The Nissan GT-R is a giant killer, a supercar that offers the kind of extreme performance that can normally only be achieved by pricey exotics. Packed with electronic handling and launch control aids, the GT-R - affectionately nicknamed "Godzilla" by enthusiasts - uses advanced technology to overcome its substantial curb weight and offer agile responses along with truly breathtaking acceleration figures.
Originally introduced in the United States back in 2008, the GT-R has been continually updated over the years with more power and improved handling. Changes for the latest model year include engine tweaks designed to improve mid-range punch and numerous suspension revisions.
Nissan has also added a race-inspired GT-R Track model that brings a stiffer suspension, improved brake cooling and more.
Heart of the Beast
The centerpiece of the GT-R is its powerplant, a twin-turbocharged and direct-injected 3.8-liter V6 that pumps out 545 horsepower and 463 lb-ft of torque. The new model year has brought a number of minor revisions to the motor: high-output injectors designed to create improve mid-range punch; a reworked turbocharger bypass in order to help sustain acceleration at high RPMs; and a new baffle plate in the oil pan to better stabilize oil pressure.
The results don't change the GT-R's acceleration figures - which are already impressively brief - but they do help make the motor more tractable during performance driving. For the record, the GT-R can sprint from zero-to-60 mph in 2.9 seconds and achieve the quarter mile in a hair over eleven ticks.
Helping Godzilla achieve those figures is all-wheel-drive and a six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual that can rip off downshifts in the blink of an eye. Like other dual-clutch transmissions it can be slightly unrefined in low-speed driving, but most buyers will find that a small price to pay for the incredible performance it facilitates.
The GT-R is already widely considered as one of the best handling vehicles on the market, and the latest version promises to build on that reputation. On top of a host of recent upgrades, Nissan has made a number of improvements for the latest model year. Modifications to the shock absorbers and front stabilizer tighten up the handling, as do new dash panel reinforcements that increase body rigidity.
Japanese-spec models are unique in cardom in that they get an asymmetrical suspension set-up. To offset the added weight of the driver and the transfer case along with its driveshaft mounted on the right side of the car, the setup has a front left spring rate that is higher than the right one. At the same time, the diagonally-opposite right rear is reduced for a more balanced ride.
With straightforward gauges, a meaty steering wheel and well-bolstered seats, the cabin is a highly-focused driving environment. A center-mounted LCD screen designed in collaboration with Polyphony Digitial - makers of the popular Gran Turismo video game offers eleven separate pages of boost, g-force, acceleration, braking and steering info and even offers a recording function with playback.
High-quality leather and carbon fiber give the interior a premium feel, and a specially-designed 11-speaker Bose stereo - including two forward-facing woofers in the rear center armrest area - is a treat for audiophiles.
Though it's advertised as a 2+2, the GT-R is in truth suitable for two occupants only - the rear seats are best left to mortal enemies and luggage.
Aside from minor trim changes, the biggest news inside for the latest model year is a newly available Premium Interior Package that includes Red Amber semi-aniline leather upholstery along with red Amber accents on the instrument panel, steering wheel, door trim, armrests and shift knob.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Nissan GT-R is available in Premium Edition, Black Edition and Track Edition trims.
The Premium model comes packed with standard features including leather seating with synthetic suede inserts, an 11-speaker Bose Audio system, a navigation system with XM NavTraffic, NavWeather and Zagat survey functionality, an iPod input jack, a multi-function display and Bluetooth phone connectivity that supports audio streaming.
The GT-R Black Edition features a number of aesthetic upgrades, including custom red and black Recaro heated and leather-appointed seats, red and black interior trim and a dark headliner. There is a handmade, dry-carbon fiber rear wing on this model as well, which is sure to please JDM and tuner car fans. Special metallic black six-spoke RAYS lightweight wheels round out the upgrades.
The Track Edition includes special carbon fiber air ducts in the front spoiler, along with new front and rear brake cooling air guides, to help keep brake temperatures down and ensure maximum stopping power for hot laps. A revised suspension is also part of the package, including specialized Bilstein DampTronic gas pressure shock absorbers and higher spring rates.
Seating changes round out the list of upgrades - up front, the thrones are outfitted with high-grip surfaces, while the rear seats have been deep-sixed in the name of weight savings.
All Nissan GT-R models come standard with dual front, front side and front side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system.
In terms of price, form and function, the Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe in one variation or another, along with the Audi R8 are probably the most similar competitors to the GT-R, but in terms of all-out performance or image, the list of competitors becomes all kinds of crazy and ranges in price to several times that of the GT-R - somewhat of a value in the supercar world.