2020 Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary review
IN A NUTSHELL: Nissan celebrates its performance car hero’s 50th anniversary with a special edition, which feels a little more special but its age is telling.
Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary review
It’s a golden era for fans of Japanese performance cars. For the first time since 2002 all three of the country’s biggest nameplates – the Toyota Supra, Honda NSX and Nissan GT-R – are on sale at the same time.
The GT-R is the oldest of the trio, the current model has been on sale since 2009 in Australia, but also overall. In fact, it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 and Nissan celebrated by including this limited edition model with the MY20 updated range.
What Does The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Cost And What Do You Get?
Nissan Australia has expanded its GT-R range for 2020 to five models, starting at $193,800 (plus ORCs) for the Premium and stretching all the way to $247,000 for the Track Edition with Nismo interior.
The 50th Anniversary sits in the middle, priced from $209,300 plus on-road costs, and is based on the Premium Luxury trim line. Aside from all the performance components, the car comes equipped with keyless entry and ignition, navigation, unique alloy wheels, 11-speaker Bose sound system, reversing camera and a new two-tone leather trimmed interior. There’s a racing stripe that runs down the bonnet, roof and boot that is inspired by the GT-Rs that raced back in 1971, available in just three exterior colours – Super Silver, Ivory Pearl and Bayside Blue.
What’s The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Interior Like?
There are some really sporty touches inside the GT-R – such as the carbon fibre trim on the centre console and the bright red, racing-style starter button – and the new two-tone leather trim looks nice. But the GT-R is starting to show its age inside in several areas. Nissan has been trying to make it a more comfortable and refined sports car for several years, including a major upgrade in 2017 that introduced a new infotainment system. Despite all that, it still doesn’t feel like a $200k car.
The switchgear is similar to what you find in the rest of the Nissan range circa-2009, cheap-looking plastic, which makes you question the value of the GT-R, especially as the price has increased significantly over its lifespan (it cost $155,800 in 2009).
Aside from the new grey two-tone leather and a small plaque on the centre console, there isn’t anything else in the cabin that really lets you know you’re in the 50th Anniversary special edition.
How Much Space Is There In The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary?
The front seats are comfortable and offer good support but lack enough adjustment. This reviewer couldn’t get the driver’s seat low enough to be ideal, which is a frustration for such an expensive car.
There are two seats in the back but are best treated as emergency-only options, especially for adults. Kids can fit but even they aren’t left with much legroom unless the front seat occupants move forward significantly.
What’s The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Infotainment Like?
As with the rest of the interior, the infotainment system graphics look dated. Despite the 2017-update that reduced the number of buttons, the system is still in need of rejuvenation with rudimentary maps and a lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Even the data screens that can display a huge variety of information – from oil temperature to g-forces – need a visual upgrade. They were famously designed by Polyphony Digital, the company behind the Gran Turismo Playstation games, but unfortunately, the graphics have been left behind. Since this car launched the company has released three new Gran Turismo games so it seems the GT-R could do with some attention.
What’s The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Engine Like?
While the looks haven’t changed much over its life, Nissan has kept up a steady stream of upgrades to the powerplant. It’s still a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 but when it first launched it managed ‘only’ 357kW. Now the engine now pumps out 419kW of power and 632Nm of torque, thanks to a string updates including the last major one in 2017.
It was never slow but now it has real ferocity when you plant your right foot down on the throttle, so much so you begin to forgive the dated interior and realise why you spent so much money on a Nissan. Coupled to the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system the GT-R feels seriously quick when you unleash it. Obviously it’s far too quick for Australian roads so to really get the best out of it you’ll need to head to a track day.
The trade-off for all this performance is its fuel economy. The GT-R is officially rated at 11.7-litres per 100km on the combined city/highway cycle but without any open road cruising expect that number to head into the mid or even high teens. It’s also worth noting that it requires a diet of 98-octane unleaded so visiting the bowser can be an expensive exercise to fill the 74-litre tank.
What’s The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Like To Drive?
There are two really impressive things about the way the GT-R drives. Firstly, even with the price increases eating into its value advantage, it’s still supercar-level performance for less than most European sports cars. Secondly, the GT-R is one of the easiest sports cars to drive fast, it may be really quick and look intimidating on paper but for anyone with the fundamental skills for dynamic driving can tame it.
The handling is excellent with great response from the nicely weighted steering and solid stopping power from the brakes. However, it does weigh a portly 1765kg and that does have an impact on its at-the-limit handling, especially when you’re trying to wipe off speed.
However, building speed is no problem. The all-wheel drive system is able to harness all the engine’s immense torque and transmit it to the road with ease, which in turn allows the GT-R to launch out of corners like a rocket.
The ride is also unsurprisingly firm given its performance focus but never uncomfortable. It rides on adjustable Bilstein dampers and 20-inch alloy wheels so it’s never going to be a plush ride but dial up the ‘Comfort’ suspension setting it you’ll only notice the bigger bumps in the road. And the trade-off is excellent road holding when you do unleash its performance, so all things considered it’s a great job from the Nissan engineers to find the right balance.
While it’s impressive at speed, it’s so highly strung that it can struggle when you just want to commute in it. The cabin is filled with whines and groans from the mechanical bits underneath. It sounds like a racing car trundling down a pitlane when you’re cruising through traffic – this is a car that is designed to work at its best at high speed. The gearbox can shift itself but it occasionally clunks between cogs when it’s not driven hard, which is another trade-off for its mind-blowing performance.
How Safe Is The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary?
Another problem brought on by its age is the lack of modern active safety features. The GT-R relies on airbags and stability control to keep you safe, items such as autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert are all unavailable.
What Are The Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Alternatives?
With an asking price north of $200k the GT-R 50th Anniversary positions itself against high-end sports cars from the European brands. The BMW M840i (from $202,900), Jaguar F-Type V6 (from $173,100) or Porsche 718 Cayman GTS (from $173,800).
You could also look at cheaper options that are equally exciting to drive, such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe (from $167,640), Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (from $159,990) or even the Toyota Supra (if you want to stick with a famous Japanese name).
Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary specs and price
Price From $209,300 plus ORCs Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 3.8L twin-turbo V6 petrol Power 419kW at 6800rpm Torque 632Nm at 3300-5800rpm Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch auto Drive all-wheel-drive Body 4710mm (l); 1895mm (w); 1370mm (h) Kerb weight 1765kg Seats 4 Thirst 11.7L/100km Fuel tank 74 litres Spare Space saver