It’s difficult to overstate how remarkable the R35 Nissan GT-R was when it went on sale in 2009. This was a car that could keep up with the fastest supercars in the world at a fraction of the price. Plus, after being denied GT-Rs for numerous generations, we Americans finally got to enjoy Nissan’s demented speed demon. The car we call “Godzilla” has endured for more than a decade now and, after a brief respite, the 2024 Nissan GT-R is back on sale in the United States. Is it still as good of a deal at $120,000? I’m skeptical.
Nissan announced new pricing for the Nissan GT-R that’s going on sale in America, which is still the R35 that first debuted in 2007 and finally landed in dealerships as a 2009 model year vehicle. I’d just started working at the old lighting site when the righteous supercar killer debuted and people lost their damn minds for it.
Generations of kids playing Gran Turismo learned the generational differences between modern Skylines and every car geek I knew had opinions on the purity of an R32 versus the bigger R33 or bruising R34. RB26DETT was less an engine code and more a magical ingredient that, when paired with the ATESSA all-wheel drive system, incanted a powerful spell.
The original price was unbeatable, for just $69,850 you’d have something that could run with a comparable 911 Turbo for half the price. Even when the price was quickly raised to $76,840, nothing could touch it. Of course, the GT-R is old enough that we need to adjust for inflation, so that’s $99,084 and $109,000, respectively, in today’s dollars. It’s possible to argue that this still represents a hell of a value and, in the second part of this article, Thomas will make that case.
I’m not as sure. In 2009, you were getting an almost untouchable track weapon that offered almost unparalleled performance in its class. The world has caught up to the GT-R and, while it’s still wicked fast, I’m not sure it’s as desirable.
Like the fictional Godzilla, eventually the world (or Mothra) catches up with you.
Let’s look at what you’re getting
The 2024 Nissan GT-R At A Glance
If you’re curious, you can read this article for the full specs, but the car is still similar to the car that was facelifted in 2016 which, itself, was an iterative improvement over the car that debuted in 2009. The front is obviously tweaked, both for aerodynamics and, presumably, so that it looks new. The rear, as well, has undergone some slight upgrades. Are they even upgrades? I’m not sure any of the facelifts improved the aesthetics of the original.
I’m focusing on the base price of the car because America hasn’t always had the T-Spec or NISMO models. Though the T-Spec trim does return (this is the base car + some NISMO go-fast bits, a la Porsche’s GTS cars). How much more power does the car get? None more power. Zero extra horsepowers. It’s 565 horsepower, just like the last one. The same can be said for the NISMO, which offers the same 600 horses. Here’s the pricing, if you were curious:
2024 Nissan GT-R Premium – $120,990 MSRP + $1,895 Destination/Handling
2024 Nissan GT-R T-Spec – $140,990 MSRP + $1,895 Destination/Handling
2024 Nissan GT-R NISMO – $220,990 MSRP + $1,895 Destination/Handling
If you want to be pedantic, the Premium was $71,900 when it debuted, but there’s no longer a true base trim, so the Premium is the base trim.
What I’d Buy Instead
Caveats: People, generally, do not buy three cars at once. Additionally, If you’re looking to buy a high horsepower sports car, simply replacing it with a truck, a hatchback, and a less-powerful sports car probably isn’t appealing. If I just wanted an affordable track car, a Camaro ZL1 is just about as quick as a GT-R on most courses and half the cost. If I wanted to spend low six-figures on a sports car I’d get a 911 Carrera T. This is just a thought exercise and I think it works as a way of showing how much the performance landscape has shifted in the 15 years since we first gandered at the GT-R.
The 2023 Nissan Z Sport – $43,380 (shipped)
This is a no-brainer. If you want a GT-R, let’s assume you’re a Datsun head who dreams of BRE 510s and idolizes Paul Newman. While I have not yet driven the latest model, I’ve had a lot of seat time in older versions and have always enjoyed them. Is this the first sports car I’d buy in this price range? Maybe not, but here’s what you get for $43,380: 400 horsepower, RWD, a six-speed manual, a car that looks the business.
The 2023 GR Corolla Circuit Edition – $42,900 (shipped)
The Z isn’t the best car for a wet, rainy day, admittedly. The GT-R is a car for all seasons (especially when equipped with high performance all seasons). But if you could have two cars… a GR Corolla Circuit Edition is a hatchback that’s more enjoyable on public roads, less likely to get you arrested, and with the front/rear Torsen limited slip differentials, is probably more fun to chuck into and out of corners if your last name isn’t Franchitti.
The 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor – $32,490 (shipped)
Sure, the 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor isn’t in the end-all-be-all of off-roaders, but for around $33k it’s a more-than-acceptable crossover-type vehicle you can take on easy trails and use for weekend camping. Trucks are fun. They just are. The Maverick looks cool, can haul your gear around for other types of fun (kayaking, canoeing, pickelball), and can comfortably bring your friends and family along for the ride. If the Maverick isn’t your style, a base Jeep is around $35,000.
Total Cost: $118,770 for all three
While it’s not always possible to get these cars for MSRP, when comparing apples-to-apples, I feel like this trio of cars is a way better deal, more fun, and more useful than a GT-R. Of course, buying most cars is not rational and, if you’ve dreamed of owning a GT-R, then it’s a great deal, which I’m guessing is the argument Thomas is going to make:
Contrary to Matt’s perspective, I don’t think the new GT-R is a terrible deal. Sure, the Nismo model is horrendously expensive and the T-Spec is a pretty premium over the standard car, the base Premium trim objectively isn’t awful value. While it isn’t a screaming bargain like it was when it first launched, the rest of the seriously fast car landscape has grown so expensive that $122,885 isn’t terrible. Sure, a C8 Corvette Z06 is theoretically cheaper, but just try finding one in that price bracket. Otherwise, the Jaguar F-Type is fragile, the Porsche 911 Carrera T just isn’t as quick in a straight line, the Lexus LC 500 is far more of a GT car, and the Lotus Emira isn’t here yet.
Part of the GT-R’s appeal is that it’s old. As sacrilegious as this sounds, the four-wheeled Nordschleife-blitzing supercomputer of the late-aughts now feels distinctly mechanical compared to its current contemporaries. The drivetrain pops and writhes, the NVH attenuation probably falls short of 2023 standards, the hydraulic steering is charming compared to today’s electric racks, and the whole vehicle feels like a high-powered prototype for what turned out to be the future. Sure, Nissan softened up the suspension with the last facelift and introduced some understeer, but a GT-R is still a very unique experience. While it’s always possible to buy a used one, good luck finding one that hasn’t been beaten-on.
Then there’s the fact that the GT-R is a one-car solution. It might not offer a manual gearbox or be as quick around a track as a Camaro ZL1 1LE, but it works everywhere, all the time. Throw a set of winter tires on it and dash through the snow with all-wheel-drive traction. Cram the trunk full of backpacks and fold your kids into the rear seats for a weekend family holiday. Pick your parents or in-laws up from the airport. Drive through a national park while Mother Nature is pissing down rain and marvel at the scenery. Slog through stop-and-go traffic while running an important errand with limited fatigue. The GT-R will do just about everything you ask it to, and that’s one hell of a feat.
Of course, the GT-R isn’t for everyone. You won’t be able to park up anywhere without teenagers gawking at it, people not in the know will ask why you spent six figures on an Altima, and maintenance costs skew more supercar than Sentra. However, if you just want one car to do it all and can’t stand how the BMW M4 looks, the GT-R might still be the one to have. Oh, and look at it this way: Sure, you can theoretically buy three interesting cars for the price of one GT-R, but it’s often much easier and cheaper to keep on top of running costs for one car rather than three. – TH
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Look, if I wanted to buy something of that era…I’d actually SAVE money getting a Cayenne S Transsyberia. (Even from Bring a Trillion!)
You should do an article on why the 70 series LandCruiser (released in 1984) costs $90k AUD. And what is even more strange is how demand is so high that they aren’t even currently taking orders until the backlog is cleared.
Or – if you want that 2010 feeling but want to sort of buy in bulk at the same corporation, you could mix and match a Lexus GX and a 4Runner.
With replacements due in the next couple years (hey was there coverage of the GX teaser here?) it seems like the GT-R will probably outlive them. If so, it will have also out-aged the previous-gen Frontier.
These GT-Rs hold no appeal for me whatsoever and I wouldn’t buy one for $20k even as a fan of all the previous generations, but I think for someone that really wants one of these, there are no other comparable considerations. The appeal isn’t in the logic of the choice, so posing a question about alternatives just marks one as someone who doesn’t get it—if you’re thinking of alternatives, it’s highly unlikely you’d be considering this car at all even at a reasonable lower price.
Think I’d rather import an R32, R33 or R34 Skyline than buy an R35 GT-R.
It could use an update for sure, but I still get excited to see one. And judging by how many high powered ones there are, they seem to be a good platform if you have the money.
I’d buy one of these if I could reasonably afford it. I am a bit of a Nissan/Infiniti fanboy having owned 2 g35s in the past and always dreaming of the 370z….
The thing with buying three cars is that you have to take care of three cars. I used to want to have a fleet of vehicles filling my driveway to the brim with whatever I think is cool at the time. Only to then discover when I had 4 cars that it takes a lot of time and money to keep them going, time is especially valuable as I know I can’t wrench on things forever. I totally understand the one car solution now, although maybe two because of Canadian winters.
I tend to operate on Matt’s logic, and that’s why I never have anything super cool. If I could spend less money two get two things that do what I need, I’ll probably not buy the one thing I want. In my case, I tend to look toward things like the Blackwing (I’m with V10omous on that being the better buy here, even if no one will cross-shop these), then not even go for a CT5-V because I can get plenty of car cheaper.
One day soon, I think I’ll splurge on something. Might be a luxury sedan, might be a fun coupe, or it might be a nice convertible to cruise in. But it is hard to escape the thought that I could save a lot by settling for something a little less fun/nice.
I have the same problem. I could technically afford some pretty nice stuff but I keep winding up with hot hatches because they give me so much fun and engagement in cheap, useful packages. Sometime in the next 5-10 years I’ll splurge on something special but as much as I like talking about the LC500 it’s probably going to wind up being a luxury performance sedan. I suppose an IS500 is the logical choice but I also really like the CT4V BW.
I feel this falls into a similar category as the argument that you can buy a Kia or Hyundai for less money than a BMW with the same features. Yes, you totally can, but to some people out there they need it to say BMW on the front even if it’s a compromise everywhere else. I’m sure a large portion of the (I’m guessing) small market for the GTR is people that want one just to say they bought a new GTR which is fine by me because maybe I can buy it used in 25 years.
The Nissan GTR started as a fantastic value for you money sports car. Unfortunately that was 15 year ago, and now i seems like it might be the worst value for the money sports car on sale today. The fact that the NISMO is $220k is unreal actually.
Just get a Blackwing.
100 more hp, $20K cheaper, real back seat, 6 speed available, and only weighs 200 lb more.
Plus the GTR is ugggggly.
V10emous: why do this when you can get an American car with MOAR CYLINDERS?!
(Said with affection)
Buy em while you can!
Exactly. There is 15 years worth of GTR’s to buy. Plus, I PROMISE the Blackwing will be more comfortable, which is a thing to us olds.
I would have to assume there aren’t many people cross-shopping a GT-R with an american sports sedan. That said, I used to aspire to owning a GT-R one day, having formerly owned a G35 manual coupe, followed by an IPL manual coupe. But then I bought an ATS-V and my eyes were finally opened.
I am with you on this, even if no one is cross-shopping these. I’d much rather have the Blackwing. Cheaper, more comfortable, and more power? I’ll take that. Well, I won’t, because I can’t convince myself to spend that much, but it’s definitely a better deal.
That begs the question of what GTR buyers do cross-shop.
Maybe it’s nothing, by this point if you still want a GTR then that’s pretty much all you want.
The manual Blackwing5 is to me the safest investment of any car under $100K. It’s pretty rare you can say with absolute certainty that what you’re buying is the last of its kind.
I’d guess that GTR buyers aren’t doing cross-shopping (except maybe used vs new), but those who want a GTR without spending so much are probably looking at something JDM…I just don’t know what. The Toyabaru or Supra won’t cut it unless you’re really willing to settle.
And you are right that the Blackwing is a safe investment, it’s just a tough amount of money to put into that kind of investment. I’m probably just no fun (and don’t make enough money to do that with it). If I had a sudden windfall, I’d probably be looking at it, though.
LC500 brother. More of a touring car than the GTR but still a nearly 500 horsepower Japanese V8 that revs to more than 7,000. If you’re buying a road car I’d argue that it’s probably the better choice and they offer a convertible. But if you’re aiming for serious performance driving they’re not really in the same league stock for stock.
Gen 2 NSX maybe?
It’s about the only Japanese car in the same market segment the last two decades, but it’s such a different seeming car
Also this. How many will still exist in 20 years when I retire? few thousand??
so is it faster than a Z06 or what
Huh. I actually thought the GR-r was cancelled several years ago. I can’t recall the last time I saw one. How many of these things does Nissan sell in a year?
Okay the first issue I have here is that you’re not getting a GR Corolla at anywhere close to MSRP. Whenever I see articles extolling the virtues of that or the new Civic Type R I feel obligated to mention that. In my area both are selling for $10,000-$25,000 over MSRP. Will that change? I sure hope so, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any relief on the horizon. I am once again asking JDM fanboys to stop feeding into this insanity.
But that brings me to one of my larger points re: the GTR. It doesn’t really matter that it’s not a great deal and a bit dated. It’s a Japanese sports car that has a place in automotive Valhalla because of how much of a cultural icon it is. People that want Japanese performance cars want Japanese performance cars and cost isn’t as much of a concern. I’d venture a guess that the majority of people buying GTRs aren’t cross shopping much of anything, and if they are they’re probably looking at the LC500. They’re not looking at 911s.
Which brings me to my next point-the GTR is unique. You’re going to run into 25 different 911s at every Cars and Coffee you go to. You’re going to see them all the time while commuting. Same with Corvettes. The ZL1 Camaro is a ridiculously great car and you all know that I’m a big fan of that platform…but to probably 90% of people it just looks like a tuner Camaro.
When I see a GTR I get excited. I feel something. I can’t say the same about most 911s, and I love Porsches. Honestly I can’t say the same about much of anything the GTR competes with. At the end of the day it stands out, and you’re not dropping six figures on a car to blend in.
Finally, the GTR living on is amazing for the secondhand market. You can find reasonably nice examples kicking around for 65-80k or so. At that price it’s a ridiculously good buy. I’ve lamented this a few times but the “one that got away” for me is a GTR. Back early in Covid when they couldn’t give cars away one got listed in the high 40s at a local Infiniti dealership. It was older (early 2010s I think) but had a clean Carfax and only 40k miles.
It would’ve been a stretch at the time, so I played it safe and bought a GTI. It turns out I’d get some sizable raises in the following months, the market would go bonkers, and now I’ll never get a deal like that again. It haunts me. I also could have made a coupe work at that point in my life. Now? No way Jose.
TL:DR-the GTR has always been cool and will always be cool. It doesn’t really matter that it’s old and not the strongest buy brand new. The types of folks who buy these really don’t care. It’s a dream car for a lot of people. Hell, one of my coworkers who’s pretty much a total normie once told me that a GTR was her favorite car. It’s an icon, and icons don’t need to make perfect logical sense.
This is a good take. I have never found the R35 to be an attractive car, unlike the GTRs before it, but each time I see one, even all these years later, I get more excited for it than I do much more rare or desirable vehicles.
It really does stand alone. For someone it appeals to, there’s really nothing to cross-shop that’s comparable. I think the closest comparative would have to be electric and there’s nothing I can think of that’s a similar form and electric is still a far cry from something with an ICE.