Any talk about the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo must start with its eye-watering price. Sitting at $212,435 with destination and delivery, the GT-R Nismo is the most expensive road-going Nissan in the automaker's history. It's also a very good car. But being good alone isn't enough for that kind of cash, and you might be wondering why on Earth the latest iteration of Godzilla costs as much as a house in many neighborhoods.
Here's an analogy that will help, and it's about one of our favorite things: Food. Imagine a talented chef opens up a food truck. Overhead costs are low, and they put out one of the best burgers you've ever tasted. At $7, it's also a heck of a deal. So the food truck becomes insanely popular, and the chef ends up opening a restaurant, making incremental improvements to the burger that subsequently increase its price. After a few years, it's now $17—and still pretty great. But does more than doubling the original price make it twice as good? Here's why Nissan thinks so.
1. Carbon Fiber Everywhere
Nissan went carbon fiber crazy with the GT-R Nismo: the hood, trunk, fender vents, roof, front splitter, rear diffuser and rear wing are made from it. Basically, if a part could be safely recast in carbon fiber, odds are Nissan did it. As a result, its curb weight sits at 3,865 pounds—68 pounds lighter than the standard car. That doesn't sound like much, and really, it's not, but it's in keeping with the GT-R's kaizen development. Still, the weight savings here seem secondary to the bragging rights of coating the GT-R in a pricey material like CF.
2. Enhanced Aerodynamics
All of the aero bits on the Nismo GT-R are functional, including the killer side vents that look like they were stripped straight from a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Air is channeled around the body and out the back over the enormous rear carbon fiber wing. The front fenders are supposedly inspired by the GT3 GT-R race car, and the louvers increase front downforce by 15 pounds at speed without adding drag.
Does the wing block some rearward visibility? Sure. But on track, you won't care.
3. Carbon Ceramic Brakes and Lightweight Wheels
This Nismo is designed to be tracked, and repeated lapping sessions requires brakes up to the challenge. That's why Nissan added carbon ceramic brakes standard on the Nismo. Those massive calipers (410mm up front, 390mm in the rear) are caged by 20-inch forged Rays aluminum wheels, which themselves are wrapped in a new Dunlop tire with an 11% bigger contact patch and upgraded rubber compound. Nissan points to the tires and brakes as two of the key areas whose developments contributed most to the GT-R Nismo lapping its company test track two seconds faster than its predecessor.
4. Race Car Components
Power remains the same as last year, a healthy 600-hp. But The new Nismo does incorporate some innovative technology from the GT3 GT-R racer. We mentioned the aerodynamics already, but the parts-raiding also included new turbochargers that are unchanged in this street application, with a modified turbine shape, thinner parts, and one fewer vane than normal. What does that mean, exactly? A faster-spooling turbo, and a more responsive engine. Nissan claims the step increases throttle response by 20 percent.
5. Because It Can
New trim, new tires, new turbos—none of this stuff is cheap. That said, none of it really adds up to a $212,000 car. But the ultimate answer as to why Nissan is charging that much for the 2020 GT-R Nismo is because it can, or at least thinks it can. The automaker will defend to the death this kind of incremental approach to its halo car, and its stance is that if you want the ultimate version of Godzilla, you'll have to pay for it. Detractors will poke at the car's decade-old platform, but the fact is it wouldn't have survived this long if people weren't buying it. You might think a $212,000 Nissan is ridiculous—but Nissan doesn't need to convince you otherwise.