2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO And GT-R Premium: First Drive

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'Video-game-like' is how we've heard the Nissan GT-R driving experience described on many occasions.

The description is apt, especially when you're out on the track. This is a car that's so astonishingly fast—0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds for the current 545-hp version—that you can become bleary-eyed before you reach its ragged edges.

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With its deft all-wheel-drive system, racecar-like dual-clutch gearbox, and the magic of R-Mode Start (launch control)—plus a starting price tag of around $100k—the GT-R already makes some of the top supercar performance in the world look quite attainable. And at the Tokyo Motor Show this past week, Nissan upped its game, unveiling unveiled a new, Nurburgring-record-setting 2015 GT-R NISMO model that makes 600 horsepower and incorporates a long list of improvements gleaned from GT3 racing.

We’re still waiting to see how that pans out over a number of instrumented tests (an LA Auto Show presentation, Nissan teased that its 0-60 time would be a seemingly impossible two seconds), but in the meantime we were among just a few publications around the world to get the chance to drive the 2015 GT-R NISMO on the track in Japan—and sample the regular 2015 GT-R Premium model on the road.

Still bold and brash...just not as punishing

First off, the irony here we need to remind you of is that the current GT-R is far from detached and game-like when it comes to real roads. In a drive earlier this fall, on choppy pavement and a familiar, challenging route of mountain backroads, we found the GT-R to be extremely able, predictable, and responsive...but also noisy and downright punishing on some surfaces—and seemingly hopped-up on amphetamines and needing a firm hand on the tiller. It's not a car that speaks to finesse—thus, Godzilla still seems an appropriate moniker.

SEE MORE: 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO: 2013 Tokyo Motor Show Live Photos

But for 2015 Nissan's worked on that—to some pretty rewarding results. And GT-R chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura is not afraid to say that they've aimed to give the GT-R a feel that's more 'mature.' Yes, that's an unusual goal in a super-performance car, but it’s really exactly what the GT-R needed.

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