Road Tests

Road Test: Nissan GT-R

Time 13 years ago

FOR a car that doesn’t officially go on sale in the UK until March, the GT-R has already built up an enviable reputation.

Nissan’s hard-working press demonstrator was bought over to the UK a full 10 months ahead of the launch, and since then it has driven off with more silverware than any other Japanese car in history.

Suffice to say that no magazine or newspaper has been left un-moved by the charms of Nissan’s remarkable newcomer.

Viewed in the metal, the GT-R is an imposing piece of design. The styling clearly borrows elements from previous Skylines – the round tail-lights and muscular rear flanks are the most noticable features to make the transition – but overall the GT-R has a style of its own.

While it lacks the purity and delicacy of the Lamborghini, it has serious road presence with exaggerated lines, bulging panels and a solid stance.

Climb aboard, though, and the GT-R disappoints. Although the driving position is good – better than the Gallardo if you’re a six-footer – the rest of the cabin feels 20 years out of date.

The layout is blocky and unimaginative while the plastics and trim would disppoint in a Micra, let alone a £50k plus sports coupe.

Fortunately, any negative feelings towards the GT-R are banished the moment you hit the red starter button and fire the 473bhp V6 engine into life. All GT-Rs are fitted with Nissan’s new semi-automatic transmission – there’s no manual version – so pulling away from rest involves engaging drive on the lever and simply hitting the throttle.

However, it’s best to have a very clear road ahead of you as the GT-R rockets towards the horizon at an incredible pace. Even without using the launch control facility, the GT-R hits 60mph in a whisker over 4.0 seconds. Switch it on and that figure drops by around half a second. For a car that weighs 1,740kg, that’s a remarkable feat of engineering.

The gearbox is a delight to use – even if you’re a semi-auto sceptic. The way it punches through ratios, balancing revs on the downshifts is as close to perfection as we’ve ever experienced. Although the Lamborghini’s e-gear set-up is impressive, the GT-R’s transmission is slicker and more enjoyable to use.

But while the Nissan is blindingly quick in any situation – there’s a lack of subtlety to the chassis balance that some drivers will find hard to live with – especially those considering a trade-down from a traditional supercar.

Where the Gallardo feels delicately poised through corners, ready to slice from apex to apex with absolute precision, the GT-R bludgeons its way through bends with unbreakable grip.

It’s devastastingly effective, but you can’t help feel that it’s the GT-R’s chips and microprocessors that are doing the driving rather than you. It’s a bit like playing a familiar computer game on Easy level. Sure, you rack up a good score, but where’s the challenge?

Lambo vs GT-R: Read the Lambo test here

Nissan GT-R

Price: £58,400

Engine: 3.8-litre V6, 473bhp

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0-60mph: 3.9 seconds

Top speed: 193mph

Economy: 16.0mpg

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