I found this article on Edmunds.com and found the review and the remarks on the 997 Turbo interesting. You don’t usually see Porsche getting negative comments against any car. Not to mention this new “skyline” sounds pretty nice for the money.
By Bill Thomas, Contributor
Kazutoshi Mizuno, the chief vehicle engineer for the 2009 Nissan GT-R, describes his car as a “new kind of supercar, one with no competitors,” and I thought of Mizuno-san as I nailed the GT-R’s alloy throttle pedal right to the floor in 2nd gear coming onto a quiet section of derestricted autobahn near Koblenz. I’d nailed that throttle pedal right to the floor a number of times already on this day — difficult to resist — but somehow the big Nissan seemed to lunge forward with even more intensity than usual.
In my imagination, it was sniffing the long, gently curving, slightly uphill stretch of ‘bahn and contemplating the lack of legal restriction on ultimate speed. The only limit would be the power of the car to overcome resistance, and the driver’s ability to negotiate traffic. Long may the derestricted autobahn continue: in dry, crisp, sunny conditions, this magnificent car would be safe and composed at any speed.
A bellow from the GT-R’s engine, a rush of revs, a gigantic accelerative force on my neck, 2nd is gone, a flick of the right-hand leather-trimmed shift paddle, bang, 3rd gear slammed home and the mighty rush intensified still. My god, this car is fast, one of the fastest production cars ever made.
Twin-Clutch Semi-Auto Gearbox
And so’s the gearchange. Fast, that is. I could never describe the new GT-R without giving a nod to its incredible transmission right away. Mounted on a transaxle at the rear of the car for better weight balance, it’s the technical highlight here. In Normal mode, the shifts from the twin-clutch semi-auto gearbox are rapid, with each preselected gear engaging in an instant, but in R mode they’re even quicker. We’re in R now, and we’ve hit 100 mph in about 10 heartbeats.
No official performance figure exists for that increment, but expect an 8-second 0-100-mph time. It’s fast, alright. Nissan says 60 mph comes up in 3.5 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds and it goes on to 197 mph.
The GT-R’s all-new VR38 engine, a 473-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 with twin IHI turbochargers, makes a fine noise, like a deeper, more muscular 350Z V6 howl overlaid with a harsh, white-noise static blast from the turbos. It is quieter and gentler in character than the classic RB26 2.6-liter straight-6 fitted to Skyline GT-Rs of old, and will probably never be as fondly regarded as a result, but there can be no arguing with its ability to rev, and no criticism of its power delivery. It is entirely linear, with no lag.
Slam it into 4th. What a monstrous gear this is, a killing gear if ever there was one. There’s no let-up in G pressure forcing my spine rearward as the tach needle climbs to the 7,000-rpm redline. I have no idea what speed we’re doing now, probably upward of 150 mph — I daren’t take my eyes off the road. Up to 5th. Speed still piling on, the two-lane ‘bahn taking on an alarming narrowness that multiplies exponentially for every 10 mph you do over 170 mph, the barriers closing in, the view beginning to blur to an extent you’re not familiar with. A truck flits by on the inside lane, speed difference about 120 mph.
Bang into 6th. Getting hairy now. It wasn’t until we hit an indicated 190 mph that the canary yellow Porsche 911 Turbo glued to my tail flashed his lights impatiently, sick of waiting. Mizuno-san reckons such a thing doesn’t exist, but we thought we’d try to find a competitor anyway.
More on the mighty Porsche later. Let’s look at the star of the show first, Nissan’s new flagship, the brand-halo supercar designed to be sold globally and showcase Nissan’s technical skill. Brand-new purpose-built chassis, brand-new engine, brand-new transmission, brand-new body and design. The GT-R is all aggression on the outside. To my eye, it is a phenomenal-looking machine, distinct from anything else. Very Japanese and very hard. The overall stance is all wide shoulders and slashing arcs, a ground-hugging, flat-sided brute.
The aerodynamic performance of the car is astonishing. It has a drag coefficient to match that of a Prius at 0.27, so the shape is exceptionally slippery. Part of that is down to careful underbody design — a rear diffuser helps generate downforce at speed, too.
Step inside and you’re instantly reminded of older Skylines. The design is functional rather than beautiful, quite old-fashioned and not trying too hard, with a large center console angled toward the driver and a high instrument binnacle across from a large multifunction screen. It all seems superbly well screwed together, as you’d expect of a Nissan, and the quality of the materials is high. It won’t win design awards, but I really like the cockpit of this car.
Slot in behind the steering wheel and immediately you feel comfortable and relaxed — this isn’t a strange, wide, low supercar; it isn’t daunting in that way. It’s much more like a normal saloon in feel. As we’ll see, this easy-to-drive nature is a key component of the new GT-R.
Keyless entry means you only punch the red metal starter button behind the gear lever to fire up the big V6. With the engine ticking over with a deep burble, you bring the stubby lever back to A-M — it is a normal gate for an auto. Flick it to the right and you have manual, but I want to trundle out of here in automatic first.
The transmission clunks and clacks a bit, but you soon get used to it. Its low-speed maneuvering isn’t on par with the auto-clutch unit on the 430 Scuderia, being slightly jerky in the uptake, but it’s usable. On the move in auto mode, the gearbox is sublime, changing up early in the style of an Audi DSG and using the engine’s torque to the full. We burble out of Nissan’s testing facility at the Nürburgring to meet the Porsche, bound for some of the best A-roads in the area, followed by the ‘bahn.
Meet the 911 Turbo
I’m the one who brought the Porsche 911 Turbo. Good yardstick, this. As we dispatched the low countries at an easy gait, driving overnight across deserted highways, it seemed inconceivable that Nissan could design anything to get even close to this car. It is ancient. By “ancient” I don’t mean old-fashioned, other than in its strangely narrow cockpit and upright windscreen — it’s ancient in its utter solidity and feeling of being honed for decades.
The gearchange, for instance, is a masterwork in solid fluidity, without a trace of excess movement in its short action. The driving position is perfect, the large wheel placed just where you want it. And then there’s the engine out the back, that mighty 480-hp horizontally opposed six, utterly unburstable and awesome in its power, slamming the car forward with indomitable force, all four wheels clawing the road.
The 911 Turbo is still a player, vast in its all-round ability, docile when it needs to be, fast as well. But driving these two cars back to back, it’s not long before you realize that the Nissan makes it seem old-fashioned.
Meet the New Boss
Balance and body control of the GT-R are extraordinary through faster, bumpy bends that will have the 911 unsettled enough to make the driver lose confidence. I had a number of heart-in-mouth moments in the Turbo trying to keep up with the GT-R, even with the Porsche’s suspension set to its harder Sport setting. It still seems soft, and there’s a bouncy lack of balance in the way the suspension controls the body, and the way the big engine slung out the back threatens to swing round. By contrast, I never felt anything but natural solidity in the Nissan, adjustable and fluid.
Turn-in for the GT-R is beautiful, whether neutral or under brakes, and it grips forever — slippery surfaces seem to bring out the best in it. Time after time I left the Porsche behind as my four-wheel-drive system and traction control worked better out of wet corners — it wasn’t just the fact that I could get on the power earlier. It was about confidence.
The Nissan really is something special, and you get the impression that while a master driver could wring every last ounce of performance out of the 911, your mother could do the same in the GT-R, all the while making lightning-fast up and down changes in milliseconds while the Porsche driver messes with manual.
Is It Too Good?
Which begs the question: Does the Nissan’s ability reduce the driving pleasure?
Not at all. You can turn all the systems off if you so choose, and it’s still supremely well balanced, no doubt a delight for a racing driver on a track. It doesn’t feel as heavy as it is — it weighs a chunky 3,800 pounds, 170 or so more than the Porsche. But its supreme Nürburgring lap time of 7:38, a full 2 seconds faster than the Turbo (and on a partly wet track) is solely down to its completely planted feel, its awesome grip and traction, and the natural way it goes about maintaining speed through corners.
It feels high, almost on tiptoe in comparison to the 911, but that’s because it is. It’s a big car. But it’s not slow. Our ‘bahn tests proved that. From medium revs in 4th gear, with me driving the Nissan and with a passenger on board, the radio countdown allowed us to nail the throttles simultaneously with the cars side by side. The Porsche crawled forward, and I mean crawled, v-e-r-y slowly. It only highlights the supernatural performance of the GT-R.
The Best of the Best
For all-round ability, I have no doubt the Nissan is the best car I’ve ever driven. It is almost as fast as the Porsche — which means it’s almost as fast as any car on earth — and inspires more confidence through corners, yet it’s also more roomy and practical and has a proper modern gearbox. It’s a big, solid car you can rely on when the going gets tricky, that you can thrash around a track, then set the suspension to soft, the transmission to auto, the Bose audio to full bass and putter into town without a trace of angst.
Oh, I nearly forgot — price. The 911 Turbo comes in at about $100,000, which is a good value for such a stupendous car, but the GT-R will cost about $40,000 less.
Mizuno-san is right. This car has no competitors. Not at any price. But that won’t prevent one of the first GT-Rs in Europe from being bought by an anonymous man and taken to Porsche AG in Stuttgart for a thorough examination. With an even more powerful and , lighter V-Spec GT-R on the way, Porsche can’t afford to lag behind for long.
I’d be interested to here from anyone that knows about the Nissan. Does anyone agree with this article?