"THE sharp tool in the garage"4.5 starson by make_or_break
Pros: Enough tech to make virtually any driver into a racing rock star. Gobs of torque. A cabin near perfect for a driving geek. Thunderous exhaust note (at least I like it). Forgiving personality when overestimating one's own skills.
Cons: Enough tech to make virtually any driver THINK that they are a racing rock star. Noticeable turbo lag in the example I drove. Using so much tech to excuse all that bulk isn't exactly state of the art. A face that's still an acquired taste.
Summary: I freely admit that the current R35 GT-R is a great driver's car. It's one of the very best on the planet, by most accounts. From first-hand impressions its road-going technology and dynamics are incredible, allowing even a hack wannabe like me to explore performance limits I'd only dream of doing in most any other car. On my favorite twisties here in the PacNW (granted, there aren't many of those around here, and what there is are often heavily patrolled), the GT-R is an absolute delight to be behind the wheel in. It absolutely blows away my Porsche 911 from a couple of generations ago, being so extremely competent and poised without ever feeling antiseptic or sterile with its amazing skill set (that said, I do miss the kinds of drama my 993 can impose onto my skill set with its rear-heavy design).
Yes the suspension is more hardcore firm than road-going compliant, but since I'm a fan of the 911 GT3 it's clear that the GT-R's mission in life is as a road warrior, not an interstate cruiser. Or grocery-getter. But this car can easily do those lesser chores. You CAN live with this car daily simply because it's so easy to drive, but it does demand something back of the driver in its no-compromise attitude. You WILL feel those bone-jarring potholes in your kidneys. You will get back all sorts of irritating feedback from road imperfections at times you really didn't need or want it. But then when you hit a open stretch of twisting road, almost all of that is instantly forgiven. Perhaps this Nissan is better suited as a track car or weekend samurai, but that to me is selling the qualities of this car short.
I didn't have to fill the tank of my friend's GT-R, but its fuel economy (based on the display numbers from the myriad of electronics) seems to indicate that it's not much different from my 911. In fact it's slightly better given how hard the car was driven by both him and me. The turbo lag I experienced was unexpected on my part; I don't recall anything about it from the few reviews of the car that I had previously read. My friend claims that it's normal, although I admit that all I could do was given him a doubting eye at that answer. I will bemoan the lack of a true manual box; I'm old-school enough that I'd much prefer doing the shifting myself, even if it means a loss of performance and added time to hot laps. Shifting on one's own brings its own sense of HUMAN interaction satisfaction and driving honor that a fully computerized, uber-smart auto-tranny will never replace, even if it means losing a second or three a lap to the automated, dual-clutch behemoth.
Driving position was spot-on perfect for me; everything was easy to set and/or adjust to my relatively smallish frame. The interior design was something of a hit and miss with me. Parts of it seem rather plasticky for a $85k car, albeit the plastics that were in place seem to be of a high standard. It's just for the price I would've expected different materials...or LESS materials altogether, in keeping with the GT-R's no-nonsense persona. I typically prefer performance cars with a minimum of fuss and gadgetry, but the GT-R's presentation still makes it very compelling and downright fun. Even so, most of my time behind the wheel was spent with my eyes looking far down the road; this car gobbles asphalt in a massive hurry and there's actually little time to be staring at the various displays when attempting to control a car with this sort of performance envelope.
In the end I have to say that I'm envious of my friend and his shiny white GT-R, mostly because of what this beast is capable of when moving forcefully down the road. To me its liabilities are few, and its pluses are many. I hope Nissan never loses sharply honed focus for this car when it comes time for a refresh or the inevitable redo down the road. Perhaps a bit more compliant ride would make the car more user-friendly on a daily basis, but then I fear it's a tact that dulls the blade on this very sharp implement, and to me that would be crying shame.
I don't miss iPod connectivity. I don't miss all the cabin accouterments that engineers and product planners of LESSER cars stuff them full of. This GT-R clearly serves a higher performance purpose, and really doesn't need to pander to the posers of the world. It's that good at what it does, and it befuddles me to wonder why anyone would need ask for anything more. I'm perhaps too much of a Porsche fanboy to actually want a GT-R in my own garage, but I can certainly see and understand and FEEL the appeal of the skills of this car. It truly is that good.
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