The 2013 Nissan GT-R at Palm Beach International RacewayEnlarge Photo
After successfully proving ourselves on the autocross track, we were allowed to lap Palm Beach International Raceway’s road course, once we were shown the racing line by Skip Barber instructors.
Nissan required us to leave the suspension, VDC and transmission settings in the center, “Normal” mode, which was prudent given the car’s capabilities and the mixed driving resumes of the journalists in attendance. It also (wisely) put a slalom course in the middle of the track’s back straight, limiting top speed to around 130 mph.
Again, the 2013 car clearly pulled harder under acceleration and seemed to have noticeably higher limits in the corners. The GT-R has the ability to make any driver feel like a hero, as it gently reins you in before you get seriously bent out of shape.
Detractors will say that the car is “too good,” and that it won’t make you a better driver since it corrects for many of your mistakes behind the wheel. Some decry its lack of a manual transmission, but we think that’s a good thing since replacing the GT-R’s dual-clutch, six-speed automatic with a manual would only slow the car down.
Is it perfect? No, it's not. For the money, the car lacks a bit of refinement, especially compared to European rivals (which, in fairness, cost quite a bit more for similar performance). If you're looking for Audi-like-levels of interior materials, fit and finish, you'll likely be disappointed. Instead of wasting money on making the interior club-room comfortable, Nissan spent its budget on making the car astonishingly fast.
The 2013 Nissan GT-R. Image: NissanEnlarge Photo
If you're looking for a quiet GT car to soak up long highway miles, the GT-R won't be to your liking, either. It's not excessively noisy inside, it's just not grand-tourer quiet, but that's not the car's primary mission. On the other hand, if you want the best bang for your performance buck, we'd be hard pressed to pick a better choice than the Nissan GT-R.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the facts: the GT-R may be the highest-performance vehicle on the planet that’s (relatively) accessible to the common man. For the price of a used Italian exotic, the GT-R offers superior performance with better day-to-day livability, and Nissan is intent on continuously improving the breed.
Still not convinced? Do whatever it takes to get behind the wheel of one, preferably in a track environment, and you’ll be a believer, too.
Standard disclaimer: Nissan gave us the opportunity to drive the GT-R on its dime, including track time, tires, gas and brakes, and presented us with the required safety equipment to do so.