From 1989 to 2002, Nissan Motor Co produced a series of legends that would captivate the auto enthusiast community with amazement and excitement. These were the RB-series Skyline GT-Rs; and they packed such panache so much as to have the last special edition named after a famed racing circuit. Although at the turn of the early 2000’s the new Z-car (the 350Z) was introduced, the era of high-performance twin-turbo sportsters made by Nissan had come to an end. Or, at least it would have, if not for the debut of the Skyline-based 2001 GT-R concept. This concept is what lead to years of research and development for the return of the automotive Godzilla.
The production version made its initial debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, and released for the public in December that year. North American production was confirmed in July 2008 (for the 2009 model year). The GT-R was both a continuation of and a break from the Skyline. For one thing, the name “GT-R” is obviously a recollection of the Skyline GT-Rs of the past. The GT-R’s mission is to be a jet-fast high-power car. The fastest a 2009 GT-R went around the Nürburgring was 7 minutes and 26.7 seconds, beating the Porsche 911 GT2 by 5 seconds. This secured the GT-R in its place in the world racing stage, as well as carry on the legacy of the R34 Skyline GT-R. On the other hand, the GT-R was a whole new lineup. This “R35” sat on a vehicle platform unique to itself, the Premium Midship (PM). Power for the base GT-R comes from an all-aluminum 3.8L VR38DETT V6. Initial power has been rated at 478 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 434 ft/lbs at 3200 rpm. Transferring all this power is done with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission, which sends power out to the electronically controlled ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive system. Inside, the GT-R’s multifunction display was designed by Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital. This customizable system displayed statistics such as boost, engine oil temperature and pressure, and real-time cornering g-forces.
The GT-R received positive recognition. It won Top Gear’s Sports car of the Year (2007), Autocar’s Driver’s Car of the Year, Evo Magazine’s Car of the Year, and Popular Mechanics’ Automotive Excellence Awards in 2008. That year, the GT-R sold 6,739 units worldwide; the majority of which (4871 to be exact) were sold in its home market, Japan. The second largest quantity, 1730 examples, were shipped to the United States. US model year 2009 sales saw a turnout of 1534 units.
In 2010, the GT-R gained a power upgrade (485 horsepower and 434 ft/lbs of torque) and a cosmetic update for 2011. In addition, the GT-R gained higher turbocharger boost, more rigid carbon composite front strut bar, larger brakes, lighter and stronger wheels, and grippier tires. In 2012, the power was amped to 530 horsepower and 448 ft/lbs of torque. A March 2011 test by AutoGuide.com found the 2012 GT-R two seconds faster than the Dodge Viper ACR and six seconds faster than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS around the Nürburgring, elapsing a new lap record of 7 minutes and 24.2 seconds. In 2013, the GT-R got 545 horsepower and 463 ft/lbs of torque. In 2015, Nissan Motorsports (Nismo) debuted the GT-R NISMO. The Nismo had a staggering racetrack-style bodykit and large rear spoilers. Models with the N-Attack Package were equipped with a more powerful engine throwing out 600 horsepower. Claimed Nürburgring lap time was 7 minutes and 8.6 seconds.
For model year 2017, the GT-R gained a mild facelift and more power. The long-staying VR38DETT engine was tuned yet again; this time 565 horsepower and 467 ft/lbs of torque for base GT-Rs.