NYIAS: 2017 Nissan GT-R debuts as a good thing

Presenting the 2017 Nissan GT-R

Presenting the 2017 Nissan GT-R

If you made 565 horsepower, had a drag coefficient of .26, and a circle-and-bar logo on your rear end, what would you be? You’d be the new 2017 Nissan GT-R, making its debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. And that would be a good thing.

The 2017 Nissan GT-R is the latest generation of the GT-R. There’s a heritage that goes extends back to the Prince Skyline, a Japanese sedan of the 1960s, and the Nissan GT-R has been a hero vehicle in video games since, well, almost since there were video games. And don’t forget appearances in Fast and Furious flicks. But the Nissan GT-R didn’t become truly relevant to the U.S. market in 2009, when Nissan relented to the incessant exhortations to bring it Stateside.

2017 Nissan GT-R

2017 Nissan GT-R (click to enlarge)

What we—or the limited few able to wrap hands around the steering wheel—got was a two-door hatchback coupe with a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 rated at 480 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque mated to a rear-mounted six-speed dual-clutch transmission, and all-wheel drive. It came to America. And by the 2016 model year, power was up to 545 horsepower (although 600 bhp for the Nissan GT-R Nismo).

Now that’s so much last year. Nissan went through the GT-R top to bottom for the 2017 model year, making it not only yet more powerful but also improving its aerodynamics and for the first time, making creature comforts as important as the creature features in the eponymous Godzilla movies.

Still, the 2017 Nissan GTR maintains the GT-R brutish looks. It gains the Nissan family “V-motion” grille, and the hood is newly contoured and reinforced to improve high-speed aerodynamics. The front spoiler lip and front bumper have been reshaped as well. Side sills are wider for better air flow, and air leaving the GT-R is better controlled by a redesigned rear end. Nissan says the changes not only offer more stability at speed but also gives the GT-R a 0.26 drag coefficient. Nissan also stiffened the chassis for a better ride and improved handling.

The 3.8-liter V-6 has been uprated to 565 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 467 lb-ft of torque, thanks to individual ignition-timing control for each cylinder and of course more boost from the turbochargers. —Paddle shifters were moved to the steering wheel. Nissan says the transmission was redone for smoother shifts and quieter operation, while on the other hand, the exhaust noises were enhanced by a new lightweight titanium exhaust system and Active Sound Enhancement.

2017 Nissan GT-R

2017 Nissan GT-R (click to enlarge)

What’s particularly new for the 2017 Nissan GT-R is the attitude on the inside. Prior to the 2017 model year, the GT-R had different trim levels, but passengers were subservient to the vehicle, and the vehicle wasn’t ashamed to let people know they didn’t get first billing. Not that premium trim hasn’t been available, but now Nissan has made the interior look like something a circa $100,000 car should have.

Nissan interior designers sculpted a new dash and center stack for the GT-R, and the dash cover is cut from a single piece of Nappa leather. The interior controls were simplified as well; Nissan integrated navigation and audio controls to reduce the number of switches from 27 to just 11 in the new GT-R. Seats are new—and lighter—though designed for comfort during long trips in the saddle. And while engine and exhaust sounds can be intoxicating, it can become noise on long drives, so the 2017 Nissan GT-R gains acoustic windshield glass and active noise cancellation are standard fitment.

We’re glad it’s here, but we’ll be even happier to drive the 2017 when it arrives. It’s on sale in summer 2016. And that’s a good thing.