It’s all been said before. Mass media and automotive outlets have eschewed the virtues of the R35 Nissan GT-R. Every superlative has been assigned to the first supercar to arrive from the Land of the Rising Sun in quite a while. Fast. Wicked. Tenacious. Quick. Outlandish. It’s all been said before.
I’m not going to bore you with what the GT-R can do on the track. Let’s face it. Unless you’re pining for a heavy fine and points off your driving record, you’ll never discover the true potential of the GT-R. So the obvious questions beg to be answered: How good is the GT-R under “normal” driving conditions? As good as the GT-R is as a sports car, how civil is it? Well, let’s find out.
In 2008, I was one of the forunate few who got a few days behind the wheels of the first production year GT-R. Having spent some time behind the wheels of all previous generations of Nissan’s halo vehicle – the R32 GT-R, R33 GT-R, R33 GT-R V-Spec, R33 GT-R LM, R34 GT-R V-Spec – the R35 was pure joy.
The 2010 edition isn’t very different from the 2009 model, although launch control has been re-programmed by Nissan to prevent premature transmission failures. The Premium edition model we had was coated in “Super Silver” special metallic paint. Apparently, this is a special paint applied via a multi-step process that provides the ultimate in paint jobs among all color options. With the Premium edition only near-black metallic finish wheels, the car was quite the looker and attracted all sorts of attention from other drivers on the road.
Sure, attention is nice and all but the GT-R tends to attract quite a bit of “negative” as well. All means of cars, from an older M5 to a “fixed” up Honda Civic would rev their engines at stoplights and on the freeway. No thanks, folks. Frankly, the GT-R will blow the doors off your “fast” rides but that doesn’t mean we would be baited into a street race or another. Keep it on the track.
Right. More about the GT-R.
- Inside, the interior is fairly straightforward and simple; whereas the trend by many makes has been to overwhelm the driver with every button imaginable, the GT-R’s array of controls is much simpler
- The LCD screen in the center console unifies all entertainment, navigation and vehicle sensor interfaces into one, eliminating the need for multiple screens
- Speaking of vehicle sensors, the interface allows the driver to customize what he / she sees; considering the complexity and multitude of the systems involved in forward motion for the GT-R, this is a God send
- Although the navigation screen isn’t as sharp as that we found in the Hyundai Genesis sedan, it’s a great system and very easy to use
- Bluetooth pairing with a mobile phone was a snap
- The iPod interface works very well, displaying actual song information including artist, album, etc.; would you believe this isn’t the case in more expensive vehicles, like the Audi R8?
- The seats are supportive and offer plenty of adjustment; for me personally, however, I found the seating position a bit high for my 6’3″ frame; even though I was able to find a good seating position, head room left a bit to be desired
- Honestly, the rear seats are only good for stowing a briefcase or a duffel bag; we can’t see full grown adults finding it comfortable for more than a 15-minute somewhere
- The trunk, by comparison to past GT-Rs, is cavernous – the BNR32 GT-R had a decently-sized trunk but the BCNR33 and BNR34 GT-Rs really had a sorry excuse of a trunk
- It swallowed up two rolling carry on bags, 2 computer bags, a camera bag and other assorted items with ease
- We would NOT recommend putting any refrigerated or frozen grocery goods in the trunk for any extended period of time, as the gearbox and other mechanical goodies seems to generate an inordinate amount of heat that warmed the trunk to temps resembling a pizza oven… unless you wanted to warm up a pizza back there
- The GT-R is a BIG car and you can see its girth in clear detail when parked among other cars
- Visibility out the back is lacking and it would have been a nice touch if Nissan added a reverse / backup camera to make parking easier
As we stated before, the GT-R has been thoroughly vetted on the track so we won’t delve too much into its performance aspects.
- The GT-R is really easy to drive, with the steering providing very positive feedback
- Stoplight-to-stoplight drag races are disposed of with ease; even with the revised launch control system settings, the GT-R roars off the line with a level of impatience seen not more than once, maybe twice, in one’s motoring life
- Even when in the GT-R’s automatic shift mode, it still performs quite like the supercar that it is, aka SCARY QUICK and FAST!
- Frankly, unless you really want to get into some spirited driving, automatic mode seemed quite adequate for the majority of driving; for long distance highway driving, say, from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, it’s perfect
- Sure, it has “comfort” mode available on the suspension setting, it really doesn’t feel any different than when set in “normal” mode; heck, we really couldn’t notice much difference between “comfort” and “R” mode
- Ride quality, as stiff as the suspension may be, was fairly comfortable; mind you, this isn’t a Lexus LS460, but it’s not bad at all
- Speaking of suspension, the GT-R has an endless amount of grip; even when we went way too hot into a corner, we didn’t hear a single chirp from the tires
- Braking was solid, courtesy of the huge Brembo rotors and multi-piston calipers
- Perhaps it’s related to the pizza oven trunk, but the center transmission / driveshaft tunnel also generates a fair amount of heat; this necessitated the air conditioning on full blast to cool things down for occupants
- Although the GT-R is fitted with massive tires and 20″ wheels, in-cabin noise level wasn’t bad at all; conversation at normal speaking levels was fine
- At speed – and we don’t condone speeding *wink* – the GT-R sounds like a Boeing 747 from the inside; not an overpowering noise, but just a hum of the engine and transmission
- We were able to achieve 21MPG on while cruising along on the freeway; more realistically, however, we achieved 16MPG on mixed driving
Some other reviews we read have said that the GT-R is too removed, too automated… almost soul-less. We say… RUBBISH. There isn’t a single car at the GT-R’s price point that comes even close to its performance. But value isn’t why you buy this car. You buy it because it’s so unique in the way it delivers the goods. About the closest thing to the GT-R is a Porsche. No, not a Boxster nor Cayman. We’re talking about a REAL Porsche. Namely, the 911 Turbo. That’s yet another supercar that could be driven day-in, day-out yet put to the pavement insane performance. It’s no wonder that Nissan used the 911 Turbo as the benchmark when developing the GT-R. Porsche purists might be crying foul at this point, but get over it. Really.
As we discovered during our rather 4 short days with the 2010 Nissan GT-R, there is much to love about the car. Road trips? Check. Grocery shopping? Check. A day at the track? Check. Commuting to work? Check. We don’t know of many cars that can say yes to so many things. So WE say yes. Yes, we absolutely LOVE the GT-R.
P.S. — If you’re serious about getting your hands on a GT-R and modifying it to deliver even MORE stunning performance, check out our R35 GT-R Aftermarket Buyers Guide!
Nissan North America
P.O. Box 685003
Franklin TN 37068-5003