You can probably tell just by looking at it that this is one hell of a machine. No? Well how about this: 0-60mph takes no time at all. A mere 2.9 seconds to be exact. Now if that doesn’t send chills down your spine, then surely nothing will! Standard features include a leather upholstery, air conditioning, and a digital Bose audio system. And that’s just scratching the surface. A Nissan GT-R contract hire can get you behind the wheel of this stunner - if you love cars, you’ve probably just found your soul mate.
This car really shouldn’t work. It’s too big, too heavy and far too complex, plus of course, there’s the vexing issue of paying supercar money for something with a Nissan badge. But it does. Oh, it does. First the figures, 60mph from rest is barbequed in just 3. 9s, 100mph flashes by in 8. 5s. That gives you some idea of the scale of Nissan’s achievement in creating the GT-R.
Under the bonnet sits a thundering hand-built 478bhp twin-turbo V6 that drives all four wheels via a dual-clutch six-speed semi-automatic gearbox with leather-fringed steering wheel paddles for rifle-quick 0. 2 second changes. The transmission can adapt itself depending on your mood via the dash-mounted toggle switch, with the best all-out driving options being ‘Manual’ (for when you’re using the paddles and don’t want it kicking down) or better still, ‘R’ or ‘Race’ (which lets the engine run to the limiter, while firming up the dampers and offering more leeway with the stability control). If you leave it be, the transmission sends 97% of its power to the rear wheels but within just a tenth of a second, all that can change, up to 30% of torque heading frontwards if you’re cornering vigorously, so that there’s exactly the right amount remaining to light up the rear wheels and slingshot you forward to the next bend.
Extreme is a word you keep using with reference to the Nissan. Take the initially slightly baffling driver information screen that offers up no fewer than 11 displays via which passengers can gauge either your bravery or recklessness – it’d be suicidal to try and control this rocketship whilst watching them yourself. You can measure your brake, throttle and steering inputs, check on the acceleration, braking and cornering g-forces pinning you into your sculpted racing seat, dial in to the front-to-rear torque split, monitor the operational state of the engine and transmission, assess your fuel usage and of course, record laptimes.
The ride isn’t as stiff as I was expecting either – and you can tailor its tautness via the dash-mounted switch. Well the thundering engine certainly makes its presence felt, it’s a supercar accessible to almost anyone, yet rewarding enough for the most demanding enthusiast. It’s an astonishing achievement.
There’s nothing subtle about the shape, in every way the definitive Japanese supercar for the X-Box generation. It’s an interesting approach, given that Nissan started with a clean sheet of paper, this the very first GT-R not based on a mass-market vehicle. The muscular body structure with its perfect 50:50 weight distribution drapes a bodystructure variously made up of carbonfibre, aluminium and steel that’s slipperier than you might think. It might not be pretty but purposeful? Oh yes. Just watch the dawdlers scuttle out of your way.
This uncompromising approach continues inside. Instead of trying to copy the Europeans, Nissan has stuck to what it knows which means heavy use of metal-look plastic. No fancy design themes but a maze of apparently haphazard but actually logically-placed rectangles, circle and squares – though the contra-rotating speedometer and rev counter dials take a bit of getting used to. You’ll need to spend ages with the handbook first – there are no fewer than eleven buttons on the steering wheel alone – but once familiarity dawns, it all works well enough. And the sports seats are brilliant, adjusting amply, like the steering wheel, for both reach and rake.
Build quality’s actually very good, the leather’s well finished and there are even some interior switches that look as if they've been lifted from an Audi R8. The rear offers seats that even Nissan admits are best left to kids.
Equipment levels include potent alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated leather seats, climate and cruise control and xenon headlamps. Perhaps the highlight is the combined audio and navigation system, offering a Hard Disk Drive navigation system with 40GB of memory space and a 7-inch colour touch screen. The system allows iPod/USB connection with full control via the screen and/or steering wheel switches - but it can be even cleverer: the Japanese versions of this car even use the GPS to disable the speed limiter on racetracks.
You buy a GT-R for what it can do, not for what it represents – and this monster of a supercar does incredible things. In short, an exhilarating redefinition of what supercar motoring should be, priced within reach of those who really, really want one. Drive one and you really, really will. Let the badge snobs sneer. Japan has its own performance legend.