Nissan GT-R NISMO MY17: Driven


As conditions go for testing the latest GT-R NISMO, Silverstone GP in December is pretty much spot on actually: fast enough for 600hp to really show off, challenging enough to (hopefully) test those chassis tweaks and also rather wet. Perfect. Not usually ideal for a conventional track car, but then the NISMO isn't a conventional track car; it's a GT-R first and foremost, and rain rather suits a GT-R.

All the other cars ran off scared
All the other cars ran off scared
We'll return to that; first, a refresh of what makes this car fit to carry that hallowed nameplate. Taking the new interior and updated look from the standard GT-R, the NISMO also gets tweaks to the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars for a "better overall balance" and a marginal improvement in Nissan's dynamic tests. It remains a 600hp, near-200mph car, same as before. And it's £150,000.

The schedule is refreshingly simple in fact, with half an hour allocated on Silverstone, not a single other car and an instructor who is surprisingly quiet. Perhaps he was scared. That it was up there with some of the best half-hour drives of 2016 should hopefully tell you a lot.

Initial impression s from a couple of exploratory (read: slow) warm-up laps show a few familiar and endearing GT-R traits. Electro-hydraulic steering that's far more pleasant than even the best Porsche EPAS systems (with a lovely Alcantara wheel), a host of drivetrain noises that could only be from a GT-R and a sense of incredible agility that remains mismatched with something so physically large.

Steady now...
Steady now...
Same but more so
It won't surprise you to hear that much of what impressed about the old NISMO remains the same here. Even in their standard setting, the Bilstein Damptronic - why do they always sound like an incontinence aid? - dampers are fantastic, giving the car absolute composure and the driver great confidence. There are caveats here though, as always. First being that Silverstone is a smooth circuit anyway, providing a less challenging task. And without a road test being possible, it's hard to be definitive on whether the settings are successful for the NISMO or a crashy nightmare in the way some Japanese specials can be. Still, if it's good enough for that Nurburgring lap, you would hope it could deal with a B-road...

The NISMO is still tremendously fast too, tangibly if not significantly brisker than the standard GT-R. There's some lag from the venerable VR38DETT but also an appetite for the 6,800rpm power peak that implores you to keep it there. Even with a short shift into fourth and a conservative braking point for Stowe, the NISMO saunters on to 140mph down the Hangar straight. How do people feel the need for even more power?

Be less conservative with that braking point though and the magic box of tricks begins to open. As mentioned way back when we first drove the NISMO in Japan, the thicker rear anti-roll bar compared to standard makes this car far more mobile at turn-in; with a slipperier surface too this sense of agility is enhanced to a very entertaining degree. While never tremendously precise, the way a GT-R rotates its way into a bend on the brakes, alleviating the understeer that's sometimes there, is jolly good fun. With time and space perhaps it could be learnt and exploited properly, because it can be a little unnerving on first experience!

Brakes aren't ceramic, but more than good enough
Brakes aren't ceramic, but more than good enough
Twist and shout
That same sense of flightiness can be found on corner exit too. Sometimes it will hook up fantastically, the lock gradually unwinding in your hands, the traction control untroubled. Then another time you'll get a spike of oversteer with what feels like the same approach. Edgy might be a bit harsh; 'intense' probably best describes it, and you need to be concentrating.

Isn't that what we want from Japanese special editions though? The legend has been constructed on raw, angry, uncompromising cars, so it's a real pleasure to see that defiant attitude survive to 2017. You won't get the most from it in half an hour or without some effort, making it a more memorable experience.

Encouragingly, using the instructor's wet line around Silverstone shows how grippy and fast the NISMO really can be on this surface.  Whatever your chosen line or approach though, that the driver is told so much about the car through the steering, through the seats and through the brakes makes it so rewarding. There are different ways to drive and exploit it, while also being kept right at the centre of the action. Regardless of the tech and the image, a GT-R NISMO is still a deeply involving and exciting sports car. That's the joy of it.

Expensive, yes, but still rather brilliant
Expensive, yes, but still rather brilliant
Deal breaker
Trouble is that £150,000 remains a great deal of money, even if NISMOs hold their value. As well as being not far off double a standard GT-R, it's beyond cars like a McLaren 570S, Audi R8 V10 Plus and the new NSX. That sort of money will also buy a 911 GT3 still with a triple-digit mileage. While the NISMO retains a unique appeal, it's hard not to conclude that those rivals are more broadly talented and more suited to the majority of buyers. GT-R enthusiasts will adore it with very good reason, and we remain very happy that a GT-R NISMO exists, but our choice would most likely be a Track Edition with the best part of £60,000 left over.  


NISSAN GT-R NISMO
Engine:
 3,799cc, V6, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed twin-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 600@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 481@3,600rpm
0-62mph: 2.5sec (est.)
Top speed: 196mph
Weight: 1,725kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 23.9 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 275g/km
Price: £149,995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Comments (92) Join the discussion on the forum

  • PunterCam 25 Jan 2017

    I think maybe it's time for Nissan to quietly retire the GTR... I've only seen one on the road in the last year, and there are more GTRs on my local Nissan forecourt than there are Micras.. Or Jukes. Or whatever it is Nissan are selling as a small car these days.

    The GTR forced everyone to jump a generation (in terms of tech), and that's either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view, but it was surpassed by everyone 5 years ago now.. I just don't see any appeal anymore. I'm sure it's a nicer everyday car now, and the interior looks a little more 00s than 90s, but it's still a bit "big 90s retirement coupe"..

    Also - I really don't like this yearly update thing - you buy an older car and you're buying a WORSE car.. I don't like that.

    Maybe I'm just grumpy, but then again I don't see anyone else buying them.

  • Deerfoot 25 Jan 2017

    It`s not cheap either now is it?

  • British Beef 25 Jan 2017

    If it were my money a standard GTR and £10k upgrades at Litchfield would surely yield something very similar to this.

    Surely the main reason someone would buy this is rarity and associated residuals, as I just cant see an extra £70k of value in this car over the standard GTR.

  • jason61c 25 Jan 2017

    PunterCam said:
    I think maybe it's time for Nissan to quietly retire the GTR... I've only seen one on the road in the last year, and there are more GTRs on my local Nissan forecourt than there are Micras.. Or Jukes. Or whatever it is Nissan are selling as a small car these days.

    The GTR forced everyone to jump a generation (in terms of tech), and that's either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view, but it was surpassed by everyone 5 years ago now.. I just don't see any appeal anymore. I'm sure it's a nicer everyday car now, and the interior looks a little more 00s than 90s, but it's still a bit "big 90s retirement coupe"..

    Also - I really don't like this yearly update thing - you buy an older car and you're buying a WORSE car.. I don't like that.

    Maybe I'm just grumpy, but then again I don't see anyone else buying them.
    Erm, can you say what cars surpassed it 5 years ago?

    How about 4 years ago?

    3 years ago?

    Ok 2?

    The only factual part of your post is that you are being grumpy smile

  • sidesauce 25 Jan 2017

    PunterCam said:
    I think maybe it's time for Nissan to quietly retire the GTR... I've only seen one on the road in the last year, and there are more GTRs on my local Nissan forecourt than there are Micras.. Or Jukes. Or whatever it is Nissan are selling as a small car these days.

    The GTR forced everyone to jump a generation (in terms of tech), and that's either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view, but it was surpassed by everyone 5 years ago now.. I just don't see any appeal anymore. I'm sure it's a nicer everyday car now, and the interior looks a little more 00s than 90s, but it's still a bit "big 90s retirement coupe"..

    Also - I really don't like this yearly update thing - you buy an older car and you're buying a WORSE car.. I don't like that.

    Maybe I'm just grumpy, but then again I don't see anyone else buying them.
    So Nissan should stop selling GT-Rs. Because obviously (based on your anecdotal view) no-one in the entire world buys them. Ok.

    Maybe Honda should have quietly retired the original NSX earlier than they did as despite all the talk of forcing their rivals to up their game when it came to super-car reliability and everyday usability they couldn't even manage to sell 19,000 cars worldwide. In 15 years (funny, that car had a crap interior too...). We know a replacement will be along in the next 2 years, we also know that demand worldwide is sufficient for Nissan to keep producing them.

    A big retirement coupe? Please. Have you actually driven one? If you have then you'd know that the GT-R is NOT the car for retirement (or retiring) types; it's noisy, mechanical and pretty brutal in comparison to say a Mercedes S63 AMG (which is most definitely a 'big retirement coupe'). Efficient and effective it may be, refined it is not.

    Finally, ALL older cars fall under your argument regarding updates. If Nissan are able to update the GT-R every year, why shouldn't they? What would you prefer? That they wait 7 years before updating the car?? Maybe it escapes your attention but pretty much everyone does this nowadays, not just Nissan!

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