Used Nissan GT-R 2009-present review

What is it like?

Used Nissan GT-R
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What's the used Nissan GT-R coupe like?

Many years ago, if you were interested in going fast in a car that had so much high-tech hardware under its purposeful skin that it looked like it might explode, you went automatically to a purveyor of a difficult-to-come-by car called the Nissan Skyline GTR. In its many variants, it offered enormous speed and terrific cornering power at a price that undercut the finest offerings from Germany and Italy by a country mile, but its relative rarity in the UK was due to the import restrictions that meant most of these cars were personally imported.

The spiritual successor to these cars was the plain old Nissan GT-R, and when it was launched in this country in 2009 it was freely available to all and sundry from your local Nissan dealer. Like the previous car, it offered sublime speed and phenomenal performance at a relatively cheap price.

It might not have looked as graceful as those European rivals, but under the skin it was dauntingly clever. A 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine gave, initially, 478bhp, and though this four-wheel drive car with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox was no lightweight it could still rocket from 0 to 60mph in around 3.0 seconds, and top out at around 196mph. In 2010, the power figure was upped to an impressive 523bhp, and in 2012 to a whopping 545bhp. A special Nismo edition upped that even further to 592bhp. Later editions of the standard car are good for a more-than-satisfactory 562bhp.

Trim-wise, there have been numerous attempts to add a touch of pizazz to the GT-R’s rather ordinary interior over the years. Even the current entry-level 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, a DAB radio and an 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, which, despite a couple of facelifts, the GT-R undoubtedly is.

The step-up to mid-level trim actually looks a bit expensive, even if you find a used bargain, 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 and suspension and a carbonfibre spoiler.

On the road, the GT-R, in whatever version, goes like stink, with loads of drama but not much sophistication. The engine is vocal, very vocal, but lacks the tunefulness of its rivals from Porsche and Ferrari. There’s no arguing with its speed, though - it’s colossal.

Approach a corner and you’ll find the GT-R’s hydraulic power steering makes for plenty of weight and feedback from the car’s helm, while sensible pace to the steering rack makes it easy to place on the road. You can tackle all sorts of roads with confidence and composure, even if the handling isn’t as sweetly balanced or as delicate as that of a Porsche 911. Its ride is, of course, a little rough, and it kicks up a fair amount of road noise, too. The Track editions can be unbearably stiff.

It’s fair to say the interior of earlier cars was a bit of a disappointment, and evidence of the cost-cutting that had to be done to make this car so affordable. The driving position is fine, and multi-adjustable, but the quality of the interior plastics and the layout of the dials and proliferation of buttons was a bit low-rent. Later cars upped the game, with more leather and nicer quality materials, but it still all felt a bit dated.  

The GT-R’s infotainment system works through an 8in colour display. Compared with the very best systems it still isn’t very sophisticated-looking, it’s somewhat slow to respond, and it lacks any smartphone mirroring or any app-based functionality.   

The rear seats themselves are big enough to admit a young teenager, but nobody bigger. There are Isofix child seat anchorages in the back, making it realistic to carry younger kids and still leave decent room up front.The car’s boot is a good size: wide enough for a set of golf clubs, and deep enough for a couple of soft holdalls.

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Used Nissan GT-R
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