The 2009 Nissan GT-R
Say hello to the fastest Japanese import ever.
Developers of the video game Gran Turismo helped design the dash
Engine: Twin turbocharged, intercooled DOHC
Torque: 434 lb.-ft. at 3,200
mph: 3.5 seconds
Top speed: 190 mph (est.)
The last thing you’ll see before soiling your
pleated Dockers. Next stop,
Not-so-standard equipment, standard: a carbon-fiber
underbody aids in aerodynamics.
You don’t hear the phrase “Japanese muscle car” much. But they do exist, and with an estimated top speed of 190 mph, Nissan’s new GT-R is the most jacked-up of the bunch. It invokes a line of Godzilla-powerful cars dating back to 1969, when Nissan gifted a humble salaryman sedan with a sports car engine. The ’09 model is part track star, part video game, and all awesome. And best of all, at a starting price of around $70,000, it might just be the supercar bargain of this century.
The Power Plant
The 3.8-liter aluminum-clad V-6 is a high-tech beast, cranking out 480 horsepower and 434 foot-pounds of torque. It’s endowed with one turbocharger for each bank of cylinders—in other words, two of them—computer-controlled goodies like variable-valve timing, and cylinder bores sprayed with a space-age plasma material that greatly reduces friction. We’re sure Pops Racer would approve. Ha ha!
Nissan designers created a futuristic and functional car that still manages to pay homage to GT-Rs of the past. Those aesthetes who believe the classic Jaguar XKE is the pinnacle of automotive design may be disturbed by some of the jarring lines, but engineers wind-tunnel-tuned the body shape to reduce drag to levels barely beaten by the near-frictionless Toyota Prius. ’Course this car goes a hair quicker.
Like the tranny, the four-wheel independent suspension with electronically controlled shocks offers three modes: normal/sport for automatic damping; comfort for when the boss is on board; and R, or race mode, which dials maximum damping for high-speed cornering. Stopping power comes from 15-inch vented discs underneath wide, nitrogen-filled run-flats. You see room for a spare tire?
The GT-R’s engine is mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch manumatic. That means there’s no clutch pedal, so shifting is done by pounding the paddles on either side of the wheel. Three driver-selectable gear modes handle almost any situation: normal; snow for managing torque output to reduce wheel spin; and R, or race, which facilitates gear swaps in 0.2 seconds. Think of the time you’ll save!