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2018 Nissan GT-R Review

2018 Nissan GT-R Review
The 2018 Nissan GT-R carries the Japanese supercar torch with en fuego twin-turbo power, all-wheel drive, and snicky dual-clutch gearchanges.

The Nissan GT-R is one of the world’s greatest sports cars.

This year, the twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive 2018 GT-R is closer to a performance bargain (at least in relative terms) this year thanks to the addition of a new GT-R Pure trim level that pushes the price of entry down to about $100,000.


Overall, the GT-R rates 7.4 out of 10 on our scale. It’s not very practical and luxury isn’t one of its virtues, but you probably already knew that.

The 2018 GT-R carries over some of last year’s big updates like a 20 horsepower bump, revised styling, and a more refined powertrain. The new GT-R Pure trim level pushes the supercar’s base price to a hair over $100,000, about $10,000 less than the carried-over GT-R Premium. Apple CarPlay is now standard on both versions of the GT-R and a black interior trim package is newly available.

Both share a handbuilt 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 that cranks out 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque that vaults the two-door to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds. A 6-speed dual-clutch transmission shuttles power to all four wheels, providing the GT-R with astounding grip. An adjustable suspension can tighten things up to almost brutal levels for track use, but a comfort mode makes the GT-R fairly tolerable around town. Selecting R mode transforms the GT-R by tightening up its reflexes. Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes bring things to a halt time after time with no drama.

For enthusiasts, driving a GT-R is a bucket-list item. Its drama-free demeanor is best experienced at triple-digit speeds on a winding road course, where it hugs the pavement in a way unmatched by few cars short of a Formula One racer.

This year’s new Pure trim level discards with the Premium’s Bose audio system, active noise cancellation, sound enhancement, and titanium exhaust. That’s ten grand well-saved, if you ask us. Nappa leather trim and an 8.0-inch touchscreen stick around, as do supportive front seats and two rear seat belts best used to hold your groceries in place. If you want an everyday supercar, the GT-R can fulfill that role surprisingly well.

Styling
The 2018 Nissan GT-R has distinctive tuner-world style; it’s almost restrained, by exotic-car standards.

The GT-R has aged well in its 10 years on the U.S. market. The shape isn’t so distinctive, but it’s been tamed and modulated over the years and still has the stance of a low-key supercar.

We think it’s still worth an 8 for styling, though we’re curious to see where Nissan will take the concepts it’s bandied about in recent years. 

The GT-R’s ordinary coupe shape wears an awful lot of flares, air intakes, and spoilers and wings. If you didn’t know it was a supercar, it would look a bit too flashy.

It has its finer points. The roofline sports a rear-end tomahawk chop line, and the big circular taillights are punctuation you’ll read as it shoots out of sight. It’s no Veyron, no 911, but the GT-R’s overall look outlines exactly what it intends to be: a sort of ultimate evolution of the tuner car, taken in-house.

Last year, Nissan adopted a wider grille for the GT-R with a new finish. New front and rear lips and spoilers create more downforce for better grip, and the hood now has deeper stampings that spruce up the look.

Nissan also made the GT-R’s sills wider, gave the 20-inch wheels a new design, and added functional vents near the GT-R’s exhaust tips. The result is a shape that has a low 0.26 coefficient of drag, and has great presence in colors like Blaze Metallic orange.

The GT-R's cabin has improved much over the past few years. The 2017 updates to the interior gave it a new dashboard, one with an emphasis on a horizontal layout and an instrument panel wrapped in nappa leather. Its center screen grew larger, the button count dropped from 27 to 11, and a new controller took its place on the center console. The cabin presses on Infiniti-grade luxury, which it should at more than $100,000.

Performance
Relentless grip, astonishing lap times, and tons of turbo sizzle propel the 2018 Nissan GT-R to legend.

The 2018 Nissan GT-R is a certified supercar bargain. It gets to its level of roadgoing insanity through twin turbos, all-wheel drive, and a dual-clutch transmission.

The superlatives come as fast and furious as the car itself. It’s a perfect 10 in performance to us.

A 3.8-liter V-6 forms the core of its terminator-grade powertrain, but the GT-R doesn’t hold anything back. Twin turbos strap to its engine, and that power spins out through a dual-clutch transmission to all four wheels through an exceptionally quick-acting all-wheel-drive system.
Output from the V-6 is pegged at 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque, which rises to 600 hp in the top Nismo trim. The GT-R can rush to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds or less, and dances near a 200-mph top speed.

Nissan has tweaked the GT-R in lots of subtle ways over the course of its U.S.-market life. Each time it’s become a better track machine and a better road car. The dual-clutch transmission has shed its driveline clatter, shift feel and timing is better, and the GT-R’s steering has lightened up at low speeds, and lost the twitch it used to have on center. It’s also adopted a more agile front suspension that makes it even easier to toss the GT-R into nauseatingly fast turns until the substantial grip from its 20-inch tires begins to fade.

The GT-R’s all-wheel-drive system puts more power to the rear wheels, but it can vary the car’s torque split from 100 percent to the rear to 50/50 depending on lateral acceleration, speed, steering angle, road surface, tire slip, and yaw rate.

The GT-R also has adjustable suspension, transmission, and stability-control settings to relieve its firm ride and neural responses when you're just tooling around for admiration. That ride has become more forgiving, especially in the Comfort mode, making it easier to use the GT-R as a commuter.

In R mode, all those reflexes are sharpened. It's a life-changing experience to wind the GT-R into long sweepers at triple-digit speeds and feel almost complacent as it just hangs on, drama-free, ready for you to throw on its Brembo six-piston front, four-piston rear brakes.

The GT-R drives like nothing else. Its ragged edges are so far removed from everyday driving it’s been accused of driving like a video game. We say game on.

Comfort & Quality
The Nissan GT-R has made great strides in civility.

As a supercar with no mind for practicality, the Nissan GT-R does amazingly well at making its passengers comfortable.

In front, Nissan has installed new seats as of last year, and the exceptional comfort even in base trim gets noticed. Corvettes and 911s fare well in this way too, but the GT-R’s chairs are just better. What’s more, the GT-R’s paddle shift controls now sit on the steering wheel, where they’re easier to reach.

The rear seat has a modicum of space. It’ll seem like a Maybach to anyone that’s ever tried to sit in the back of a 911, but it’s still only good for two kids. Leg and head room are skimpy at best. Nismo models rip out the rear seat in the quest for lighter curb weight.

The GT-R has a pleasant surprise under the trunk lid. There’s enough room back there for a roll-aboard and a suit bag.

For 2017, Nissan upgraded the GT-R interior with lovely nappa leather on the instrument panel, and installed a new touchscreen interface that helped it reduce the button count on the dash from 27 to 11.

It also added acoustic trim and glass and active noise cancellation, which damp the GT-R’s august amounts of drivetrain noise by about 10 decibels. Exhaust grunt and tire scuffs are still the soundtrack, as is the jetlike whine from its turbochargers. Blotted out are the differential whine and gearbox lash that clattered in early U.S.-market GT-Rs.

Safety
We’ll probably never know how the GT-R performs in a crash, and FWIW we’re okay with that.

No crash-test data exists for the Nissan GT-R, so we don’t assign it a rating. 

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has put the GT-R through its crash regimen, so we can’t tell you how it will protect passengers in an accident.

What we can say is, despite its supercar performance, the GT-R can be one of the safer vehicles of its kind. Standard all-wheel drive joins with a standard rearview camera, which the GT-R really has needed since its roof pillars limit rearward vision. The GT-R’s stability control system also has different modes so that it keeps street traction foremost when the car isn’t being tracked.

Features
The 2018 GT-R has a sticker price gone mad, but we’re not mad about its gamer-grade infotainment.

With a new Pure model, the 2018 Nissan GT-R slips back to about $100,000. That’s still a houseworthy number, but it’s still nice to believe Nissan sells a bargain-priced supercar for us all. That said, the GT-R’s destination charge—mandatory—is an eye-watering $1,695.

We give it an 8 for features, because even the Pure model comes with a strong set of features and a good infotainment system.

It’s no longer the scalding supercar bargain it once was, but the GT-R still delivers an astonishing performance profile for $101,685 base. The base Pure model has power features, heated front seats, leather upholstery, navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming, and performance run-flat tires. Premium models add back the Bose audio, active noise cancellation, and titanium exhaust that used to be standard on what used to be the base model.

Track and Nismo editions have carbon-fiber trim and Recaro seats, and price tags of $130,185 and $177,185, respectively. The latter price hike comes with a bump to 600 hp and special-edition status. You’ll have to judge whether the $47,000 price hike is worth it.

We’re fans of the latest GT-R gauge and infotainment cluster. Developed with video-game coders, the system has digital instruments and displays that show the skills of the driver in coldly accurate graphs and gauges, whether it’s elapsed times or acceleration or grip.

Fuel Economy
The 2018 Nissan GT-R earns 22-mpg highway gas mileage ratings, not bad for its supercar performance.

Few cars can marry scalding supercar performance and acceptable fuel-economy ratings.

The 2018 GT-R is one of them. Despite sub-three-second acceleration to 60 mph, it delivers up to 22 mpg highway.

The EPA’s ratings from last year have carried over to the 2018 GT-R. It’s pegged at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined.

A Chevy Corvette or Porsche 911 can reach the upper 20s, mind you, but for its output, it’s more efficient than many V-8 and V-12 powertrains.

We’ve measured in the 17-mpg range, though, on spirited drives on back roads and congested freeways.

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