The GT-R50 Helps Nissan Play in the Hypercar Club

The $1.1 million car's performance is certainly impressive for the marque, but it may not woo collectors.

Nissan is about as far removed from the million-dollar collector car universe as possible. A mass-market automaker bound by pragmatic selling points like cargo capacity and fuel economy deals in volume, not exclusivity.

What, then, should we make of the $1.1 million GT-R50? Codeveloped by Italdesign, a renowned design and engineering house, the GT-R50 is a faster, lighter, and more elegant take on Nissan’s sports car icon. Its release also marks the 50th anniversaries of both the Italian and Japanese brands. Clad in carbon-fiber bodywork and gold accents, Nissan’s first seven-figure model cannonballs into the hypercar pool. Amidst titans like the Koenigsegg Agera and Pagani Huayra, the GT-R50 must do no less than dazzle during our short test-drive in Malibu, Calif.

The GT-R50 at the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in Monterey, Calif.  Photo: Courtesy Nissan Motor Company Ltd.

The styling certainly doesn’t disappoint. Aggression and sophistication pour from the GT-R50’s matte gray exterior. A long hood flows into a shark-like snout, with thin LED headlights decorating each front corner. Prominent carbon-fiber wheels house red Brembo brake calipers and tuck neatly within the lowered body. A cropped roofline transforms the GT-R50’s silhouette and emphasizes the car’s aero-optimized curves. At the rear, gold surfaces emerge from within a gray sheath. An active rear wing flattens over turbine taillights or rises to create immense downforce. Inside, the GT-R50 is a vision of elegant simplicity, with a racing-inspired digital cockpit, a duo-tone carbon-fiber trim, and gold accents throughout. Familial resemblance is shared between the striking GT-R50 and its aging donor car, but the two could never be confused.

A cropped roofline transforms the GT-R50’s silhouette and emphasizes the car’s aero-optimized curves.  Photo: Courtesy Nissan Motor Company Ltd.

Motivating the rarified Nissan is the same 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 from the GT-R Nismo, enhanced to produce 710 horsepower and 575 ft lbs of torque. Corresponding improvements to the six-speed dual-clutch transmission, adaptive suspension, and all-wheel-drive system extract greater performance from the track-honed chassis. Malibu’s world-class switchbacks are effortless obstacles at the helm of the GT-R50. Immediate steering response; fluid, lag-free power; and cornering balance conquer the worst elevation change and decreasing radius corners. No element of the car’s performance is too pronounced; grip, power, and finesse blend seamlessly for a rewarding, tractable drive.

Provided enough interest, Nissan will produce 50 examples of the GT-R50. While exceptional, the car’s performance and design may not impress the collector crowd, but Italdesign’s expertise in bespoke construction could seal the deal.

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