The stars must have aligned for us when we started putting this ‘Road Heroes’ Issue together. With this totally wild lineup, the cherry on top of the high-horsepower cake has to be the Nissan GT-R. It’s the last car we got to drive before putting this issue to bed, and it really gives us a totally different idea of what supercars are all about.
Priced at a cool P7.3 million, the GT-R undercuts Italian and German supercars by a few million bucks. In fact, you can score a GT-R for less than half the asking price of a Ferrari or Lamborghini, but still get the same kind of mind-blowing performance. The best part is that you can walk into select Nissan dealerships and drive one home. With the demand for the car on the rise, however, there’s a bit of a waiting list.
This is my first experience holding the steering wheel of the GT-R, but I'm well aware of the badge’s storied past. A visit to the Zama Nissan Heritage Garage a few years back even brought me up close and personal with the very droolworthy early ‘Hakosukas.’ The drift scene here also has its share of gray-market Skylines that compete and do really well. Plus, we know of the success of the GT-R badge in Japanese and Australian touring-car race series.
Before the test drive, there were a lot of preconceived notions. Fans call this car the most awesome thing since sliced bread, while its critics say it’s a heavy machine with a host of electronic nannies that isolate the pilot from a real driving experience. Well, when the time came to find out what the real deal was, let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s a very sophisticated car, that’s for sure, with a slew of buttons to press and various display settings to choose from. Because I only had the GT-R for one night, I couldn’t play with everything. So, instead of giving you a rundown of all the features like a brochure would, let me just tell you what it’s like with all the toggle switches for the suspension, transmission, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) set to ‘R-Mode.’ In this guise, the transmission shifts at its quickest; the suspension is at its stiffest; and VDC is primed for enthusiastic driving. I kept R-Mode on the whole time.
For those who say that the GT-R disconnects you from the road, this is not true at all. The robustness of the chassis and the reaction of the dampers offer a genuine sports-car feel. In other words, this car is raw, and returns the kind of feedback expected from a vehicle that was built to go fast. On rutted surfaces you will feel every pebble—which is a good thing, because when the road opens up and smoothens out, the bond between driver and road is fantastic. The steering, too, offers great feel and steers with a very quick ratio. It can get quite addicting.
We love the rawness of it. The whirring of the auxiliary fans and the metallic clunking of the differentials (normal in any performance car with a limited-slip) remind you that you are in a focused and serious driving instrument.
The stats can be intimidating. Zero to 100kph in 2.9sec, right up there with the best of the best exotics. The engine, each hand-built by one person, offers 565hp that peaks at 6,800rpm, and 637Nm from 3,300rpm to 5,800rpm. There’s a turbo that hangs from each bank, except the exhaust manifold and the turbo form a single unit. This ensures that intake and exhaust-gas flow is optimized, and that there is no turbo lag throughout the rev range.
Lightning-quick shifts from the six-speed dual-clutch transmission happen in 0.15sec—the blink of an eye. It’s a joy shifting down and holding the gears, but for the mad sprint to illegal speeds, just put the transmission in Drive. It’s faster that way. Keeping things on the ground is a very sophisticated AWD system, with a transaxle/transfer case mounted in the rear. You also get forged aluminum wheels in 20in made by Rays Engineering, high-performance Dunlop run-flat tires, Brembo brakes, Bilstein adjustable shock absorbers, a hand-built titanium exhaust, and bracing made of carbon-aluminum die-cast steel. The interior is as luxurious as it comes, too.
This is a technologically advanced track-bred machine that not only turns heads, but also delivers the goods at the fraction of an exotic supercar’s price. If only I had more than one night with the GT-R. Maybe next time.
SPECS: NISSAN GT-R
Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbopetrol V6
Power: 565hp @ 6,800rpm
Torque: 637Nm @ 3,300-5,800rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch