New Car Reviews

2009 Nissan GT-R

Stream of consciousness thoughts on my out-of-body experience driving the :

My first few miles in the GT-R involved getting it out of the parking structure and leaving Ann Arbor’s frost-heaved, ruined streets. And who in God’s name put the suspension on the race setting? One of our lunatic motor gophers, to be sure. I dialed in comfort, which was barely civilized, and jumped on the freeway. HOLY every single swear word my electrified brainstem could imagine. I mean REALLY. What was I driving here?!? Some hell beast escapee from a video game.

There was no time to screw around with the race engineer’s console readout. I just jumped on the gas and started looking for cops. The paddle shifters beckoned. Buh-BANG! Buh-BANG! Oof. I couldn’t make a single smooth shift, and almost dislocated my neck, so I slipped into automatic mode. Whoa. Ungodly fast tranny in automatic, all WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM without hesitation. Why argue with such genius? I just left it there and flew along, finding frightening acceleration available from any starting speed. Going 80, stomp, and now going 120. In an eyeblink. Like that. Please don’t let there be police this once.

It was crystal clear to me on the way back to Ann Arbor the next morning that if I drove the GT-R one more day, I was going to lose my license for the foreseeable future. There is no joy in rumbling along with the cruise set at 80. The GT-R is all about downshifting and upshifting and roaring along at the fastest speed you can bring yourself to drive. You might as well. The speedometer is tucked partway under the steering wheel’s left spoke, which obscures any speed under 60 mph anyway. Whoo hoo.

I parked the stubby little thing, and thought I was through with it. But no. Saleen vice chairman (and godfather of the ) Chris Theodore had stopped in for lunch. “I have a GT-R,” I told him. So much for lunch. Off we went, aimed directly for westbound I-94. Less traffic, but way more cops because they’re always running drug interdiction in this Chicago – Detroit corridor. Please don’t let there be police this time either.

Chris immediately moved through the sequence of paddle shifts, then on to automatic, becoming a convert when he threw it in auto, stomped on the accelerator and it slammed smartly from sixth gear into second gear without hesitation. “Wow,” he said, clearly impressed. And driving waaayyyy too fast. “This auto is better than manual. It’s great. It thinks right. You floor the accelerator and it knows you need second gear.” At 80.

We grabbed a burger at the Wolverine Bar in Chelsea (try them!) and rushed back out for the screaming trip back. Chris had to dial up the built-in g-meter (boy thing) and almost broke both our necks trying, but not reaching the elusive 1-g on acceleration. Bump-thump on the freeway expansion strips can be attributed directly to the tires, but otherwise, the ride was pancake flat.

We parked it and I never took it out again. I need my driver’s license to remain in its slightly disheveled state, thank you very much. See you at the racetrack.