2009 Nissan GTR

I’ve driven the modern interpretation of the Nissan Skyline, and my life has not wildly changed–I’m a bit disappointed.

The GT-R is easily one of the quickest and fastest cars on the road and a true technological tour de force. The problem is that it really isn’t all that much fun to drive unless you’re seriously pushing the law (low limits), your talent (low limits, at least in my case), and the car (very high limits).

The ultra-Nissan drives a bit like a video game. For instance, the extensive computer-display options are more distracting than those in a Toyota hybrid vehicle–a dynamic line graph can show your current steering g’s, braking g’s, or acceleration g’s. Throttle input, boost pressure, and instant mpg also are available onscreen. Three toggle switches on the center stack can adjust the differential, the dampers, and the stability control on-the-fly. A robot in the footwell will shine your shoes if they’re scuffed.

The electronics do their job well, though. I drove the GT-R so that we could videotape some aggressive launches in the rain, and the all-wheel-drive monster barely spun a tire, instead grabbing maximum traction via its Bridgestone Potenzas. But the electronics seem to have robbed some of the car’s personality.

The twin-turbo V-6 pumps out more than 450 hp but somehow just sounds coarse (like the V-6 in the related Infiniti G37 coupe). A Chevy Corvette’s V-8 or a Porsche 911’s flat-six or a Honda S2000’s in-line four, to name a few, simply sound heartier and more lively.

Don’t get me wrong: I think the new GT-R–which offers ridiculously awesome performance for the money–could still be a contender for our 2009 Automobile of the Year award. But personally, if I’m going to drive an insane sports car with a relatively unremarkable engine, I’d just as soon go on a diet and get a Lotus Elise.

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