Nissan GT-R review
So good it’ll kill you really really dead
By Shahzad Sheikh
Suggesting that this car is fast is an understatement. It’s like saying the sun is hot, or that the Transformers are mechanical and beans might give you slight wind…
There aren’t many cars even in the hyper-car league that can hit 100kph in 3.5 seconds – although in the real world you get consistent four second runs. It’s properly, breathtakingly, mind-blowingly quick, the dual-clutch paddle shifts fire-off micro-second quick changes and you can feel, hear and experience each one of them.
The car feels very mechanical and part of its appeal is being able to sense various bits of it working and coming together – rather like a race car.
Oddly though, the car actually seems to become calmer, quieter and more comfortable the faster it goes – in a straight line that is – encouraging you to ‘cruise’ at outrageous speeds, the sort that most Nissans will only have dreamt of in their wettest of fantasies.
It’s also pretty phenomenal around corners. The super-intelligent four-wheel-drive system is able to sense everything that is going on and sends not only the right amount of torque to each wheel, but also intuitively seems to know what you really want to be happening at each corner of the car. You don’t have to second guess this car, you let it work for you. The grip and cornering is amazing – there are no other words for it.
The responses are instant, the translation of what the driver requests of the car is extraordinary in how quickly it is interpreted and deployed. As you grow your confidence in the car and in its ability to pull off whatever you need it to do, it can actually start to shake your belief in the laws of physics.
It brakes incredibly hard and refuses to fade, which is great when you repeatedly dive into corners scrubbing off stratospheric speed, grips and bites on changing direction and catapults you back out on switching the power in hard. And it can all happen so quickly, so instantly, it’s almost digital in is personality.
You might think after that, I want to marry this car and have lots of little GT-Rs of my own – but no, this purely brief fling, I wouldn’t even want to own this Nissan. Yes, sure, it’s utterly awesome. But as Clint Eastwood once said: ‘a man’s got to know his limitations’.
After an absurdly fast run down to the East Coast from Dubai on a road that has attitude and altitude, curves and corners, challenges and threats, I arrived at the fuel stop knowing for certain, without having attempted to time or measure my progress in any way, that that was the fastest I had ever driven that stretch.
The steering had been gripped hard, the eyes had been out on their stalks, the teeth had been grinding and my shirt was moist with sweat. My hands were physically trembling. And it’s not like I was driving over my limits – certainly not the car’s – or being silly.
The most frightening thing was not just how extraordinarily quickly I’d arrived, but the realisation that I could have gone even quicker. The car had more to give and seemed to mock my meagre talents, but I already knew that next time would be faster still.
And you see that’s the problem. With most cars once you find yourself near the limits of grip or chassis ability, either deliberately or inadvertently, you back off. The self-preservation instinct kicks in.
With the GT-R you have to overcome a deeply instilled psychological block. At the point at which you feel the car is reaching the zone where mere mortals fear to tread, that’s when you actually flex your right ankle in what feels like the WRONG direction, and go harder. The super brain and lightning fast adjustments this car makes will gather things up and keep you going.
You might think that’s a good thing, and it would be at low speeds, but in the realm where the GT-R operates, if things did go wrong, they would go horribly, irretrievably wrong. And if you don’t have the latent skills and reflexes of a F1 or WRC rally ace (which I don’t), you may not have the talent to compensate for when you’ve pushed things too far: i.e. game over.
So I would not own this car, because one day I would either lose my licence or kill myself. Or both, at the same time, whilst heading backwards into a jagged cliff face at tremendous velocity knowing full well the answer to that question that has baffled scientists for ages – the Irresistible Force Paradox – what happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object – I die, that’s what.
So perhaps one doesn’t need to drive it fast then all the time. But if not, then why the hell would you ever buy one? Sure it looks like it’s just stepped out of a Manga animation and is accompanied everywhere with its own set of speed-lines, but inside, once you’ve gotten over the novelty value of the Playstation-influenced graphics, it’s really rather ordinary.
Driving it around town is a frustrating experience and actually can get a tad tedious as all the mechanical meshing and clinging and clanging that you revel in at speed, just becomes annoying when you’re crawling along.
Okay I’m a sissy. I’ll concede that. And I’ll also admit that it deserves its place on the pedestal it usually lives on.
What Nissan has created is nothing short of the ultimate supercar. One that intimidates and encourages you in equal measure. But its singular focus of purpose can be wearing as it’s only at its best at ten-tenths. That’s not where I want to live – or perhaps suddenly cease to live. So whilst it’s good for an occasional adrenaline fix, for my daily commute I’d rather have a Nissan 370Z.
How much? $ 115,000 (Check prices with your local dealer)
Engine: 3799cc, 6cyl, 480BHP @ 6400, 430lb ft @ 3200-2500
Fuel Economy: 12.2 – l/100km
Performance: 3.6 sec 0-100kph , 314kph
How heavy? 1740kg
8.5/10 – You’ll either be a driving god, or very soon near to God