Would you pay $212,000 for a Nissan? You might if it’s the 2020 GT-R Nismo
No matter how rich you are, there are certain things you will always hate spending money on, like ATM fees, cable TV and airline baggage fees. Then there are the things that are so wonderful that you can’t help yourself; you have to have it. Like the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo.
You don’t buy it because it makes sense. You don’t buy because it’s a good value. You buy it because you must have it. You buy it because your heart has overruled your brain, and you’re willing to let your bank account bear the brunt of the fiscal pain.
That’s because the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo costs $212,000 — and it’s a Nissan. Not a Bentley. Or a McLaren. Or a Porsche. But it is a Nismo, an acronym derived from NISsan MOtorsports International Co., Nissan’s in-house tuning arm that delivers purebred performance. So this car is almost nothing like your sister’s Sentra, except that both have engines, four tires, a steering wheel and wear a Nissan badge. For the GT-R is a thoroughbred track star, a vehicle for those for whom “The Fast and the Furious” is a totem to live by. It’s an extreme sports car, one that’s quite special, if rarely seen stateside.
This car is still the stuff of legend. It’s built in a hermetically sealed factory. And, yes, the engine is still hand-assembled in a special clean room by a trained technician, who adds an aluminum plate with his name on the front of each one. For 2020, each engine is treated to new turbochargers swiped them from the GT3 racecar version of the GT-R. This improves engine response by 20% according to Nissan, as if more speed was needed. The new engine, also available in the 2020 GT-R Track Edition, mates to six-speed dual clutch transmission and a revised titanium exhaust system with handcrafted tips.
It’s placed in a car with a serious amount of carbon fiber — which partially explains this GT-R’s lofty price. You’ll find it in the front and rear bumpers, front fenders, hood, roof, side sill covers, trunk and rear spoiler. Combined, it saves 23 pounds, with another 44-pound reduction gained through new lighter-weight components. Redesigned front fenders with louvers increase front downforce while smoothing airflow for greater high-speed stability. The GT-R Nismo also has the biggest Brembo carbon ceramic rotors ever fitted to a Japanese performance car — 16.1 inches in the front and 15.3 inches at the rear.
Even the tires are special. Developed by Dunlop, they have 11% more contact with the pavement, while increasing cornering force by 5%.
It’s a serious piece of machinery, one so bedazzled with so much carbon fiber, it’s even on the bottom lip of the front fascia, making every speed bump, curb, or driveway a possibly costly encounter, meaning you must proceed over them slowly and cautiously.
But slowly navigating such perils will be the only time you will ever move slowly in this car unless, that is, you’re caught in a slowdown on the interstate.
To call this car engaging would be a severe understatement. The Nissan GT-R Nismo’s twin-turbocharged V-6 generates 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed dual clutch transmission that produces mystical mechanized melody of clunks and whirs as the car propels you back into your leather-covered Recaro bucket seat with an obscene amount of force. The quick, linear steering is weighty, but quickly reacts as if attached to your synapses. This is not a car as much as it is a motorized samurai sword. Add in the engine’s sweet symphony, and you’ll rarely, if ever, listen to prerecorded music in this car. The sounds produced are as intoxicating as its personality. It’s a very visceral experience, one that fills the silence in your soul.
Of course, a car so tuned to the track demands that you compromise in order to drive it.
Being a sports car, it’s not just loud and low to the ground; cargo capacity ensures that you can take along a gym bag at most for weekend trips. But that’s to be expected of any sports car. No, what makes owning a GT-R Nismo challenging is its suspension. Nissan uses Bilstein DampTronic shocks that the company says were retuned to be 20% softer in rebound and 5% softer in compression. But it was done for track response, not real-world driving, where America’s crumbling infrastructure makes driving this car a test of your vertebrae. The stiff body structure and track tuning yields a car with no body lean in corners and little give over bumps. Its tires reveal every road imperfection, calling for care when driving as it can cause the car to change direction when unexpectedly encountering some unnoticeable change in the road surface.
Given the raucous, forceful nature of the beast, it’s no surprise that its interior comes solely in a red and dark gray color scheme accented in leather and Alcantara, or that its video game-inspired instrument panel was designed in collaboration with Polyphony Digital, makers of the game Gran Turismo electronic game.
Still, you have to wonder why Nissan even bothers to build such a rarified, expensive machine. It’s like discovering that your local dollar store sells caviar.
Nevertheless, for the lucky few who fall for this intoxicating track toy, it’s money well spent.