Nissan GT-R (R35)

CARBARN  | Nissan GT-R (R35) | one car manufacturer that is known worldwide for his car which has an average power above the average of the other car. and often driven by national and international riders. Since the concept car was shown at the 2005 Tokyo Auto Show we've drooled over every specification sheet and photo of the new GT-R. So it felt like Christmas when a Nissan GT-R, primed for review, showed up at our San Francisco office.

The GT-R is essentially a race car made for the street. Production cars don't generally squeeze 353kW out of a V6 — even a twin turbocharged one. And, like many a Ferrari, the transmission is mounted at the rear axle. The incredibly rigid suspension merely reinforces the impression that this is a race car that's been transmogrified for the road. Its look is both impressive and brutish, a theme that carries into the cabin and the driving feel.Surprisingly though, the GT-R is in no way stripped down, except maybe for the lack of an iPod port. Nissan put all of its excellent cabin electronics in the dashboard, which includes a hard-drive-based navigation system, an impressive stereo with plenty of digital music capability, and even Bluetooth mobile phone integration. These electronics share space with an incredibly detailed performance computer. This Nissan GT-R just doesn't compromise in its car tech. 

We couldn't wait to drive the real R35 Nissan GT-R, so months ago we picked up Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which has a virtual GT-R. Unlike the in-game car, whose engine sounds hopelessly generic, the real GT-R's sound is dominated by its turbos. The 3.8-litre V6 isn't particularly loud or throaty, but when you give it some gas, the twin turbochargers whirr up like turbines. We tapped the gas while getting on a freeway, and by the time we had a chance to glance at the speedometer we were already doing 100km/h. The GT-R reaches 60 mph (96km/h) in 3.5 seconds Handling wise the GT-R is truly phenomenal. To get the GT-R out of sorts, it takes the kind of driving you can only do in a controlled environment. We threw it into one particularly good corner with some speed, and felt the grip loosen for a fraction of a second, then get taken up by the all-wheel drive. The GT-R uses a six-speed double-clutch manual transmission. There is no clutch pedal, as the dual clutches are controlled by computer. You can set it for either automatic shifting or manual, using the column-mounted paddle shifters to change gears. The car's automatic mode is designed for economy, rapidly shifting up to sixth gear even when you are only going 55km/h. In manual mode, the GT-R's shifts are visceral and solid. You can feel each one through the car as you push the left paddle for down or the right paddle for up. Step inside the cabin and you'll notice the many race car touches, like the deep front seats that embrace you. The flat, metallic spokes of the GT-R's sterring wheel handle mundane functions, like the cruise control and audio system. Our U.S.-spec GT-R was kitted with a 11 speaker Bose system, which sounded very good but it has a lot of road noise to conquer. The system didn't flinch at heavy bass and reproduced highs nicely, although the sound was slightly compressed. You can rip music to the GT-R's hard drive, which offers 9.3GB of space for music, or play MP3s from a CompactFlash card inserted in a slot in front of the shifter. There's also Bluetooth hands-free, a single CD slot plays MP3 CDs and an auxiliary input suitable for an MP3 player, but no iPod port. Satellite radio present on our review car obviously won't be making it down under. Also in doubt is the navigation system with integrated traffic reporting and text-to-speech. A feature unique to the GT-R is its fascinating and customisable performance computer. Polyphony Digital, the same company that developed Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, helped Nissan with the performance computer's design. You can access the performance computer by pushing the Function button to the left of the main LCD screen. A knob lets you scroll through the four customisable screens, marked 1 through 4, or the preset screens, marked A through G. These screens use a variety of graphs and virtual gauges for wheel turn, torque split, gas and brake pedal percentage, turbo boost, and many other performance parameters. There's also a stopwatch for timed runs.  

The GT-R might turn you into a more able driver than you might normally be but there's a downside: an extremely harsh ride. Unless you're trundling along a well-paved surface, the GT-R isn't a comfortable ride — this'll give Victorians something to crow about but Sydneysiders should keep this in mind before plonking down a deposit. The ride's harshness derives from the rigid suspension riding on low-profile tires wrapped around the 20-inch wheels; it also means a lot of general cabin noise and vibration. The car's very stiff suspension absorbs road imperfections nicely, keeping the car stuck to the pavement, but it doesn't coddle the driver at all. In corners, there is no lean and the steering is very responsive. The all-wheel drive system, which by default sends 100 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels can shift a full 50 per cent to the front when required, helps keep the car gripping in the corners and under acceleration. This all-wheel-drive system, along with traction control and suspension, uses computer-aided adjustment to keep it at optimum settings no matter the driving conditions. In hard cornering we felt a small but satisfying amount of slip that got taken up by the car's systems. There are three switches on the instrument panel that let you adjust various settings for torque, suspension, and traction control. Each can be pushed up to R (or race) mode, with accompanying red lights, but this is best saved for the track. We found city driving frustrating, as we could feel how much power we had on tap that couldn't be used. In these low-speed traffic situations, the automatic shifting felt rough, adding to the uncomfortable feeling of the suspension. There is a comfort mode for the suspension, but it doesn't smooth things over that much. As of this first take, fuel economy numbers for the Nissan GT-R haven't been published. But don't expect them to be good, considering the amount of power the engine produces. During our time with the car, we got about 16.8L/100km. One feature that would've liked, especially with the sharply angled rear window, is a rear view camera. This is one car you definitely don't want to back into a pole. 

The R35 Nissan GT-R is a technical tour de force, with evidence of brilliance throughout. Hopefully not too many of its tech goodies are chucked overboard by the time it finally goes on sale in Australia in 2009.

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