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Nissan GT-R – long-term review
Can you conquer the mountains in a Nissan GT-R?
When speaking to the GT-R’s head honcho, Hiroshi Tamura, he told me that a GT-R had two distinct natures. Or, more specifically, colours. The first part of its name GT is known as the ‘blue zone’ (comfort), while R is the ‘red zone’ (performance).
His predecessor – the GT-R’s father, Mizuno – chased the red zone. Tamura has boosted the blue with better ride comfort thanks to new suspension settings, a more refined gearbox and a plusher, leatherier interior. There’s now so much more squidge, Tamura believes it’s the most blue GT-R ever.
To test this, I thought a leggy winter roadtrip was in order. So I spoke to SeaSucker, who supplied a stupidly sturdy suction cup ski rack into which I fed some skis, then filled the deeply capacious boot before lassoing a 1,500- mile loop around the Alps in Google Maps that incorporated some of the best skiing in France, Italy and Switzerland.
A near-on 600bhp supercar should not be the transport of choice when Europe was facing one of its worst weeks of weather in history. But that Beast from the East was nothing when I had the original Beast from the East on my side.
Once the paranoia of two bright orange skis jettisoning off the roof and down the motorway had subsided, I posted the GT-R into the Eurotunnel and made it to France. Now, on a cruise like this (especially when you’re driving in a snow globe), I did what no GT-R driver ever does – knocked the driver control switches down, putting the transmission in Save mode and suspension in Comfort.
Save is designed for slippery or snowy conditions, giving you gears lower down the revs, numbed throttle response and calmer boost delivery. Comfort slackens off the dampers, which have been backed off by 6.3 per cent front and 2.8 at the rear for the latest GT-R.
But it’s still thirsty. Which is expensive when it baulks at anything less than 100 octane fuel. Even with my hypermiler hat on I could never get it above 21mpg. And that figure plummeted when I started hammering around the Maurienne Valley.
The GT-R afforded me the ultimate freedom of mobility – allowing me to just follow the snow and resort hop. Even with temperatures down at -15ºC, it just cracked on and gave the same exciting and forthright driving dynamics. It would carve through the mountains sounding like an industrial hoover but moving like it’d been shot out of a snow cannon.
In Italy and Switzerland, it dumped it down. But where the locals in their 4x4s were struggling for grip, the GT-R with just a set of winters, intelligent 4WD and great balance (front-mounted V6 and a rear transaxle) ploughed on.
So, is the GT-R the ultimate winter weapon? No. It’s the ultimate weapon, full stop. Even 10 years on, it’s still as good as it was. Actually, better. And could probably go on for five more. Well, at least until everything goes electric. Which the GT-R will eventually have to succumb to, too. But until then, long live Godzilla! It’s easy to see why people get hooked.