2009 Nissan GTR

Sam Smith
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In the four hours, forty-four minutes, and fifteen seconds that I spent with the GT-R, I feel like I learned a lot. I learned that it is entirely possible-though not necessarily smart-to make a big, hulking, two-door Nissan do 150 mph without even really thinking about it. I learned that few things are as fantastic as a differential that knows, sorts, and handles everything. I learned that Nissan's engineers have a thing for ass-out goofiness, so much so that the GT-R hangs tail even with its stability control engaged. And I learned that the single best way to make an amazing road car is to spend years of development at the world's most diabolical race track.

Still, the GT-R leaves me a little cold. For all its gizmo-laden, road-ripping might, it can't stir my feelings. I don't think I've driven a better tool for sheer over-the-road easy speed-my grandmother could drive this thing around the ring at eight tenths, and she's six feet underground-and it's an insane amount of performance for the money, but I don't find my wallet itching. A 911 Turbo bombards you with engine noise and chassis movement and emotion and history, regardless of how fast you're going; the GT-R is quicker, easier, and altogether more wicked, but it simply doesn't have much to say. If you're not punching out sonic booms, endangering life and limb left and right, the Nissan feels like an appliance. Or a Maxima with a crappy ride.

I guess, when it all comes down to it, I'm both astounded and a little disappointed. Astounded because of what the GT-R is capable of-it's a straight-line steamroller; a magic-chassis, opp-lock demon; and the single greatest four-wheeled vehicle of the year. The harder you drive it, the better it gets, the better it makes you look, and the more it wakes up. But mostly, the disappointment takes center stage. Disappointment in that I did 150 mph over a bumpy, lumpy stretch of asphalt with no drama and absolutely no entertainment, either. Disappointment in that one of the best Nurburgring tools ever built doesn't really feel or act that special. And disappointment in the fact that the latest and greatest Japanese supercar is still an emotional dead-end.

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