The difference between the Nissan R35 GT-R models

In 2008 the R35 Nissan GT-R exploded onto the supercar scene and very quickly started re-writing the rule book. I’m very lucky writing this as I happen to own a modified R35 GT-R myself, it’s a 2009 car back when they were good value. My R35 cost new £54,200 it’s a premium edition so has the black half leather seats , Bose sound system and rear parking sensors. The price sounds like a lot but with 485bhp 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of over 190mph this was a force to be reckoned with. 

Previously I’ve owned B7 RS4’s and when they were specced well new the price was easily comparative to the GT-R except with nowhere near the performance to match! What you had was a “budget” supercar that honestly battered everything on the market. Chris Harris the current Top Gear Host filmed a piece where an early R35 didn’t just demolish the E92 M3,(another £50,000 sports car) it decimated the Porsche 997 GT3 and you know how you revered they are now. Anyway there’s a background let me get back on track…

CBA (2007-2011)

The early GT-R’s ranged from 2007 (2009 in the UK) these cars are known as the CBA model designation of the R35 and made around 485bhp at the crank. (Handmade engines always vary slightly) these are the models that helped to shape modern supercars as we know today. The first generation cars were ‘cheap’ considering the monstrous performance available, however their interior quality let them down. With interior trim specs limited to half-leather seats with black or red piping (spec dependant) and BOSE speakers at best.

The CBA cars ran until 2011 before they were “face lifted” and improved performance wise. Early cars were known to destroy their gearboxes when repeatedly launched, they’re also very jerky when cold. Mine was replaced in 2011 (I’m assuming the original went bang) I’ve also got a Litchfield clutch upgrade.

 The R35 was ahead of it’s time, due to this Nissan were very cautious with the running and maintenance schedules. The CBA variants required servicing every 6 months/6k miles, making them an expensive ownership proposition. If your CBA R35 is in stock form however you’re now able to move to a 12 month/10k mile service structure.

DBA (2011 - 2016)​

2011/12 the DBA cars came face-lifted with some nice new Daytime Running Lights (DRL’s) some gorgeous new concave multi-spoke wheels (lighter and stronger than the CBA variants) and some vents here and there. The interior received a light refresh with full leather seats (some with Recaro branding) and SatNav now available. But it was under the bonnet where the real changes were made. A tweaked remap revised valve timing, turbo inlets and exhaust tweaks meant the new cars were now producing 550bhp. 

The DBA cars front brakes were increased from 380mm to 390mm to aid with stopping the extra power.  0-60 was slashed from 3.5 seconds to 2.8 or so thanks to the lighter wheels and new Dunlop tyres. Some chassis tweaks such as carbon front strut braces were also included but you’d struggle to fell the difference. However revised gearbox software softened the harshness of low-speed gear-shifts and made the car a little better to live with day to day, if not losing a little character. The DBA models are by far the most popular variant they’re around £10k more than their CBA counter-parts, but with annual 12 month/10k mile servicing intervals which make them easier to live with. However if your vehicle is tuned you’re encouraged to stick to 6 month intervals for oil due to increased temperatures and wear.

2014 Cars gained a few cosmetic revisions too, most notably the “Z’ pattern front headlights, low mounted day-time running lights, rear LED ring-lights and a tweaked carbon-fibre rear under-tray. Which was finished in Matte carbon-fibre rather than gloss like the CBA models.

EBA (2017 - Present)

The “MY17” EBA GT-R is what is said to be the final revision of the R35 platform. The interior was always the flaw of the GT-R especially the latest models. They were very fast but lacked interior quality, the touch screen centre console was very nice. But the leather quality was poor and there were many cheap plastics allover the cabin, especially when compared to its German rivals. 

The EBA finally started to make headway into rectifying this. A full leather interior with a more modern and better cockpit layout improved things nicely. The seats looked more appropriate as does the new centre console. However they’ve now borderline priced themselves out of the market. Yes you get an 8” touchscreen unit and Apple car play plus full leather trim. Sub 3 second 0-60 still but the EBA starting price was £79,995! The R35 used to be so popular as it cost half as much as the best supercars or less and was faster, hiking the price up means people are less forgiving of its failings. Spec your EBA well and you’re only £20K off a Porsche 991 GT3! 

I love the R35 platform I happen to own one but the EBA is literally a CBA with revised suspension some engine and gearbox software tweaks from the DBA and some more aggressive looking bodywork. You get 562bhp in the latest addition and the Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) has been massively improved. 

The CBA and DBA cars were ridiculed for their harsh ride quality, the “soft” setting in the latest EBA model is a revaluation and you could certainly live with it everyday. There is obviously the Nismo special but that’s literally a slightly lighter (less heavy) and much more expensive EBA with some tweaked aero 600hp and ceramic brakes on the “My20” cars. These however are £130,000 which at the moment is McLaren 720S money! Have we missed something? 

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Latest Posts

Tech Talk

Our Guide to Braking

Our Guide to Vehicle Braking Systems Arguably the mostly overlooked upgrade is braking, as most new performance or hot hatch cars come with decent stoppers

Read More »
Fuel System
Tech Talk

Our Guide to Fuel Systems

No matter if you’re a theoretical mastermind or a wing it on the fly type of person, there are still some key basics that need to be thought about when piecing together your fuel system in order to make it work.

Read More »