MONTICELLO, New York – There’s a first time for everything. I’ve never driven a GT-R before, and I was just about to find out what all the hype behind the Godzilla moniker was all about. I was proactive and did a little bit of research before piloting this newly refreshed 2017 model. In addition to a slight exterior makeover, including Nissan’s new V-shaped front grill, the entire car has been stiffened and tuned to make the GT-R slightly more tame and civilized.
One of the biggest criticisms of the R35 GT-R was that its dual-clutch transmission was jerky and whined at low speeds, and the ride, though heavenly on the track, was too stiff for the old man’s back. It wasn’t the quietest or the most comfortable vehicle on the road either, but Nissan has subsequently fine-tuned the GT-R to become more of a livable, everyday supercar for 2017. Think of it like Godzilla but with a mouthguard.
But what did I know? I had no basis to compare the new GT-R to. I’ve never personally witnessed the loud cabin, or the snappy gear changes, or the bumpy ride. Frankly, I’m just swept away with Godzilla’s resume. Under the hood is a nuclear 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 delivering 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque, which is a 20 hp and 4 lb-ft increase over the outgoing model via a retuned engine, an ignition system from the GT-R Nismo, and extra boost from the turbos.
The torque spread has been massaged out to be more linear, and the transmission has been tuned to delivery said torque more smoothly with less chatter from the clutch. Godzilla can also run on all four paws via its ATTESA all-wheel drive system, and routes all gases through a titanium exhaust system that helps to dissipate heat more effectively. 0-100 km/h? Around three seconds. That’s enough to rip me a new face.
But I only had an hour of seat time with the GT-R, so best get to it. First impressions? Holy mother of pearl, it’s quick. I know you’ve heard it all before, but there is really no other way of explaining the GT-R’s otherworldly ability to charge up a straight without even breaking a sweat.
Trees blur as you start to pull some Gs, as the digital gauges hit speeds that I’m frankly too afraid to admit. It’s a porky car, that’s for sure. It weighs in at 1,784 kg, which is 22 kg more than the outgoing model, but the way it dexterously carves through the air makes that number insignificant.
We weren’t allowed to take the GT-R on the track and were limited to public roads. Be that as it may, the GT-R instills a huge sense of confidence in the driver. It’s grippy, capable, and the steering talks back. You can feel the road undulating and curving underneath your fingertips, while the soft cosseting seats keep your back supported and free from arthritic flare-ups.
Though I can’t say if this new GT-R is more comfortable than the last (comfortable is a relative term here), at low speeds and on public roads, it’s quite docile. Gear shifts between first and second are smooth, the suspension is compliant and quite supple, and the cabin is just as well-insulated as your eco-friendly Altima, which is due to the added sound absorption materials, acoustic glass windshield, and Active Noise Cancellation technology that Nissan engineers have tacked on. All the excess vibrations, rattles, and miscellaneous sounds seem to have been drowned and muffled out, which leads me to my next observation, the lack of exhaust noise.
The GT-R’s blown V6 sounds more Dyson than it does Supercar. The wind-up to the redline is nice, it’s mechanical, but it lacks soul. There’s none of that whoaaa factor that you get from a Shelby GT350, nor is there that “holy s***” reaction that you get from a Ferrari. It’s more, shall we say, the best a laptop could produce, and leaves a lot of be desired. But it’s not a concerning issue, as I’m sure most GT-R owners would have ordered an aftermarket exhaust the same time they’ve signed their finance papers, but it’s still worth mentioning.
The most surprising part of our Godzilla experience was the beauty of the redesigned interior. No longer do the innards look like some Playstation gamer’s dungeon – there are less buttons, the center display is larger and cleaner, and it’s got some premium quality materials that do its best to justify the six-figure price tag.
The entire dashboard is brand new, with Nappa leather gracing every surface it can find. Buttons, knobs, and switches will look familiar if you’ve been in a modern Nissan Maxima, but it never looks cheap or out of place. The three-spoke steering wheel has also been put under the knife, sporting a handsome new design with the paddle shifters mounted to the wheel itself instead of the column.
Though our seat time was limited, we can happily report that the GT-R lives up to the hype, but in a segment that’s growing and evolving quicker than you can imagine, blink and you can easily fall behind. The GT-R’s speed records have since become relatively casual, with quicker supercars taking up the mantle. What does the GT-R have left going for it then? Well to post numbers that come even close, you’d have to spend more than double its $125,000 MSRP. Godzilla also retains its subtle charms like its switchblade door handles, Polyphany-developed infotainment interface, and unmistakable pencil sharpener taillights.
Improved in almost every way, the GT-R may no longer be in the spotlight but it is still an endearing supercar that can outrun Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The GT-R has not only stood the test of time, but it has matured and evolved into a more comfortable and usable everyday supercar for the masses. Don’t be fooled, though. Godzilla has still got bite.