Nissan's GT-R: the Beast from the East

Nissan's GT-R has a licence to thrill...those who drive it have one to lose

THE BEAST from the East, motoring’s equivalent of Godzilla, finally arrived at Advertiser HQ and its reign of destruction only threatened one thing—my driving licence.

Nissan’s GT-R offers up the most devastating performance £59,945 can buy, packs a devastating punch in seemingly any conditions and could land you on the wrong side of the law in the blink of an eye.

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One of the most intensely engineered road cars ever created it boasts advanced four-wheel-drive, a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and a positively savage, hand-built, 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine rumoured to produce considerably more than its quoted 478bhp and 428lb.ft. of torque.

All that technology comes wrapped in a distinctive shape formed in conjunction with extensive wind tunnel testing to create super-slippery aerodynamics and, at speed, ground-hugging downforce.

Faster than a Ferrari

The GT-R is just about advanced as a road car can get, and with a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time of 07:26.07—faster than any production Porsche, Lamborghini or Ferrari—it has on-track credentials to match.

A sprint to 62mph takes 3.8 seconds, a 194mph is possible and whopping 380mm Brembo disk brakes ensure it stops in equally impressive fashion.

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Despite its intimidating on-paper credentials, the Japanese super-coupe is surprisingly easy to get to grips with.

In full automatic mode, its dual clutch gearbox—which can be operated manually via a pair of steering wheel paddle shifters—is utterly untaxing.

Suspension, gear shift speeds and traction control are each adjustable at the flick of a switch and the GT-R can be set up to be a fairly amiable urban drive, ironing out all but the worst bumps and emitted a subdued soundtrack.

Any preconceptions that Nissan’s technology-packed approach might have created an anodyne, over-civilised experience are soon dismissed, however.

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In stop-start traffic the gearbox has a tendency to lurch off the line, each gearchange accompanied by an audible “ker-chunk” from the transmission.

An easy car to live with

Generally speaking, however, the GT-R would be an easy car to live with.

Nissan’s optimistic claims of 22.8mpg fuel consumption aside, there are a pair of usable rear seats (much more accommodating than they at first appear) a stylish leather-lined interior and a sizable boot.

Perks like Sat-Nav, dual-zone climate control and a 9GB music hard-drive also seem at odds with the no-compromise brutality when the accelerator is pressed.

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Bury the pedal in the carpet for the first time and you better have clear road ahead.

The GT-R launches itself down the road like it’s strapped to the horizon with a bungee chord.

With the most extreme ‘Race’ settings activated at the flick of a switch, the sequential gears slip into place in just 0.2 seconds and the pace rises in one continuous surge, swelling seamlessly and piling on speed.

Back off, for the sake of your licence...

Glance at the speedometer and, if you’ve heard enjoyed more than one rapid-fire gear change, you will need to lift off as soon as is humanly possible for the sake of your licence.

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The GT-R, however, will have remained completely unfazed, its stability at speed little short of astonishing.

Sheer acceleration is just one party piece, however. The speed with which the GT-R is able to change direction is something to behold.

At 1,740kg it’s no lightweight but the laws of physics are effectively overcome. There’s tenacious grip on offer.

Normally the GT-R’s ATESSA four-wheel-drive system transmits 100 per cent of its torque to the rear wheels but up to 50 per cent can be transferred to the front to aid traction.

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Under hard acceleration, the rearward bias can manifest itself in a slight squirm out of corners but, curiously, it’s the front end that seems to reach the limits of adhesion first while cornering. Any loss of traction is progressive, however, and the balance seems almost too confidence inspiring.

Supercar for the Playstation generation

The hardcore GT-R even panders to the PlayStation generation.

A series of displays—designed the team behind the Gran Turismo computer games, incidentally—can be accessed via the dash-mounted Sat-Nav screen and give details of everything from G-force loadings to lap times, all of which can be recorded onto an internal hard-drive and dowloaded to a computer... It’s like having an F1 team in your dash board!

Perhaps most impressive of all the GT-R’s party tricks, however, is its launch control function.

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Apply the brake and accelerator simultaneously in ‘Race’ mode and the revs rise to around 4,000rpm. Simply dump the brake to execute a perfect standing start every time, snapping back the neck of your unwitting passenger with accelerate Gs alone.

Cut-price Veyron

Even at more than £1,000,000 it’s reported that Bugatti makes a vast financial loss on every Veyron supercar it sells. The GT-R is a Veyron for everyman and with a basic price tag of £59,945 it’s hard to believe that Nissan are able to offer all that performance and engineering knowhow without a similar effect.

Though you’d never tire of its dynamic abilities, you might tire of constantly backing off, however, forced to use such a small portion of its vastly exploitable potential just to maintain your liberty.


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