I've been away for a few months trying my very best to be a new mom. While I was away, I was relegated to driving the same car every single day, my WRX. Not such a bad thing, but it was getting a bit redundant. Being back in the office this week has been a welcome change, especially when I found out I'd be handed the key to the fabled and legendary Nissan GT-R.
Apparently, they like me around here or something... But I digress.
When the GT-R landed in North America a few short years ago, the country was abuzz with anticipation. After “driving” the GT-R for months via a controller or keyboard in the popular Need for Speed series, finally enthusiasts were going to get the chance to see Godzilla in the flesh. I was no different. The idea of getting behind the wheel of one of the automotive industry's legends heightened my senses, gave me goosebumps and made me feel all giddy inside.
Not much has changed since 2009, and I was just as childishly happy when the key landed on my desk. I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel. But wait, I needed to take it all in.
Approaching the 2013 Nissan GT-R in the parking lot, I felt a bit like I was walking towards a feral animal. Looking deep into the GT-R's gaping front grille is hypnotizing. Move your eye to the aggressively slanted headlights, along the beefed-up hood, linger for a moment on the beast's hood-vent nostrils and thoughts of medieval dragons come to mind. Wide, menacing gills sit behind each front wheel, dragging your attention to the shoulderline of the vehicle that stretches back to the fabulously fat rear end that houses pod-like taillights and quad tailpipes.
Nissan managed to make a car look menacing from any angle -- and I love it.
Hunched over 20” super-lightweight forged-alloy wheels sitting atop 15” Brembo brakes, even parked the Nissan GT-R looks like it could murder any vehicular competitor that dares challenge it.
|Nissan managed to make a car look menacing from any angle. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
When I finally stopped staring at the white dragon parked before me and popped out the flush door handle to get behind the wheel, my heart was racing. Adrenaline pumping, I surveyed the scene before me: massive stationary gear paddles positioned behind a steering wheel sporting a huge, in-your-face GT-R logo. Behind said steering setup sits typical analog gauges – save for the speedometer that stops at the staggering 340 km/h mark.
It's rather pointless to talk about interior space and storage capacities, because if you're reading this review you either couldn't care less about that or you know you're not about to purchase this vehicle because it has a good-size trunk and decent cup holders.
Where the interior of the 2013 Nissan GT-R differs from the norm is in the driver-configurable multifunction display system; a rather fancy name for the onboard computer that lets you see virtually everything and anything about the car while you're driving. From oil temperature and pressure to cornering g-force readings, this is where the GT-R meets the needs of the Apple generation with its gadgetry. Across 11 different screens you can fiddle with settings till you're blue in the face. It was almost too much for me and, in all honesty, I barely touched it. I just wanted to drive it, plain and simple.
And drive it I did.
|Where the interior of the 2013 Nissan GT-R differs from the norm is in the driver-configurable multifunction display system. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
As I fired up the hand-built 3.8L twin-turbocharged V6 engine with the bright red start/stop button nestled in the middle console -- selecting “R” mode for traction, drivetrain and suspension settings -- I took a moment to breathe deeply before popping the Nissan GT-R into drive.
I feel the need to point something out here: There should be no illusions about what this car was built for and meant to do. The Nissan GT-R is a track monster. It's meant to shred corners, devour straightaways and go nosebleed fast. It is not meant for comfy, cozy Sunday drives to grandmomma's for tea. Do not expect this when you get into one. It's rough, loud, raw (uncomfortable even), and it makes some pretty funky mechanical noises most of the time. But that's all part and parcel of the GT-R experience. This vehicle is meant to drive and be driven. Sure, it can seat four people, but do you really want the extra weight holding you back?
With 545 horses and 463 lb-ft of torque at my disposal, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. As I took to the open road, windows down, I couldn't wipe the smirk off my face. In full manual mode, I tried my best to reign in the dragon, but the GT-R is so raring to go at all times, sometimes it's hard to keep things smooth. Add to that the uber-stiff suspension (in “R” mode) on our fabulous local roads, and it makes for a rather jerky ride at times.
But that's OK too. Because it's a GT-R.
|With 545 horses and 463 lb-ft of torque at my disposal, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
A savage amongst socialites
Known as the “Porsche Killer” the Nissan GT-R has managed to get a pretty hardcore reputation across the automotive world -- and with good reason. Despite its near 4,000 lb weight, it still manages 0-100 km/h sprints in under 3 seconds with launch control. That's breathe-catching fast, and should have those aristocratic rides shaking in their Louis Vuitton wheel covers. Like a bare-knuckle brawler showing up to a country club, the GT-R is not to be messed with.
After four years on the road, the Nissan GT-R still garners quite a bit of attention. From thumbs up to cheers of elation as I passed on the street, this car gets noticed. And why shouldn't it? Barking exhaust, architecturally stunning and rather different from anything else on the road at the moment, kudos to Nissan's engineering and design team on this one.
Starting at over $100k, the GT-R falls into the prestige realm of vehicles. It might be what the rich would call “new money” but it still very much belongs in that realm.