Nissan GT-R: road test
Stand by to experience a remarkably engineered supercar
What is it?
The GT-R is Nissan’s high-tech supercar. It is a beautifully engineered hard-core racing car that can be used as a daily driver while embarrassing its supercar rivals.
How safe is it?
As Nissan states – they are serious about safety. The GT-R comes equipped with a suite of standard safety, driving, and convenience features designed to inspire confidence behind the wheel for the driver.
Who should buy one?
If you are lucky enough to have around eighty grand to spend on a sports car that you can use on the track and on the road, and are looking for the ultimate ‘bang for your buck’ then look no further. It’s also perfect if you are looking to stand out from the crowd and don’t fancy the going the well-trodden Porsche 911 route.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
There are a few surprises with the GT-R, with the first being just how huge this car is. Parked next to a VW Golf for example, it looks like it could swallow it whole, and it weights a lot too at 1,740kg. This leads to surprise number two, and the fact that at this size and weight, it can makes 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, and all the way to 196mph. Putting that in perspective, that’s quicker than a Ferrari 458 or a McLaren MP4-12C, and experiencing it is in every sense breathtaking.
Even with all that performance, this 550PS 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 beast is a very sedate car, and a very capable (albeit unlikely) daily driver. The test car we had for a week spent most of its time in London and was comfortable, relatively quiet and drama free. Although it doesn’t feel or drive as elegantly as a Porsche 911 does, it still it performed admirably.
What was hard to get used to was the constant attention it gets, which brings us to surprise number three. Even in West London where supercars are ten a penny, you couldn’t drive anywhere without people stopping and pointing, taking photographs or excitedly shouting ‘NISSAN GT-R!!’ at you – I presume in case you had forgotten what you were driving! This got old very quickly as do the mechanical knocks and bangs that were charming at first, but got more worrying as the days went by, as did the ear shattering squeal from the brakes that make it impossible to look cool when you’re cruising around town! The ride is by default very stiff, and quite aggressively biased towards the track, so bumpy roads can be challenging at times. None of this matters though because you’ve bought this car for the track, right? And if that is the case, then the GT-R is definitely the best bang for your supercar buck.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Practical isn’t a word you associated with supercars but the GT-R scores extremely well here (again, when put in context with its rivals). It has a very decent and totally useable 315 litres of boot space and this means a weekend away with luggage is easily doable. It also has a lot of front legroom and shoulder room for the driver and passenger and two more seats in the back. As with a Porsche 911, its great to have these rear seats if you have a few extra bits to carry, or maybe a small dog or a couple of kids to cart around, but you would never get adults back there. The car is also fitted with two 12-volt power sockets, armrest storage, and front and rear cup holders.
The interior does seem to get a lot of criticism and while it isn’t as luxurious as you might expect, it does seem to work well with the overall feel of the car. The handsome heated leather Recaro seats are tight fitting and offer an excellent level of support, and the seating position is actually quite high meaning that you get a very good view of the road in front of you.
The GT-R doesn’t have a EuroNCAP rating but does have a decent amount of safety equipment. This means that traction control, electronic stability, and tyre pressure monitoring come as standard. Also worth a mention is Nissan’s advanced airbag system with dual-stage front driver and passenger airbags, seatbelt pretensioners that hold the driver and passenger firmly in the seat before and after an accident and an energy absorbing steering column. The all wheel drive system will also help with overall car control and the massive 4-wheel disc brakes will stop you from 60mph in about 2.5 seconds.
As with a lot of Japanese cars, the GT-R comes packed with equipment, the most interesting being a centre display (designed by Polyphony Digital, the same people responsible for the massively popular Gran Turismo video game). Here you can view and customise just about everything on the car from cornering acceleration, braking and steering information to g-force and stopwatch information. Also included are heated seats, a Bose 11 speaker audio system, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS and 30GB hard drive based music system. The exterior gets a set of beautiful 20” forger-aluminium 10-spoke wheels, wide=beam Xenon headlights and nifty flush-mounted door handles.
Although the current pricing of this car means it isn’t as much of a bargain as when it was released in 2007, the GT-R is still incredibly well priced, especially when you take into account the list of standard options, so for under £80,000 you get pretty much everything you need. In fact, the only option on our press car was the optional (and very beautiful) Vermillion Red paint at £1,750. Also included in the price are a three-year 60,000-mile warranty, 3-year paint warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The Nissan GT-R provides the supremely visceral driving experience.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds
Economy: 23.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 50
Tax: Band M (£1090)