Nissan’s 2017 GT-R is a bold, brassy hooligan car, capable of producing massive horsepower, torque and driver amusement. (Nissan)
The 2017 Nissan GT-R is a bad car, for bad people. It’s a hooligan ride, for hooligan drivers, good for nothing but scaring the neighbors, driving up insurance rates and attracting the attention of the CHP.
But it’s so much fun to drive!
Nissan has been building a version of the GT-R since the late 1960s, when it first offered a Japan-only Nissan Skyline GT-R. The current model has been available in the U.S. since 2008.
With every passing year, these brutes get bigger and badder. The 2010 featured a V-6 engine that made 523 horsepower and 451 pound-feet of torque. The 2017 version, a 3.8-liter V-6, produces 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque.
Everything about the GT-R screams “track day,” from the bright red start button (which looks like something you’d use to initiate ignition on a rocket ship) to the race seats (which are actually comfortable for long-distance driving) to the engine sound (which seems more suited to a jet fighter than a street-legal automobile).
The GT-R is said to get from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 195 miles per hour.
Although I did not test those numbers and do not drive that fast, I believe it. Around town, up the Angeles Crest and on the freeway, I found the GT-R’s acceleration quite exhilarating. The slight turbo lag resulting from a quick stomp on the pedal is made up for by the neck-snapping jolt that follows. Zero to 60 is abrupt, and 60 to 100 seemed to happen pretty quickly too.
The six-speed transmission, through all-wheel-drive, felt very tractable for such an aggressive, rear-engine monster. The GT-R never felt in danger of losing its grip.
But even in optional “comfort” mode, the suspension is stiff, perhaps perfect for Willow Springs but not ideal for, say, Sunset Boulevard.
It’s meant to be a daily driver and for some people will be. The climate control system is very efficient — quiet and powerfully cooling even on a scorching day. The sound system is good too, as is the Bluetooth phone pairing.
But this is a race car, not a coffee shop or a phone booth. So enjoying that sound system, or using the telephone, may be difficult to do over the roar of the engine — quite intoxicating but likely to interrupt communication and inhibit conversation with your passenger, even if the passenger is capable of speaking, given the way you’re probably driving this beast.
On the L.A. streets, enthusiasts knew at once they were looking at the 2017 version, which features a new front grille, hood, spoiler and bumper. On the inside, they noted the shift paddles are now mounted on the steering wheel.
The trunk design suggests Nissan believes people will be using the GT-R for more than drag racing. The big trunk has room for your golf clubs and even your caddie, or a couple of suitcases.
Though it has rear seats, they’re probably not going to be useful for carrying people.
I don’t know anyone who owns a GT-R, but I’ve met several people who would like to.
What would they be cross-shopping, if they were serious about that? Given the specs, the GT-R is competitive with the fastest cars made by Porsche, BMW, Audi and Ferrari. On various tracks, in varying tests, GT-Rs have matched or even beaten 911s, R8s, M3s and 599s. They’ve gone up against Corvette Z06s and come out on top.
They’re priced accordingly too. The Premium version has a starting MSRP of $111,585 for a model that comes standard with heated, adjustable, leather seats; Bose sound system; 8-inch color navigation display; and front and rear parking sensors.
If that’s not enough, you are free to spend $176,585 for the “Nismo” version of the GT-R. That one features a 600-horsepower engine and is even more of a hooligan.
2017 Nissan GT-R Premium
Times’ take: A bad-mannered hooligan hot rod
Highs: Way too much fun to drive
Lows: Liable to raise blood pressure, insurance rates
Vehicle type: Two-door, four-passenger sedan
Base price: $111,585
Price as tested: $112,585
Powertrain: 3.8-liter, twin-turbo, 6-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Torque: 467 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy rating: 16 miles per gallon city / 22 mpg highway / 18 mpg combined