2009 Nissan GT-R Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Nissan GT-R If...

Anyone in the market for an ultra-high-performance coupe that bolsters its edgy appearance with blistering acceleration, stellar handling and de facto membership in a rather elite brotherhood of owners should seriously consider this brilliant Nissan newcomer.

You May Not Like The 2009 Nissan GT-R If...

Drivers who prefer a bit less involvement – physically and/or financially – might be better served by checking out the equally-new Nissan 370Z, a great and even lower-cost alternative that's still capable of keeping your adrenaline levels elevated.

What's New

Long an enthusiast icon in its home market (as the Skyline GT-R), this latest incarnation of Nissan's ultimate street stormer finally makes its U.S. debut with the power, price and performance to start a whole new chapter in what is already a formidable motoring saga.

Interior Features

The GT-R's intimate but well-finished cabin speaks the same kind of performance design language as its exterior, from user-friendly function controls, a tilt and telescoping steering column and rubber-studded aluminum pedals to well-bolstered front sport buckets that offer nine inches of fore-and-aft travel. Topping the center stack is a multifunction display that collects and stores data about your driving activities for playback and review after a hot-lapping session or a quick blast on your favorite back road. While its front quarters are surprisingly roomy, a notable dearth of head and legroom make the GT-R's rear seats best suited to hauling gym bags. However, there's a respectable 8.8 cubic feet of space in the trunk.

Exterior Features

An amalgam of angles, edges and contours that incorporates numerous cues from its five previous incarnations, the 2009 Nissan GT-R's bad-boy bodywork boasts a slippery 0.27 coefficient of drag, aided by its relatively low-key rear spoiler and a carbon fiber underbody diffuser that also houses paired pairs of chrome exhaust tips. A signature kinked C-pillar treatment, semi-fastback roofline, functional front fender vents that open onto deeply contoured door panels and prominent wheel arches that house unique, staggered-width 20-inch alloy rims mounting 225/40 Y-rated tires up front and 285/35 rubber in the rear make the new GT-R a study in fast-lane functionality.

Driving Impressions

Intensely focused, the 2009 Nissan GT-R responds near-instantaneously to any control input. Press its console-mounted red start-and-stop button and the engine rumbles purposefully to life. Push the accelerator pedal, and prepare for an instant energy rush as the turbos spool-up and speed climbs rapidly. Matching quick, well-weighted steering, driver-selectable suspension and variable-torque-split all-wheel drive with sticky, low-profile tires and big Brembo anti-lock brakes, the GT-R goes, stops and corners with the balanced confidence of a purpose-built race car – albeit one that tips the scales at a substantial 3,836-3,858 pounds. Skilled drivers will love the GT-R's "Race mode" settings that further quicken shifts, stiffen shocks and totally deactivate the stability and traction control – although making that latter choice opens the door for some potential controllability issues, particularly when approaching the limit of adhesion. Caveats? Even in "Comfort" mode, the GT-R's ride remains decidedly firm. Tire and transaxle noise also make their presence known on a fairly regular, but quite livable, basis.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2009 Nissan GT-R is around $78,000, while the GT-R Premium model opens at about $80,000. Fully loading either with the minimal roster of options will add less than $4,000 to either of those figures, although the limited availability of both GT-R models makes them clear targets of opportunity for varying levels of additional dealer markup. Even so, there's no disputing this extreme Nissan offering is one amazing performance value. We project that all decently maintained GT-Rs will fare considerably better when it comes to long-term value retention than many of their prime price rivals, such as the Corvette ZO6 and Porsche Cayman S, as well as more expensive exotics, including the BMW M6 and Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo. Based on past owner loyalty, most GT-R devotees will likely view any resale-related issues as moot.

Notable Equipment

Mechanically, the 2009 Nissan GT-R and GT-R Premium share a 480-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, sequential six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual rear transaxle, ATESSA E-TS all-wheel-drive system, Brembo anti-lock brakes and adjustable suspension and stability control settings. Inside, leather, Alcantara and brushed-aluminum trim complement a full roster of power assists, a voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM Satellite Radio audio with Music Box hard drive, dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, dual front airbags and bi-xenon HID headlamps. The Premium model upgrades the mix with an 11-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio system, heated front seats, unique vehicle information-system graphics, side-impact and side-curtain airbags and Bridgestone RE070R performance tires in place of the Dunlop SP Sport 600 performance rubber fitted to the GT-R.

Notable Options

Both the GT-R and GT-R Premium feature comprehensive equipment rosters that leave only floor mats, an integrated iPod adapter, Super Tricoat Metallic Silver paint and a Cold Weather Package (run-flat all-season tires) as their sole available extras.

Favorite Features

Twin-turbo V6 engine

A paragon of usable power, the GT-R's hand-built 480-horsepower force-fed V6 delivers smooth, quick and predictable responses that make this ultra-quick Nissan easy to live with in town but an absolute rocket when called upon to give max-effort performance.

Driver Tunable Vehicle Dynamics

The GT-R lets you select from several different and distinct ride compliance, stability control and transmission shift program settings that can transform it from a high-profile but quite livable urban-cruiser to a hard-edged corner carver that can run with the best handling cars in the world.

Under the Hood

All 2009 Nissan GT-Rs have a 3.8-liter all-aluminum twin-turbo V6 that develops an electrifying 480 horsepower at 6400 rpm and an equally riveting 430 pound-feet of peak torque from 3200-5200 revs. Set back behind the front axle, it sends this Nissan super coupe streaking to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, and on to 100 mph in about eight seconds as it heads to a top end in excess of 190. Matched to this might is a super-efficient sequential six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission that offers three driver-selectable programs and a rev-matching throttle-blip feature plus a conventional console shifter and finger-friendly paddles mounted on the steering column. While hard running will guarantee your mileage to be less, the GT-R's official EPA numbers are 16 mpg in the city and 21 mph on the highway.

3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6

480 horsepower @ 6800 rpm

430 lb-ft of torque @ 3200 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg

Editors' Notes

A performance legend in Japan – and perennial favorite of video racing gamers around the world – the all-new 2009 Nissan GT-R has finally arrived in the U.S. Priced near $80,000, the most expensive vehicle ever to wear a Nissan badge justifies its relatively lofty sticker with the appearance, attitude and, most of all, the ability to handily dispatch many costlier, more exotic foes, from the BMW M6 to the Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo. Only a Corvette ZO6 comes close to matching its price-to-performance index. Built on a unique variation of Nissan's FM (Front Mid-engine) platform architecture and fitted with a twin-turbocharged V6, dual-clutch rear-mounted transaxle and all-wheel drive, this 480-horsepower 2+2 super coupe also boasts a significant measure of exclusivity, as just 1,500 are planned to be heading to America for 2009.

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