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  • Performance, driving dynamics, value for money, exclusivity, street-cred, refinement.
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9 / 10

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

Every year when the Nissan GT-R gets an update, we think that’s it, it can’t possibly get any better. Once again we are proven wrong.

The 2012 Nissan GT-R is yet another significant step forward in the mighty GT-R’s legendary history. More power, more torque, faster acceleration, better fuel economy, improved ride and handling and a noticeably more civilized gearbox are all part of the 2012 updates.

Nissan has always said that the GT-R is a continuing evolution, meaning that it improves with every single iteration. When we drove the 2009 Nissan GT-R we were blown away by its performance, the same story endued in 2010 and again in 2011. The problem with this methodology is somewhat evident, every year the Nissan GT-R gets better, so if you hold out just one more year, you’ll get a better one, but then again, if you hold out another year after that, it gets better still.

At one point or another you have to make a decision that this is the one for you. So far over 420 Australians have made that commitment and more and more are joining the party. In fact, some have traded in their ‘old’ R35 GT-R for a new one, just to have the absolute best and latest. You can think of the Nissan GT-R as a really expensive iPhone, it improves every year and you absolutely have to get the very latest for the bragging rights.

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

Speaking of which, this year’s model is the first to have an official 0-100km/h time of under three seconds. 2.8 seconds to be exact. To put that into perspective, that makes the Nissan GT-R faster in the sprint than a Ferrari 458, Porsche 911 Turbo, Lamborghini Gallardo or Lamborghini Aventador, Aston Martin DBS or even a Koenigsegg CCXR. That’s not a bad achievement for a car that costs $170,800.

Therein lies the biggest challenge when it comes to talking about a Nissan GT-R. What on earth do you compare it to? Absolutely nothing in its price range comes even remotely close to its performance credentials. The delicately built 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 generates 404kW of power (up from 390kW) and 628Nm of torque (up from 612Nm). Meanwhile fuel economy has dropped 0.3L/100km to 11.7 (not that you care). Only eight people in the world are qualified to build a GT-R engine and each can produce only two per day.

From the outside the only thing that gives a 2012 model away is the tiny reversing camera on the boot, which incorporates into the 7-inch LCD touchscreen for improved reversing capability. With only 500 or so R35 Nissan GT-Rs in Australia (including the few private imports), seeing one is a rare sight. Which means the level of exclusivity is definitely on supercar level.

To review the new Nissan GT-R we headed to Launceston, so that we could put it through a few of the famous Targa Tasmania stages. Behind the wheel the GT-R is still a breeze to drive. It’s the sort of car that you’d be happy to let your elderly parents take to the shops. It has a big boot, steers well, the six-speed dual clutch gearbox has been noticeably improved so that it’s no longer clunky and harsh around town and its overall behavior is incredibly docile when its treated as such. It’s all an act, of course, because just like a trained assassin, when all the switches go to R mode, it becomes a lethal machine determined to defy the laws of physics to get you to the next corner faster than you thought possible.

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

As we strap in and head for the mountains, it’s hard not to hear the high level of road noise. The specially designed Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres are by no means there to keep the noise down and given the GT-R doesn’t posses any potent exhaust note (it does, however, sound as if its trying to create a blackhole with all the air it sucks it), it can become a little tedious.

The GT-R’s sports seats are also clearly not designed for those of us that are aspiring Americans. It’s a good fit for the average adult but it can get pretty tight if you like your Big Macs. The interior in general is still very much a traditional Japanese creation. It’s not Spartan in feel or quality but there is a sense of over complication in the controls. There are buttons, switches, more buttons and just when you thought it was over, there are yet more buttons to be found.

Thankfully there is only one button and three switches worth playing with, the start/stop button and the transmission, suspension and VDC switches. Turn the GT-R on and flick all switches to R-mode, put your left foot on the brake and plant your right firmly on the accelerator. The GT-R will acknowledge your command and automatically engage launch control mode, holding engine revs at around 4,000 RPM in preparation for lift off. You have three seconds to prepare your neck muscles and release the brakes, holding the steering wheel as straight as possible and trying not to blackout.

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

When the brake pedal is released, there is an instant surge of power that slams you back into the seat, it’s not violent or brutal but it’s overpowering and addictive. By the time you’ve blinked, you’ve already hit 100km/h and in the time it takes your brain to process that tiny bit of information, you’re nearing 130km/h. As you can see, there’s a problem with the GT-R, it makes driving at 100km/h seem like a chore. This is not a car designed for our draconian speed limits. It’s determined to help you lose your licence as quickly as possible.

As we blasted up country Tasmania, there was an eerie silence. It’s the sort of feeling you get when time slows down and everything runs at a different pace. Corner after corner, street sign after street sign, all flying past at warp speed. The wildlife had long ago gone into hiding and our Godzilla was eating up the road faster than we could comprehend. Driving a Nissan GT-R is like playing Gran Tursimo, except it’s easier. You simply look into the next corner, point the steering wheel appropriately and the car’s numerous computer systems will do the rest. It almost doesn’t matter when or where you flatten the accelerator to come out of a tight corner, it works it all out for you.

The Nissan GT-R is a car that will far exceed your capability as a driver. When you’re going flat out, it feels as though it’s hardly working. The phenomenal brakes allow for very late breaking into every bend but even then it seems like it can handle more speed. It’s almost exhausting to drive flat out because it’s not a case of keeping smooth car control but being able to react fast enough to extract the maximum speed.

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

That’s the sort of thinking that led us to Symmons Plains racetrack, about 30 km out of Launceston. As fast as a Nissan GT-R is around the mountain, it’s at home on a racetrack. Nissan envisions that most owners will at least track their GT-R once (or have intentions to), so its track credentials are crucial to the whole process. With an infamous Porsche-beating Nurburgring time that kicked off the whole GT-R saga a few years ago, the folks at Nissan have been hard and work improving every little bit detail.

For example, the Australian delivered right-hand drive GT-Rs now compensate for the weight imbalance on the right wheel by utilising harder spring rates on the left side, while the rear gains a revised suspension arm that has been installed upwards on the left side and downwards on the right. The result? An imbalanced wheel load when stationary that is equalized when driving. Nissan says this is ideal for track work since there’s usually only the driver behind the wheel and should pose no noticeable difference for everyday use with a passenger onboard (plus it’s the perfect excuse to go for solo spirited drives).

Around the track we felt the GT-R composed and well mannered. There is the occasional understeer if you miss the line and push too hard, but ultimately it’s very forgiving. To be fair, it’s not as fun as a similarly priced Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG on track (since it hardly ever misbehaves), but it’s noticeably faster. If you want the fastest lap times, you can’t go wrong for the money, but if you want to have a bit of fun and make a lot of noise doing so, it’s probably the wrong car for you.

2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review
2012 Nissan GT-R Review

It’s easy to get overexcited about the Nissan GT-R, afterall, it’s an awesome machine that forces exotic supercar manufacturers to justify their existence. It has its flaws, though. The servicing costs (particularly the cost of transmission oil) is a bit of a worry and the dual-clutch gearbox is not able to drop down numerous gears instantly (like the Porsche 911’s PDK), instead it has to work its way down sequentially. Lets not forget that it will be dethroned in a year’s time by yet another, better GT-R.

If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details of what Nissan has changed in the 2012 model, read this. Otherwise if you’ve got the means to buy a GT-R and have been waiting for the perfect moment, this really is it. The Nissan GT-R is irrefutably one of the best performance cars on the planet.

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2012 Nissan GT-R Review
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  • al

    Too good for Australia’s roads. And too expensive for Communist-Australia’s import taxes

    • Thrillhouse

      Anything else you’d like to have a cry about?

  • Engineer

    I hate this car, because its so good and I still cant afford one.

    But four and a half stars?
    Im far from a GTR fanboy, but this cant be anything but a 5 star car. Its complete absurdity what this thing does. 

    Although, if we’re going to get picky, the interior doesen’t echo 170k. Then again, that’d be missing the point wouldn’t it. 

    • john

      I agree with everything you said. Unfortunately the interior is amateurish and cheap but hey look at where this car excels, handling, performance, quality of its engineering, nissan has to save somewhere and that is where the buyer sits. Same thing with the WRX. When that came out people could not believe what it could do at the price. Nothing under $100k could touch it, but subaru had to save and that was the interior and today that still rings true!

      • Paul

        lol, nothing under $100k could touch it ? ……..Hmm, I seem to remember a Mitsubishi they call EVO that out performs the WRX.

  • Gus

    I love how the only negative point about the GTR is “Having to upgrade it every year” … what a fine piece of automobile this is!!!!

  • Dimka100

    Totally awesome car … but its rendered completely useless by Australian speed limits, idiotic police, and crap roads … ridiculous taxes are not helping either …

    • Robj

      Track days and driving events??

    • Jerrycan

      All true, but would you really like to share the road with the other drivers exceeding 300 kph.
      Just imagine the effect on your car (assuming you cannot afford a GT R) as you get overtaken by someone going 180 kph faster than you. You would not have even seen them coming in the rear view mirror.
      And assuming there is nothing coming from the other direction.

      Definitely one for the race track!

  • Bachman Turner Overdrive

    Incredibly capable car… Too bad it looks so bad. Honestly, an evolution of Skyline styling is a mistake. Hire a good designer and start again.

    • theillestlife

       I think the only thing missing in the GT-R is the historic “skyline” badge. also, the styling isn’t bad, its one of the best looking cars to be coming out of japan in recent years…

  • Lu

    anyone thought what would happen if Nissan made the Infiniti one first, put all the luxury in there, and marketed as LFA?

    I think that would really piss Toyota off….

    • theillestlife

       pretty sure this car is pissing on every car maker in the supercar/hypercar category (bugatti included) except for mclaren because they have and will always have the bragging rights for the F1.

      • JooberJCW

        The fastest NA car in the world?

        • theillestlife

          yeah, fastest NA car in the world. arguably also the greatest car in history. dont think any car in the future will match it either, it was way ahead of its time.

          • Butch

            It’s turbocharged numbskulls!

  • MisterZed

    The buttons on either side of the instrument cluster look like something out of the 80s.

  • bob

    Still ugly as sin! And the interior in a Suzuki Swift looks better.

    • theillestlife

       just because you can’t afford one doesn’t mean you can compare it to what you drive bob…

      • bob

        Just because I can’t afford doesn’t mean it’s not still ugly as sin, which it is.  I do still prefer the interior on a Suzuki

        • theillestlife

          I can’t afford it atm either, but surely you must agree it looks better than most things coming out of japan recently?

          But in my opinion, i quite like the looks, sure its not as good as the R34 GTR was, but its certainly good looking to me :S

          • bob

            I can agree with that.  Japanese cars do tend to be….not as pretty so to say :)

            Performance wise, no question, fantastic car.  Park this thing next to a GranTurismo or a DB9 and I don’t care if they are slower to 100.  I’ll take the latter any day!

            Now someone loan me $400k!!

    • Bachman Turner Overdrive

      Agreed, awesome car to drive… Looks like crap.

  • Infraboy

    This car is amazing.. Nothing short of 5 stars

  • Kyle

    Ah… Still my favourite car. Wish I had the money to buy one…

  • Yesu

    The engine in the GTR must be one nice piece of sophistication..

  • Geoff GoldBloom

    IMO they’re boring to drive.  Great for bragging rights and has huge amounts of street cred, but beyond that you would have far more fun going up a mountain in a MX5 and it’ll feel faster too!

    • scatman

      Geoff you have never driven one, you havent even driven an MX5, you are too poor for either

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Not true, Geoff. The GTR is so fast that you wont have time to think, all you can do is pay 100% attention if you expect to extract 80% of its potential. 

    • jekyl & hyde

      boring compared to what.superbike,space shuttle,oh wait…a mx5….wtf…

  • Jonno

    That’s one ugly car..inside & out.

  • Chris MC

    The best bang for your buck in the world.  Forget the statistics, it is raw YES! YES! YES! If only I could afford one.  I would be happy even with one for a day or two (Hey Car Advice that would be a good competition, get a track day in a GTR and week with it in your garage)

  • Daniel

    Im wondering wether I should actually buy this car since its a little bit out of my budget range. Is it worthwile getting a predeccesing version to this car, or is this new gtr the ‘one to get’?

    • john

      Is it out of your budget range because of purchase price or running costs? Don’t forget that GTR’s are terrific value on purchase price but they do have supercar running costs!

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Every single GT-R released to date has been fantastic, so you won’t go wrong if you get a 2011 or 2010 model. Nonetheless, if you want 0-100km/h in under 3 seconds and a much better gearbox feel around town, then this is the ‘one to get’ :-)

      • Johnson

        Plenty of independent tests suggesting that the sub-3 second time is wishful thinking……

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          The 2012 model has just been released, remember the americans call the 2011 model, 2012, and the 2012 model 2013. I am sure in some tests it will be under or just over 3 seconds. Officially its 2.8 – when we get the car for a week long review, we will conduct a timed 0-100km/h test. It was not possible to do one accurately during the launch

        • Inteli

          I’ve done 5.5 seconds on Toyota Aurion.. I have no doubt about the sub 3 seconds

          • Johnson

            5.5 seconds? Premature accelerator…

          • MisterZed

            Hahahaha…. official 0-100 time for Aurion is 7.4 seconds. 

          • EvoCruzer

            not when your driving a TRD Aurion

          • MisterZed

            He didn’t say TRD.  Anyway, 0-100 time for TRD is 6.0 seconds.

          • sam123

             He didnt say a standard one…

  • Bucket List

    Having owned one for 12 months here’s my summary.


    One of the most confidence inspiring cars I have ever driven.

    Never got scared pushing at my limits and the car wanted to always give more.

    Grip level is fantastic and the car is amazing how it slingshots out of a corner early with power down.

    Performance and technology for the price is unbeatable even at Australian prices.

    A must buy for anyone that has the money and wants to experience what real performance and handling is.

    Design and Appearance


    Engine sound and Supercar theatre is almost non existent for me.

    Mundane and boring car at Suburban speed limits.

    Clunks and noises always cause concern that somethings not quite right.

    Nissan dealership experience.

    Design and Appearance

    Would I buy one again..probably as nothing comes close on the road or track off the showroom floor for all round performance.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      How have you found servicing costs after track days or just in general? And can you be more specific on the dealership experience?

      • Bucket List

        Interesting story re track and the dealer.

        To go on the track the dealer advised that I needed to have a pre and post track inspection to have continued warranty coverage.

        So you pay around $500 and they remove and check some fluids,check all is correct underneath,check tyres and pressures,put some tape on the wheel cap covers to keep them secure and then require you to come back in for a post check.

        This is to maintain warranty coverage if you track the car,but the stinger is that you have no warranty whilst you are ACTUALLY at the track.

        So you go through this process and pay $1000 plus,blow a engine at the track and its a sorry can’t help

        After track work there really wasn’t any additional cost required apart from tyres if needed(around 3-4 track days worth)and resetting the suspension alignments back to road use.

        In general Nissan servicing cost ranged from $1000 to $3000.

        Transmission fluid alone at the 30,000 km service cost $1200.

        In regards to the dealer experience,buying the car itself was pleasant and I was served and sold by the general Manager of the dealership,so no complaints.

        However at the service front end I might as well have owned a Micra as it was a very numbing experience and I would describe them as disengaged enthusiasts though pleasant enough.

        The GT-R trained mechanic though was particularly good and had a passion which I admired.

        • Johnson

          I learned most everything I know from the internets and people keep saying that only European cars have high servicing costs. I am confused

          • Drac

            This kinda isnt a normal car

          • Johnson

            It looks nromal, except for some of the 1986 switchgear I guess.

          • Jonno

            That of course is silly nonsense that doesn’t factor in the Euro (German) cars longer service intervals.
            Anyone can write anything on the internet & the gullible will swallow it hook, line & sinker.
            Be more discerning in what you believe & think thru issues more if you really want the truth.

          • Johnson

            I have thought through what you have written and I’m still trying to work out why someone would swallow the sinker. I get the hook part as there is often a juicy worm attached and I guess there is the chance that in swallowing the worm you might get some line too.

            The sinker however is a bit far-fetched. On a typical paternoster rig the sinker would be almost impossible to swallow and besides there is the chance of lead poisoning.

  • Poindexter

    absolutely can not wait for the all electric GTR, its bound to happen sooner later. hell, if they released a road going Leaf RC id be on that like white on rice. $3000 service costs for this wtf. batteries will get better and cheaper so the $10,000 every 5-10years is bound to improve. and inductive charging built into roads being tested in korea will eliminate range anxiety.

  • sam123

    I cant decide if I like those 10 spoke mags…..I wonder if there is wheel options when buying new…..

  • Kjhkjh

    I own 10

  • nes

    Id rather purchase 4 of these instead of 1 maserati which equals the same price!

  • george

    I was impressed by the specs so I went to the showroom and had a drive. The acceleration is numbingly fast and I personally do not mind the looks, but the noise! When you first pull away the transmission crunches each wheel. The car seems to shudder and rise up. Then you start moving and the whine of the gears fills the cabin until your in 3rd gear, then the engine noise takes over. It is definitely not melodious, like a Ferrari or a Porsche, it crashes and grunts along. Sure flipping the throttle is fun, it murders other cars for speed but there no warmth or heart to it or anything to feel cozy with. After the ride you can’t just park and turn the engine off. You have to wait 20-30 seconds for the brakes to dock. If you forget and the brakes are wet then you could start off the next day and have the brakes rusted to the brake disc. That will cost you 6500 AUS!!!

    Your the commander of king tiger tank, invincible, but there is more to driving than proving your car is a bit faster and for me the only thing this car has is speed. The acceleration is like having the last 10 seconds of making love but enduring a boring 20 minutes of foreplay to get there. Its good for track day, if that’s all you want but there is very little driver pleasure. Apart from the dazzling acceleration the only other good thing is the price, at 170k its fairly cheap. I know, its still 170k, but hold on, just look at the 911. In the states they are about the same price but in Australia the Porsche costs 70K-140K more. That’s price gouging.
    As an after thought, it does have leather upholstery and electric seat controls, but that will not win anyone over.

    • MisterZed

      Actually, in the US the GT-R is *more* expensive than a 911. GT-R is $99,590 vs. $84,300 for the Porsche. Here in Australia, the Porsche is 100k more than the GT-R!! Insane.

Nissan GT-R Specs

Car Details
R35 MY11
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$106,590 - $121,130
Dealer Retail
$103,050 - $122,540
Dealer Trade
$81,900 - $96,900
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
612Nm @  3200rpm
Max. Power
390kW @  6400rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
12L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
255/40 R20
Rear Tyres
285/35 R20
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar, Adaptive Damping System
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar, Adaptive Damping System
Standard Features
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
Sports Suspension, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Control
Trip Computer
Sound System with 11 Speakers
Xenon Headlights
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin