Mercy, the Nissan GT-R Has Gotten Expensive

Is Godzilla’s latest price increase a bridge too far?

The R35 Nissan GT-R, the first generation sold in America, arrived at the L.A. Auto Show nine years ago. The spec (478 hp, 434 lb-ft.) put it squarely in period supercar territory. And the price, under $70,000, had everybody in fits. When the first GT-Rs were delivered to U.S. customers in 2008, they represented the best street car performance value ever.

Today? Maybe not so much. The base model R35 GT-R is up to $111,585, an $8,220 bump versus last year. Having driven that car, I’d say it’s probably a fair difference. But now Nissan has announced pricing for the 2017 GT-R NISMO, and it’s… well, it’s $176,585. That’s an incredible $25,000 increase over last year’s NISMO model. Twenty-five grand. And it’s not like the car’s has been overhauled: The new NISMO gets the same updates as the base model (refreshed interior, gearbox tweaks, suspension tuning) plus revised aero. But the hardware is unchanged; while the base car gets an extra 20 hp, the NISMO’s drivetrain hasn’t been touched. And, with this price hike, Nissan’s flagship finds itself in dangerous waters. The McLaren 570S ($184,900) and Porsche 911 Turbo S ($188,100) are both newer, nicer, and exotic in the traditional sense. The Audi R8 V10 Plus ($189,900) is some 300 lbs lighter than the NISMO and makes 10 hp more.

Of course, people who buy GT-Rs want a GT-R. An official Nissan spokesperson told me 63 percent of customers don’t test drive anything else. Compare that to clientele for the R8 (46 percent) and 911 Turbo (55 percent). Basically, Nissan won’t struggle in selling the NISMO, regardless of cost. Because fanboy. But consider this an interment of the badge’s underdog mythos.

In 2008, the GT-R was a supercar slayer. Now, with a $112k floor and $176k ceiling, it’s just a supercar.