The Nissan GT-R is probably one of the most misunderstood performance cars on today’s market. It’s engineered to run with Ferraris, it’s priced like a Porsche 911, and it wears the same badge as the Versa, which is currently the least expensive car available in the U.S.
That blend of qualities leaves the GT-R with a unique reputation: shopping for one is like shopping at the outlet mall of supercars.
…it’s a supercar bargain, and we dig the idea of owning two of these for the price of one Ferrari.
Then, the GT-R was let loose on the track, and as quickly as it went from 0-60 in under four seconds, it earned the name “Godzilla” for its immense power and insane handling. Nissan had successfully created a monster.
Since then, it’s only gained horsepower, fine-tuned its agility, and quickened its race times. For 2014, the GT-R gains two much-awaited additions: a more luxurious interior to address past shortcomings, and a purposeful Track trim with go-fast goodies for weekend race days.
While the GT-R received an exterior makeover and the under-the-hood upgrade for the 2013 model year, style and power have never been issues for this car. Instead, the resounding complaint has always been about its interior refinement. Since 2009, the car has felt nicer than your standard Altima or 370Z, but the materials weren’t even on par with its upscale Infiniti cousins. And, the GT-R looked and felt downright cheap next to other cars in its price range, with exception perhaps to the Corvette.
To address these shortcomings, Nissan has improved a few of the interior surfaces, as well as included a “Premium Interior Package” option to enhance the base car. That package takes the entry price on the GT-R from $99,590 up to $103,590, but we think it’s worth the extra coin.
The standard black leather and faux-suede seats are exchanged for sanguine semi-Aniline leather, which also trims the door panels, armrests, shift knob, console and steering wheel. Even though it may not fool you into believing that you’re sitting in an exotic, it’s a welcome enhancement that makes the car feel a little more deserving of its window sticker.
In response to so many current GT-R owners taking their cars to the track, the 2014 model also comes with an all-new “Track” trim. The GT-R Track car drops its rear seats to save weight, adds race-tuned Bilstein shocks to stiffen the suspension and changes some of the front aero work to help cool the brakes. The interior also swaps the standard seats for leather/cloth buckets to keep you from sliding as much while cornering around the track.
Either by black magic or a feat of engineering brilliance, the GT-R is a technical masterpiece. It’s powered by a hand-built 3.8-liter V6, which is connected to Nissan’s ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. What does that mean? If you’ve ever heard someone say, “rubbing two nickels together to make a quarter,” the GT-R is what that person was talking about.
Either by black magic or a feat of engineering brilliance, the GT-R is a technical masterpiece.
While most modern six-cylinder engines produce 300-350 horsepower, this one pushes out 545 ponies. That power is sent to an all-wheel drive system that doesn’t have just one drive shaft, but two. From a standstill, the GT-R launches with a 98-percent rear-wheel drive bias, and the second drive shaft sends the remaining power to the front wheels. However, in the corners or on slick surfaces, the car can split its power bias up to an even 50/50 distribution, depending on which tires need the most traction.
What you get here is car that lunges from 0-60 in only 2.7 seconds, flies around turns at rollercoaster speeds, and never even so much as chirps a tire. Plus, it does so with decent fuel economy: 16-mpg in the city and 23-mpg on the highway.
The GT-R is also programmed with more software than a space shuttle, making it nearly impossible to damage the car due to inexperience. The center console allows you to program custom gauges that will tell you pretty much anything you could want to know about the car: oil and transmission temperatures, engine speeds, launch times, g-forces, air intake, boost pressures, and a lot more.
Behind the Wheel
It’s hard to argue with the GT-R’s daily driving comfort. The car is longer and wider than the photos suggest–the wheelbase is one-tenth of an inch longer than the Maxima’s, and it’s half-an-inch wider than the Murano. Its front seats are big, plush and cozy, and while the rear seats are only useful for groceries or small children, hey, at least you get a back seat. Plus, there’s a usable trunk that can fit a full weekend’s worth of luggage for two.
Since the GT-R only comes with a dual-clutch automatic, it doesn’t take much skill to drive it around in its relaxed settings. Without toggling the “R” switches, the car is smooth on the highway and easy to navigate around parking lots. If there’s a downside here, it’s that the transmission isn’t quite as refined as some of the more modern dual-clutch systems out there, and it can feel a little jerky in stop-and-go traffic. Plus, while the interior is vastly improved over past models, it’s still not quite up to snuff with a similarly priced Porsche 911 or Audi R8.
Moving the suspension, traction and transmission switches to the “R” setting clearly changes the personality of the car. Faster shifts encourage you to keep your foot in the gas, and doing so will keep your head pinned against the seat.
Then, the GT-R was let loose on the track, and as quickly as it went from 0-60 in under four seconds, it earned the name “Godzilla”…
Turbo-lag is noticeable for a split second, but only just so. Remember, it only takes 2.7 seconds to get to 60 miles per hour. You just spent more time reading that sentence. It’s hard to say how quick the GT-R feels by comparison to other cars out there, but we know this: it’s one of the fastest production cars on the planet, and it has no problem keeping up with machines like the McLaren 12C and Ferrari 458 Italia. It does so a little more quietly, though. While this Nissan might have four oversized exhaust pipes, they’re designed to be functional to help the car breath, rather than make all the fun noises you’d expect from a supercar.
We didn’t get the opportunity to take the GT-R to the track, so we haven’t yet had the chance to experience its limits. Maybe we never would, considering that its thresholds are probably greater than 99 percent of people’s driving abilities.
However, we did have the chance to toss it around a few cloverleaf interstate entrances, as well as through the sweeping turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway. These are the places where the car really shines, where it can power through long, gradual turns.
It’s capable of making these moves at license-suspending speeds without a single slip of the tires, and the best part is that it feels you always feel like you could’ve pushed it a little harder. You can add reaching the GT-R’s top speed of 196 miles per hour to your bucket list.
The 2014 Nissan GT-R is one of the fastest cars on the planet, and virtually every other car with similar performance costs at least twice the money.
In that regard, it’s a supercar bargain, and we dig the idea of owning two of these for the price of one Ferrari. It may not be as stylish, and it definitely doesn’t have the brand cachet that you’d earn with an Italian car or even an Audi R8, but we still think you’ll find valets parking this one in the rock star spot anyway. They know what it is.
Whether you’re looking for an overpowered daily driver, a weekend track toy, or your very first foray into supercar ownership, choosing the GT-R will put a little piece of software and mechanical bliss in your garage.
- Complex but fascinating all-wheel drive system that creates super glue traction
- Daily driver ease, comfort and utility
- Faster than most cars that cost twice as much
- Brand cachet fitting for its bargain price
- Doesn’t look like the rest of the supercars out there
- Giant exhaust pipes, but where’s the noise?