2011 GT-R New Car Test Drive
Nissan has been selling a very high-performance car known as the Skyline in Japan for about 20 years and in several generations. Now in its fifth generation, in 2009 it was brought to the American market as the Nissan GT-R. It has enormous performance in all directions. Considering its capabilities, the GT-R can be thought of as a performance value.
The Nissan GT-R boasts the performance level of far more expensive cars. Its advanced, extraordinary all-wheel-drive dutifully and invisibly channels the engine's 485 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque to those tires with the most grip. This is most remarkable when enlisted using Launch Control. Its twin-clutch, sequential-shifting, six-speed manumatic transaxle is competitive with, and certainly equal to or better than, the best from Porsche, Mercedes, BMW or Ferrari.
This car is terrifically good and great fun to drive, whether just tooling around, darting through rush-hour traffic or blurring telephone poles on empty back roads.
The GT-R comes with every comfort and convenience a driver and passenger need, and most of what a driver and passenger could want. The sports car-like cabin is climate controlled. The navigation system responds to voice commands. Behind the navigation system's LCD are 11 pages of data, graphs and virtual gauges that tell the tale on more of the car's dynamics than most drivers can, or want to, be bothered knowing. All this makes the red start/stop button that takes the place of a perfectly functional key almost tolerable.
The Nissan GT-R comes in one body style, a two-door, 2+2 quasi-coupe. There's also but one powertrain offered, a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6 driving all four wheels through a six-speed, twin-clutch, sequential-shifting, automated-manual transaxle. Shifts are managed either by computer or by steering column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters.
Even though it has been on the market only a short time, for model year 2010 there are some significant enhancements. The engine's horsepower is up from 480 to 485 hp, and torque has been increased from 430 to 434 pound-feet. There is new Transmission Control Module (TCM) programming that optimizes clutch engagement, thus improving drivability and acceleration with the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system turned on (activated). More rigid brake lines offer better durability, brake calipers carry both the Brembo and the Nissan logos. There has been suspension re-tuning, with redesigned Bilstein shock absorbers that have a new valve-body design, and revised spring and damper rates. The base GT-R model has a slighter darker high-luster smoke finish on the standard 20-inch RAYS forged aluminum wheels, and a new near-black metallic finish is standard on the Premium model. There is a new Pearl White color, and the Super Silver exterior color has been enhanced and now includes a polished front bumper. The Dunlop summer tires have a revised compound. Finally, and very important for safety, front seat-mounted airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags are standard.
The 2010 Nissan GT-R comes in two trim levels. The standard GT-R ($80,790) doesn't lack for much: dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, power mirrors, windows and locks, eight-way adjustable driver's seat and four-way adjustable front passenger's seat, AM/FM/XM/CD stereo with MP3 and WMA playback and six speakers, 30GB hard disk that supports voice recognition, seven-inch color-LCD, GPS-based navigation system with 9.3 GB for personalized audio tracks, dash-mounted Compact Flash card reader, and Bluetooth phone system for hands-free operation. Run-flat summer compound Dunlop tires wrap around aluminum alloy wheels.
The GT-R Premium model ($83,040) adds heated front seats, a Bose audio system with 11 speakers, including two subwoofers stacked vertically in a panel separating the rear seats, and run-flat summer Bridgestone tires.
Options include the Cold Weather Package (no charge) with all-season Dunlop tires and a 50/50 coolant mix. The Super Silver special paint ($3000) is hand-polished before receiving three clearcoats. An iPod converter ($400) and GT-R floor mats ($280) can be installed at port of entry or by the dealer.
Safety features that come standard include pretensioners on the front three-point belts; pretensioners on the rear-seat three-point seat belts; and dual-stage frontal airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags. Active safety features include antilock brakes that let the driver steer during a panic stop; brake assist, which reads the way the driver hits the brake pedal to quicken the system's response in emergencies; electronic brake-force distribution, which optimizes front/rear brake balance for what a computer decides is the quickest, best-controlled stop in all conditions; traction control, which minimizes wheel-spin during acceleration; and Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system, which monitors various sensors and inputs in an effort to keep the car going where the driver wants it to go and to reduce the possibility of losing control on slippery surfaces. A tire-pressure monitoring system comes standard.