NISSAN GT-R (R35)
Few cars deliver such a performance hit
FOURTEEN YEARS – THAT’S HOW LONG AGO IT WAS that we crowned Nissan’s R35 GT-R evo Car of the Year. Blending muscle car with supercar, the GT-R triumphed over a line-up that included an Aston Martin Vantage 4.7, Gallardo LP560-4, Alfa’s delectable 8C Competizione, Porsche’s 911 GT2 (997) and Renault Sport’s unhinged Mégane R26.R. The GT-R took them all on and strode to the podium. It was the car’s one and only appearance at ecoty, though with hindsight the latest Nismo edition that we have just said goodbye to should have been at ecoty ’21. In fact a few of us could probably make a case for a GT-R being present at every ecoty since its 2008 debut – that’s how highly regarded Nissan’s monster is.
There are some who are lukewarm to the R35, impressed by its capability but left cold by its execution, and then there are those who adore it, admiring every strand of its DNA. Where some see an uncouth and rather industrial powertrain, others revel in a car straining at the seams with character and personality.
Its brutish appearance is a fair reflection of how it drives. It’s a car that requires you to be on your game, commit to the process of driving and be prepared for a workout if you want to experience it at its best and as its creators intended. A contemporary Porsche 911 Turbo is more clinical and operates across a wider bandwidth, but it lacks the raw passion of an R35.
As you’d expect with a career spanning 14 years, the GT-R saw constant updates, sometimes yearly. You’ll need to swot up to spot many of the changes, as Nissan took its continuous improvement mantra to extremes. But there isn’t a myriad of models to get lost in, so you can simply set your budget and go.
Early cars can be found for under £40,000, which is a sizeable chunk of money but then again it’s a sizeable chunk of performance icon that you’re getting in return. Increase your budget to the mid-40s and you open yourself up to some impeccably well maintained and unmolested early examples or slightly newer models with 60,000-plus miles and a few modifications.
Talking of modifications, the R35 is ripe for them, which is why it’s so appealing to so many. Hand the specialists at Litchfield £1100 and they’ll take your standard GT-R to a Nismo-rivalling 590bhp; five grand gets you to 660bhp, and for the price of a three-year-old Fiesta St-line you can have 750bhp. As performance car blank canvases go, you’ll have to try hard not to find a tuning route that satisfies your desires.
Running costs need to be taken into consideration, with regular maintenance a must to keep that complex powertrain 100 per cent fit, and enjoying its launch control needs careful consideration – are the acceleration rewards worth the financial risk? But the GT-R continues to enthral and entertain, as desirable today as it was in 2008 when it claimed its ecoty crown.
‘A CAR STRAINING AT THE SEAMS WITH CHARACTER AND PERSONALITY’