First drive of the GTR by Nissan

    The 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 is, in Nissan's own words, a tour de force. Making 480 hp at 6,400 RPM and 430 lb.-ft. of torque between 3,200 and 5,200 RPM, the engine works double duty – pure efficiency and utter insanity. The VR38DETT is hand built by a single technician in a climate-controlled clean room after the bores are plasma-sprayed to reduce friction and increase cooling.

    The symmetrically independent intake and exhaust plumbing is shortened for efficiency and the dual IHI turbos are practically married to the exhaust ports on the head. And with a thermostatically controlled oil cooling system, complete with a scavenger pump maintaining oil pressure to the turbos, no amount of lateral Gs will keep the slippery stuff from getting where it needs to be. All that, and it still gets a ULEV rating.

    As impressive as the engine is, the transmission, chassis and all-wheel-drive system left us in awe. As you're already aware, Nissan developed its first dual-clutch gearbox for use in the GT-R, with six speeds available through either the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or automatically controlled by the computer (shifts take place in .2-seconds when in "R" mode). The engine sends power to a carbon fiber driveshaft and on to the rear-mounted gearbox, while another steel driveshaft is mounted to the right (underneath the passenger side) and can send up to 50-percent of the torque to the front wheels when the ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive computer senses a loss of grip. The system has more sensors than the FCC, with one keeping track of steering angle, another monitoring lateral and transverse acceleration, plus systems that keep tabs on speed, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate, and then dolling out power as it sees fit. Otherwise, 100-percent of the power is delivered to the rear – exactly as God intended.

    We were surprised that Nissan didn't employ a traditional torque tube to house the main drive shaft and mate the engine to the transmission. According to the Nissan crew, the motor and tranny mounts, along with the cross members, are so stiff that utilizing a torque tube would have upset the balance of the vehicle when powering out of corners.

    Power is sent to 20-inch rollers, sized 9.5-inches wide up front and 10.5-inches in the rear. Nissan tapped its long-time partner, Rays Engineering, to supply the hoops, and made it a point to include bead knurling on the inside of the wheels to prevent the tires from shifting under high cornering loads – something that was apparently a problem while testing at the Nurburgring. The nitrogen-filled, Bridgestone run-flats we used on our drive are the same tires found on the Premium model, but Dunlops are standard and Nissan will be offering Blizzaks if you decide to test out the Snow setting on the ATTESA system.

    As with the engine and transmission, the suspension is another masterpiece of modern automotive engineering. The GT-R is suspended by independent double-wishbones in the front and a multi-link rear setup, and uses a model-specific version of Bilstein's DampTronic system (similar to that used on Porsches) that provides even more information for the computer to sort out when pushing the GT-R to the limits.
    The interior, like the exterior, is form following function. The thrones are incredibly comfortable and provide some serious bolstering, although we noticed that the driver seat might be a bit wider than the passenger seat. The rear seats certainly looked nice, but the absolutely laughable rear legroom prevented us from even considering spending time out back.

    All the controls -- the paddle shifters, steering wheel-mounted switches, climate dials and in-car computer buttons -- are clearly marked and easy to read. Overall, the switchgear has a crisp feel, but you never forget that you're still in a Nissan. Some of the plastics aren't top-shelf, and the HVAC knobs lack any kind of tactility, but most of the materials were better than expected and the leather inserts on the dash, doors and center console did their best to elevate the rest of the interior.

    The Nissan GT-R maxes out the bang-for-the-buck quotient like no other vehicle, but does so in a way that will only appeal to a select group of drivers. Whereas the similarly priced Z06 is the culmination of decades of refining the traditional FR arrangement, the GT-R takes everything Nissan knows about physics and speed and condenses it into a cohesive package that changes your very perception about what's possible behind the wheel. It won't bend the space-time continuum, but it comes closer than anything before it. And like the Skyline GT-Rs of yore, it has the potential to revolutionize everything we as drivers hold dear.

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First drive of the GTR by Nissan

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