All-Stars Contender: Nissan GT-R Nismo

MSRP of the Nissan GT-R might be the only thing to go up faster than college tuition premiums and California real estate over the last few years, rising from around $75,000 for a last model to an eye-watering $177,980 for the last Nissan GT-R Nismo you see here.

Of course, the Nismo is no “regular” GT-R. In addition to offering 35 horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque more than the standard GT-R, which can be had for a mere $111,685, the facelifted-for GT-R Nismo is 45 pounds lighter and offers a number of upgrades designed to make it an even sharper track weapon.

Included in the Nismo kit is a revised suspension, high-capacity turbos, unique 20-inch Rays alloy wheels, Recaro leather seats with synthetic suede inserts, an Alcantara-appointed Nismo steering wheel, red interior accents and stitching, and plenty of carbon-fiber, which makes up the front and rear fascias, side skirts, trunk lid, and side-sill covers. Rounding out the appearance are black mirrors and the hard-to-miss wing.

Our judges enjoyed pushing the big Nissan around the track despite its vintage nature. “Rockets out of corners, surprisingly balanced through the apex, great on brakes despite its mass,” said one. “The Nismo’s cornering grip and ability to launch out of corners is downright breathtaking,” wrote contributor Basem Wasef, echoing the sentiment.

Features editor Rory Jurnecka, meanwhile, took notice of some of the other work Nissan put in. “Nissan has really quelled all the transmission and differential noise in this car,” he observed. “Simply backing out of a parking space used to emit all manner of whirring and clunking, but no more. This thing is quiet.”

Will the most fearsome GT-R ever be able to pull a Tom Brady or Kelly Slater and win a major trophy despite being well past the typical prime, or will it go home empty handed? Come back on March 11 to find out.