Nissan GT-R is anything but a plaything
The present evolution of the Nissan GT-R design may be based on a computer game, but it performs nothing like a plaything. The GT-R is at the top of its game on a racetrack, but this car still means business when you're cruising on the freeway. The exterior design reminds me of a Japanese comic book character. Yet while there is plenty of fun to be had driving this car, there isn't anything comical. The GT-R is quite serious about its function and performance. Moreover, there is plenty of both at your fingertips. The sleek exterior design brings form and function to the forefront. Every crease, bend and angle is purposeful. The large air intake forces air into the engine to allow it to breathe and produce 480 horsepower. The huge Brembo brakes need plenty of air for cooling and the huge side blades offer the flow needed so the GT-R can maintain its tremendous stopping manners. On the racetrack, the GT-R shines. It's right at home at high speed. The masterful manner with which the all-wheel-drive system allowed me to enter a turn at high speed and exit at an even higher speed was wondrous.To keep a limit on the weight, one of the evil detractors of high-performance automobiles, Nissan utilizes aluminum body panels. The hood, trunk roof and door skins are manufactured using lightweight materials. Magnesium also is used throughout the vehicle. The door frames, though extremely strong, are lightweight. Even the seat frames are designed to be lightweight. Support from the driver's and passenger seat is an absolute must with any high performance automobile and Nissan paid particularly close attention here. The surprise is they also are extremely comfortable. The high cushion and seatback bolsters act like large hands that hold you in place even with the high g-forces created when cornering at triple digits. Power flows to the road via all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission, which operates through an automatic clutch system. This means you do have a manual transmission at the rear axle. Gear changes can come automatically by leaving the shifter in "D", although you experience a whole lot of working coming through the system. Move it over to manual mode and the driver has full control of the shifting via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. I thoroughly enjoyed the GT-R and would not hesitate at putting one in my garage. I would however, not select the GT-R as my sole transportation because of the mere enjoyment this is on the racetrack and less so on the street drive.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.