Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 11, 2018
Godzilla. Where to start? It’s a blank slate for tuners and speedhunters, an Initial D fanboy’s dream, and the king of speed. Well that last part was true ten years ago when the new R35 was first launched. It crushed supercars costing twice and three times as much in a straight line, and downright embarrassed household brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.
But those automakers were not asleep at the wheel and in recent years, this Japanese dinosaur has fallen behind. In 2017, Nissan revamped the GT-R, addressing its biggest criticisms like the rough ride, jerky dual-clutch transmission, and loud interior. They’ve tamed Godzilla, softened up the suspension, added cabin insulation, and even equipped a new front grille and some retweaked aero bits. But can you really tame a dinosaur, put a leash on it, and dull its fangs with a mouthguard? We spent a week with the 2018 Nissan GT-R Premium to find out.
First impressions? Holy mother of pearl is this thing fast. We’ve driven fast cars before and I know you’ve heard it all, 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 and the analog gauges hit speeds that I’m frankly too afraid to admit. The GT-R is the definitive harbinger of speeding tickets.
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 re-tuned engine, an ignition system from the GT-R NISMO, and extra boost from the turbos. It’s almost a nuisance to have so much power but not be able to use 100% of it outside of a track. 0-100 km/h? Around three seconds. That’s enough to rip me a new face.
The six-speed dual-clutch has been tweaked to offer quieter and smoother shifts, but it’s still not as slick as the DCTs from Volkswagen or Audi. When the gearbox is left in automatic, shifts are clean, crisp, and unobtrusive during casual drives around town, but it’s when shifting manually via the paddles that we experienced some jerkiness and auditory clunks, most notably from third to second gear. It lugs on take off if you hesitate too much on the gas pedal as well. Upshifts on the other hand are fired with rifle-bolt urgency.
Godzilla can also run on all four paws via its ATTESA all-wheel drive system, and can be your four-season chariot if you so choose. It’s still a porky car - the GT-R 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.
The GT-R instills a huge sense of confidence in the driver, which is a bit counterintuitive. From the outside, Godzilla gives off a headstrong and intimidating demeanor, but deep inside it’s really just Barney in a jumpsuit. The GT-R is approachable, grippy, capable, and you never have to worry about losing control, even in the wet. The steering talks back by following every groove on the tarmac, and 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 definitively say if this new GT-R is more comfortable than the last, at low speeds and on public roads, it’s quite docile. When set in Comfort Mode, the suspension is compliant, supple, and dare I say floaty. I would not mind using this as a daily driver at all. The cabin is much quieter this time around thanks to added sound absorption materials, an acoustic glass windshield, and Active Noise Cancellation technology that Nissan engineers have tacked on - no longer do you have to shout to have a decent conversation with your passengers. All the excess vibrations, rattles, and miscellaneous sounds seem to have been drowned and muffled out, but you do hear a lot of wind noise seeping into the cabin.
Let’s talk about the exhaust because that’s where a lot of people misunderstand the GT-R. Yes you pay the entrance fee of $125,600 to get in, but don’t expect an exotic soundtrack to match. The GT-R’s V6 sounds more Dyson than it does supercar, emitting a mechanical symphony filled with clicks and clacks and gears slotting into place. It may not sound extraordinary but it's titanium exhaust does have its own charm. Have a listen to our Exhaust Notes video above to hear the GT-R for yourself.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in recent offerings from Nissan and Infiniti, and though the GT-R’s redesigned interior shares many pieces from the parts bin, it still feels special. No longer do the innards look like some Playstation gamer’s dungeon. There are less buttons this time around, the center display is larger and cleaner, and the entire dashboard is brand new with nicely padded and thick semi-aniline leather ($5,300 option), and is the same quality stuff that you would find in an Infiniti QX80. Apple CarPlay has been added for 2018.
Every car has its faults and the GT-R is not spared. I found the unadjustable side and thigh bolsters to be way too tight, and I’m already fairly skinny. Anyone relatively bigger may find it a bit too snug. The blind spots are also atrocious and downright scary at times. There is no blind spot monitoring system either but you do get a standard rear view camera. The rear seats are way too small to fit anyone but a toddler (we expected nothing less), but on the bright side the trunk was surprisingly cavernous. You could fit two standard-size suitcases in there and still have enough room for a duffle bag or two. Try that in your Aston Martin Vantage.
After spending two full days with Godzilla, I can safely report that the GT-R lives up to the hype, and then some. 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 its $125,600 price tag. Godzilla also retains its subtle charms like its switchblade door handles, Polyphony-developed infotainment system, and unmistakable pencil sharpener tail lights.
Improved in almost every way, the GT-R may no longer be in the spotlight but it is still an endearing supercar that can keep pace with many 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.
Model: 2018 Nissan GT-R Premium
Paint Type: Pearl White
Base Price: $125,600
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,710 / 1,895 / 1,370
Curb weight (kg): 1,784
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 (VR38DETT)
Horsepower: 565 hp @ 6,800 rpm
Torque: 467 lb-ft @ 3,300 - 5,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed twin-clutch automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, ATTESA AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.5 / 10.7
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport MAXX GT 600; Front 255/40ZRF20; Rear 285/35ZRF20