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Is the Nissan GT-R still relevant?

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Last week, I heard news that the Nissan GT-R is finally going to die. Nissan has neither confirmed or denied that, but regardless, the car is still on sale today, and that’s a really remarkable achievement.

It’s also something that happens to Japanese sports cars, and since I have a soft spot for them, I wanted to take a closer look at the both the GT-R and what’s left of the Japanese sports car landscape. First, there’s a few new GT-Rs available now…

The GT-R Takumi Edition and Skyline Edition

The Takumi edition. Photo: Nissan

Believe it or not, Nissan has released two special editions for the US market alone. Europe doesn’t even get the car any more. First up is the Takumi Edition:

  • Extremely classic Midnight Purple paint over Mori Green interior. Midnight purple comes form the R34, and it’s the first time the color comes to the R35.
  • Carbon-ceramic brakes
  • Gold-painted 20-inch forged Rays wheels
  • Nismo-tuned traction and stability control
  • Wider front fenders.
  • Unique badging in the engine bay — one with red lettering on the motor itself and a gold VIN plate.
The Skyline edition. Photo: Nissan.

There’s also the Skyline Edition:

  • The Skyline name hasn’t been featured on the car until now, an important element in my opinion.
  • Bayside Blue over Sora Blue interior. It isn’t available on any other spec.
  • Unique to the United States. Not even Japan gets it.

In addition, all 2025 GT-Rs get the option of beautiful Blue Heaven leather, and the T-Spec and NISMO Track Edition gain the weight-balanced piston rings, connecting rods, and crankshafts that were formerly exclusive to the NISMO Special Edition.

To be fair, you can get the exterior colors on lesser models, but building this car on Nissan’s website is a chore. Certain color combinations are only available on certain trims, etc.

Putting the Nissan GT-R’s age in perspective

Nissan GT-R
Much remains from ten years ago.

This will be fun. 2007 – that’ when the R35 Nissan GT-R debuted. Ready?

  • The BMW E92 M3 hadn’t even debuted yet.
  • The Nissan 350Z was still on sale.
  • The Corvette C6 was brand new
  • The original Acura NSX might still have been found on a dealer lot as a new car
  • The 997 911 was only a year old.

I could go on, but to put it another way, imagine if the E92 M3 were still on sale today. A main reason why Nissan is stopping production seems to be because they can’t source certain parts any longer. The car is that old.

How long has the Nissan GT-R been on sale?

Nissan GT-R
The R33 was only on sale for four years in Japan.

Please email me if you can think of an example, but I can only think of three modern sports cars that have been on sale as long as the GT-R:

  • Honda S2000 (2000 – 2010, 10 years)
  • The original Acura NSX (1991–2006, 15 years)
  • The Nissan 370Z (2009 – 2021, 12 years)
  • The Nissan GT-R (2007 – current, 17 years)
Mitsubishi 3000GT
These cars have a way of looking timeless.

As you can see, the GT-R has outlasted the other two, and is still going. We can find a few other examples if we include cars that were still sold abroad after they finished production in the US:

Everything else had a shorter production run. Can we find this phenomenon in other country’s sports cars?

The answer is, not really. Jaguar has no money left to make new cars anyway. So what gives?

Why do Japanese sports cars last so long?

The GT-R’s V-6 isn’t shared with. any other Nissan. Photo: Nissan.

Japan as a country is crowded. To help combat this, they developed smaller cars in the 1960s that shared no resemblance to the giant land yachts that American companies were producing here at the time. Front-wheel drive cars are cheaper to build and repair, offer no issue with driveshaft balance, were lighter, and better for the fuel crisis of the 1970s. Companies like GM wouldn’t start to get front-wheel drive cars right until the 90s.

But front-wheel drive is not very good for performance, since you’re asking them to steer and accelerate. There is no front-wheel drive Ferrari.

Nissan GT-R
There have been many versions, but the GT-R’s basic ingredients remain.

So when it came time to make big-boy power, Japanese car companies had to dig deep and develop specific platforms that were great for sports cars, not so much for anything else. That made them more expensive to design and build. And once they did design them, why spend all that time and effort just to kill the car in 5 years?

But in the case of the GT-R, things are even more unique. The Z has been on the same platform now since the dawn of the century (FM), and it’s Nissan’s only true rear-wheel platform. The GT-R uses a modified version of this platform, and when combined with its one-off dual-clutch transmission, uniquely-tuned ATTESA system and special 3.8-liter V-6, you get a car that was very expensive to develop, and one that quickly ran out of room to be updated.

Why has the GT-R gotten so expensive?

The GT-R still looks good, but it has dated details. Photo: Nissan.

There are a ton of articles out there about this, and all those cars from the 90s had the same thing happen. First, let’s look at the GT-R’s base price in 2009, which was $69,850, vs today’s cost of $121,090. That’s a 43% increase.

In 1991, the NSX cost $62,000, and $90,000 by the time it went away, a 32% jump. 2006 and 2007 are close enough to say that GT-R costing over $10,000 less than the ancient NSX was quite a bargain at the time.

The Skyline edition’s Blue Heaven leather interior. Photo: Nissan.

But let’s look at it another way. In 2008, an E92 M3 cost $62,620. The same car now, a BMW M4 Coupe, comes in at $79,100. That’s a 21% increase.

The M4 is faster, better equipped, modernized, larger and more luxurious than the E92 was, as expected. The GT-R has received some improvements over the years, but nothing to warrant a 43% increase, even adjusting for inflation.

The Mori Green interior. Photo: Nissan.

Nissan has said that parts have increased in cost, and because the GT-R is produced in such small numbers, economy of scale may not always apply. Let’s also factor in the hand-built assembly of the engine. But at the end of the day, it’s expensive because it can be, and Nissan gains simply by having the GT-R exist, more so than selling.

So is the GT-R still relevant?

Despite its flaws, I’m glad it’s still here. Photo: Nissan.

I reviewed a 2014 model, and came away less than impressed. It’s still a very fast and capable car, but it’s also dated in a way that’s not charming. That screen is ridiculous, and I’m not even sure the car has wireless Apple CarPlay. $515 for the “carpeted floor mats” package? You’re telling me they aren’t included?

Come on Nissan.

But you know what? A generation of kids grew up idolizing the R34, and the fact they they can still buy this dinosaur new is incredible. If Mitsubishi sold the 3000GT today, regardless of its flaws, I’d strongly consider buying one.

Love is never rational.

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