Nissan GT-R: A more-civilized ‘Godzilla’

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
View Comments

New York – Whenever Nissan advertises a sequel to “Godzilla,” fans light up the Internet.

So when Nissan announced a new, 2017 GT-R (nicknamed after Japan’s favorite sci-fi monster) for this year’s New York auto show, expectations rose for the latest in all-wheel drive sports car aggression.

Alas, Nissan’s promise of an all-new GT-R by 2020 is still in place. But the 2017 model is the most comprehensive refresh since the monster was first introduced way back in 2007 – a lifetime ago in auto development. To mark the occasion, Nissan brought out the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, to introduce the fastest GT-R yet. The 2017 supercar features skin enhancements, a new interior and (naturally) better performance.

To maintain its status as one of the fastest cars on the planet, the ’17 model gets a stiffer chassis and more horsepower. The GT-R’s twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V6 now boasts a neck-snapping 546-horsepower – 20 ponies more than previously. And if more muscle is needed, Nissan offers the 591-horsepower Nismo edition (zero-60 in a Bolt-like 2.7 seconds).

But the real focus of this Godzilla is its refined wardrobe to address criticism that the beast was too raw in an era of plush, $100k-something Corvette Z06s and Audi R8s.

The dash has been completely reworked. The horizontally-flowed dashboard is wrapped in a single piece of Nappa leather – “stitched with Takumi-style precision” according to Nissan’s press release – and the center console is simplified, reducing the number of switches from 27 in the previous chariot to 11. The 7-inch touchscreen grows an inch and sports better graphics. The bolstered seats are more comfortable. Shift paddles are now mounted to the steering wheel so that motorheads can snap off gear changes mid-corner without having to move their hands from the helm.

Outside, the GT-R gains Nissan’s signature “V-motion grille” in order to look more like a Nissan family that includes the sporty Maxima sedan and stylish Murano crossover. A new hood helps stiffen the chassis, while aerodynamic tweaks to the front and rear increase downforce and sex appeal while maintaining the GT-R’s slick, 0.26 drag coefficient.

“As the icon of Nissan’s driving performance, the GT-R continues to evolve,” said Nissan Executive Design Director Mamoru Aoki in a statement. “With the signature V-motion grille, the GT-R now possesses the latest Nissan design language. Its exceptional aerodynamic performance and upgraded interior have given the GT-R a more mature character.”

With Active Noise Cancellation and new sound absorption materials – including an acoustic windshield – the GT-R promises a quieter cabin even as its prodigious power rattles the neighbors’ ear drums.

“The new GT-R delivers a heart-pounding driving experience at all times, on any road, for whoever sits in the driver’s seat,” said Chief Product Specialist Hiroshi Tamura. “We have continued to push its performance boundaries to the limit – at the same time, refinement has been added to take the driving experience to an entirely new level.”

Look for it at dealers late this summer.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Reach him at Or Twitter: @HenryEPayne

View Comments