• Feb 28th 2008 at 7:57PM
  • 34
Click above for a high-res gallery of our first encounter with a Nissan GT-R

When a friend tipped us that there might be an R35 Nissan GT-R drifting around Southern California, we tried to get more details. As the facts started trickling in, we realized we might actually be able to get some seat time if we played our cards right. Well, we did get some seat time and we were definitely impressed. So what if the "seat" was on the opposite side of the steering wheel? Even amidst car-jaded Southern Californians, this thing drew a huge crowd. We were lucky enough to work our way to the front of the line and were eventually invited inside for a short ride around the block. So, what did we think? The most highly anticipated car of the day is one helluva ride, as you might expect. But the levels to which Nissan has gone to make this car a world beater had some in the crowd comparing this to the Bugatti Veyron for sheer technology overload. Follow the jump for more first impressions and click on the gallery below for some more high-res live shots. And don't think this is our last time in a GT-R, as we'll also be on hand for Nissan's official media ride and drive in the near future.

You probably already know the specs and have heard the lap times, but we can tell you that the way it all comes together is nothing short of miraculous. So smooth and powerful and effortless. Comfortable as a Benz, fast as a Ferrari. The first thing that struck us when we got in was the rear seats. We tried to see if a real-sized human being could actually fit in back. After adjusting the front seat forward enough to still allow a driver of average dimensions, we wound ourselves in the back seat. Bonk. If you are over 5 feet tall, you will have to slouch. If you are over 5 feet tall and 150 pounds, you'll have to lean across the whole rear seat, and that isn't as easy as it sounds with a center console that splits the cabin port and starboard from stem to stern. After that brief foray into the absurd, we hopped into the front bucket. A bit narrow, it is an incredibly comfortable and supportive seat that rivals any we've flet in a production vehicle. Think Porsche, Aston Martin, AMG or M-car and you won't be too far off.

As this particular model is actually a JDM example recently imported to help Paul Walker and Vin Diesel plod through a fourth installment of Fast and the Furious, the steering wheel was on the "wrong" side. Other than that, everything else felt just about perfect. Oh, there were a few buttons that had strange markings, but the big red one on the console was easy to spot and easy to read. With the key in your pocket, just depress the Start button and the twin-turbo V6 comes to life. We have to admit we were a bit underwhelmed at that point because there was virtually no noise associated with the feat. It didn't take long for our impression of the motor to change dramatically. Before we get to the driving bit, we have to point out how well done the interior is. Compared to a similarly priced Corvette Z06, this thing LOOKS and FEELS like it was intended to be sold in a market that includes cars costing twice as much. The leather-wrapped dash is especially attractive.

Stepping back outside, we have to acknowledge that the styling was a bit less warmly received. Although everyone seemed to agree that it looks better in person than in photos, many of those on hand said it looked too evocative of other Japanese cars. We heard everything from an Eclipse to a 350Z and even a Mitsubishi 3000GT was mentioned. Nobody seemed to swoon over it, so much as they had more of a sense of awe at its technological marvels. Most thought it looked very big, even in its slimming black paint. The R35 takes GT-R styling in a different direction, growing the model into something closer to an M6 than an M3 now. Other than those two cars, it was hard to think of many competitors for the Nissan that offer even a vestigial back seat at something close to this price and performance level. And speaking of performance...

The car is very quiet, as we mentioned. The ride is smooth and compliant, at least with the suspension set to normal. We didn't have time to sample the other settings. We did toggle through the center display screens, marveling at the Playstation Gran Tursimo designers' handiwork. While they all probably could be useful in tuning, they make great entertainment on their own. The g-meter alone is worth hours of fun. As we entered traffic, our hearts sank a little at the congestion ahead. We were barely able to get up to the posted speed limit during our drive out. On the return though, the driver was able to accelerate a bit harder and we got to sample that amazing engine and all of that engineering in action. This thing is a freight train. Coupled with the paddle-shifted tranny, that twin-turbo 6 felt more like a V12. We could barely feel the upshifts and the power never sagged. Normally a turbo will have a slight dropoff between gears and the accompanying gearshift will cause a break that makes your head rock forward. Not in this car. We were pinned back the whole time.

The power delivery alone makes this feel more like an AMG CL65 than something that costs around 70 grand. The last car we were in that felt more powerful was the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. Now, we aren't saying this competes at that level, but for the price it is a great performance bargain, assuming you are lucky enough to avoid the gouging. The Nissan is definitely an impressive ride. Not perfect, but an incredible bargain with more technology packed into it than anything short of a Veyron. It feels heavy and solid without feeling lumbering, at least at low speeds. When speeds increased, the car felt lighter. We didn't have time to sample the handling or braking on this trip, but we have been promised some additional time in the car this weekend. We are praying for sunshine. Actually, maybe a little rain would be fun.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      So, what are all those Nissan Sentra with fake "GT-R" stickers gonna do now that the real GT-R lives again? BTW, a few years back, I saw a V6 Mustang with Nissan GT-R emblems all over it. I was quite amused.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I guess you're not aware that the badges are good for an additional 10-20hp apiece...
        • 7 Years Ago
        My favorite GT-R is the early 90's LeBaron convertible model. That thing was hott! Fender and trunk lid badges juxtaposed with Autozone plastic wheel covers.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Paying 70 grand for a power delivery comparable to a Ferrari 599 is quite a bargain! niceeeeee
      • 7 Years Ago
      First was the calling" bullshit" when nissan said the car would be faster then a 911 turbo.
      Then was the cutted slick tires and tunned up versions"talks" on the"fake" nurbugring time lap.
      After that,the shit about the tests maded by the magazines "i dont trust that shit! i want to see another test featuring a gt3 or a 911 turbo thats not buyed by nissan!"
      The interior looks crap!"Well we have to talk some shit since the post preety much have said the car exceed in everthing else !"man !you are a shamefull bunch!
      At least use your head to make critics like so,this car will have a huge problem with the tires.
      its heavy,awd and the atensa system will change the traction and the grip so many times when you race this thing on a track that it will destroy the tires with just a few laps.
      You see its not that hard!
      Even so nissan had proved that this car its not just a gimmick or a fashion statement.
      Outside your little world,exist a car culture vast and powerfull (maybe better then yourselves beloved ones),so grow up and learn to admire whats it made with competence.
      everitime a car like that is made,the rivals are obrigated to bring better cars to the market.
      well at least most of then.
      so for you,pray for your beloved brand to bring something better(a better engine,a better price,a better suspension or wherever else the gtr is making better then your car) in the next generation or buy a grt or KEEP CRYING!

      • 7 Years Ago
      Man...I can't wait for the housing market to rise back to where it was. I'll be sure to take out $70K-$75K of equity when it does.
        • 7 Years Ago
        yep, that sounds like the smart thing to do...
      • 7 Years Ago
      70k for a 350Z???

      I'm waiting for the US spec numbers to come out and then let the crying begin.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nissan North America is located in Tennesee so why was this car in Southern California? Was there a specific purpose of importing it there?
      • 7 Years Ago
      It could just be me...but I think the dash looks horrible...is the North American version the same?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Besides needing the car for a filming, I would think importing a japanese spec car GTR would be a foolish thing. You are stuck on the right side and you have the speed limiter (which would never be lifted). So, who would buy this after the film is over? Not to mention, is that thing even dot-approved so you can legally register it?
        • 7 Years Ago
        ... the speed limiter only takes effect in japan, it's been mentioned in every review of the car which has taken the limiter into account. O_o
      • 7 Years Ago
      V35, no?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't believe people said it looked like a 350Z. I wonder if people thought it looked like a G35 as well...

      That's practically like saying a Cavalier looks like a Sunfire.
      • 7 Years Ago

      I *really* hope you're kidding.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I was going to say that interior wasn't that bad until I saw the one in that Holden Coupe 60. Dayyymn!

      Sounds like all the GT-R "make you go fast goodies" keep the driver entertained enough not to notice Subaru like work environment.

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