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GT-R Black Edition Coupe AWD MY18 AT | Nissan

Date of Release: January 2018
Number of Reviews 1

Introduced to South Africa’s over 10 years ago, this beast of a car AKA Godzilla, still continues to impress any driving enthusiast as well as manage to get under the skin of supercars that cost twice, if not three times as much. This brand new 2018 version, enjoys multiple refinements to an already unbelievable package, making it the quintessential Grand Tourer and hardcore Racer, all-in-one.

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The Torque Rating:  

Generic:

Value
Safety
Exterior
Interior
Performance

Sport Lifestyle

Sex appeal
Symphony of sound
Versatility
Turning heads
Ground clearance

Design

Cars that lap a track as quickly as a GT-R can are notoriously uncomfortable places to be. The beauty of the GT-R is that it is also a Grand Tourer, which means the car is a comfortable place to be on long-haul drives. And it is! Well refined, packed with all the last tech you would want, this car could easily be your daily drive.

Performance

Speed can mainly be attributed to two things – how you generate it and more importantly, how you transfer it. The GT-R does an outstanding job on both accords. A mighty 3.8l twin-turbo V6 engine produces 408 of power and 632Nm of torque. Combine that with a slick 6-speed semi-auto box and all-wheel drive system and you get a car that blasts from 0-100Km in less than 3 seconds.

Safety

With great power comes responsibility. Nissan’s mission is to have zero road death fatalities. That commitment is clearly evident in the GT-R. Good visibility, incredible traction, sublime brakes, combined with advanced Nissan tech, leaves one feeling safe, no matter which driving mode is selected.

THE TORQUE REVIEW

Having been in the country for almost a decade, most South African’s would have at one time or another, admired the bold Nissan GT-R from close-up – perhaps in a parking lot. Your eyes can’t help but be drawn into those humongous exhaust pipes. Some of you may have heard a stranger say “Nah… it’s not for me. It’s just a Nissan…”. We, for one, have heard that... And now, after testing this car over a few days, we realise just how crazy that statement is.

Arriving on our shores in 2009, the GT-R recently went through a major overhaul with Nissan releasing a car that has obsession levels of perfection plastered all over it. Improvements were made to the power unit and drivetrain but most importantly, Nissan made it more of a daily driver than ever before. Key of which, was an overhauled cabin.

The 2018 edition hasn’t really changed much since then (they switched around the indicator stalks) but internationally, Nissan has introduced a more affordable PURE range. Unfortunately, that variant is not coming to SA. Pity, as the GT-R has already proven to be one of SA’s top-selling sports cars. The Black Edition we tested will set you back a cool R2.2 million. Sounds like a lot? Well, if you compare it to something like a Ford Mustang, then yes. The point is, even though those two cars are similar in shape and dimensions, you really can’t compare them. The one, a muscle car, loud and brash (read our full review on a Roush upgraded Ford Mustang here). The other, engineering mastery. The GT-R is better likened with thoroughbred supercars. Cars that it has no problem keeping up with on the track and more often than not, smashing on a quarter mile sprint. So when you compare the GT-R to those prices, this car is the performance bargain of the century!

Weighing in at one and three-quarter tons, the GT-R is a fairly large car. It definitely has a presence on the road. Exterior styling highlights include:

  • Large, attractive LED headlights with a brilliant, Z-shaped LED light that sweeps up the length of the light. Separate from the main headlight housing are your typical LED daytime running lights.
  • That thirsty 3.8l V6 needs a lot of air, but none of the front grilles appear to be oversized. We like the overall proportions of the front-end of the car, including that flattened traditional Nissan chrome V-grille, the GT-R badge and the two vents within the bonnet (these actually direct air down the back of the engine).
  • The front splitter integrates nicely into a lower-edge trim that runs the length of the car. The sills on our car were carbon-fiber vinyl wrapped, which gave off the appearance the GT-R is driving on rails – it certainly feels so! The sill leading up to the rear wheel was an area of particular focus for the GT-R engineers - by introducing a more fluid shape and re-designing the C-Pillar, the engineers were able to improve the car’s already brilliant aerodynamics by just 1% - in their eyes, worth it!
  • The front wheel arch is one of favourite parts of the GT-R – it’s wide, pushed out by those mean headlights. We like how the side indicator is integrated into the front part of the arch, the rear side enjoying a large vent to help draw hot air away from the front brakes and make the side of the car aerodynamically ‘slippy’. Even the door handles are perfectly flush.
  • The windscreen juts out at a straight angle before the roof starts to curve back – a shape that reminds us of a Koenigsegg.
  • The rear end is pure supercar
  • A large spoiler (in our case, made to look carbon-fiber like). We love how the ends fold back in on themselves.
  • Large, classic looking LED tail lights. Those four circles start setting you up for…
  • Four, very large tailpipes. So good, we don’t see our friends from Mzanzi Rides wanting to change them. The exhaust tips are actually made of Titanium. We like how the exhausts are housed in their own oval heat grille.

Available in 7 colours, your GT-R is bound to turn heads. That said, we've seen two cars now that Nissan SA has spec’d and worked together with the chaps at Bandit Signs. We love the individual touch they add to the car – well worth it in our opinion.

Whilst many have seen a GT-R from the outside, it’s another experience completely getting behind the wheel… Interior styling highlights include:

  • A “let’s get down to business” speedo console. The onboard computer displays might seem a tad ‘old school’, however in this case, function needs to override aesthetics. When you’re going around a track at over 200Km/h, you need to instinctively know what your car is doing. That’s the case here – a large centre mounted rev counter, clear speedo (it’s funny to see how far done the scale a 120Km/h is) and finally a clear display as to which gear you are in.
  • An upgraded 8” touchscreen infotainment system which doubles up as a race computer. It’s perhaps here where you can see how dynamic this car is. On one hand, you have a modern infotainment system complete with SatNav and BlueTooth audio streaming. On the other, a race computer with senses and gauges for pretty much everything you can think of and more! The multifunction steering wheel (which has great feeling, easy to press buttons) also includes a stopwatch.
  • Awesome bucket seats! Lots of side support, but overall very comfortable. Definitely better than the seats in the Mercedes AMG GT S we drove (read our full review here).
  • All the bells and whistles you expect to find in a luxury grand tourer. Keyless entry, auto climate control, auto headlights/windscreen wiper, auto-tinting rear-view mirror, electric heated seats, quality Bose sound system (one look at the rear seat and you’ll know exactly what we are talking about) and don’t forget about a decent sized boot.
  • Lovely red-stitched leather seats, soft covered dashboard, and a leather gear knob. We like how a simple sideways tap (in either direction) changes the autobox in and out of manual mode.
  • From a driving point of view, you have three switches that change:
  • Drivetrain: Save/Normal/RACE. Save is a good option to use if your friend (who thinks they are the world’s best driver) wants to drive your precious car. It tones this beast right down. Normal still packs a serious turbo-boost punch! And then there’s RACE – more about that later…
  • Suspension: Comfort/Normal/RACE. A decade or so ago, car manufacturers were all about introducing more and more hard-core driving modes. Nowadays, it’s the opposite. A comfort mode is pretty much the best thing auto manufacturers have done to sports cars. It makes them easier to live with. Considering how fast this car can go around a track, it’s amazing to see how compliant the suspension can be in Comfort mode.
  • Traction control: Normal/RACE/Don’t even think about it – Off mode. Again, more about this later…
  • Finally, two, good-looking, ergonomically sound (you’ll be surprised at how many car manufacturers get this wrong) steering wheel mounted, paddle shifts. We loved using these!

Nissan has done a great job with the interior. Some say it’s watered down the hardcode performance feel a bit, we disagree. You can only leverage the full potential of this car on rare occasions such as a weekend track day. Rather enjoy the GT side of things every other day.

As much as we like exterior and interior styling of this car, we wouldn’t say it’s our favourite aspect. It’s good looking, sure, but sexy? Mmmm – we remain open-minded. For us, this is more of a car that evokes mutual respect vs.­ short-term attraction. A nod of the head vs. drool coming from the side of your mouth. It’s a driver car – that’s why you want it the most.

And oh boy, is it! We think it’s appropriate to go on record at this point and state, without any doubt, this is the fastest car we have ever driven. The first time you’ll get a glimpse of the power this car is capable of producing, is when you first pull onto a main road. Drive settings will still be in normal mode. Gearbox still in auto. There you are driving along nicely - put your accelerator to about the 75% mark, and the car starts to wind up. Even though your right foot is not moving, acceleration starts to build quickly as those two massive turbo’s start to spool up. You start to become overwhelmed by the forward G-forces. There’s a big step up in exhaust volume as those butterfly valves open up. In a flash (actually it takes 0.15 seconds), the car has changed from 2nd to 3rd. Before you know it, you have to brake to slow down and that’s when you weren’t even trying to go fast!

And then, when you’ve plucked up sufficient courage, you do try to go fast. Engage RACE modes. Flick the box into manual mode. Left foot on the brake, right on the throttle.

Vhrrrrrrrrrrr… the rev’s hold steady at the 4,000 RPM mark. Godzilla is ready. You lift your left foot.

Dwah! An immense amount of power is instantly transferred to all four wheels. The Dunlop SP Sport MAXX tyres literally dig in. We love how there is no drama. No wheel spin. No big dip of power and the traction control kicks in after the first metre. With the GT-R, there’s just action!

Your brain squeezes into the back of your skull at the G-meter rises. As a passenger, you’re just doing your best in trying to not to pass out. As the driver, your eyes are fixed on the rev counter. The needle rises quickly to 7,000 RPMs. Flick the right paddle shift, you’re into 2nd pretty much quicker than your eyes can blink. You say goodbye to the 100Km/k mark (the GT-R achieves this in just 2.8 seconds) as you continue to rocket on. Flick the paddle again; now the racing whine of the gearbox is starting to grow, like a jet engine getting faster. The sound coming from that big 408 kW / 632 Nm V6 is so good – you can literally hear the turbo’s forcing air through the engine. Small turbo prompts on the rev gauge flash at you, saying ‘I’m fully spooled up, now is a good time to change gear. On you charge forward, with speed levels now starting to become scary – somehow, this car is still accelerating as aggressively as it was off the first meter. Every part of your body is shouting, PLEASE, please tap off. And then finally you do. Even then, this car still impresses. You hear things happening around you that you are not actually controlling. It’s the GT-R’s magic Oompa Loompas, who mainly reside in the back of the car. They control the 6-speed, dual clutch automatic manual gearbox. The Oompa Loompa’s are getting the next set of gears ready, tweaking the diff etc. etc. just in case you decide to change your mind, and smash the throttle again. One gets the sense this car is always ready and prepped to go like a bat out of hell – in nutshell, it’s that feeling right there why we love this car so much.

Grip levels are insane. The GT-R is constantly shifting torque from the rear axle only to both axles (max 50/50 split) and somewhere in between. Being a fairly large car, the GT-R feels surprising light. With good steering feedback, you are able to hit apexes with confidence. It’s a car where you’re quite happy to stay within grip levels, as there’s so much of it, you feel like you will be even quicker if you do. If you push too hard, the back-end will swing out (remember, this car is rear biased a lot of the time) but the traction control will kick in and save the day. With traction control in R-mode, it holds back a bit, letting you have more fun. But again, this car is more of a “I am on rails car” than a “I like to go around bends sideways BMW M5’’. The brakes are magic too! Good feeling, very stable.

We absolutely loved testing the GT-R over a few days. It’s the only car to date that has actually made our necks sore – that’s how incredibly fast those launches are. But, this car can too be an everyday driver, so let’s see how well it ranks against our Sports Car Lifestyle criteria:

  • Sex appeal (4 out of 5): Does this car make you feel sexy? As we said earlier, this car definitely earns your respect, but we’re not so sure if your better half would consider this car to be “hot”. Some think it’s a bit loud in terms of its looks. Something we did notice is that the longer you are with the car, the more you like the look of it. It’s a car you need confidence to drive and return, the GT-R gives you confidence – which is why it scores well here.

  • Symphony of sound (4 out of 5): Does a high revving engine bring music to your ears? That V6 does scream nicely, particularly as the rev’s climb. And, those exhausts at the back are proper exhausts, not some fake exhaust tips. Is the best sound we have ever heard? No. Does it make snap, crackle and pops? No. Does this mean we wouldn’t buy it? Again - no. This car sounds great when it needs to – going flat out! 
  • Versatility (5 out of 5): It's a sports car, yes, but does it have the modern day creature comforts? From what we hear, the engine and drivetrain on the GT-R is rock solid. Combine that with all the modern day creature comforts you want, including cruise control and you can be confident enough to use this car on a daily basis. Just a small tip: if you do take your GT-R grocery shopping, best take along a small cool box for the cold stuff. The floor of the boot can warm up if you give the GT-R a good go on the way home.

  • Turning heads (4 out of 5): If looks could kill, is your car a deadly assassin? An assassin is exactly what this car is. AKA 'Giant Slayer'. It is Japan’s answer to Europe’s and America’s fastest cars. Apply a few subtle tweaks with the boys from Bandit Signs* and you’re sure to turn any head.
    * - THE TORQUE is in no way affiliated with Bandit Signs.

  • Ground clearance (4 out of 5): Because every day can't be on the track, can your car handle speed bump filled city streets? As this car is long and low, you do need to be careful about scrapping the tummy of the car on some badly built residential speed bumps. Other than that, slow down, be careful of potholes etc. and you’ll be just fine. The GT-R has both front and rear park distance controls to assist you as well as a rear-facing camera. Just remember, you don’t actually have a spare wheel.

When we reviewed the Mercedes AMG GT S, which costs slightly more than the GT-R, we gave praise to how much that car can change with the simple twist of a dial. Well, instead of a dial, the GT-R has switches to change the driving characteristics and we’d go as far to say, the dynamic range on the GT-R is even greater! It can go a from a comfortable, practical car, to a supercar that you are fully immersed in, pushing as hard as you can to pass that Ferrari/Lambo/Porsche on the track in front of you (search YouTube – there are so many films of a GT-R doing just that). A car that will firmly seal shut the trash talking mouths of Merc/Audi/BMW fans at your local robot drag race**. A car that was designed and built with an incredible obsession for precision. A car that is definitely not “just a Nissan”. No, this car is a mechanical masterpiece. It’s a GT-R.

**THE TORQUE encourages responsible, law-abiding driving.


Likes:

  • Performance on another level. It’s so incredibly quick. Once you go GT-R, you can’t go back.
  • Dynamic nature. We love just how the big the differences are in the different driving modes. Save mode combined with comfort, is a great combo for the city. It also helps save fuel as the GT-R can be very thirsty going flat out. Our average over a 4-day period came in at 17.1l/100Km. That said, we could easily improve on that. Twin turbo V6’s aren’t the leanest of engines. Remember what we said about the E-Class Coupe E400 4 Matic (read full review here).
  • Comfortable, easy to drive car. The GT-R can appeal to a very wide array of drivers.


Dislikes:

  • Costing around R2.2 million, as a new owner, you would mind one or two things being a bit nicer. The key, for example, doesn’t seem very supercar’ish (scroll up to view the full Nissan GT-R gallery). You can only open the boot via inside button or your car key. The onboard computer is a bit old.
  • In a relaxed driving state, you left elbow rests on top of the manual handbrake and not the centre armrest console. Not ideal.
  • We prefer having a USB port up front but at least the GT-R features two in the centre armrest console.

Do you own or regularly drive a Nissan GT-R? Tell SA what you love about your car by quickly rating it on THE TORQUERegister today

Special note:
THE TORQUE would like to extend a big thank you to two brilliant automotive photographers, Sarel van Staden and Maryna Cotton, owners of Photowise Studios, for taking the beautiful pics of the Nissan GT-R you see above.

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