Who says we don't treat our 4Seasons test cars with loving care? Our Nissan GT-R was recently treated to a hand wash by executive editor Joe DeMatio.
"Hand-washing the GT-R was very satisfying," he says, "and it allows you to notice again some of the interesting shapes at work here: the convex horizontal crease in the C-pillars, the indented round taillamps, the intricate layering of materials in the front air dam, the air vents in the hood, the way the rear wing integrates (not so well) into the trunk lid-it's hard to get your chamois in there."
Although DeMatio developed a deeper appreciation for the Nissan's styling, he also identified a hesitation when accelerating quickly away from a stop with the transmission in manual mode. Online editor Phil Floraday had a similar complaint:
"Last night I was driving down a street with a series of stop signs spaced one block apart. Each one was a hit-it-and-then-wait-a-moment-for-acceleration-to-happen situation. Okay, so the GT-R wasn't designed with stop-and-go driving as a top priority, but for this kind of money it should work well in all situations."
The GT-R's turbocharged engine and its automated manual transmission are two major elements that give the car its high-tech character. The adjustable damping is another one; unfortunately, the condition of the roads in Michigan is so bad that we're nearly always selecting the softest setting. What's annoying, though, is that we have to make the selection every time we start the car. "I can understand the car not retaining the stiffer, R settings after engine shut-down," remarked one driver, "but it seems to me that it should be able to default to the softer setting if the owner chooses. Everything else is so highly customizable."
Continuing on the subject of technology, it's a little surprising that a high-tech machine like the GT-R has fairly rudimentary headlights. We really don't mind having to switch on the headlights ourselves (there's no automatic function), but active headlights are conspicuous by their absence and would be welcome in such a fast car.
Even without them, the GT-R still fairly bristles with complex technology, so we're always happy to have a routine dealer service visit. And that's exactly what we got at 14,562 miles, when the GT-R went in for an oil and filter change.
Given the GT-R's staggering performance, and even bigger relief is when we have an encounter with law enforcement that doesn't result in hefty fines or a lost driver's license. Road test coordinator Mike Ofiara recounts one: "I was stopped at a red light on Fourth Avenue in Ann Arbor on the way to work," he says. "I'm minding my business waiting for the light to turn green when all of a sudden I hear a tap from the passenger-side window. When I look over, I see an Ann Arbor police officer standing next to the car pointing his index finger down telling me to roll down the window. I'm nervously trying to remember if I possibly rolled through the stop sign or didn't signal at the previous intersection. Once the window is down, he looks at me, takes off his sunglasses, and says, 'You got one hell of a nice car, sir.'"
2009 Nissan GT-R Premium
Base price (with dest.): $84,040
Price as tested: $87,320
Body Style: 2-door coupe
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo V-6
Displacement: 3.8 liters
Power: 485 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 434 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch transmission
Fuel economy: 16/21/18 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Steering: Speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.4
Suspension, Front: Control arms, coil spring; adaptive dampening
Suspension, Rear: Control arms, coil spring; adaptive dampening
Brakes F/R: Vented discs, ABS
Wheels: 20 x 9.5 / 20 x 10.5 in (f/r)
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza
Tire Size: 255/40ZRF20 / 285/35ZRF20 (f/r)
Headroom F/R: 38.1 / 33.5 in
Legroom F/R: 44.6 / 26.4 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 54.3 / 50.0 in
Wheelbase: 109.4 in
Track F/R: 62.6 / 63.0 in
L x W x H: 183.1 x 74.9 x 54.0 in
Cargo Capacity: 17.7 cu ft
Weight: 3829 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 53 / 47 %
Fuel Capacity: 19.5 gal
Est. Range: 350 miles
Fuel Grade: 91 octane
Front, side, curtain airbags
Push-button ignition with intelligent key
GPS/hard drive system
-Super Silver Metallic Paint $3000
-iPod interface $400
-Carpeted GT-R logo floor mats $280