Nissan GT-R review

Category: Sports car

An immensely fast and surprisingly practical supercar – even if it is a little short on desirability

Nissan GT-R 2021 front cornering
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front cornering
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 rear cornering
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 dashboard
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front seats
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 gearstick
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front panning
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 right panning
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 right panning
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front cornering
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 rear cornering
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 dashboard
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front seats
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 gearstick
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 front panning
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 right panning
  • Nissan GT-R 2021 right panning


What Car? says...

When it comes to Japanese performance cars, the Nissan GT-R is arguably top dog, partly because it puts the 'F' in fast.

The inheritor of a legacy of sporting machines badged 'Skyline GT-R', the current-generation model took the car’s reputation for giant-killing pace to new heights when it was introduced. More recently, Nissan has added even more power to a recipe that includes a twin-turbocharged V6 engine and a uniquely complex four-wheel-drive system.

The car’s mission is to deliver colossal speed and excitement at about half of the price at which it’s available in most supercars – and in a package that can be used every day and in almost any weather. And if the regular GT-R isn’t quite fast enough for you (perhaps you’re an ex-Apollo astronaut?), there are the Track and Nismo versions.

Both benefit from stiffer race-track focused suspension, improved body rigidity and lighter wheels, and the range-topping Nismo has more power, improved aerodynamics and carbon-ceramic brakes. How does 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds sound to you? 

Over the next few pages of this review, we’ll let you know whether the Nissan GT-R is good enough to compete with the best performance cars, and compare it with the Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911. We'll rate it for performance, interior quality and more, and tell you which version we like best.

When you’ve decided which new car is perfect for you, make sure you find the best price by looking at our free What Car? New Car Buying service. You could make substantial savings on the brochure price without having to haggle, and find some tempting Nissan GT-R deals.


With delicate steering, a characterful engine and a beautifully balanced chassis, the Nissan GT-R is one of the most engaging supercars on the market, but a great driving experience can’t quite make up for a dated interior and poor refinement – especially when Audi R8 and Porsche 911 exist. Still, if you have your heart set on a GT-R, we’d point you in the direction of entry-level Pure trim, which gets plenty of kit, has friendlier road manners than the range-topping Nismo and costs a fraction of the price.

  • Huge power and grip
  • Performance per pound
  • Relatively practical
  • Nismo is eye-wateringly expensive
  • Weight compromises handling
  • Interior quality disappointing

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Nissan GT-R driving experience has always come with a few rough edges – it’s certainly a long way from being a civilised grand tourer. Updates have given it better cruising manners and a smoother ride, but the tyres still kick up a lot of road noise and the town ride isn’t as good as in rivals. The six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox can snatch and clunk at low speeds too.

Nor does the V6 engine sound as sweet as a Jaguar V8 or a Porsche flat-six. There is plenty of drama about its power delivery, though. Peak horsepower is 562bhp and acceleration is huge – we timed 0-60 in just 3.4sec. The gearbox isn’t always as quick to shift as it might be, but above 4000rpm and at full stride, the car piles on speed with an entirely uncompromising urgency that only the very quickest cars on the road can exceed.

Nissan GT-R image
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The GT-R’s hydraulic power steering offers plenty of weight and feedback, and a sensible pace to the steering rack makes it easy to place on the road. You can tackle B-roads with confidence and composure, even if the GT-R's handling isn’t as sweetly balanced or delicate as that of a Jaguar F-Type or Porsche 911. It's secure and fast, but suffers more body lean than its rivals and can be unforgiving when you near the limits of grip.

However, that's much less the case with the range-topping Nismo. With race-track focused Bilstein suspension, semi-slick Dunlop Sports Max GT 600 tyres, improved downforce and less weight thanks to a smattering of carbon-fibre panels, it’s impossible to get close to the car’s limit of grip on the road. That doesn’t mean the Nismo is a one-dimensional, point and squirt device. Far from it. 

Where an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 GT3 RS flows with the road and responds best to delicate inputs, the Nismo GT-R is a more physical and demanding machine. On a typical bumpy British B-road, you constantly find yourself being kicked out of your seat as the suspension struggles to iron out the surface underneath, while the front end has a tendency to follow every surface undulation intently. Factor in an engine that delivers its power in one massive hit and the Nismo is a car that demands your full concentration. 

For many, this kind of physicality won’t appeal, but for those looking for an old-school, interactive performance car experience, nothing else comes close to giving you the same kind of adrenaline hit.

And if you do happen to venture on to a track, all of those go-faster changes are not for show – the front-end is beautifully sharp, the chassis is surprisingly progressive once you breach its limit of grip and the Nismo’s carbon-fibre brakes are massively powerful yet easy to modulate. If your idea of a good time is turning up to your local track day and embarrassing Caterhams and GT3s, well, step this way.

Nissan GT-R 2021 rear cornering


The interior layout, fit and finish

The Nissan GT-R comes with electric heated leather seats as standard. Alcantara sports seats are offered as part of a mid-level Recaro trim level that’s named for the famous racing seat manufacturer, while the range-topping Nismo gets beautiful carbon-fibre-backed Recaro perches.

Whichever seat you get, you’ll find yourself sitting a little higher than in some performance cars, but with lots of adjustment for cushion angle and height.

The car’s instruments are conventional in the main. A small monochrome trip computer screen offers a digital speedometer function as a handy backup, but compared with the adaptive colour instrumentation on a Porsche 911, the GT-R’s dials look antiquated.

The steering wheel has a small central boss, which makes room for a greater number of controls on each spoke. Behind it, the GT-R’s gearshift paddles have been moved from the steering column to the back of the wheel, so they rotate with it and are easier to reach while steering.

The GT-R's dashboard is upholstered in Nappa leather, or wrapped in Alcantara in the Nismo. The toggle switches for selecting your drive mode or suspension setting have a nice tactile quality, while strategically-placed carbon-fibre trim gives a lift in perceived quality.

The infotainment system works through an 8in colour display. Compared with the best systems, it's not very sophisticated-looking, is somewhat slow to respond and lacks any smartphone mirroring or app-based functionality. It can be used best as a multi-function display to show data such as turbo-boost pressure, and engine and transmission condition.

Nissan GT-R 2021 dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Two occasional back seats and a 315-litre boot combine to make the Nissan GT-R one of the more usable performance cars. The boot is a good size – wide enough for a set of golf clubs, and deep enough for a couple of holdalls.

The GT-R's back seats don’t fold forwards, so there’s no through-loading facility for longer items. The rear seats themselves are big enough to admit a young teenager, but nobody bigger. There are also Isofix child seat anchor points in the back, making it realistic to carry younger kids and still leave decent room up front.

In the driver’s seat, space is good rather than great, and the controls are well placed. Unusually, there are separate release levers for the steering column depending on whether you want reach or rake adjustment, so moving the wheel is more fiddly than it needs to be. You can at least put it where you want, and the instruments move with the column so you needn’t worry about obscuring them with the rim.

Interior storage is decent but not outstanding. There are two good-sized cup holders in the centre console that will takes bottles or travel mugs, but the storage cubby immediately behind them, underneath the driver’s armrest, is short on depth, and the door pockets and its glovebox are quite small.

Nissan GT-R 2021 front seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Even the entry-level Nissan GT-R comes with six airbags, keyless start, 20in wheels, LED headlights and parking sensors all round as standard, as well as an infotainment system with 11 speakers, DAB radio and SD-based satellite navigation. It’s exactly the kind of generous kit offering commonly used to keep a car like this attractive as it gets a bit long in the tooth.

The step-up to mid-level trim looks a bit expensive, given that it only buys Recaro sports seats and a few other bits of cabin trim. The Prestige version is offered with extended black, red, ivory or tan leather for a more luxurious flavour, while the Track Edition comes with forged wheels, a reinforced body, track-focused suspension and a carbon-fibre spoiler.

The range-topping Nismo edition benefits from carbon-fibre-backed Recaro seats, Alcantara upholstery, a carbon-fibre Nismo body kit, carbon-fibre body panels, a carbon-fibre wing and splitter, forged 20in Rays alloy wheels, Bilstein suspension, more efficient turbochargers and carbon-ceramic brakes. It represents the ultimate version of the GT-R, but if you want one on your drive, you’ll pay for the privilege – it costs more than an Audi R8, McLaren GT or Ferrari Roma

At least residual values on the car should be competitive – it’s expected to retain around 55% of its showroom value after three years and 36,000 miles. That can’t compare with the incredible residual values of the Porsche 911 GT3 but is in line with the rate of depreciation of an Audi R8 or McLaren GT. 

The GT-R’s complicated twin-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive system are both a bit more needy than you might expect: servicing is due every 12 months or 9000 miles. Also, bear in mind that track use and driving with the car’s electronic stability controls disengaged invalidates the Nissan factory warranty until an appointment can be made for a full vehicle inspection.

The GT-R didn’t feature in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey but Nissan as a brand performed woefully, finishing in joint 27th place with Ford out of the 30 manufacturers included. Only Land Rover and Fiat did worse.

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Nissan GT-R 2021 gearstick


  • The Nissan GT-R didn’t feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey but Nissan as a brand did badly. It finished in joint 27th place (with Ford) out of 30 makers and scored just 86.2%. You have to service the GT-R’s gearbox and four-wheel-drive system every 12 months (or 9000 miles). Read more here

  • Very. The Nissan GT-R’s 562bhp turbocharged V6 engine dispatched the 0-60mph sprint in 3.4sec in our testing. In comparison, an entry-level Porsche 911 delivers 0-62mph in 4.2sec, while the entry-level Mercedes-AMG GT does it in 4.0sec. The uncompromising GT-R Nismo does 0-62mph in a staggering 2.8sec. Read more here

  • We recommend the entry-level Nissan GT-R Pure because it offers the most performance for your money. It also comes with an 11-speaker sound system, keyless start and an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen, among other amenities. Stepping up to the GT-R Nismo upgrades the power to 592bhp and adds special wheels plus a variety of sporty styling tweaks, but we’d avoid it because of the cost (it’s more than even the Ferrari Roma). Read more here

  • The Nissan GT-R features an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen that can also be controlled by using a rotary dial on the centre console (it’s similar to the iDrive system in the BMW M4). The GT-R’s screen doesn’t look very sophisticated, is slow to respond when you touch it, and doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, so you can’t bypass it and use your own apps on the screen. Read more here

  • The Nissan GT-R has never been safety tested by the independent experts at Euro NCAP. It has basic driver assistance technologies such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control to help keep you out of harm’s way, but none of the more sophisticated modern safety aids available on some sports cars. Read more here

  • The Nissan GTR’s 315-litre boot is bigger than you get in most sports cars and is wide enough for a set of golf clubs and deep enough for a couple of holdalls. You might also want to consider storing some luggage on the back seats, considering they’re only big enough to comfortably seat small teenagers. Read more here