For a decade, Nissan GT-R has evolved, with small but constant tweaks, the MY17 GT-R represents the biggest leap.
It’s hard to believe that the R35 R35 Nissan GT-R has been with us for nearly 10 years (it launched in 2007 at the Tokyo motor show). Like most significant cars, I clearly remember the first one I saw in the metal. Wheels magazine had one in the garage and, like kids the day Dad brings home the new family car for the first time, we all went down to check it out. It looked like nothing else before it but also strangely very familiar. In hindsight, its familiarity was due to its cover-star status on every motoring magazine and an increasing number of Gran Turismo promotions.
Yet even though the R35 GT-R has been around for a decade it remains relatively rare on our roads. A point made even more eye-opening by the fact that since the GT-R launched in Australia, it has been outsold by all Ferrari models on sale in that same period. Looked at in that light, the GT-R is more exclusive than a car wearing the famous prancing horse.
Speaking of Ferraris, the GT-R’s lifespan covers the on-sale periods of the F430, 458 and now 488. Given the advances Ferrari has made in the last decade, it’s quite the achievement that you still have to drive hard in a 458 or 488 to stay with a GT-R.
From a distance, the MY17 GT-R looks like the same car that was launched back in 2007. Only when you get closer can you see the level of detail that has gone into evolving the R35. Clever attention has been paid to increasing air intake volume while reducing drag. The overall look is a car that has become more aggressive yet simultaneously more refined. Put it this way, from 100 metres you would not be able to tell the MY07 and MY17 apart, but put them next to each other and you will find yourself staring at the details of the newer car.
That same experience greets you inside the cabin. The fit and finish of the interior is a class above what it once was and the leather reminds me of that in a Ferrari California. It feels like a purposeful executive office in here. It is also less fussy than it once was, less Playstation handset and more iPhone touchscreen. It has grown up.
I’ve witnessed more races at Phillip Island than I can count, yet this is my first experience of actually driving the famous circuit. It is an amazing place and just being here feels special. However, now when I think of Phillip Island my first thought will be passing the pits on my ‘sighting’ lap and looking at the speedo to see 250km/h showing – I honestly thought I was closer to 120km/h.
Carrying such speed for the first time into Doohan corner in any other car would be a frightful experience, but even as I turn into the long sweeper I can feel this car is in its element here. Even if you are off line you can point it in the right direction and it will simply get you there. The GT-R is so stable and surefooted that you need to go far beyond the capabilities of most other performance cars to test it. After more laps, the cornering speeds increase while the braking distances become shorter. It’s comical what it allows you to get away with. Only occasionally do its limits get tested, yet if you stay within them, the reward is a car that deserves all of the praise it has received for, well, 10 years.
But it’s when we take the GT-R off track and onto the road that I feel the real ‘everyday’ purpose of this supercoupe. Acceleration on bumpy back roads is something out of this world, not because it is dramatically fast (it is) but because it is just so stable. Respect it and it will do nothing to test your nerves. See an opening on the road and it will get to the other side in an instant. This is a proper point-and-squirt machine. On country roads the capabilities of the GT-R are a level above just about everything. Look down at that speedo and you can go from modest digits to speeds starting with a 2 in the time it took you to read this sentence.
Yet in the same way a plane looks fast on the outside, but on the inside you hardly notice a thing, the GT-R looks (and is) very fast but it just does not feel it. Why? Because the drama of what the big Nissan can do is completely of your choosing. After a day in the MY17 GT-R Premium I am astounded that it is such a rare beast on our roads. With what it has on offer it should be on everyone’s shopping list. You will struggle to find a car that fulfils as many briefs as the GT-R and as such it remains the most accessible all-around supercar on sale today.
If you like spreadsheets, go ahead and create one on the GT-R. When you look at the stats, finding cars that match the GT-R’s performance leaves you with relatively few contenders. We rarely mention dollar values in evo Australia, instead choosing to value cars against their intended purpose. That said, if you add value into the above spreadsheet, the GT-R is left almost without competition.
If you are in the market for something different from the crowd, go and try a GT-R. It might not ultimately sway you from that prancing horse or equally famous badge from Stuttgart, but I assure you one thing. Every time you are attacking a back road, Godzilla will be there in the back of your mind. Why, because I can equally assure you that no matter how hard you are driving, you would likely be in the GT-R’s rear view mirror.
Regardless of price though, if you had to have one car in the garage on constant standby, a car that could get you from A to B at a moment’s notice regardless of the weather, the only contender I can think of is the GT-R.