2013 Nissan GT-R
Base price: $96,820 – $106,320
As tested: $107,600 (Black Edition)
MPG: 16 city/23 highway
- Astounding acceleration and power
- Phenomenal handling
- Bargain price
- Punishing ride
- Noisy cabin
- No conventional manual transmission
By Jim Prueter
It’s unlikely that Nissan pops into your head when you think of supercars. But the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Pagani may, of course. How is it, then, that Nissan, the same company that builds numerous weird-looking, indefensible design deformities such as the Murano Crosscabriolet, Cube, Leaf, and Juke can also produce one of the best supercars in the world, the GT-R?
Unless you’re a car buff, chances are you’ve never heard of the GT-R. And you may not be in the market for one either, though its nearly $100,000 starting price is chump change compared to a Lamborghini with equal performance, which costs around $400,000.
But if you ask any 25-year-old if they’ve ever heard of this car, they’re all over it. The GT-R is the car for them, not a Ferrari 458 Italia or Lambo Aventador. Those vehicles appeal to a different generation, 55 and older, with a completely different automotive mindset.
The GT-R, which has only recently come to the U.S., has been sold in Japan for several years and was officially nicknamed “Godzilla.” The GT-R is a brutally fast car and had sales of just 1,294 last year.
Mated to a dual-clutch, paddle-shift six-speed transmission, it’s powered by a hand-built twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 that puts out 545 horsepower and 463 foot-pounds of torque. The car rockets to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and rips through the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds. Top speed is limited to 192 mph.
Our test GT-R was the Black Edition, which adds a hand-made dry-carbon-filled rear spoiler, 20-inch special black RAYS wheels, and black/red Recaro bucket seats.
It comes well equipped with leather-wrapped French stitched dash and doors, titanium paddle shifters, hard-drive navigation with a 7-inch color display, rearview monitor, 11-speaker Bose audio system, and all the usual amenities found in an expensive sports car.
We especially liked the performance-data display screen with its 11 configurable panels and graphic readouts for throttle position, brake force, yaw rate, front and rear torque distribution, steering angle, lateral, longitudinal, and total g-force.
So what’s it like to drive the GT-R? Before I get a throng of emails and letters asking, “How can you possibly endorse a gas-guzzling car that goes 200 mph and costs more than $100,000?” let me qualify my stance. Sure, the blistering speed and incredible handling is automotive ecstasy for a die-hard gear head like me. At first, spending time behind the wheel of a car like this is pure joy. But, I am not going to buy one, and after three or four days, the experience isn’t as fun.
Why? Because for all that performance, the GT-R is far from silky smooth. This car will beat you up. The GT-R is an incredible work of computer-enhanced sophistication, with an all-wheel drive suspension rolling on 20-inch Dunlop high-performance summer run-flat tires. It finds and reports on every surface rut, crack, and tar strip through your hands and rear end, which is firmly planted on the Recaro leather sport seats.
Simply put, it’s a very hard, firm, tight ride, even when comfort mode is selected on the console switch. The GT-R doesn’t turn corners; it yanks you around them with incredible urgency and confidence. It also has one of the noisiest cabins of any fixed-roof car we’ve driven, with a constant engine drone and road noise.
Another thing about this car is that it makes you feel like you’re a much better driver than you actually are. An incredibly engineered machine, the GT-R has so many computer-controlled advances to produce astonishing performance numbers that it requires minimal driver input and actually corrects driver mistakes.
Safety equipment includes Brembo Monoblock six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers, stability and traction control, front, side and side curtain airbags. The GT-R has not been crash tested.
In the back, the rear seat is small, difficult to access, and best suited for packages or child passengers — as long as the front seats aren’t adjusted all the way back. Trunk space is surprisingly ample for this type of vehicle with its deep well and a total of 8.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
Loud and clunky, the dual-clutch transmission takes some getting used to. When in stop-and-go city traffic, the lay shaft rattles in the dual-clutch transaxle. It’s much better at highway speeds or when shifted manually with the steering wheel paddle shifters.
Two GT-R models are available: Premium and Black Edition. There are no options available, other than a no-cost cold-weather package that includes all-season tires, GT-R logo floor mats ($280), and a special super-silver metallic paint ($3,000).