Is The 2021 Nissan GT-R Still A Legendary Speed Machine, Or Is It Past Time To Move On?

It's still Godzilla, but how well can it hold up to modern scrutiny?

For the past fourteen years, the Nissan GT-R has carried a folkloric reputation among the sports car pack, but how well can it still hold its own? (Photo: Nissan)

For the first time in years, Godzilla is back in our midst.

Yes, even in the year 2021 — as we await a new Z car to finally land on our shores — we still have the Nissan GT-R among the modern sports car elite. And on paper, at least, it’s just as impressive as ever. With an advertised neck-snapping 2.9 second 0-60 time, a top speed of nearly 200 mph (or slightly more, in the Nismo’s case) and mountains of grip, Nissan’s flagship super-coupe should still hang with the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW, among others. At a whopping $113,540 to start, and our particular example running up to $121,040, you’re laying out quite a large wedge of cash on this car’s ability to wow not just on the track, but in most other aspects as well. In this video, Roman and Tommy take a closer look at just how well ‘Godzilla’ has aged. Is it still a legendary speed machine, or is it past time for Nissan to put this generation out to pasture?

Just for good measure, Alex gives it a few good 0-60 runs to see how quick it is, both with and without launch control.

Nissan GT-R high points

Even after more than a decade in production, one of the best things about the 2021 Nissan GT-R (that hasn’t changed much) is the styling. This could be absolutely nothing else but a GT-R, descended from the lustworthy R32, R33 and R34 Skylines of the 1990s. Actually, while we’re on that subject, we did get three generations of Skyline in that decade…food for thought. Nevertheless, the GT-Rs look has arguably aged extremely well, at least on the outside.

With super sticky Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 tires in a staggered setup (255 millimeters in the front, 285 in the rear) rolling on 20-inch wheels with Brembo brakes to stop it all, the latest Nissan GT-R is by no means hurting for hardware to corner or stop, either. And the piece that blew everyone’s minds when it first debuted nearly 15 years ago, that VR38DETT twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 still sits up front. In the standard GT-R, it puts out 565 horsepower and 467 lb-ft of torque. Other engines like AMG’s modern V8s and a host of six-cylinder units have caught up to those figures in recent years, but the way the GT-R delivers its power is still thrilling, to say the least.

Sure the power figures aren’t otherworldly by today’s standards, but the GT-R’s twin-turbo V6 still looks awesome today.

It’s still fun, but…

As much as we enthusiasts love the GT-R for everything it represents, it’s difficult to ignore the areas Nissan’s icon hasn’t aged particularly well. The interior doesn’t feel especially premium these days, given the six-figure price tag. The key fob, of all things, sets the tone. It’s precisely the same unit you’ll get on a $16,000-ish Nissan Versa, just with a GT-R badge on top. Now, when the GT-R first emerged in late 2007 wearing a price tag in the $70,000 range, the sort of features you get made the car a bit of a bargain. But at $120,000? There are so many cars these days that are nearly as quick, or even quicker, and play the interior luxury game so much better. There’s no denying the six-speed dual-clutch transmission, while it’s still up to handling the power, also feels a bit sluggish compared to modern units.

While it may not be the best value these days, however, the 2021 Nissan GT-R is still a great sports car in its own right. It’s a huge amount of fun after all these years, and for those of us in the TFL office it was not a case of “don’t meet your idols.” There are cars like the all-electric Tesla Model S that will dramatically outpace the GT-R, but this car makes all the right noises to really get the adrenaline pumping just as much as it did back in late late 2000s.

Look at it this way: Against the $210,740 Nissan’s asking for the Nismo version, the standard GT-R still could be considered a bit of a bargain.