The 2012 Nissan GT-R claws its way to 60 mph in three seconds, or less--and that's really the only reason we need to give it a perfect 10 on the MotorAuthority brain-explodometer.
But that's not all the GT-R delivers, because power without traction only equals a big tire bill. Nissan's supercar--yes, supercar, not wannabe--has beautifully balanced handling and dumbfounding levels of grip, courtesy of some 20-inch meathooks for tires, brainiac all-wheel drive and a computer-controlled suspension, and an automated manual transmission with awesome reflexes.
The engine's a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6. Last year's 473 horsepower were never enough, even when they delivered 60-mph runs of 3.3 seconds and top speeds of 193 mph. This year, Nissan's found another few dials to twist, and breathing exercises to perform. Net-net, the GT-R thumps out 530 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque, slingshots to 60 mph in about 3.0 seconds, all while whistling and hustling around nimbly, shuffling power front to back and side to side as it sees fit. Don't doubt it: there's nothing short of a 911 Turbo that manages its power with the same ruthless authority, and even if the Porsche sounds a bit more finessed, it's a toss-up as to which one could navigate the Nurburgring as fluidly--with you at the wheel, of course.
The GT-R doesn't quite look the part of a supercar, which probably breeds some of the nonsense that claims it's a diffident, emotionless performer. Faulting its confidence at any speed isn't the same as calling it out for its non-iconic shape, in a class of cars that are completely about visual come-ons and time-honored status. The GT-R's tomahawk rear end and circular taillamps cut a distinctive shape, but it's just not the optical hand grenade that is the Aventador, the R8, and it doesn't have the heritage to bank on, as do the Corvette and the 911. It's even less inspiring inside, the pedestrian shapes of the dash tweaked with carbon fiber trim and perforated leather upholstery.
Pulling together the GT-R's very Japanese take on performance and styling is a big LCD screen wedged into the dash. Flyover 3D mapping gets you to the track of your choice--and at the tap of a pixel, it switches gears to become a chronometer, taking down every byte of information on grip levels, acceleration and lap times. The interface was designed by Sony's Gran Turismo squad, of course.
Four real people, two large and two little, can fit inside the GT-R, to endure all the high-g, high-speed driving they can handle. That makes the $90,000 GT-R a bit more practical than anything with a Lamborghini or Ferrari badge on its hood. It's just one more way the supercars with built-in snob factor distance themselves from the GT-R, just as it distances itself from them on the track, if not through your senses.
For more on its performance, styling, and features, see TheCarConnection's full review of the 2012 Nissan GT-R.