First Drive

2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo review

The GT-R made its reputation as a giant-slayer as a Β£60k sports car that could embarrass rivals costing twice as much. We drive the new Β£125k Nismo version find out if it's worth it.

Words ByVicky Parrott

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The world has gone mad. Hell has frozen over. The sun has risen in the west. The Nissan GT-R is now officially more expensive than the Porsche 911 Turbo.

At least, it is if you want the ultimate version: the new GT-R Nismo. It costs a staggering Β£125,000, but gets bigger turbos that help give it another 49bhp, adjustable Bilstein dampers and a stiffer rear anti-roll bar to increase the performance.

A more rigid bodyshell, lashings of carbonfibre and tweaked aerodynamics reduce the weight and add up to 100kg more downforce than the standard GT-R. We’re not talking about a new headlight design, here; spanners, laptops, proper race know-how and Nurburgring records are involved – but then you’d expect that, because the Nismo costs a drastic Β£46,980 over the standard Nissan GT-R.

What’s the 2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo like to drive?

The GT-R has always been characterised by the way it delivers its power, and the Nismo is no different.

It’s as subtle as a kick to the head. Floor the throttle and there’s a heartbeat where you’re surrounded by mechanical whirring and graunching of the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and then you’re hurled forwards, the steering wheel squirming in your hands as everything in the car strains to get the power to all four wheels. Make no mistake, the Nismo seems to detonate rather than accelerate.

Our short time driving on the Nurburgring was undertaken in torrential rain, so it was a struggle to feel the benefits of the rafts of changes that have been made to this ultimate GT-R. Driven back to back with the standard MY14 car, though, it was noticeable that the suspension alterations have resulted in a slightly sharper response as you turn in to corners.

The Nismo feels more poised and generally more tuned-in to delicate, fingertip inputs rather than the heavier-handed responses of the standard car. The steering has a meaty bite to it, and you get a great sense of how much grip there is to work with – not much in heavy rain, when it can feel seriously twitchy, but traction levels in the dry will be of the physics-defying, face-bending sort.

The Nismo also feels less prone to being unsettled by harsh mid-corner bumps. This hint at improved composure could be one of the greatest benefits to the Nismo; the standard GT-R has been criticised for an unforgiving ride, albeit less so on the current 2014 model. We’ll have to wait to see how it copes on UK roads before making a final judgment on that.

Otherwise, the Nismo feels fairly similar to the less extreme versions. The automatic gearbox quick-fires up and down the ratios – at its best when you use the wheel-mounted paddles – and the GT-R will make light work of long journeys, although there are quieter and comfier sporting GTs, including the Porsche 911 Turbo.

What’s the 2014 GT-R Nismo like inside?

The seats are bespoke – they're carbonfibre-backed Recaro buckets that feel brilliantly supportive and comfortable. A red rev counter with Nismo badging, contrast red stitching throughout the cabin, and an Alcantara steering wheel complete with red dead-ahead marker finish the bespoke Nismo treatment.

Everything else is pretty much as before, which means the dashboard looks a bit like a Casio G-Shock watch, and some of the switches are recognisable from lesser Nissans.

Still, it all works well, and you’ve got all the equipment you could want including sat-nav, auto lights and wipers and climate control, while the bits you interact with on every drive (namely the steering wheel, gearshift paddles and brakes) all feel well engineered.

There's decent space for two, and while two more people can sit in the rear seat, they won't thank you if they have to spend too much time there. It's probably best to view the rear seat as luggage space.

Farther back, the boot is a reasonable size, so you can put your weekend's baggage in there and the shopping on the back seat – although unless you are planning to spend the weekend at a racetrack, then you may have missed the point of the Nismo altogether.

Should I buy one?

We’ll have to wait for a test drive in the UK before we can really judge just how effective the race-inspired GT-R Nismo model is for British buyers. Even so, it does feel more light-footed and precise than ever, and also a touch more composed over rough roads, which sound like improvements to all the right areas.

Even so, the GT-R Nismo remains a hard sell. Even with a generous kit list and performance that out-strips the Porsche 911 Turbo, and every other four-seat sports car at this price, it’s hard to see how this model, extraordinary as it is, can be worth so much more than its less hardcore sibling.

Still, with only 200 of these Nismo models being made globally it will retain a certain rarity factor, and there’s no denying that this is an improvement of a car that was already a masterpiece of engineering.

If you’re one of the collectors or GT-R aficionados considering it, then you won’t be disappointed. We'd suggest you act quickly, too, if you want to lay your hands on a new one.

For the rest of the sports car fans out there, the cheaper GT-R, an Audi R8, or any of the Porsche 911 coupe variants will save you a lot of money, without leaving you feeling in any way short-changed.

What Car? says...

Rivals

Audi R8 V10

Porsche 911 Turbo

Nissan GT-R Nismo

Engine size 3.8 V6 twin-turbocharged

Price from Β£125,000

Power 591bhp

Torque 481lb ft

0-62mph 2.6 seconds (est)

Top speed 196mph

Fuel economy 23.9mpg

CO2 275g/km