Auto Review: Nissan's wilder side
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Sep. 20, 2012
Every once in a while, it’s instructive to take a spin in an exotic car that most of us will never likely own, for it can let us experience the latest in state-of-the-art performance and technology and see how far the breed has come.
Nissan’s GT-R is a true ultra-high-performance coupe with incredible power bursting forth from the engine compartment, and the kind of racetrack-ready chassis to control and exploit all this thrust. This is one of those “if I won the lottery” cars, with more than 500 horsepower, a whisper-light chassis brimming with exotic engineering and materials, and a daunting $100,000+ price tag. Hardware like this is not only the stuff of auto fantasies; it often launches new engineering breakthroughs that ultimately find their way into vehicles mere mortals like us drive every day. From ABS brakes to stability control programs, a lot of the advancements that have saved countless lives in the cars we all drive were developed and tested on jewels like this week’s amazing Nissan.
Now in its fifth year of production, this rare two-door beast is designed for even non-expert drivers to enjoy. Nissan likes to describe the GT-R as, “The ultimate supercar that can be driven by anyone, anytime, anywhere.” Power comes from a surprisingly small source; a 3.8 and Twin Turbochargers. Horsepower on the 2013 model is now up to 545, and this is one intense mill to experience when you release all those ponies. I say intense, but in keeping with its mission statement, the power delivery is very linear and builds like a velvet sledgehammer, so it’s manageable (like a fisher cat is manageable).
The transmission is a sequential dual clutch automatic unit with paddle shifters on the steering column for manual operation, and is located to the rear of the car, for what Nissan calls Premium Midship design for optimum balance. Standard All-Wheel Drive is a key reason the power gets to the pavement so efficiently that a charge to 60 mph arrives in around 4 seconds. The very firm (even the softest setting borders on stiff) suspension has three settings: Normal, Comfort, and “R” for ultimate handling. The same three-stage adjustability is also available for the Vehicle Dynamic Control system and transmission shift operation. Monobloc Brembo brakes deliver world-class stopping power, even when pushed repetitively. Suffice it to say, handling is razor-sharp, and a perfect partner for all that muscle under the hood.
The inside of the GT-S is as contemporary as the exterior, with a number of controls that should look familiar to any Nissan owners. Recaro leather bucket seats offer exemplary support and adjustability. The instrument displays are clear and engaging, and, like every detail on the car, are designed to enhance the performance driving experience. It’s truly a special sports machine, for a very select club of owners. The 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition is EPA-rated 16 MPG city/23 highway and has a base price of $106,320. With options, the price is $107,600. www.nissanusa.com