Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

Before anyone gets too excited, this is not a full-blown comparison test. Getting the Nissan GT-R for a test drive was a good excuse as any to assemble a few other sports cars and a photographer. We’ve had our 2000 BMW M Roadster for more than a year, the 2009 Nissan GT-R tester was with us for only a few days, and our friend’s 2009 Ferrari F430 Spider was still being broken in so we couldn’t push it. But we did get a feel for three different approaches to speed.

Our photographer Faisal Khatib was already at the venue of the photo-shoot, waiting for the cars to arrive at dusk. I showed up first with the Nissan GT-R.

Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

The latest Nissan GT-R has become a modern legend, beating out everything from the renowned Porsche 911 Turbo to the poseur Audi R8 at the track. But the GT-R is a very large and heavy car. To make a heavyweight dance like a ballerina, Nissan has probably spent more time with the GT-R’s nanny computers than any other aspect of the car. As such, while the drive is still very sporting in feel, it is a bit more disconnected than that of a real sports car.

The steering offers great feel, the engine is moderately loud, and driving it fast around corners is immensely confidence-inspiring, as the car’s computers seem to quickly take care of slipping rear-ends and overzealous cornering, even when the tyres of our pre-abused tester seemed to be half-way worn already. But the 478 hp turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 engine doesn’t sound like that of a typical exotic car, roaring and humming simultaneously, like a passenger-airliner taking off at full throttle. This seemed cool initially, but then paled in comparison when the Ferrari showed up.

Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

When my buddy showed up with his Ferrari F430 Spider, it was easily the real attention-grabber. While the GT-R is interesting to look at, the Ferrari is downright stunning. Smaller in size, with low-slung seating for two, the cabin is cramped, but it comes with premium leather upholstery over every inch of the interior, unlike the GT-R’s cabin, which has materials only a step above that of a Nissan Altima.

The Ferrari’s lack of “convenience” gadgetry was instantly obvious. The stereo head looks like a cheap aftermarket piece compared to the GT-R’s touchscreen LCD computer. The lightweight keyfob offers basic keyless entry when the Nissan has ‘intelligent’ key-free entry and start. And starting the car requires inserting the key, then pressing the starter button oddly placed on the steering wheel.

But start the engine, and all hell breaks loose. The 490 hp 4.3-litre V8 revs like a superbike, and is so ear-splittingly loud above 7000 rpm that I decided not to go anywhere near redline after one press of the accelerator. Unlike the comparatively-luxurious GT-R, the Ferrari has little sound-deadening, and does not even have a secondary gear-shifter besides the wheel-mounted paddles.

Managing the F430’s gearbox is slightly complicated, but once moving, shifts are instantaneous and comes with many settings, just like the GT-R. But as I took it around a few sharp corner quickly, it became obvious that the F430 handles like a go-kart. Around tight curves, with its fresh tyres, the Spider outclassed the heavy GT-R whose worn tyres squealed rather early for a car that is satanic in its domination of high-speed racetracks.

Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

As for the BMW M Roadster, whether brand fanboys choose to believe it or not, it is the purest driver’s car, requiring the most skill to drive. Consider the fact that it comes with a proper manual gearbox, a clutch pedal, a simplistic rear-wheel-drive platform and absolutely no electronic aids besides ABS, the M Roadster was the last of the true sports cars.

Both the GT-R and the F430 have far more powerful engines, but the 321 hp 3.2-litre inline-6 MPower engine is a technological marvel too. It also sounds like a pile of metal spoons being shaken around in a glass jar, and while still enjoyable to play it as a high-revving instrument, it isn’t as loud as the petrol-hungry Ferrari.

Even though the BMW will surely fall behind on a long-winded track, it is as small as a rat, and can chase the GT-R around the sharpest bends with more agility, without the Nissan’s tyre squeal. The Ferrari can likely do the tighties even faster, but the BMW requires more balls to push to its limit, with no ESP safety net. A GT-R could lull anyone into thinking he is a great driver, which is a credit to its engineers.

These three cars have very different approaches to achieve the same goals. One has its engine in the back, another has power going to all four wheels, and the oldest one goes for pure uncomputerised fun. None of them are particularly comfortable, and all require immaculate maintenance to keep speeding. All of them are real near-exotic sports cars, not some over-revving four-banger or sloppy muscle-car. But in the end, none of these three are interchangeable, given the massive price differences between the three.

Comparo: Nissan GT-R vs Ferrari F430 vs BMW M Roadster

2009 Nissan GT-R
Price: Dhs 430,000 (new, including service package)
Specs: 478 hp 3.8-litre V6 turbo, 6-spd automanual, front-engine, AWD
Mileage: Around 10,000 km

2009 Ferrari F430 Spider
Price: Dhs 815,000 (new, discounted recession bargain)
Specs: 490 hp 4.3-litre V8, 6-spd automanual, mid-engine, RWD
Mileage: Around 2,000 km

2000 BMW M Roadster
Price: Dhs 45,000 (used, high mileage 2nd-hand price)
Specs: 321 hp 3.2-litre I6, 5-spd manual, front-engine, RWD
Mileage: Around 114,000 km

What do you think?



  1. I see a bit of Photo shop touch in each picture.. 🙄

  2. great read Mash. now gimme those ferrari keys :mrgreen:

  3. Is Int the GTR 3.8ltr 3.5ltr is the first time i am looking at 🙁

  4. very nice pics

  5. At last you posted this!!! :mrgreen:

    cTanIDe….not a bit, but a lot of photoshop work… 🙂

  6. Am I the only one who thinks these aren’t photoshopped? Maybe I don’t have the internet-trained eye. Either way, Mash’s photography is evidently improving.

    I really agree with you about the Ferrari’s stereo. Even in pictures it sticks out like a sore thumb. Ouch

  7. Author

    Haha! I didn’t take the photos, man. I mentioned in the article that it is Faisal Khatib who took the photos for me. He cleaned them up with photoshop, as the real lighting is awful.

  8. Bashar….some of these images took me as long as 4 hours to edit. The cars haven’t been digitally altered in any way, it’s just the image and it’s lighting that has been photoshopped…. 😎

  9. MHC,
    How to get your previous comparos?

  10. Author

    Search for “comparo”

  11. Mash!!! you are an idiot to put your BMW thing side by side with those exotic cars… yet the photoes and beautiful…. great job Faisal Khatib…

  12. Author

    Why don’t you bring your exotic car, loser?

  13. one question… what is the point of hiding the letter code on the cars plate numbers!!??

  14. I drive the identicle red s54 M roadster with hardtop pictured. I am curious, how did it hold up to the other 2 beasts. The M is unbelievable to drive and you are always at the edge of your seat hoping to pull out of the forced slide you got your self into. Great fun and not bad 0-60 of 4.5

  15. Author

    The other two are much easier to drive of course, being glorified automatics.

  16. Thinking of this… Now the GTR is designed to be used as a daily car and a weekend track car in mind, basically like a porsche.. While the mroe iconic ferrari is meant to be a master piece parked in your garage or this has changed nowadays?? What could you tell me about this part?

  17. How scuicidal are the Z3M running costs compared to those exotics?

  18. Author

    A Ferrari is usually the slowest car on public roads, especially around corners, if you notice. As for Z3M, follow the long-term reports for costs.

  19. @ Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

    ” glorified automatics ” –> good one, no proper sports car comes with an automatic but what to dp, the drivers in our reigon are just too damn lazy and also the marketing is going all to automatic cars..

  20. Really funny to see the Beemer in the company of the others, but fun for me. My Dinan Supercharged M Roadster might be even more appropriate with over 355HP. Thanks.

  21. the BMW M side by side with a GTR and a F430!!!!!,,, like a corrolla beside an S class and Audi A6…

  22. ^ you know cars arent only measured by how expensive they are or what badge they have.. If that corolla handles and goes as fast as an Audi then the comparison is fair..

  23. Author

    Even funnier is using an Audi A6 as an analogy to insult a BMW M car.

  24. this above compare is unfair…

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