2008 Nissan GT-R

Brian Konoske

After years of teasing us with design studies, concept cars, and announcements, Nissan finally delivered on its promises at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show: It unveiled the production version of the all-new GT-R supercoupe. All hail what looks to be the most exciting car to come out of Japan this decade.

Let's get right to the heart of the matter first. Nissan claims that the GT-R will scream to 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of at least 186 mph. The company says that, during development testing at the Nrburgring Nordschleife racetrack in Germany, the GT-R consistently turned in lap times of about eight seconds, with a best time of 7 minutes, 38 seconds, which is nearly as fast as the time posted by the famous Porsche Carrera GT supercar.

To achieve this level of performance, the GT-R is, in the grand tradition of its forebears, stuffed to its gills with the latest in technology. A twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine powered the last-generation Skyline GT-R, the R34-series that debuted in 1999. This time, Nissan opted for an all-new V-6, the VR38. Although this 3.8-liter unit lacks direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, it is quite a power plant. Its two small IHI turbochargers provide 434 lb-ft of torque between 3200 and 5200 rpm, resulting in a lower, narrower torque plateau than Porsche achieves in the 911 Turbo, the car that Nissan identifies as the performance bogey for the GT-R. Horsepower is 473, a huge bump from the R34-series car's 276 hp. The V-6's redline is 7000 rpm. All VR38 engines are built by hand by one of twelve dedicated engine assembly specialists in a special area of Nissan's plant in Yokohama, Japan.

Per GT-R tradition, the new car (which does not use the Skyline name like its predecessors) is equipped with an advanced all-wheel-drive system. To save weight and improve packaging, the twin-clutch transmission, the four-wheel-drive transfer box, and the rear differential have all been integrated at the rear of the vehicle to improve weight distribution. Both the front and the rear differential are fitted with electronically controlled limited-slip devices. The rear axle receives up to 100 percent of the engine's torque when there is no wheelspin, but up to 50 percent of the torque can be directed frontward. Torque is fed to the front differential by a carbon fiber prop shaft running from the rear transaxle, while the rear transaxle is connected to the front-mounted engine by another carbon fiber prop shaft.

The GR6 six-speed twin-clutch transmission, the only gearbox offered, is operated via steering column-mounted shift paddles and offers three shift modes: A, the fully automatic mode; M, the manual mode; and R, for race mode.

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