Nissan’s 545 Horsepower GT-R is a Refined Godzilla
When someone starts talking about the Nissan GT-R two things typically happen: Either they go into a long-winded diatribe about the history of the vehicle and how Americans have been unfairly denied access to the car over the decades, or they just talk about how much power the car puts down and how it “owns the Nürburgring.” That’s it. No one ever seems to delve deeper than power numbers, track times, price tags, and the “great Skyline embargo.” There is so much detail that goes into this car, that we feel it is high time we talk about something other than torque.
We find that one of the first things people tend to overlook on this car is its styling. Yes, it is relatively aggressive looking, with all of those angles everywhere and that potently pronounced posterior, but what people fail to take into consideration is that almost everything on this car has a purpose. From the clever spoiler that is designed for downforce, to the channels and vents that are carefully aligned to position air where it is needed, the GT-R is a fully functional eddy in the whirlpool of overly-stated sports cars. Components serve a purpose here, and everything from the brake vents to those little hood air scoops are practical at a certain speed. The GT-R may have been bred for the track, but it was born in a wind tunnel test lab.
People tend to overlook the belly of the beast as well, and have no idea that Nissan engineers developed a one-off body for the car by utilizing a combination of high-strength steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and composite materials to keep it both lightweight and strong. No one notices that almost the entire underbody of the GT-R is clad in composite panels to make it more aerodynamic either, or that a carbon fiber diffuser at the rear creates a vacuum effect and is crucial for keeping the driver in control at high speeds.
With all the high-horsepower hype in the air buyers often miss things like how the optional “Super Silver” paint is hand-polished between each coat underneath three different light sources to detect any imperfections. Or how daylight-spectrum LED headlights adjust illumination pattern based on vehicle speed, and cast a special width beam in order to give the driver a superior line of sight when in a corner. No one notices that this is a fantastic car on the inside, with sporty power leather seats, a seven-inch display den, leather door panels, magnesium paddle shifters, and an eleven-speaker Bose sound system that features two subwoofers and noise cancellation.
No one seems to care how each engine has a plaque with its builder’s name on it, because all they want to talk about is how even the “base model” makes 545 horsepower via a twin-turbo V6. They don’t give a damn that each engine is hand-assembled by one of eight technicians in a dust-free, temperature-controlled clean room, or how the engine is redlined for ten continuous minutes before it is installed in a chassis and shipped-off to the Tochigi Test track for a rigorous spanking. And we still have yet to hear a GT-R owner brag about how their car was branded as an “Ultra Low Emission Vehicle” (ULEV-II) by the EPA, and how it gets upwards of 23 miles per gallon on the highway.
Forget that the engine rests behind the front axle for a combination of superior balance and steering, or that a four-wheel independent suspension system features Bilstein “DampTronic” adjustable shocks, people want to talk about those rumbling quad exhaust tips. The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system gets a nod of recognition every now and then, but that is typically when someone needs more power at the back to embarrass a Corvette owner. The science behind it rarely receives any acknowledgement.
Long gone are the days of pushing pedals to change gears, as a dual clutch, six-speed sequential transmission is mounted in the rear of the GT-R, thus making it “the world’s first independent rear transaxle all-wheel drive vehicle.” And while some purists (like ourselves) will gripe over the fact that a traditional manual gearbox is not an option, there is no denying that shifts are far faster, controlled, and well timed in this car than anything we could do ourselves. And speaking of control, let’s not forget that this fire-breathing leviathan has a six-piston front, four-piston rear monoblock Brembo caliper package to help keep things composed when the chips are down.
While the GT-R does come in at a high price (well over $100,000 before taxes), we think buyers get quite a lot for their money. It is also one of those few sports cars that could easily become a daily driver if one felt so inclined, as it offers solid fuel economy, a comfortable cabin, all-wheel drive, and enough room in the back for a child seat. The GT-R also has a relatively solid track record for reliability thus far, and when compared to a European competitor the Nissan outscores virtually everyone in the “power to value” department. But no one seems to pay that sort of thing much heed, because once those turbos spool-up, and you are thrust back in your comfy captain’s chair, the only thing running through your mind is that you need to hold on for dear life so Godzilla doesn’t chew you up and spit you out.
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