomber- it really does it all, very well. Add on that it’s very reliable and low maintenance, and doesn’t even stand out from the garish styling of modern traffic- you can really use this every day.
Having said all that, I will note that they ruined the interior with the 2017MY refresh (in several ways, but the biggest unforgiveable sin was to ditch the incredible column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters), so uh, yeah. Buy a used one. Whoops.
In case these links to the old site’s comments still work/are allowed, here’s what I said back then:
This car might not have the pedigree or dealership experience of Porsche et. all. but it’s different. Nobody outside of the car world knows what it is, and that makes it cool. It’s a machine, not a status symbol. It’s not another German or Italian, it’s this odd low-volume thing that calls attention to itself, but not too much attention. It has violent acceleration but unlike a Viper, it wants to protect you from yourself/it. Unlike an electric car, it converts dinosaurs into good sounds, smiles and goosebumps. As gas-burning cars become dinosaurs, I am glad to see that Godzilla still walks among us for a bit longer.
OK. I bought a Nissan. I bought it new. The dealer “experience” was sleazy and on par with a Mitsubishi or old Hyundai dealer. I get service when I need a tire rotation. That’s it (it’s a crazy good deal).
Now I did get a V8 RWD sports van out of the deal. I’ve been happy with it.
But a 6 figure car is not a $40k commercial van.
“V8 RWD sports van?” Color me intrigued!
Hah. It’s just what I call my 12 passenger NV3500.
I suppose compared to the V6 it’s a sports van.
Real vans deserve RWD.
It’s 3,800 lbs. That’s as much as a tank/rolling bank vault of a Mercedes 300 SDL I used to own. It’s also about as much mass as a late 1990s/early 2000s Ford Explorer SUV. How this can be called a “sports car” with a straight face eludes me. This bitch is morbidly obese. AND it wants nearly a quarter-million dollars from me, plus expensive upkeep?
Yeah, hard pass.
Not that the 400Z is an improvement, as it’s similarly hefty. Nothing Nissan sells in the USA interests me at this moment.
Maybe if they built an electric Z-car that weighed under 2,500 lbs had at least 250 electric horses and had a targeted sub-$30k price point, and was designed to get a 200+ mile range on a 35 kWh or smaller battery, which should be relatively easy to do if you start with a clean slate and emphasize drag reduction over the fad-du-jour regarding aesthetics and company brand identity. The looks can come into their own, by ditching the current fad of angry, angular designs, and go with sexy, provocative curves reminiscent of the original 240Z, a diminutive or even NO grille, while keeping the width down(and therefore frontal area) by deciding there’s no need to accommodate people who are 300+ lbs, and cutting back on unnecessary luxury crap(no heated seats, no heated steering wheel, no power-anything, use ROLL UP windows, ect).
This just leaves me with questions. Wasn’t the prime market for these the guys who wanted the latest cool thing? It’s certainly not that at its age, so what’s the market for an outdated-in-a-bad-way, bloated, ugly, video game car made by Nissan with one trick that can rarely be utilized in the real world? Do these transmissions still blow up when they’re launched and the warranty denied? I guess if someone had a thing for a specific subset of car guys, this might still get their attention, but for 6-figures, that’s got to be one hell of a fetish and how big are either of those pools of individuals?
For a car that costs potentially 200k, with that tiny screen, the interior tech looks quite dated.
Forget it Jake, it’s Nissan.
Some people will be drawn by the less technology focused interior. There are still many people who prefer a simpler interface.
I love the idea of a new GT-R for used 991.1 Turbo S money, given that it will still do 0-60 in something like 2.7 and leave your lunch a quarter mile away 11 seconds back at the start line.
It’s remarkable that the R35 has been around literally more than half of my life. How often can cars last that long and still age gracefully?
For me, the GT-R works and I’m glad it’s back like Beetlejuice.
The Nismo is into literal insane pricing territory, competing with stuff like the GT3, AMG GT, R8, etc and is within shouting distance of base McLaren and Ferrari models.
It’s quite possibly the *worst* value of these cars, not even close to the best.
I sure as hell am not spending 6 figures on a European or American car due to maintenance/reliability but I will gladly pay that much for a right Japanese car.
Plenty of pricey transmission failures on GT-Rs.
I also don’t think “Japanese” is a fair criteria for judging reliability; in my experience there is Toyota and then everyone else. Nissan hasn’t earned any benefit of the doubt with me over any other mainstream automaker.
In any case, my Viper, despite being both American and sold by “unreliable” FCA, has been the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. So I would simply say your closed-mindedness is depriving you of the opportunity to experience some awesome cars.
GT-R’s not on my list of cars I want so I don’t know the details, but they haven’t fix the transmission failure after over a decade?
Its not like I just buy only Japanese; I have an early Hellcat and its been reliable too, but that’s about as much as I could stomach for a car that can potentially cost a ton of money to fix.
You’re just looking at the wrong GT R:
Nissan is the Chrysler of Japan, which is really saying something because Mitsubishi was the Chrysler of America for a long time.
For a Lexus? Absolutely. Likely to be problem-free for many years with even marginal maintenance. But the GT-R specifically is only middling for reliability. I’d guess the overall maintenance costs would be higher than Corvette but lower than a BMW M or Mercedes-AMG.
So you’re at your high school reunion and someone asks what you drive. You say a Nissan GT-R and the person goes ok and imagines a Sentra, Kicks, Juke, or Murano Crosscabriolet.
Personally, I’d rather have a Porsche Cayman or similar. Yes it doesn’t compete on a horsepower level, but it looks a hell of a lot better and people don’t throw up in their mouth a little while envisioning the convertible Murano.
I don’t think a single GTR buyer in the history of the name plate bought one for the prestige they would get at the reunion/country club/retirement home.
There are a couple around here. They look fine in the doctor’s parking lot. The GT R’s are outnumbered by Teslas 5 to 1, but then in a similar fashion, there are more $100K pickups than Teslas too. You got the cash, pick a ride that makes you happy. Maybe it’s an R8. Maybe it’s a ’64 Corvette. Who cares?
I am kinda sad for people who consider what to buy, based upon what people would think.
I have gotten quite a few good shots in a doctors parking lot:
A Bunch of GT-Rs
A Bunch of Alfa Guilias
There was a R8 Floating around
they throw up a little thinking of the Porsche Cayenne and Panamerica.
Yeahhhh, I guess if you’re trying to impress the people you went to highschool with you would have to get a different car. But also, why bother with those people?