The GT-R needs no introduction. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you crawl back under the rock you came from. In all seriousness, though, Nissan’s GT-R is unlike anything I’ve ever driven before, save for Audi’s R8 V10 Plus. The base model – I use those two words with extreme trepidation – is $104,000. Pricey for most, but for what you get, it is arguably the most your money will buy you if you’re looking for a car to track, drive every day, and take it for weekend getaways to the winding hills of Calabasas.
The GT-R arrived at my door step (alley, to be truthful) last week, stayed for a mere three days, and as quick as it came, it went. But during those 3-days I put this car to some good use, racking up almost 400 miles – yes, I drove it that much.
As I explain in the above video – I suggest you just watch that and skip my blathering written review here – I really didn’t know what to expect. If you don’t fraternize in the right circles, then you probably haven’t heard too much about it. But if you’re a teenager, tuner, or really into Japanese cars, then you know more about this car than last week’s chemistry test.
Aesthetically, I believe the GT-R can appeal to any demo. My favorite part? The roofline in the back, that slopes down and gives it a fighter jet like figure. And then there is the signature tail lights that glow a furious red inside of their recessed port like holes. Save for the car’s slipperiness – its drag coefficient is less than a Ferrari 458 Italia – I’d like to see the front end updated since I can’t help but think of Mitsubishi’s 3000GT. That all said, the GT-R is one of few cars, and the ONLY car at this price (I believe) that produces actual downforce. There seems to be some conflicting numbers out there, but Nissan assures me that the NISMO version, a Godzilla on ‘roids, will slap down an extra 220 lbs over the Premium model.
So what’s the GT-R like to drive? Insanity. But you know, that good kind of insane. Like hot girl insane. You know what I’m talking about. But, much in the same, if you’re not careful, you might regret it. It’s so fast, it’s almost disturbing. Total horsepower is 545, which is derived from the not so big 3.8l V6 twin turbo mated to an ultra fast 6-speed dual clutch – Nissan says that the gears change in as little as .15 seconds – I buy it. I know that number sound a bit ridiculous, but once you start to drive cars above $60,000, you quickly learn what is and is and isn’t a truly fast gear box. The R8 was just as fast, the RS5, by comparison, not so much.
What also makes the GT-R just so much fun to drive, aside from the insane horsepower, is the feedback you get back from the car. Again, until you’ve driven something like this, it’s hard to put it into context. But if I had to explain, and I have to, it’s probably best described as the car talking to you. You turn the wheel, feel the road’s feedback, and all the while it listens to you. That is to say, you point it where you want it to go, and it goes. The downforce and traction, or the GT-R’s ability to stick to the road is almost surreal. And that’s in fact how I like to describe the GT-R; video game like.
Reemphasizing that is the infotainment system. There is Bluetooth audio playback (unlike the R8), and more importantly a set of screens that depict your driving behavior. And – this was a shocker to me – it was built by the makers of Gran Turismo, the video game. I can hardly say it’s the best, but at the very least the touchscreen is very accurate and sensitive to touch. Moreover, and I wouldn’t expect this from a race car, the GT-R pumps out cold air without hesitation (it’s dual zone as well), has folding mirrors, a heated driver’s seat, steering wheel controls, and enough space in the rear for luggage or two golf bags.
If I had to nitpick, it would be on the interior of the GT-R. There’s plastics, some rattling here and there, but it’s largely moot. At first I found it a bit of a dissuading factor, but after being intoxicated by the GT-R’s road holding prowess, I could hardly care. The back seat, as you can imagine, is effectively a storage space, and perhaps enough room for a baby – that would be a sight to see.
However, some of this speed, control and power does come at a cost. Albeit a few minor ones. Cabin noise can be intrusive. Nissan promises that this will be improved in the 2015 version of the car, presumably both through additional sound dampening as well as the addition Bose nose cancelation (this is confirmed). Ride comfort, even with Comfort mode selected can be jarring. I drive a 2003 GTI, and while that can be harsh (and not an apt comparison), the GT-R can be worse. In fact, I didn’t realize just how intense the GT-R is in power and ride comfort, until I got back into my 20th Anniversary GTI.
Two words sum up the GT-R: violently awesome. And I say that in the most flattering of ways. Violent because the suspension is just that rigid and tight. Awesome, because of the speed and control. Furthermore, and this is the last point I’ll make, you don’t need to be the most experienced driver to harness the GT-R’s potential. Put more succinctly, my Mom could drive it if so needed.