2014 Nissan GT-R
Base Price: $99,590
Engine: 3.8L Twin-Turbo V6
Transmission: Dual Clutch 6-Speed
Horsepower: 545 Horsepower
Fuel Economy: 16/23
When it comes to exotic cars, we tend to talk about performance — lap times, quarter mile times, 0-60 times, and the like — while glossing over the day-to-day reality of driving on public roads. Well, I recently spent eight days going everywhere in a Nissan GT-R in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I'd known about this week-long date for quite some time and I've been hearing about Godzilla for infinitely longer, so saying the anticipation was great would be an understatement. I'd never driven it before, but I had heard so much. Some said that it was very fast, but lacked soul, while others reported that it was just bloody brilliant. Which side of that camp would I fall on?
My actual first experience with the car was picking it up at the SFO Park 'n' Fly, and reversing out of a parking spot. For whatever reason, when the GT-R is in reverse it beeps constantly like a commercial van. Very sporty. And by sporty I mean annoying as hell. There must be some way to disable it, and if I owned this car that would be the first thing to happen. That said, when your mom is sitting in the back and "forgetting" to put her seat belt on, being able to summon an obnoxious beeping until you hear a click is absolutely fantastic.
Once it's out on the open road driving quickly becomes an exercise in extreme focus. Relaxation can quickly turn into accidental felonies. Felonies are bad, so focus is a must. Half throttle is enough to outpace nearly every other sports car on the road. Every open road seems to whisper "just floor it" like an evil version of Jiminy Cricket.
When I finally found that road with a 55 mph limit and a stop sign, the GT-R's acceleration was like nothing else I have ever felt, and that's coming from a person whose heart was stolen by the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series last year. It's absolutely absurd, and I thoroughly amused/traumatized a number of close friends and family members. Good times were had by some.
If you're driving your mom back from a root canal, a GT-R might not be the best car in the world for that. "Comfort Mode" is still one of the stiffest rides you can experience.
On a related note, if you're driving your mom back from a root canal, a GT-R might not be the best car in the world for that. On a note related to that related note, the adaptable suspension of the GT-R does make a difference, but it's such a tiny one that you might as well not bother. "Comfort Mode" is still one of the stiffest rides you can experience. It does afford you the opportunity, when taking a particularly nasty bump, to say "FEEL THE EXQUISITE, BUTTER-LIKE SMOOTHNESS OF COMFORT MODE!" to your passengers though.
The car really shined when we drove up the coast a bit for spend the night in a cabin in the redwoods. When we weren't stuck behind slow-moving Priuses/Prii/Priusi and aging Accords, the GT-R just ate up the twisting, cliff-side roads and extracted a few frightened moans from the mother. The deep trunk had plenty of space for all our luggage, and three people can actually fit fairly well. A fourth passenger has to fold up like a pretzel behind the driver, but such are the sacrifices we make for speed.
Better still was having one of those roads to myself, without the mom in the back whining about, honestly, conservative amounts of acceleration and lateral Gs. In race mode the car shines. It flows smoothly from one turn to the next, the brakes grab hard, and accelerations like this were last felt during the big bang. On a track it must be freakishly fast.
The sad thing is that there is indeed something missing. I'm not one of those annoying old jaded auto journalists who complains about going to Spain again to drive Lamborghinis (these people exist, and they shouldn't). I get giddy about cool cars, but after eight days with the GT-R I was done with it. It's very capable, but it's missing charisma. I think it's the weight. This is a seriously porky supercar, and as a result it doesn't have that sports car feeling I love so much. It felt more like a weirdly fast sedan, which would be cool if it were, I guess.
There's a good amount of trunk space, it can seat three, or four if you have a friend you don't like that much/is a professional ballerina (I actually tested that), and the SatNav actually works quite well, which is a miracle in an exotic car. Hell, if you live in a snowy area, we're sure this thing with a set of Blizzaks would be beastly in the snow because of the perfectly tuned AWD. So yes, as long as you don't have kids, you absolutely can live with a GT-R. The problem is that I'm not sure you'd want to.
By Stirling Matheson (@SZMatheson)