Nissan remedied its mistake, and the GT-R has since become steadily more expensive; the new track-day Nismo version costs an astonishing £175,000. But today you can buy a lightly used, post-facelift example for the same money as a new A45 S. And that leads us to today’s burning question: when it comes to these giant-slayers, could you honestly bring yourself to buy the hatchback over the supercar? Would you be a fool to even consider it?
Many people will consider it, on account of the GT-R’s age. First built at Nissan’s plant in Tochigi Prefecture, where even the police force enjoy the local speciality, fundamentally the current GT-R is now long in the tooth, and nowhere is that more evident than its interior. Equally, its primeval road presence is undimmed after all these years, and it’s difficult to think of many cars that need less of an introduction in terms of performance.
In my 2017 guise, the GT-R’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 makes an unstressed 562bhp and 470lb ft, put to the road through a BorgWarner twin-clutch six-speed transaxle and Nissan’s ATTESA E-TS driveline. With two lengthy propshafts, the system is generously rear-biased but can go half-and-half for the torque split as necessary, and the GT-R remains among the quickest ways to string several counties together short of using aviation fuel.
These newer cars supposedly put more of the ‘GT’ in ‘GT-R’, too, with softer damping and better acoustic insulation, but on noisy Dunlop tyres this example still feels reactive and raw, if not to the extent that owners of the latest Mercedes-AMG C63 S would be up in arms. Litchfield, the world-famous specialist where this car is for sale, nevertheless tends to swap the Dunlops for Michelin’s excellent Pilot Sport 4S rubber.
Finished in Sun Yellow, the little A45 S is nuclear fusion on wheels: a concentrated dose of massive energy. It’s up against the GT-R here, but a compact footprint and the fact the closed-deck, hand-assembled, AMG-grade engine makes fully 416bhp from merely two litres and then delivers it to all four corners makes it more of a successor to the old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
There’s no full-time four-wheel drive or manual gearbox, though. Instead you get an eight-speed dual-clutch auto and a set of clutches in the rear axle that can siphon all the available torque (meaning up to half what the engine is making at any given moment) to either side. The engine has also been swivelled so the exhaust ports and twin-scroll turbo now face your kneecaps and the intake looks forwards. This set-up also shortens various air channels for better response. An electronic tickle of the mass-produced M260 engine in the lesser A35 it is not.