Nissan GT-R review37

Nissan GT-R Review : Black Edition

Rating: 8.0
$76,500 $90,970 Dealer
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$182,500 for a Nissan! Do you get what you pay for?
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Priced at $182,500, the Nissan GT-R Black Edition takes the fastest Japanese supercar and makes it that little bit more special.

It’s still a GT-R underneath, with no changes to the engine or drivetrain, but if having the iconic GT-R badge wasn’t enough, the new car comes with unique features for a price increase of $11,700.

Most obviously perhaps, is the 20-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels that Nissan claims are lighter than the standard wheels but also feature knurled beads to keep the tyres from moving on the rims during periods of sudden and hard acceleration. (Which you might do in the GT-R, occasionally...)

The front end is basically untouched, but the rear gets a new carbonfibre spoiler that does tend to look at tad aftermarket from a distance but is actually a flush fit-and-finish at a closer inspection. The MY14 models get a coherent rear light red ring as well.

To the average enthusiast, however, it might simply look like a modified Nissan GT-R with an aftermarket rear spoiler and a new set of wheels.

Step inside and Nissan has brightened up the interior with specially commissioned Recaro front sport seats designed to offer ergonomic support for road and track use. The addition of red and black leather for the dashboard and doors, steering wheel and gearshift knob also sets the interior apart from the standard car.

If you want more choice, the 2014 Nissan GT-R gets three interior colour schemes, including a new pale ivory and red.

Worth forking out the extra cash for the Black Series over the ‘standard’ Nissan GT-R? Add up the extra cost of the wheels and the Recaro seats alone and it’s a worthwhile investment. Not to mention the cost of sourcing a carbon fibre rear spoiler.

Now, to the Nissan GT-R itself. A 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 pumps out an incredible 404kW of power and 628Nm of torque. Since the 2013 model year update, the acceleration figure of 0-100km/h at 2.7 seconds has remained the claim.

Although many argue that the Nissan GT-R’s acceleration figures are unachievable, we’ve managed 2.9sec in a MY12 car tested at Phillip Island, so 2.7sec claimed with the MY13 and MY14 models is by no means a far stretch.

The problem the current-generation Nissan GT-R has always had is that it demolishes legal speeds before you can even comprehend they've been passed. Put every switch on R-mode and use the launch control for a neck-breaking 0-100km/h sprint and by the time you realise you’re 'going fast', you’re around the 160km/h mark. Doing 100km/h in the GT-R is sleep-inducing and it’s only when you’re well past gaol-worthy speeds that the car feels at home.

It’s obvious then, the GT-R is not made for Australian roads. In many ways, it’s basically undriveable - not because of the car, but because of Australia. While a Ferrari, Lamborghini and other exotic super cars survive our draconian speed limits and anti-car culture thanks to their looks, prestige and performance, the GT-R, arguably, only has the performance angle to go for.

Although around town it's a far better car to live with now than it has ever been, it still isn't entirely pleasant. The MY12 and preceding models had always suffered from a clunky dual-clutch racecar-like six-speed transmission that moaned and groaned at low speeds, though this has been substantially improved and the GT-R can - almost - be used as a daily drive. The steering, however, is still a bit flaccid on the centre position and really only starts to come alive as you're winding lock on and off. The throttle feels doughy in the regular modes, needing a hefty press to awaken the mighty engine. The GT-R also feels huge to navigate.

Conversely, could argue that it’s an ideal track car, but then again, the cost of transmission oil and constant service maintenance after track days can be much higher than its German performance rivals, or even the significantly less expensive AWD turbo contenders from Subaru and Mitsubishi.

Perhaps its biggest challenge, or feature, depending on how you look at it, is its ease of use. The average driver can go very, very fast, much faster than most other cars with the same pilot on board.

The problem with that is you don’t seem to learn much in the process. Get in a Porsche 911 or Audi R8 and there’s nothing necessarily easy about a track day, yet they are both far more enjoyable to drive, even if your lap times are a few seconds behind the GT-R’s.

If you want to win races and compete in Targa events, there’s no better car for the money. The Nissan GT-R conquers corners and tackles racetracks with a ferocity that is unlike anything else in its price segment. It simply destroys and punishes anything thrown at it. It’s a robot in disguise that gives you the illusion of control, while it does the work for you.

Some argue that the Nissan GT-R is too heavy. At 1699kg (kerb weight), it’s certainly not light. Ultimately, it could be a bit smaller, which would make it lighter. But the acceleration time is unmatched by lighter and more powerful supercars three times its price and the weight seems to be there for a reason.

Nissan’s head engineer for the GT-R project argues that the car is deliberately kept heavy as it’s easier for the average driver to drive quicker when the car is less likely to float, particularly as you start getting past 250km/h - speeds which the GT-R is easily capable of reaching and maintaining.

This is in stark contrast to the philosophy of company’s such as Lotus, that take lightweight construction over all else. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see how this argument for extra weight makes sense as you take turn one at Phillip Island at incredible velocity and the GT-R sits flat as if to mock you.

Around town we found ourselves glued to the speedometer, for every time the right foot came even remotely close to the accelerator pedal, we were over the limit. It’s not a fun experience when all you really want to do is go flat-out.

The interior, too, although comfortable and practical, is just not special enough. The centre console belongs in a Playstation game and while that’s cool for a little bit - and will impress your mates - it’s harder to make something simple than complicated and Nissan has chosen the latter.

So, if you have the money to spend, should you buy one? Or does it make sense to go that little bit extra and get a near-new Audi R8 or a base model Porsche 911. Or perhaps, even a second-hand Aston Martin Vantage S. All different cars, but all fit for purpose.

The answer is actually rather simple. If you want the fastest car for under $200,000, it’s the Nissan GT-R. There’s no doubt, there’s no question. If you intend to do Targa events, track days or other motor sport activities and want to win - at all cost - this is the car for you. If you want anything else, look elsewhere.

When it comes down to it, we love the Nissan GT-R at the CarAdvice office. There’s no one here that would dare argue it’s not the best value for money supercar if raw performance is what you’re after. But would we part with our own cash for one over a Porsche 911 or Audi R8, or even a slower but super-handling Boxster or Cayman? That’s when the arguments start.