What is it?
The fastest car down an unknown road. Which sounds like the title of a concept album, but is nevertheless true. The R35 GT-R is Nissan’s finest hour, and almost makes up for the Micra. A four-seater two-door with a decent boot and four-wheel drive that’s mightily rear-biased. Bolt that to a suite of electronic cleverness that’ll boggle whatever’s left of your mind, and you’ve got a legend that reliably minces cars twice the price.
The engine is a 3.8-litre V6 (VR38DETT, if you want to get technical), punting out 550bhp and 466lb ft of torque. It’ll do over 193mph, but more than that, use the ‘R-Start’ launch control, and you can get 0–62mph acceleration times below three seconds, run after run. That’s not a car, that’s a missile. But it’s not enough for Nissan: it’s to get Nismo branding and become even faster. Like, wow.
Comments have been made that the GT-R makes speed ‘too easy’, and that there’s too much help on offer if you like driving. Absolute poppycock. You just need to learn to drive the GT-R – and when you do, it’s genuinely mega. It’s also an assault on the senses: the standard damper mode will smash your teeth out, the acceleration is fierce enough to hurt your neck and the noise it makes is part industrial vacuum cleaner and part white noise sonic weapon.
Nissan has got gloriously geeky for the latest cars as well. To account for the weight of a driver in a right-hand drive car, it now gets asymmetric suspension. Yes, settings are different left and right. That’s how special the GT-R is.
On the inside
The GT-R has traditionally let itself down here. To be fair, Nissan has tried to make it a bit more bespoke and special, but you need more than blue lighting in the rev counter to take on a Porsche or AMG Merc. Alongside these, the GT-R feels a bit like a boosted average coupe rather than something bespoke. There’s a large screen in the centre of the dash that should keep techheads happy, though: you can measure and record pretty much everything, from laptimes to lateral g, acceleration, any temperature you care to mention, yaw, pitch, boost pressure, speed, distance, the colour of your underpants. OK, so the last one was a lie, but you get the picture.
The GT-R is famously reliable, but it is a suspiciously usable car too. It has a big boot, four decent seats and feature-packed cabin. You don’t need a stripped-out racer when the GT-R exists, especially in latest ‘MY2012’ spec which get an even better Bose stereo and reversing camera. All this for just under £75k? Sounds like the performance car bargain of the decade.