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2020 Nissan GT-R Review

LIKES
  • The grip is incredible
  • Responsive dual-clutch transmission
  • Astounding acceleration
  • Everyday usability
DISLIKES
  • Styling doesn’t look the part
  • A $212,000 Nissan does not compute
  • Decade-old appointments
  • Value play is no longer there
BUYING TIP
  • The Nismo’s enhancements for 2020 are impressive, but the car just isn’t worth the $212,000 price tag.
The 2020 Nissan GT-R has a dated interior and isn’t the value it used to be, but it’s performance defies expectations.

The 2020 Nissan GT-R is the latest version of a sports car that’s been regularly updated, but not entirely replaced, since it was new in 2009.

Lately the updates have come with a hefty upswing in sticker prices. The most affordable variant, the Pure, has been dropped, which makes the old mid-grade Premium trim the new base model. Higher up the chain, the Nismo model gets a dollop of carbon fiber and a $212,000 price tag. Needless to say, the value play that was the GT-R’s major selling point has now largely eroded.

Despite the ever-deeper pockets that are necessary to bring home a GT-R—the original 2009 rendition was just $77,000, if you can believe it—we give the aging Nissan performance coupe a 6.2 out of 10 overall.

Bolstering that score is a design that doesn’t give away the car’s advanced age. The styling is exotic but not flamboyant; the GT-R won’t turn heads like a Lamborghini unless you lay into the throttle from a stoplight. At that point the car’s ungodly 2.7-second 0-60 mph acceleration will be sure to get passersby and pedestrians looking up from their phones.

Such mind-bending performance can be credited to the twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6. This engine normally makes 565 horsepower but has been tuned to 600 horsepower in the Nismo version. It routes its power to an all-wheel-drive system which provides the grip necessary to mete out those sub-three-second 0-60 mph sprints. A dual-clutch 6-speed transmission is down a couple cogs from the competition but still feels mighty fine from behind the wheel.

If you’re not trying to set speed records, the GT-R has no issue acting as a daily driver. The interior is typical Nissan—a grade below what we’d like to see—but there’s all the good features here one would expect on a six-figure car, such as navigation, smartphone integration, Bose audio, and Nappa leather. Its cockpit, though no doubt dated, is more functional and usable than most of its ergonomically-challenged competition.
The 2020 GT-R, on paper, shouldn’t be as competitive with the contemporary crop of supercars as it is; it is, after all, a 10-plus year-old design. But the steady enhancements over the years—save for the total lack of modern active-safety equipment—have managed to give this old heavyweight yet another lease on life. 

Styling
Now in its second decade of existence, the 2020 Nissan GT-R manages to still look contemporary, even against a field of newer, fresher supercars.

In car years, the Nissan GT-R is an antique—this is model year 11 for the supercar, and it has yet to see a comprehensive redesign. Despite this, the GT-R still looks good in our eyes. We still give it an 8 out of 10 for style.

Perhaps most notable about the GT-R—and partly why we think it has aged well—is that it doesn’t shout its performance. It trends instead towards the more modest side of things, looking more like a Japanese interpretation of the Mustang than a Corvette. If you don’t know cars, the GT-R doesn’t look like the kind that fires off a 0-60 mph run in under three seconds.

Interiors also downplay the exoticness of the GT-R. It’s a usable design that’s more ergonomic than plenty of supercars, and there’s no excess of exotic materials or fancy trimmings. This is a bit of a downer, though—at this price point, do buyers really just want a Maxima-grade interior? If it does suffice, you’ll find just the right number of buttons and switches to complement the standard-equipment touchscreen.
On the Track Edition or Nismo models, interiors retain the same appointments of their lesser kin but add to the mix a flurry of sporty touches that include highly bolstered red bucket seats. On the outside there’s bigger spoilers, lots of carbon-fiber trim, and fancier wheels. It’s functional stuff that also happens to impress the neighbors.

Performance
The 2020 Nissan GT-R proves that age doesn’t need to be an inhibitor to performance.

We don’t hand out perfect 10s often, but the Nissan GT-R deserves it. This car moves, scoots, and boogies like nothing this old should. It’s a well-earned and highly entertaining 10 out of 10.

It’s not that they’ve updated the motor or anything, either. Nope, it’s still the same 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that’s hand-built by specially-trained engineers in Japan. The advertised 565 horsepower and 467 lb-ft of torque are no longer that impressive in their own right, but the 6-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive system which put that power to the ground do a phenomenal job of making the most of that power. The GT-R’s 0-60 mph happens in just 2.7 seconds, even on the base models. Top speed is just shy of 200 mph.

Track Edition and Nismo models make 35 more horsepower this year, largely thanks to new turbos that have been pulled directly from the GT-R GT3 race car, which alone account for 20% better engine response. These performance models aren’t any faster to 60 mph but they are sharper and more dialed in than the base-trim cars.
All versions get multiple drives to pick from, which can change Godzilla’s mood from angry and track-ready to passive daily-driver. Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes haul things down from illegal speeds on most models, but Nismos come standard with carbon-ceramic stoppers.

Comfort & Quality
The back seat is best left to the children, but the rest of the interior has all the expected luxuries of a car at this price point.

Practicality has always been a strong point of the GT-R, and the last couple model years have seen an influx of modern features surely demanded by contemporary buyers. Still, renewed competition like the mid-engined Corvette and the Porsche 911 do a nicer job with their interiors. We give the GT-R a 5 out of 10 in this regard.

The last major update the interior received was in 2017, which brought a number of welcome updates like improved leather upholstery, nicer trim, and more comfortable seats, not to mention an infotainment system that finally felt with the times. It also has small ergonomic touches like steering wheel-mounted paddles that make the GT-R an easy sports car to live with.

Unlike a lot of its ilk, the GT-R has two back seats, making it a 2+2 design. The rear seats are admittedly small—don’t expect to shove a couple of college linemen back there. They’re really only usable for your small-statured friends, but we’re happy to have them at all.

The almost-real-sized trunk is a boon to practicality as well; it’s 8.8 cubic feet of space beats out competitors like the Audi R8 and Porsche 911, though it can’t top the new Corvette.

Though performance-focused trims like the Track Edition and Nismo are back-breaking in terms of ride quality, other GT-Rs are relatively comfortable and quiet in normal driving thanks to adaptive suspension and active noise cancellation. This car is a monster only when you want it to be.

Safety
No crash test data is available for the 2020 Nissan GT-R, and active-safety features are nonexistent.

Lucky for Nissan, we don’t give the GT-R a safety score because it has not been tested for crashworthiness. It’s probably a good thing that neither the NHTSA or IIHS have crash-tested a GT-R, because we can only imagine how embarrassing the results would be; this is, after all, an 11-year old design that is totally bereft of any safety features beyond the usual airbags, stability control, and traction control. The GT-R demands old-school focus, because there’s no nannies to rely on.

Features
The 2020 Nissan GT-R lineup is the most pricey yet, but still represents a good deal if you stick to the lower trim levels.

One of these years, the GT-R’s base price will officially be double from when it debuted as a $77,000 bargain supercar. The term bargain no longer really applies—largely thanks to the new Corvette, which is shaping up to be a true bargain supercar—but the GT-R is still well-equipped and blisteringly fast for the price. It’s not the steal it used to be, but we still give it a 5 out of 10 for features.

With the Pure trim now gone, the new base model is the $115,235 Premium. It gets dual-zone climate control, two USB ports, power-adjustable leather and suede seats, and parking sensors front and rear. The infotainment system is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also 11-speaker Bose audio and a titanium exhaust system to round things out.

This year, there’s also a 50th Anniversary Model to celebrate a half-century of GT-R heritage. The trim, which is technically a package available on the Premium, is priced at $124,735 and includes distinctive trim and badging, as well as three paint schemes that all have provenance for GT-R fans.
The $147,235 Track Edition is where the GT-R gets hardcore, with numerous performance upgrades to its suspension, brakes, and aerodynamics. It also sports the 600-horse version of the GT-R’s 3.8-liter engine. Highly bolstered Recaro seats keep you in place while you flog it.

At the very top of the pecking order sits the Nismo. Besides its 600-horsepower engine, it gets more aerodynamic bits, carbon-fiber everything, and carbon-ceramic brakes for unparalleled stopping power. This top-dog Nissan costs an eye-watering $212,435.

Fuel Economy
For a heavy car with this sort of performance, the Nissan GT-R isn’t too bad on the economy front.

Using six instead of eight cylinders to achieve its mighty power keeps fuel economy in the respectable range. It won’t beat out the latest crop of hybrid sports cars, though. We give it 3 out of 10 for fuel economy. On all trims, the GT-R is anticipated to return 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined.

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