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.

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