Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg
Cars

Forgive the 2017 Nissan GT-R: It Knows Not How It Looks

The $115,000 top-tier car from the Japanese brand comes across as much less expensive than it is—and that’s never a good thing.

Are you someone who doesn’t need the validation of others in order to feel good?

A real wolf, unconcerned with the opinions of sheep?

Then you should consider the 2017 Nissan GT-R. It is a 565-horsepower machine with reptilian reflexes and video-game looks. 

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The car comes with 20-inch rims and high-performance, nitrogen-filled Dunlop tires. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

You won’t get credit for owning an expensive car. No one is going to realize that this Nissan costs $115,000, or that it can hit 60 miles per hour as fast as a Porsche 911 Turbo (2.9 seconds, and the 911 costs $159,200). Most guys who asked me about its price—garage attendants, traffic cops, random bikers—guessed about half its actual cost.

The right people will know that it’s special, though. If you know about the singular Skyline, you know about this car. It’s exceptional to drive. And all the others don’t matter anyway, right?

Performance Under Guise   

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The Nissan GT-R gets 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22mpg on the highway.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

I drove a red GT-R for a week around Manhattan, plus out to New Jersey’s far-flung 'hoods and up to the outer reaches of the Bronx. The car, which starts at $109,990, is good, very good: All-wheel-drive and three nuanced, responsive drive modes come standard. The quick, ridged steering and adaptive suspension make it exhilaratingly viable as a ferocious daily driver. You can handle potholes in this thing and not lose too much fuel (22 miles per gallon on the highway, roughly on par for a car of this caliber) while doing it.

What’s more, the compact body exudes blunt sexuality; the racing-style seats and huge round dials behind the steering wheel give all the physiological cues you need to amp up on adrenaline as you cruise up Manhattan's FDR Drive. When you push the gas, the GT-R lunges forward like a nasty gash.

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The GT-R can hit 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

But … it’s a Nissan. Most adult consumers who are not car-nerds face a strong psychological barrier in spending luxury-level money on a non-luxury brand. After all, “premium” vehicles are those with a strong luxury brand name that alone commands a steep price. Nissan is not that. Would most people who have six figures to blow spend it on an Aston Martin, a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz, a Porsche? For sure. Would most people who have six figures to blow spend it on a Nissan? Probably not, unless they are teenage boys. And most lads don’t have that kind of cash.

Street Tough And Rough

On the other hand, if you have long loved the Skyline and GT-R line, and if you are a driving enthusiast who appreciates street-hewn power, you already know all about this pup. The Nissan GT-R comes with a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine and a dual-clutch, paddle-shifting six-speed automatic transmission that are as rough and crunchy and raw as the most paleo-friendly granola you can find.

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The GT-R comes with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The 20-inch, super-lightweight, forged-alloy wheels and nitrogen-filled Dunlop performance tires grip the road like claws; the Brembo brakes counteract 467 pound-feet of torque with an equal and opposite reaction that is awe inspiring to behold.

This Godzilla is not refined like the McLaren 570GT, smooth like the Audi R8, elegant like the Mercedes AMG-GT, or erudite like the Aston Martin Vantage. The Nissan GT-R wants to break you.

Polarizing Good Looks

It may also break your camera, if you prefer curves over edges. 

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The GT-R comes standard with LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

One editor who shall remain nameless (Chris Rovzar) suggested that the Nissan GT-R looks like a mashup between a Jaguar F-Type and a Mustang and a Dodge Charger—but from a video game. Chris has refined tastes—his spirit car is the vintage Volvo 1800 of the late 1960s—so I am not surprised he doesn’t care for the scraped-out sides, flared nostrils, triangular headlights, and outré hips on the GT-R. But some people love them, and they are not wrong.

You’ll be pleased to know that the solid red exterior paint, titanium exhaust tips, and large spoiler on the GT-R all come standard. There aren’t too many options for exterior styling—the car is aggressively styled as is. The exhaust comes with sound control. Don’t buy the GT-R if you want something that screams.

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The GT-R seats four and offers heated front seats.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

 

Just The Basics

The interior of the GT-R is where the Nissan non-luxe vibes are most obvious. While everything is well-made and put-together, there are no frills. Sure, the front seats are leather and heated, but the passenger seat adjusts only four ways. I found myself slouching, even in the eight-way-adjustable drivers’ seat, to see stoplights high above me. The eight-inch color display at the center of the console is adequate but not compelling; there are none of the lane-assist and crash-prevention cameras we’ve come to expect in many other cars.

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The GT-R has an eight-inch touchscreen and paddle shifters.

Photographer: Cesar Soto

This, too, is where driving the GT-R can actually be a freeing experience: Unlike what you might find in such worthy competitors as the Jaguar F-Type R and Mercedes AMG-GT, you are unencumbered with the trappings of creature comfort, which also frees you from the potential emotional baggage and stigmas of driving a luxury car. I realize this could be a reach: I’m mostly spit-balling here, just trying to think of all the possible benefits in having a car with a relatively bare interior. (If this is the part when you’re trying to decide between the Acura NSX and the Nissan GT-R, they’re basically the same inside, so it’s a toss-up; vote your conscience.)

Still, the two cup holders, 11 Bose speakers (two set between the dual rear seats), two USB ports, and aluminum-trimmed pedals are all nice touches. Anyway, you don’t need a lot of extras. In the Nissan GT-R, you’ll be happy just crushing the drive.

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There are 11 Bose speakers throughout the car, plus Bluetooth, Sirius, rear-view monitors, and parking sensors.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

 

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The Nissan GT-R has four round tail lights and four round titanium exhaust pipes. 

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

 

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The GT-R has independent double wishbone front suspension and independent multi-link rear suspension, with superb handling and a tight ride.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

 

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