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Nissan GT-R MY14 (2014) CAR

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0700

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Click Thumbnails to Enlarge Statistics How much? £78,020 On sale in the UK: Now Engine: 3799cc 24v twin-turbo V6, 542bhp @ 6400rpm, 466lb ft @ 3200-5800rpm Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch, four-wheel drive Performance: 2.7sec 0-62mph, 197mph, 23.9mpg, 275g/km CO2 How heavy / made of? 1740kg/steel How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4670/1895/1370mm Need to know CAR's rating

5

Handling

5

Performance

5

Usability

4

Feelgood factor

5

Readers' rating

5

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

08 April 2014 14:00

This is the new Nissan GT-R. Okay, it’s not all-new, but each year Nissan’s obsessive team of engineers update the Porsche-slaying GT-R with a raft of updates – since European sales started in 2009, the annual changes have seen the GT-R gain 64bhp and 34lb ft, while eight-tenths has been slashed from its 0-62mph time

For once there’s no more power or torque; instead Nissan claims recalibrated suspension delivers a ‘more sophisticated ride and better road-holding’, and there’s also new brake calibration, re-tuned steering, plus better cabin materials, and revised headlamps and tail lights.

It might be unique to this particular GT-R, but our test car felt like it finally had some oil in it. The twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 in previous GT-Rs we’ve tried has always sounded hoarse, but this one is smoother and sweeter, and the differentials and other mechanical parts beneath the skin no longer chunter and clonk quite so loudly and so uncouthly.

Refinement levels had definitely been improved too, and Nissan has upgraded a few cabin materials to help justify the near-£80k price – remember GT-Rs were just £55k when sales started in 2009. Tyre roar is quite surface-dependent though, pretty deafening on the wrong road, and although they’re not rivals on price, overall the GT-R is still lagging behind the levels of luxury offered by its arch-enemy, the 911 Turbo.

The ride is better as well, so much so that you’re not instantly reaching for the toggle switch on the dashboard to switch the dampers into their Comfort setting. It’s the smaller tarmac imperfections you notice less, but with 20in run-flats (now with tougher sidewalls) and suspension stiff enough to cope with a top speed close to 200mph, the GT-R still thumps over cats’ eyes and shimmies over white lines.

Like nothing else. You sit high in fat seats, and feel like you’re right at the front of the car, rather than set back and low and part of it. The bonnet is high too, you can’t see the leading edge, and as you trundle around the GT-R feels big and heavy and unsophisticated, an antiquated mix of American muscle car, four-wheel drive rally hero, and a bit of Nissan’s own 370Z.

Bury the throttle and the GT-R feels one-dimensional too. The power is brutal, hurling the big Nissan forward while you’re slammed back in your seat. Grip levels on the fairly extreme Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT (and breathe) are high too, so to begin with you blast wide-eyed down straights, go even more wide-eyed when the hefty kerbweight suddenly becomes noticeable when you brake, and then you speed through the bends much faster than you thought this big beast from the Far East was capable of. It really does feel like a computer game.

Yet give it time and you’ll notice the information filtering back from the steering, the perfect weighting of the leather-trimmed magnesium shifters, which move firmly while the 911’s paddles flop.

The gearbox’s shifts are brutal too, not as quick or smooth as the Porsche’s, but while the German’s PDK transmission is discreet, the GT-R’s are hard-edged and emotive. Plus the engine is louder, snarls more evocatively, and does without the Porsche’s engineered-in theatrical exhaust backbeat when you lift. The Porsche feels indomitable, but you have to respect the GT-R when you push it, and so every drive in it is memorable. 

Verdict

The latest 911 Turbo is both faster and easier to drive than the GT-R (thanks to a complicated mix of rear-wheel steering, adaptive aerodynamics, adaptive engine mounts and an active anti-roll system) and the £40k gulf between the pair represents the different market places the two compete in.

The Porsche has the more prestigious badge, the silkier drivetrain, and now the ultimate dynamic edge, but the GT-R’s latest round of little tweaks have smoothed off some of its rougher edges, while the experience of driving it remains utterly unique and enticing. There’s still nothing like it.


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