How the R35 Nissan GT-R changed the supercar game

2009 saw arguably one of the most remarkable performance cars come to market in the UK – the Nissan GT-R. Godzilla, as it was nicknamed, caused quite the stir upon its highly anticipated arrival. Pretty quickly, the R35 proved itself as a match for even the best of what the supercar world had to throw at it.

And with the upcoming R36 not too far around the corner – though we don’t really know much about it just yet – it’s time to take a look back at what made the 2009 GT-R so incredible. Here’s how it became such a shock to the supercar system and the legend it is today…

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight; the GT-R isn’t the first to offer great bang for your buck and it won’t be the last. Cars like the Ford Mustang and Subaru Impreza WRX STI have been doing that way before the GT-R’s arrival in 2009. The thing is, the GT-R took going fast for less to another level. It’s by no means a cheap automobile, but we’re talking performance of supercars twice the price here.

Anyway, let’s get into the details of the why and how. In 2009 when Godzilla arrived on UK shores, it was priced at £65,000. What other cars cost that much in 2009? You ask. Well, there was the BMW M5 and base Porsche 911 – both couldn’t compete with the GT-R’s sheer performance. Its closest rival was probably the 911 Turbo, which, back in 2009, cost well over £100,000.

So, we’ve already established the GT-R as a bargain like no other, with similarly priced cars outmatched and similarly fast cars costing almost twice the price. Now let’s actually talk about the performance itself and exactly how it’s staggering attributes are achieved, shall we?

Under the bonnet, the Nissan GT-R houses a 478bhp twin-turbo V6 – nothing too extreme even by late 2000s standards. But what made Godzilla such a weapon was never simply the engine; it was also the drivetrain, gearbox and clever computers. That last one is witchcraft beyond human comprehension, so let’s focus on the other two.

Thanks to a pretty amazing all-wheel drive setup, the R35 can utilise all of the 473 horses at its disposal very well. This means brutal 0-60mph acceleration in a rapid 3.5 seconds. To put that in perspective, a 911 Turbo of the same era with the PDK automatic gearbox will do it in 3.6 seconds.

Speaking of automatic gearboxes, the GT-R has a six-speed double–clutch transmission capable of super fast shifts. This gearbox and the all-wheel drive system work together to provide that aforementioned crazy acceleration.

But really, one of the most incredible things about this car is its dual personality. It has the beating heart of a supercar, however, it can be driven easily everyday. There are no massive compromises your usual exotic makes you put up with; it’s actually quite practical. There are four seats, a reasonably sized boot, and in the softest suspension setting, a relatively comfortable ride. The GT-R does all this, while still managing to thrill and set lap records.

To this day, the R35 GT-R is still a legend even after 10 years on sale in the UK. What will the R36 bring to the table? We’ll just have to wait and see…

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