- The Nissan GT-R is a stunner when it comes to acceleration, handling and braking
- Even novice drivers will be able to extract impressive performance results
- The GT-R's reliance on technology might leave some drivers feeling disconnected
- The transmission sometimes lurches clumsily at low speeds
- The stiff ride quality could prove tiresome
If you're in the market for a high-dollar sports car, it's a good time to be alive. There's a new crop of new or refreshed vehicles in that class, including the 2017 Nissan GT-R. Granted, the GT-R remains fundamentally the same vehicle that debuted way back in 2009, but Nissan has tried to keep it fresh over the years with a nip here and a tuck there. That trend continues for 2017 with a subtle face-lift, a slight increase in power and an improved interior.
Like most sports cars, the GT-R requires some sacrifices with regard to comfort and convenience. Then again, shoppers in this arena are generally willing to give up some refinement in the name of performance. And the Nissan GT-R definitely performs, even though it's no spring chicken at this point. It put the mighty 911 Turbo on notice when it first hit the market, and it's still one of the fastest track-day cars you can buy.
What's even more impressive is how easy it is to drive the GT-R quickly. It doesn't take a seasoned racing veteran to make the magic happen, thanks in large part to technological advances that serve as a skill-enhancing safety net to compensate for driver inexperience. The downside is that seat-of-the-pants drivers might feel a bit disconnected as a result, almost as if they're playing a video game.
The new Acura NSX is perhaps the GT-R's most direct rival this year with its similar reliance on technology. More traditional competitors such as the Porsche 911, Audi R8, Mercedes-AMG GT and Jaguar F-Type R provide a more engaging driving experience. We also consider the more affordable Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Dodge Viper to be viable alternatives with a distinctly American brashness. Fortunately for you, there's not a bad apple in this barrel, so happy hunting.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, the Nissan GT-R returns with a slight face-lift as well as a bit more power under the hood. Inside, there's a new dashboard with fewer buttons and a larger infotainment screen with an updated control interface. Also, the shift paddles have been moved from the steering column to the steering wheel, and Nissan claims that the cabin is quieter than before thanks to new sound-absorption measures. A new trim, called the GT-R Track Edition, bridges the gap between the GT-R and the GT-R Nismo. It features the suspension upgrades of the Nismo and combines them with the GT-R Premium's powertrain.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sports coupe with seating for four. It is available in Premium, Track Edition (late availability) and Nismo trim levels. The Premium includes 20-inch wheels with summer run-flat tires, LED headlights and running lights, power-folding heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, an adaptive suspension, configurable drive modes, and keyless entry and ignition.
Inside, you get leather upholstery with synthetic-suede inserts, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated eight-way power driver seat (four-way for the front passenger), a manual tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, a rearview camera, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, voice controls, NissanConnect mobile-app integration, Bluetooth, and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellation and enhancement, USB connectivity and satellite and HD radio.
Options are limited to the Cold Weather package (all-season tires and a unique coolant mixture), the Premium Interior package (hand-stitched premium leather upholstery), special floor mats and a few premium paint colors.
The new GT-R Track Edition is similar but receives the Nismo's suspension, chassis and interior upgrades (see below).
Finally, the GT-R Nismo comes with with a stiffer body structure, a front fascia with more cooling area and downforce, side skirts and rear wing, , Recaro seats, lightweight forged alloy wheels, a more aggressive suspension calibration, and an uprated version of the V6 engine.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
At first glance, the 2017 Nissan GT-R's interior doesn't look much different from previous years, but there are some distinct improvements. There are far fewer switches and buttons now, with many replaced by a knob on the center console that controls infotainment functions. The high-mounted screen is also an inch larger than before.
Familiar features include numerous infotainment menus that are devoted to performance, along with data playback that rivals the telemetry used by top race teams. It's also worth noting that the mere act of getting in and out is as straightforward as it is in a typical passenger car. Many sports cars in this class require awkward contortions, but with the GT-R you just hop in and drive.
The front seats are notable for their support and comfort over long distances, though it's disappointing that the passenger seat has fewer adjustments. The rear seats are small and best left to children or cargo. The trunk is deep, but the high liftover height and narrow opening hamper loading. Capacity is limited to 8.8 cubic feet, and the rear seatbacks do not fold forward.
Standard safety features for the 2017 Nissan GT-R include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera.
During Edmunds performance testing, a 2017 GT-R came to a stop from 60 mph in a very short 102 feet.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Powering the 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium and Track Edition is a turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 that produces 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque. The GT-R Nismo has an uprated engine that produces 600 horsepower and 481 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. At the Edmunds test track, a 2017 Nissan GT-R launched to 60 mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds. That's one of the quickest times we've ever recorded.
EPA fuel-economy estimates stand at 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway), which is a respectable result for such a high-performance car.
There's no denying the 2017 Nissan GT-R's performance credentials. It's blindingly quick and knifes through corners with impressive precision. As inspiring as that sounds, there's something that purists will miss, and that's a mechanical and emotional connection that is difficult to quantify. The combination of advanced all-wheel drive and clever technology built into the stability and traction control systems makes it much easier for novice drivers to go fast, but seasoned drivers could feel somewhat disconnected from the car.
In simplest terms, you just point the car where you want it to go and mash the throttle, and there's certainly a lot to enjoy about that. Not everything is perfect, though, as the GT-R is a bit nose-heavy and it tends to understeer more than you'd expect from such a performance-oriented machine. Outside of a race environment, the GT-R is fairly easy to live with, but the stiff ride quality and some inelegant clunks and lurches from the transmission might wear thin with some drivers.
Are you looking for a high-performance sports car that will make you feel like a track-day hero? The 2017 Nissan GT-R might still be your best bet, thanks to numerous high-tech systems that make it one the easiest sports cars to drive. But it's also the oldest car in this fast-moving segment, so newer rivals could seem more appealing overall.