2012 Nissan GT-R

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Key Specs
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Nissan GT‑R. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Distinctive looks
  • Power specs
  • Standard adaptive suspension
  • Four-season potential

The Bad

  • Some interior materials
  • No conventional stick shift

Notable Features of the 2012 Nissan GT-R

  • Zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds
  • 530-hp, twin-turbo V-6
  • Six-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • All-wheel drive
  • Antilock Brembo disc brakes

2012 Nissan GT-R Road Test

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David Thomas

Rarely is one afforded the opportunity to pilot a car that can reach speeds of nearly 200 mph and hit 60 from a dead stop in the 3-second range. Doing so changes the way you think about modern transportation, given the rest of it goes by so slowly in comparison.

That the 2012 Nissan GT-R costs less than $100,000 while achieving performance that usually costs at least twice that boggles the mind — and being able to drive it so easily blew my mind.

For 2012, the GT-R has received a number of updates, both performance and cosmetic. See the 2012 compared with the 2011 here.

Performance
Nissan has created a performance machine that is stunning for two significant reasons.

The first is the car's sheer ability. Its all-wheel-drive system puts the twin-turbo V-6 engine's 530 horsepower to the pavement superbly. Teamed with an independent rear suspension and the grip of 20-inch high-performance summer tires, the all-wheel drive made cornering at the limits mere child's play.

There's no highway off-ramp this cart can't take like a racetrack carousel (absent other traffic, of course).

That sublime handling comes in second, though, to the sheer acceleration. I told everyone I met during my test drive — countless people stopped to ask me about the car — that it wasn't the zero-to-60 time that was so impressive, it was zero to 80 or 90. The GT-R launches so powerfully that your mind cannot fathom the speed — or likely even register it &m...

Rarely is one afforded the opportunity to pilot a car that can reach speeds of nearly 200 mph and hit 60 from a dead stop in the 3-second range. Doing so changes the way you think about modern transportation, given the rest of it goes by so slowly in comparison.

That the 2012 Nissan GT-R costs less than $100,000 while achieving performance that usually costs at least twice that boggles the mind — and being able to drive it so easily blew my mind.

For 2012, the GT-R has received a number of updates, both performance and cosmetic. See the 2012 compared with the 2011 here.

Performance
Nissan has created a performance machine that is stunning for two significant reasons.

The first is the car's sheer ability. Its all-wheel-drive system puts the twin-turbo V-6 engine's 530 horsepower to the pavement superbly. Teamed with an independent rear suspension and the grip of 20-inch high-performance summer tires, the all-wheel drive made cornering at the limits mere child's play.

There's no highway off-ramp this cart can't take like a racetrack carousel (absent other traffic, of course).

That sublime handling comes in second, though, to the sheer acceleration. I told everyone I met during my test drive — countless people stopped to ask me about the car — that it wasn't the zero-to-60 time that was so impressive, it was zero to 80 or 90. The GT-R launches so powerfully that your mind cannot fathom the speed — or likely even register it — before you hit 60. The real feat is slowing down before any legal ramifications are enacted on you.

Your head snaps back with enough intensity to cause whiplash as the GT-R easily hits 1 g of force shifting hard from 1st to 2nd gear using titanium paddles behind the steering wheel. How can you tell it's a full g of force? Handy display screens show acceleration, braking and cornering forces.

Luckily, the massive 15.4-inch brake rotors up front and 15-inch rotors in the rear slow the GT-R down precisely.

Of course, with this much handling and performance ability, there has to be a sacrifice somewhere, and that's in ride comfort. Thanks to the rigid setup, drivers will feel every road imperfection, hear every pebble they kick up and curse any concrete highway they're forced to travel.

There's a switch labeled "comfort" placed amid settings that can adjust the transmission and stability control system. Unlike the other two options, I don't believe the comfort setting accomplished much. Driving in comfort mode, I was still painfully aware of every crack in the road, like a kid playfully calling out about breaking your mother's back. Which you might do if she's riding shotgun in the GT-R.

During the first few days of my test drive, I thought the ride quality would sour me on the rest of the experience. I generally prefer a good mix of performance and comfort, as you'll never wring out the abilities of a car like the GT-R on anything but a track.

By day six, though, I had nearly talked myself into buying a GT-R despite the abusive ride. There isn't anything I desired south of $200,000, except maybe an Audi R8 GT, and that car is nearly $50,000 more than the GT-R. Plus, while more exotic, it doesn't have the Nissan's velocity.

You could go an entire day before being able to run the GT-R full tilt — and even then it will likely be just for minutes, or even seconds — but the exhilaration is well worth the wait. Fuel economy is rated 16/23 mpg city/highway, which is rather impressive when you consider this car's performance. However, during a week of testing both around town and in bumper-to-bumper commutes, I averaged a rather unsettling 13 mpg.

Looks
The GT-R is nicknamed "Godzilla," mainly because of its ability to perform like a monster. But it also sticks out on the street and in parking lots like a giant, radioactive lizard. Even in our test car's stately Deep Blue Pearl paint — along with a classy light gray and black interior — teenagers gawked, fellow commuters whipped out smartphones to snap pictures, and I even got a few smiles from the fairer sex. I can safely say that all of those reactions were likely the car's doing.

For 2012, the GT-R gets a revised nose and tail with daytime LED running lights, larger air intakes up front and, yes, even-larger exhaust pipes out back. I wasn't fond of the running lights' placement. They look a bit like an afterthought, as if the designers were thinking, "OK, we've got one of the fastest cars on the planet, and it looks great, but where can we slap on some LED lights?"

The overall look is pure sports car. Or, as my 3-year-old called it, "the blue racecar."

It's not as classic a look as a Porsche 911, but it's not as run-of-the-mill, either. Nissan sells around 100 GT-Rs a month, so it's a rarity to see one on the road.

Features
Being the most expensive Nissan ever to go on sale in the U.S., the $89,950 GT-R could easily be seen as overpriced. However, if the performance value weren't enough to warrant the price tag — and I assure you it is — the leather-appointed interior exudes upscale performance. The dash is wrapped in black leather, and the light gray leather seats are soft to the touch but extremely supportive and comfortable.

There aren't a lot of adjustments for the seats or lumbar support, but I got used to them over time. However, my shoulders did exceed the reach of the seat's back. It's not a car that will be uncomfortable for average-sized drivers like myself, but nor will it be a fit for everyone.

Most of the buttons and readouts are similar, if not identical to, those used on other Nissan products, but they don't look out of place in a $90,000 model. Navigation is also standard, and the 7-inch display has not only the same maps and excellent multimedia system as other Nissans, but also a computer that allows you to survey the GT-R's performance as it moves.

In addition to the g-force readouts I mentioned, there are customizable screens so owners can pick what they want to monitor.

Also standard is an 11-speaker Bose stereo with a USB iPod input. I found the sound to be best with bass-heavy selections at high volumes. Clarity is not the system's strong suit.

My only concern was the lack of a head-up display or larger digital speed display in the gauge cluster. One is available, but only as part of the trip computer — a small readout wedged under the tachometer. So instead of seeing the average mileage — mine was about 13 mpg — you could see your current speed.

When your eyes are peeled and fixed on the road as you accelerate, it would be helpful if you could check your speed without too much eye movement.

Rated at just 8.8 cubic feet of cargo volume, the trunk sounds small, measuring about the same as a Camaro convertible I recently tested that had one of the tightest confines I've ever seen. But, in fact, the GT-R's cargo hold seems rather cavernous and deep.

There's only one option package for the GT-R, for cold weather, and it includes all-season tires and a special coolant mix for extreme temperatures.

There's also a special Black Edition GT-R for those who don't think the base model is enough. It sports a black paint job, lightweight black wheels, and a red and black interior with a dark headliner. That will set you back an additional $5,150.

Safety
The GT-R has not been crash-tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It features driver and front passenger frontal airbags, as well as seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. To see all standard safety features, click here.

GT-R in the Market
The market for a car like the GT-R is small, reserved for certain ranks of Corvette and Porsche owners who opt for top trim levels with the most power. The Nissan's incredible performance and ease of use will make it a favorite of performance junkies, but it also serves as a terrific halo car for the brand.

Send David an email  



2012 GT-R Video

Cars.com's Dave Thomas reviews the 2012 Nissan GT-R.

Latest 2012 GT-R Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.9)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Great spaceship to Own

by Raider1 from CA on July 8, 2018

Great car , super fast ,fun to drive ,and sounds great A classic. A lot of bang for your buck. It was very expensive to own when I bought it Read full review

(4.0)

Good Value for the Price

by 816Muscle from Kansas City, Missouri on July 2, 2018

The vehicle looks great online but in person it is even more beautiful. Handles nicely. The All Wheel Drive allows for nice acceleration. All in all, great vehicle. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Nissan GT-R currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Nissan GT-R has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The GT-R received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker