The Nissan GT-R is a technological tour de force that can give the world’s fastest supercars a run for their money.
The engine is a 3.8-litre V6 (VR38DETT, if you want to get technical), punting out 550bhp and 466lb ft of torque. It’ll do over 193mph, but more than that, use the ‘R-Start’ launch control, and you can get 0–62mph acceleration times below three seconds, run after run. That’s not a car, that’s a missile. An experience few drivers will ever be lucky enough to have. Maybe that’s for the best, as such a ride irrevocably corrupts your expectations for vehicular performance.
This car’s not called Godzilla for nothing.
First-timers driving a Nissan GT-R will want to go in search of a wide, open space — some sort of long, flat stretch of asphalt. An empty, abandoned parking lot will work. A drag strip is ideal. A disused B-52 base wouldn’t be bad, either. You’ll need a bit of room before you start the checklist to unleash the brutal side of this car.
Now, left foot firmly on the brake, right foot hard on the gas. Watch the revs rise before completing the most important step: place your head back against the headrest.
“Then, take a deep breath and ponder the beauty of human existence before slipping your left foot off the brake pedal and enjoying the sensation of your internal organs rearranging as the world around you blurs.”
That said, it also isn’t an attractive car according to most of those people I spoke with. It is certainly imposing, an impressive visual testament to modern automotive technology, but beautiful it is not. Nissan’s GT-R may be fugly to some, but as an instrument of pure speed, it’s prodigious.
All the visual performance cues are there, though none scream for your attention. Wheels are large, as are the brakes within, but the gold-painted calipers are far more subtle than the red and gold you’ll find on many other cars at this level. Yes, there’s a small wing on the trunk, but it wouldn’t look out of place on a family sedan. Even the dual NACA ducts on the hood barely draw the eye. The Nissan GT-R is no sleeper, but neither is it pretentious. The styling here is aggressive in a typical Nissan way, but not overwhelmingly so.
Despite being on sale for more than seven years, the Nissan GT-R is still a performance phenomenon. Over the years the Japanese firm has evolved the engineering underneath the brutish skin to improve the GT-R’s performance, handling, ride and efficiency, but the basic recipe has remained the same.
The GT-R is famously reliable, but it is a suspiciously usable car too. It has a big boot, four decent seats and feature-packed cabin. You don’t need a stripped-out racer when the GT-R exists, especially in latest model year spec which get an even better Bose stereo and reversing camera.
However, one area where the Nissan might not be so usable is around town, as the car’s sheer size and compromised rearward visibility due to its muscular looks mean it’s difficult to manoeuvre. The styling is a point of contention, too, as the GT-R’s unique design won’t be too everyone’s tastes. This is not a shy, retiring car and it’ll certainly attract attention on the move.