• Jul 23rd 2008 at 7:58PM
  • 122

2009 Nissan GT-R – Click above for high-res image gallery

Nissan recently granted Autoblog four fleeting days with a red 2009 Nissan GT-R. While it seems every major automotive outlet has tested "Godzilla" on the track (including our First Drive), we chose instead to keep it on the streets to see if one of the world's most powerful and fastest accelerating cars could be domesticated by stop-and-go traffic, family errands, and carpool duty. Of course, we only stuck to that routine for a day or two... the rest of the time was spent on the famed canyon roads of Southern California. Follow the jump to read about our 100-hour experience in the Nissan GT-R and don't miss what very well may be the most beautiful gallery of high-res images we've ever published courtesy of our own Drew Phillips and all ready to become your next desktop wallpaper.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

A light plane crash-landed a few hundred yards from our office within minutes after we took delivery of the GT-R. The injury-free emergency landing left the plane wrinkled and upside down in a big open field, easily viewed from the busy freeway. With emergency vehicles converging, conditions were perfect to draw a crowd of onlookers. Naturally, we jumped into the just-arrived GT-R for the drive down the block to check things out.

When we pulled up, the small crowd that had gathered to gawk at the wreck turned around and looked at us... Within minutes, we had a handful of people crawling all over the distinctive Datsun. An Infiniti G37 owner stopped and jumped out of his car. A Porsche GT2 driver did the same. Teenagers sent text messages to their friends and snapped pics on their mobiles, while others took their turn in the driver's seat pretending they were living their Gran Turismo dream. We stood there stupefied that people would choose to stare at, and photograph, a Nissan over the battered aircraft in the dusty field just yards away. Little did we realize that the attention the Nissan was drawing foreshadowed our instant celebrityhood now that we held the keys to the hot new GT-R.

Nissan's GT-R is about as physically discreet as a bikini-clad Pamela Anderson. Our particular GT-R, in "Solid Red" over black leather, damn-near stopped traffic. We've never piloted another car, not even a bright-red Ferrari, that mesmerized as many sets of eyes. Scores of adults and teenagers waved and gave us thumbs-up, while the smallest of children pointed in awe. Far from sleek and sexy, the angular GT-R evokes a Transformer-like aura that transcends ages. Muscular shoulder proportions, an angular greenhouse, and four exaggerated exhaust cannons in the rear forge a styling statement that screams "I'm going to kick ass" to anyone within view. Thankfully, the Nissan's bite is every bit as angry as its visual bark.

Under the aluminum hood sits a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6, reportedly making 480 hp. Power is sent though a rear-mounted six-speed dual-clutch transmission before being routed to all four wheels through Nissan's ATTESA ET-S all-wheel drive system. Even with a chunky curb weight of about 3,900 lbs, the GT-R rockets to 60 mph in about 3.4 seconds (leaving little doubt that Nissan is being very conservative with their power claims). In the real world, the dual-clutch transmission is jerky and cumbersome until you hit about 5 mph. At that point all the gears and clutches feel in sync, and the power at your right foot is just plain crazy. Indescribable neck-bending acceleration is but a half-inch press of the gas pedal away. The car is so bloody-fast that GT-R owners may never sit at a stoplight next to another vehicle that can out-accelerate them beyond legal speeds.

For all of its prodigious power, the engine is surprisingly muted. At idle or low speeds, you can hear the grumble from the exhaust pipe, but you'd swear the Infiniti G37 sounds throatier. As engine speed increases, the exhaust is overtaken by more mechanical sounds. At redline, any sound coming out of the four oversized exhaust pipes has been replaced by the wail of turbochargers, intake noises, transmission whine, differential whirring, and an odd aural assortment of mechanics. It's not F1-inspired like a Ferrari, intimidating like a Corvette, or silky like a BMW. The sound of a GT-R at full wail is vociferous. Hardly recognizable, but other drivers know they simply must get out of its way.

Feeling evil, we ran the GT-R on the same Southern California roads that hosted our Porsche Cayman S just weeks prior, fully expecting the very tight and technical corners to throw the heavyweight Nissan off balance. We couldn't have been more wrong. While the six-speed Porsche delicately sliced its way from corner to corner without breaking a sweat, the GT-R was much more brutal in its approach. The harder we pushed, the better it got. In full "R-mode" the GT-R would scream into corners carrying far too much momentum. Just when we thought it was too late, the massive brakes would bleed the speed so we could flick the steering wheel around the bend. Stabbing the throttle into the carpet, the rears would break free for just a few feet while the back end came around. Milliseconds later, the fronts would hook-up and drag all 3,900 pounds to the next corner in lightning speed. While most overpowered exotics never fail to remind the driver of their quirks (usually at the most inopportune times), the GT-R follows every request the driver commands. The Nissan quickly inspired the type of confidence that could make a poor driver look good, and a good driver look great.

Developed and proven at the track, the GT-R can be tamed. Late one afternoon, we sat through 85 miles of Los Angeles traffic with the transmission in "Auto" and the suspension on "Comfort". With the exception of the clunky gearbox at low speeds, the GT-R was as docile as an Altima. If we didn't acknowledge the throngs of passers-by who were taking pictures of the car, it was easy to forget about the twin-turbochargers, sophisticated AWD powertrain, and launch control. That was reassuring, but it also made us a bit uneasy. In a Ferrari, or Porsche for that matter, the harsh ride and idiosyncrasies always remind the driver of the mission. The GT-R, so brilliantly engineered to drive 10/10ths, was a soft-spoken pussycat.

Sitting behind the wheel of the split-personality beast, even the tallest drivers will feel comfortable. While most vehicles of this performance level require driver compromise (most often at the expense of left leg position), our six-foot two-inch frame found the GT-R amazingly roomy. We put one, two, and three passengers into the GT-R. With the exception of one crazy six-footer who found himself in the token back seats (hey, he offered to sit anywhere for a ride), adults will not find the rear seats accommodating. A jaunt to the neighborhood pre-school proved forward facing child seats will fit back there – and it established that the GT-R will draw stares from diaper-clad three-year-old toddlers as well.

In typical Nissan fashion, the driver and passenger seats are not identical. The driver gets an amazingly comfortable, yet incredibly supportive, multi-position bucket, while the passenger receives a similar seat with fewer adjustments. Visibility out of the GT-R can be an issue. Anything behind the driver's left ear is hidden by the thick B- and C-pillar (that tiny window is useless). Thankfully, the exterior mirrors are large and offer a generous view of the outside world. Backing up is downright dangerous -- we often feared flattening one of the numerous GT-R groupies checking out the tail end. A reverse camera with parking sensors would be a prudent option.

Of course we tried "Launch Control." Flip a few switches and slide a few levers, all in perfect sequence, and a fully depressed gas pedal will bring the engine to a steady 4,500 rpm. Side-step the brake and a second goes by... tic... and then... BAAAAAM! The rear tires spin a bit while the fronts just cleanly hook up. Your neck snaps back as the car rips, claws, and tears at the pavement. Don't forget to shift, about once per second, as the GT-R screams to part the atmosphere. When the time comes to reign in the gargoyle, massive Brembo brakes – 15-inch rotors in the front chomped by 6-piston calipers – bring nearly two tons of steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber to a stop without any drama. It goes brutally fast. It stops just as violently. It is so much fun.

Now, in the real world, all of this excitement will cost you more than just the $71,000 MSRP -- plus the almost inevitable dealer mark-up. The GT-R has an insatiable appetite for refined liquid dinosaur (we don't know what type of pussy-footed pansy squeezed out the EPA's fuel efficiency numbers of 16 city/21 highway), so for the record, this glorious red GT-R drank three tanks of high-test gasoline and a quart of synthetic oil under our watch. The first two tanks were consumed at the rate of 11.68 mpg and 11.71 mpg. The last went down at a more leisurely 16.42 mpg. Yeah, that was mostly highway driving. Obviously, brutal does not equate to frugal.

Four days with the GT-R did reveal a few irritants, but none are difficult fixes. The steering ratio is about perfect, but we frequently found ourselves (mid-corner!) removing a hand to find the transmission paddle to grab the next gear. The shift paddles need to be yanked off the tree and affixed to the wheel (like Ferrari does it) and the exhaust note could use some serious attention. Countless onlookers asked us to "rev the engine" as they eagerly anticipated a noise that would send chills up their spine. Their hopes were shattered as the bright red GT-R could only whimper like an asthmatic Maxima.

On day four, when Nissan arrived to recover their GT-R, we had mixed emotions. Part of us would miss the celebrity-like allure that drew crowds each time we ventured out of the driveway (the next time Britney Spears wants to drive unnoticed down Pacific Coast Highway, she only needs to hire a red GT-R to run in the next lane), the other half looked forward to welcoming back our real-life anonymity.

Nissan engineers have successfully delivered a nauseatingly fast vehicle that devours acceleration and track records. Its handling belies its weight, and its cabin is deceptively comfortable. Yet, however absurdly amazing the Nissan was, we found ourselves continuously looking for its soul. We wanted to find a bad habit, an ill mannerism, a vulnerability that would prove the car was mortal. Instead, we were met with methodical and highly accurate electronic systems that double-checked our every move to deliver exactly what our human inputs were requesting. Curiously, each time the push-button starter would fire the engine, the incessant feedback the GT-R offered to us was robot-like mechanized perfection.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've seen that exact car! I took a picture as the driver was getting groceries ...

      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't hardly wait to see one on the streets.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Now and forever, I will always love Autoblog,

      but at this moment, I hate you guys...im so jealous!

      kudos to Nissan and Autoblog for giving us all a great review of the GT-R

      note* reading this article sent chills up my spine and gave me goosebumps
        • 7 Years Ago
        Your author owns two Porsches, and we invited a GT3 to run with us the last day. The GT-R was quicker than the GT3 (it is hard to beat that dual-clutch auto)... but they were apples to oranges to drive. You can't choose between a 911 or a GT-R like you can between a Mustang or a Camaro. They are so completely different in execution, and the way they drive, that you'd have to own both.
          • 7 Years Ago
          wouldnt a run with/against the current 911 turbo (automatic) be a more precise comparison, rather than the gt3 you invited? both are awd and both are boosted.

          also, i did concede that the gtr and the 911 are two different animals, but, if you get away from the apples to oranges sentiment, i feel that (yes this is just one opinion of many) one car emerges to be superior, and that car is the gtr.
      • 7 Years Ago
      here is a nice comparison of modern performance cars the GTR: http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=31&article_id=6939
      • 7 Years Ago
      -Here is the $100.00 question?

      How many Torques is the Tranny Rated for?

      -Follow up Question

      Can I get a "Save the GT-R's" T-Shirt in a double XL?

      -One More Question from the back....

      will there be a JUN GT-R making 1,000hp anytime soon?

        • 7 Years Ago
        stay tuned to best motoring or hot version for your jun tuner question. though i think a mines gtr would be a better car since they work on the total package vs the high horsepower type. maybe top secret ("smoky") for that?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Mines has already made "their" GTR. Also Check out the Amuse GTR, it is beautiful. The subtle body additions/mods, and the titanium exhaust (and whatever else they have done that is not visable). I bet the exhaust gives it the note it was missing.

        Great article though, I wish I could afford one. I will just have to wait for them to go on sale used.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This thing really is butt ugly. Proof the japanese don't get it. Its too jap-anime-voltron.
        • 7 Years Ago
        you're damn right it looks japanese!!!! IT IS JAPANESE!!!!!

        what do you want it to look like? something else????

        then buy something else.

        it may not be your cup of tea, but youre not gonna mistake it for a corvette or a porsche, which is just the way they like it.

        when you design a car you want people to say "whoa wtf is that?!?!?" not "is that the new corvette?"..... even if it IS the new corvette.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would not sleep for 100 hours nor would the car ever be stopped for more than 2 min.
        • 7 Years Ago

        i would of probably burned thru 400 gallons of premium during that time.

      • 7 Years Ago
      So how removed from the road were you? That's gotta be the achilles heal right there - do all those gizmos actually make this thing really boring despite being wicked fast? For example, which is more fun to drive - a miata or a GT-R? I'm dying to know.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hell Yeah !!! GTR... The ZR1 is better But.. I Love the GTR it's so... Badass !!!

      0-60 mph. 3.5 sec. Top Speed 193 mph.

      It's a Freaking Nissan doing those times Crazy !!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        You're low ranked because of the half trolling addition to your comment that said "ZR-1 is better". It's not, btw.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Why are you low-ranked?
        • 7 Years Ago
        CORVETTE ZR1:
        It's an automatic down-vote on autoblog if you think the GT-R isn't the be-all end-all second coming of cars. I'm not certain why.

        It's a great car, but I have to be marked down if I don't say it's the best?
        • 7 Years Ago
        My Comment was Supposed to be good whats with you guys ? Start Acting like real Auto Enthusiasts... and Who's Proud Japanese ? and yeah they are both great Cars thats what i was trying to point out...
        • 7 Years Ago
        You & Proud Japanese are both an embarrassment to both the ZR1 and GT-R camps. No need to compare both cars and toot your own horns every time. They are both great machines.
      • 7 Years Ago
      OK, almost 100K for a Nissan, or over 100K for a Chevy (ZR1). People have rocks in the head. My solution: buy a Z car or a base Vette. Way better bang for the buck. And with some of the bread you save, by a 1000cc Sportbike or a Hyabusa that would smoke em' on an open road or drag strip and bikes are far more fun on track days anyway...cars lean the wrong way in corners! I would take one for free though!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think this will be a huge comment section.
      • 7 Years Ago
      just a bit of fun stuff to add to the thread... check out jay leno's impression of the gt-http://www.clearspring.com/widgets/47f1317f105123ad?p=4839cafc5a4f8b08r:

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