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What’s New: The Nissan GT-R is all-new for 2009, and marks the brand’s first attempt at selling a genuine supercar in the U.S. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine mated to a dual-clutch transmission that propels this all-wheel-drive supercar to 60 mph in a little over three seconds and a top speed of 193 mph.
What We Think: First, we can’t believe that no speeding tickers were issued over the course of nearly 2,000 miles of testing. Second, we can’t believe that the sticker price is only $70,000 or so. And third, we’re still heartbroken about having to give it back (the whole “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” deal).
Nissan GT-R – 2009 Review: It’s always fun to surprise people. Not the “Boo!” or “Look what I got you for your birthday!” kind of surprises. Rather, the “You did that? Really?” kind of surprise that showcases one of your hidden talents, and quite frankly, puts a little more air in your ego. Chances are we all experience this satisfaction at some point in our lives, whether it be when we come off the bench to score a winning touchdown in high school or we’re a quiet junior executive who submits an industry-changing idea. This phenomenon gives credit to the idea that we should expect the unexpected.
Unless you’re a true car geek, you probably didn’t expect the 2009 GT-R to come from Nissan. Sure, this Japanese brand has a long history in the States with its Z cars, it puts out SE-R versions of a few sedans, and it builds some of the sportier pickups available on the market. But a supercar? One that considered a lap around the Nurburgring to be a nice little weekend drive? Nah. Besides, if Nissan did decide to sell one here, they’d surely sell it under the Infiniti umbrella, where there’s a greater sense of luxury and requisite higher prices.
Guess again. Little ol’ Nissan, home to the 350Z as well as Versa compacts and the mid-size Altima Hybrid, has developed an all-wheel-drive, 480-horsepower, twin-turbocharged supercar which spanks Corvettes and Porsches, sprints to 60 mph in about three seconds, and pegs its speedometer at 193 mph. But this is a Nissan, after all, so it does it for the relative bargain price of about $70,000.
Finally, a word to Porsche – there actually is a substitute. Sorry.
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Models and Pricing
With one look at the 2009 Nissan GT-R, it should be fairly obvious that the car is all about performance. But aside from that, there’s a bounty of standard features, some tied to the coupe’s go-fast goals and others intent on making the everyday drive comfortable and convenient.
Starting at $69,850, the base 193-mph GT-R includes an HDD Music Box system with a 30-gigabyte hard drive including 9.3 gigs of space for audio storage, an in-dash flashcard reader, and three months of complimentary XM satellite radio and NavTraffic service. A touch-screen navigation system with voice recognition is also included, as are Bluetooth wireless capability that lets you call your lawyer before Johnny Law finally catches you, a dual-zone climate control system to cool down your freaked out passenger, push-button ignition, and alloy pedals. Finding a comfortable driving position is fairly important for a car that approaches 200 mph, so Nissan has included a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and standard Advanced Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC-R) will work to keep Nissan’s supercar on the straight and narrow. For buyers taking their new all-wheel-drive toy out for a spin in areas with cooler temperatures, the available Cold Weather Package adds all-season run-flat Dunlop tires and a 50/50 engine coolant mix.
That option is also available on the GT-R Premium, which features an additional five standard speakers, heated front seats, and front-side and side-curtain airbags. We drove the GT-R Premium (without the Cold Weather Package), and though our tester was a pre-production unit lacking a window sticker, a quick check of Nissan’s website confirmed that the base price was $71,900. Of course, that’s what you’d pay if you could find a dealer not tacking on a significant markup, or better yet, if you find a dealer who even had one to sell.
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Under the Hood
At the heart of the 2009 Nissan GT-R is a magnificent, hand-crafted powerplant that helps propel this four-passenger rocket to a top speed of 193 mph. To think that this is the same company that makes the Versa.
Under the hood is a 3.8-liter, 24-valve V-6 with direct injection that uses twin turbos to generate 480 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 430 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm. It’s connected to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission featuring three modes: Normal for everyday driving and shifts in about 0.5 seconds; Snow for optimum traction on starts; and R, which unleashes all this beast has to offer and is capable of executing a gear change in 0.2 seconds. All modes take advantage of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Dig deeper – past the aluminum hood, trunk lid, and door skins – and you’ll find 15-inch Brembo antilock disc brakes with floating ventilated rotors, electronic brake force distribution, and a double wishbone front suspension working in conjunction with a multi-link rear setup. Stiff tubular front and rear subframes prepare the GT-R for hard and fast duty, as does the Bilstein DampTronic system with its three modes: Normal/Sport for everyday use; Comfort to cushion the ride; and R, for times when performance outranks comfort by a margin of 100 to 1. Rounding out the list of GT-R hardware are a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system, Nissan/Infiniti’s ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
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