Cars > Driven

Nissan GT-R Premium: A living legend

Nissan’s halo car receives yet another nip-and-tuck

Despite its age, the GT-R still looks fresh thanks to a few aesthetic tweaks. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

I was a high school sophomore with a full head of hair and a bright future ahead of me when Nissan’s former leader Carlos Ghosn first revealed the R35 GT-R to the world in December of 2007.

Fast-forward to 2024 and Ghosn has since been disgraced for pulling some shady shenanigans during his tenure. As for me, I’m now bald from the stress of raising two children, and my shiny forehead is now the only bright thing in my life (apart from my wife, of course). Yet one thing remains to this day: The R35 GT-R lives on.

If you do the math real quick, the R35 chassis will be old enough this 2024 to drive itself under the supervision of a licensed companion. Given the average life cycle of half a decade, the R35 has now lived over three lifetimes in car years. And though its best days as the supercar killer is long behind it, it’s still one hell of a sports car.

The rear looks largely the same, although the diffuser and the wing have been revised. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

To stay relevant in its old age, the R35 received yet another minor refresh last year along with a major price increase. When it arrived on our shores in 2016, it rang the register at P7,350,000. With dealer discounts and rebates, some even rolled out of the showroom floor at the high six-million-peso mark. Today, this very car will set you back a cool P12,445,000.

As for what improvements come with the new price tag, well, all it is is a bodykit, to be honest. A slightly louder active exhaust has also been fitted, but it still doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

On the track, you can tell that the new car has a bit more composure, and slightly better traction on corner exit, but the differences won’t jump out at you. The improvements are so minute that both cars have to be driven back-to-back to truly notice them. The louder exhaust is quite obvious, though.

The hand-built heart of this monstrous machine. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

Still, the 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (VR38-DETT) remains powerful enough to bear the Godzilla moniker with 562hp and 637Nm. Getting off the line with launch control is a violent assault on your internal organs.

The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires claw onto the tarmac to thrust you to 100km/h in less than three seconds, rearranging your bowels with the sheer force of acceleration along the way. The GT-R pulls relentlessly through each gear, almost as though it would never top out.

It’s so brutal that it makes you beg for mercy, causing you to pull the right paddle before the redline just so it will stop making you soil yourself.

These wheels are carried over from the previous facelift. PHOTOS BY SIMONN ANG

It’s well known that the GT-R is a heavy beast, tipping the scales at 1,770kg, but the R35 masks its mass incredibly well. The car is light on its feet, willing to change directions as soon as you think it.

The ATTESA E-TS AWD system keeps the car glued to the ground through the twisty bits. Just chuck it in, mindlessly trust all the mechanical grip it’s got, and pound the throttle early at exit. The 1.5-way mechanical rear LSD will take care of turning your ham-fisted stomp into forward thrust. It’s an exhilarating roller-coaster ride with you at the helm.

The steering is sharp and precise, giving the GT-R dynamism unbecoming of a portly grand tourer. However, a bit more feel and feedback through the electronic rack would make it truly come alive.

The GT-R still feels special to this day. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

Brembo supplies stopping power with six-piston front calipers mated to 15.3-inch discs up front, while the rear gets four-pot calipers and 15-inch rotors. As a result, the deceleration in the GT-R comes as violently as its acceleration. The brakes are forceful with plenty of bite, stopping the GT-R from high velocities in a short distance.

The best thing about the GT-R is that its performance is so easily accessible. It doesn’t take a masterful professional to extract its potential. Even a clumsy automotive journalist such as myself can push the car to the limit. It bestows its driver with incredible confidence to wield it.

The GT-R is so planted and predictable that it makes you think you are a better driver than you actually are.

Yup, still no smartphone integration, and it’s 2024. PHOTOS BY SIMONN ANG

Furthermore, the R35 does an average of 5.5km/L of the 100-octane fuel it requires even through consistently doing spirited driving—extremely impressive for a car this fast. Below 4,000rpm, it’s perfectly docile—even daily-drivable should you wish to do so.

Despite its domesticated demeanor and some interior pieces coming from the Nissan parts bin, the GT-R still feels special. There’s a sense of occasion when you’re in it. Children still point and scream, “It’s a GT-R!” It has a presence like nothing else does, and it’s still a poster-worthy car.

Proof of the GT-R's practicality. The trunk can accommodate a stroller, a baby bag, some shopping bags, an acoustic guitar, and a cooler. PHOTOS BY SIMONN ANG

After you’ve had your fun, switch everything out of R mode and the atomic-breathed Godzilla transforms into a sweet little puppy.

The Bilstein Damptronic suspension becomes supple, and the engine will putter along smoothly. You just have to get used to the sound of clanging cookware coming from the dual-clutch transmission.

Once you do, you will find that great NVH levels keep the cabin quiet and comfortable. It’s also got a Bose stereo system. The seats are perfectly bolstered, too, hugging your torso while also allowing for unrestricted movement.

It’s not too low, so the car doesn’t scrape everywhere. Given the right technique and common sense, you can clear most ramps and parking facilities with no problem. It’s practical as well with plenty of storage in the trunk. It’s even got rear seats and Isofix anchor points.

It wouldn't be a GT-R without round taillights, would it? PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

So, yes, the R35 GT-R is in its best shape ever, but it’s also the most expensive it has been in almost 17 years. And I seriously think that Nissan is pricing itself out of the game here given the vast array of options available at this price point.

The BMW M2 Carbon and M3 Touring are both about P10-11 million. A taste of Stuttgart’s finest in the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS is also in the cards. The Lexus LC500 with its thundering V8 could be at play, too.

Not to mention that the secondhand market is rife with great deals on three-year-old Audi R8 V10 Pluses and Porsche 997s/991s/992s—all fairly modern cars with arguably more panache and flair for roughly the same money. And what’s to stop anyone from buying a used R35 that’s practically identical to this one for half the price?

Or you could simply throw caution to the wind and build a small but exquisite car collection with a brand-new Toyota Supra, a Honda Civic Type R FL5, and an ND2 Mazda MX-5—three legendary nameplates, three unique experiences for the price of one.

Then again, the newest version of an old car is always the most sought-after once it goes out of production. The Skyline GT-R V-spec II Nur is the most desirable R34 today, so there might be some wisdom in purchasing this version of the R35 with long-term value in mind. But right now, P12.5 million seems a little too steep for a car that’s surprisingly similar to the ones that rolled out of the factory over a decade and a half ago.

The R34's face grafted onto the R35. Do you see it? PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

I’m sure inflation, global geopolitics, and many other factors played into the GT-R’s current price, but my guess is that perhaps Nissan is playing a different game altogether—one less perceptible and far more subliminal.

I’m certain that as a company, it is acutely aware of the legend and the admiration that surrounds the GT-R. But Nissan is also aware that everyone thinks the R35 is in its twilight years, and that this may very well be the last of its kind. It is deliberately keeping silent on what the next-gen R36 will be, and when it will arrive to reinforce the thought that the current car in its current form could unexpectedly kick the bucket.

And so, they’re cashing in on the perceived uncertainty. If you need some sort of proof that Nissan is playing the nostalgia game, just look at the new front end of the GT-R. Instead of moving forward, it now looks more like the R34 than it ever did. It’s really just preying on wistful suckers like you and me who will grovel and pay whatever premium for anything with an internal-combustion engine and a historic emblem under threat of extinction.

So, I guess this is our fault, then.


Engine3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 gasoline
Transmission6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power562hp @ 6,800rpm
Torque637Nm @ 5,800rpm
Dimensions4,710mm x 1,895mm x 1,370mm
Drive layoutAWD
UpsideThe R35 GT-R is a living legend that still has the power to keep up with modern metal.
DownsideNot the next-gen GT-R we actually want. Too expensive for a car that shares switchgear with the Kicks and the Terra.

Simonn Ang

Simonn is just a regular guy who happens to love cars and motorcycles. He also loves writing about them, too.