Recently, Nissan threw us the keys to their 2020 GT-R Track Edition. Our first stint in the car took place during Monterey Car Week where these fancy photos were taken by Dan Coria. Our second stint happened just a couple weeks ago as we piloted the same red rocket ship around the streets of Los Angeles and also to this year's annual Purist Toy Drive. No doubt about it, the GT-R is still the king of the street. It's been updated and refined a hundred different ways, and you can tell after the first few minutes behind the wheel, it's not the heavyset car it once was. Unfortunately, though, while we were reviewing the Track Edition model, no track time could be logged.
We can only imagine how 'at home' it would be on a road course like Laguna Seca or nearby Buttonwillow. But after a couple of weeks with the car, we did have some criticisms which made us wonder if the GT-R is still the dominating all-wheel-drive Japanese sports car that every enthusiast and auto writer still holds in such high regard. So, we jotted down some key points from our experience, to give you some insight into the 2020 GT-R Track Edition.
Agility: We remember the original R35 GT-R to be a bit of an overweight pig. While the Track Edition tips the scale at around 3,900 lbs, it drives much more agile and lighter on its feet. It feels smaller and easier to maneuver, much of it is thanks to over a decade of ongoing development into its chassis, weight reduction, overall handling and customer feedback.
Power: The twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 looks to be the same as its predecessors at first glance but this Track Edition uses a NISMO-tuned, GT3-inspired engine that makes 600hp and 481 lb-ft of torque (the original R35 GT-R came in at 480hp; the 2020 base model makes 565hp). It's basically the same foundation, but with new turbos, less inertia and improved tuning. In other words, it's more efficient and a stronger beast. While we weren't able to take it on a track, accelerating from zero-to-60mph in under three seconds, as well as mashing it up to triple digit speeds on the open highway made us feel like a couple of giddy schoolboys again.
Quick Shift: Shifting is noticeably quicker than the older models thanks to updates to the paddle-shifted six-speed DCT. It also downshifts aggressively during heavy braking, when not in manual mode.
More Value Than NISMO: The $210K NISMO Edition (yes, you read that correctly), goes for around $65K more than the Track Edition. You're basically getting identical performance in the Track Edition with the same NIMSO-tuned 600hp engine, carbon roof, titanium exhaust, aggressive 20" RAYS wheels, Recaro seats and more. The model we tested rocked the $15K carbon ceramic brake option which is standard on the NISMO (but in all honesty probably a bit overkill unless you were going to hit track days regularly).
Ride Comfort: While the GT-R manhandles the twisties and also features an ultra-stiff "R" mode, driving it around town and on bumpy L.A. highways proved by be a bit unsettling. Even in "comfort" mode, the dampening felt too bumpy for daily driving. Perhaps, if we lived in Japan or Germany, where the roads are nicely paved and smooth, we wouldn't be complaining so much, but for the urban jungle of LA, there were quite a few times where we felt we were going to be ejected from our seats!
Interior & Electronics: Nothing to complain about the Recaros, carbon accents and alcantara upholstery, but overall interior design felt a bit dated from the old touchscreen to the dials, buttons and displays. We were also caught off guard that there wasn't many of today's safety features adopted like collision warnings or blind-spot monitors.
It's still an R35: Yes, it is, and that's perhaps the biggest rant we hear from Nissan fans. While the R35 has received a handful of facelifts since its introduction 11 years ago, folks are still waiting for an R36, which we can only speculate will come out before flying cars.
Dog-Gone Expensive: We get it...inflation, more power, better performance... It's one of the best engineered sports cars out of the box to this day, but for many fanboys like us, we feel the GT-R is priced a bit outside of our fingertips. The Track Edition starts at $145,540 and the base model starts at $113,540. Yes, it's still the pinnacle of Japanese performance in our eyes, but for the same price of the exact Track Edition we tested with the ceramic brake option, we could've bought a brand-new Porsche GT3.
Truth be told, the GT-R is quite unique and still offers performance that rivals the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. In fact, during our review in Monterey, we were keeping up with a 488 on Highway 1 with no problem—a car that's easily $100K more than the Track Edition. It's just a reminder that Godzilla is still king, and we haven't even talked about its aftermarket capabilities, which we're pretty sure you're all aware of (hello AMS!).
So, while the GT-R's increase in price and some of its dated styling and features might not make it as attractive to new sports car buyers as it once was, we still respect the GT-R's longevity, performance package, and significance in the community. If we're ever given the opportunity to review the Track Edition again, you can bet we'll be fighting for the keys. We might not be able to afford it with our measly editor salaries, but we know it's going to be one of the most memorable and exciting driving experiences we'll ever have as journalists.