Joy ride: 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO

The 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO isn’t quite as value-friendly as the GT-R has been in the past, but it’s faster and more nimble than ever before.

After only 15 minutes of seat time with the all-new, $150,000 Nissan GT-R NISMO, I’m starting to wonder why anyone buys quarter-million dollar supercars anymore.

NISMO, Nissan’s high-performance arm (think Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M division), has created one of the fastest cars in the world for a relative bargain. Think about it this way: for just about the same money as the GT-R NISMO, buyers can get an Audi R8 V10. Yes, the R8 has more street cred, but it’ll lose in a head-to-head race with the GT-R …. every single time.

Speed through subtleties

For 2014, Nissan took the necessary measures to improve GT-R owners’ biggest complaint: interior refinement. While I appreciated the improvements, it’s still hard to say that the GT-R is on par with other $100,000 sports cars on the market. In terms of performance, however, the GT-R outshines supercars that are twice the money – and then some.

For 2015 year, the introduction of the NISMO model dials the go-fast figures up even further, creating an ultimate – and perhaps final – version of the supercar before it gets redesigned next year.

Unfortunately, this quick spin didn’t include any track time. However, it did include a back-to-back comparison with the “Track” trim of the standard GT-R, and the differences were pretty obvious.

First and foremost, there are a few styling differences that will immediately set the NISMO apart from the other Godzilla (the GT-R nickname) variants on the road. The NISMO brand makes tasteful use of red trim bits, which can be seen in both the front and rear. There’s also a special wing spoiler, set of wheels, and optional titanium exhaust – a NISMO exclusive that looks and sounds more aggressive – all of which should scream to onlookers that this is no standard, slouchy GT-R; this is a purpose-built, track-focused spine mangler.

In terms of performance the GT-R outshines supercars that are twice the money – and then some.

Inside, there’s NISMO branding galore, but little else changes. Buyers still get the same comfortable, supportive seats, beefy steering wheel, and customizable performance screens as the standard GT-R.

In stark comparison to many of the GT-R’s competitors, it offers a rear seat and a proper trunk. Admittedly, they’re both cramped – even on a good day – but the extra space is a luxury that buyers just won’t find in most other supercars.

Roll the car onto the asphalt, and you’ll find a less restrained vehicle than the GT-R has ever been in the past. The dual-clutch automatic still feels a little unrefined, but it gets the job done. However, the hand-built, twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine puts down a massive 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque – up from the already enormous 545 hp on the base model.

Once those turbos spool, the experience falls categorically into supercar territory. Head pinned and knuckles white, the GT-R NISMO’s launch from zero is sphincter-clenching moment … 100 percent of the time. That’s what 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds will do to you.

2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO

Thanks to its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and a dedicated computer to support that system, the drama ends almost immediately after that. Traction is immense around cloverleaf turns and twisting roads, and the GT-R feels almost lazy, underwhelmed on surface streets. In the NISMO model, the GT-R’s suspension has been stiffened and retuned significantly. These suspension tweaks can be quickly felt in sweeping, high-speed turns.

Otherwise, the GT-R NISMO remains perhaps the most practical two-door supercar on the market, even despite its stiff ride. It’s a large car, and at least the front two passengers can sit comfortably in its soft, but supportive seats, as well as toss their weekend bags into the trunk. And, unlike its competitors, you can toss the kids in the back, too.

Conclusion

While the 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO may not be the most refined supercar on the market, it remains the quickest car money can buy, even as its price climbs to $150,000.

It’s probably fair to say that this model has started to lose a little in terms of its value statement, especially compared to the “slower” early models that cost less than half that when they were new.

The fact that it can keep up with the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Huracán, and McLaren 650S in a straight line and around the track, however, still makes the Nissan GT-R NISMO one of the most interesting purchases a supercar buyer can make.

Highs

  • Faster than cheaper than anything else for the same money
  • Incredible traction
  • The most trackable version of the GT-R

Lows

  • Design beginning to look vintage
  • Interior quality not quite up to snuff
  • Clunky transmission noises
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Cars

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.
Cars

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
Cars

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti has released a teaser image to preview a concept it will unveil at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The yet-unnamed design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language.
Cars

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.