Review: 2009 Nissan GT-R
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2015.
By Perry Stern of MSN Autos
The Nissan GT-R has been the dream car of many American enthusiasts since it was introduced in the Gran Turismo series of video games. A favorite among armchair racers, the digital GT-R was a cinch to drive, with impressive all-wheel-drive handling and plenty of power. Many longed to bring this video-game car to life, and now Nissan has done just that.
Much like the virtual machine, the new Nissan GT-R seems to defy the laws of physics. According to its stats, this is one of the fastest, best handling street-legal cars available. Based on our first drive in the new GT-R, we can tell you those stats don’t lie.
Exotic Performance, Common Looks
We didn’t try to prove the top speed stat, but the acceleration figures seem about right to us. With the transmission in automatic mode you just floor the accelerator. The GT-R takes off like a shot without any wheelspin. A multifunction screen provides a number of telemetry figures. According to the readout, the GT-R pulled 1.3 Gs on the track. Without question, this car is the real deal.
From a styling standpoint, the new-to-our shores GT-R is considerably understated. We barely noticed one of our colleagues in a dark gray version, since the GT-R tends to blend in with other traffic. We drew few stares from other drivers, although those who knew what it was were impressed. Cars with similar performance such as the Porsche 911 Turbo or a Dodge Viper will attract considerably more attention.
It may not have lines like an Italian exotic, but almost everything about the GT-R’s design is functional. Vents in the hood provide cooling, while the “aero blades” around the front fenders help with air flow. A rear spoiler and under-body diffuser help give the GT-R a low .27 coefficient of drag while at the same time providing downforce at all four corners.
Also rather un-exotic about the GT-R is its sound — or lack thereof. At idle there’s hardly any noise at all, and even full-throttle inside the car is a non-event from an acoustic standpoint. There may be some buyers who wish to stand out more, but there are obvious advantages to not drawing a lot of attention in a car this fast.
The best part of the GT-R story: It’s comfortable and usable enough to drive every day. The suspension can be adjusted to smooth bumps in the road, the seats are supportive, and while a louder exhaust would be nice, the quiet interior is welcome for long road trips. The trunk is quite deep, and capable of handling the requisite two golf bags. The rear seat actually has decent legroom, but at 5’8” my chin was in my chest to keep my head from hitting the rear window.
There are three driver-selectable transmission modes, with R-Mode providing the fastest shifts — just 0.2 seconds. We left the gearbox in automatic mode for most of our drive, and downshifts and upshifts seemed to occur at just the right time. Unlike some other automatically shifting manual transmissions on the market, the GT-R’s gearbox is incredibly smooth, and even at full throttle shifts are barely noticed.
With triple-digit speeds mere seconds away, suitable brakes become a high priority. The GT-R gets its stopping power from Brembo, with mono-block calipers (six-piston up front and four-piston rears) gripping cross-drilled 15-inch rotors. After several hours at the track, braking was as consistent as when we started the day.
Bang for Your Buck
One of the few downsides to the GT-R is availability: Only 1,500 are expected to come stateside each year, so most GT-R fans will have to continue to experience this impressive machine via their game consoles.
Perry Stern's automotive career began 17 years ago as an advisor at a vehicle consulting firm. One of the original staff members of CarPoint, Microsoft's automotive Web site that launched in 1995, he became editor of the site in 2002, which is now known as MSN Autos. Stern has also contributed to MSNBC and various MSN properties in Canada, Japan and Europe.
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