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2009 Nissan GT-R Review

A Challenge to Six-Figure Supercars

A three-quarter front view of a silver 2009 Nissan GT-R in action at the Reno-Fernley Raceway in Nevada

In short: A super value super-sports car.

The Nissan GT-R has earned the unofficial nickname of "Godzilla," and for good reason; this Japanese coupe boasts supercar performance that competes with top-shelf Italian and German exotics. However, after cannonballing through Nevada’s barren landscape, our first impression of the GT-R was how surprisingly civilized it can be. Its low-key but pleasant interior makes road trips relatively pain-free, and an optional eleven-speaker Bose system accesses music from an onboard hard drive.

If information is king, the GT-R is royalty; everything from steering angle to lateral acceleration can be managed via the navigation screen. The cabin is quiet, even at ludicrous speeds, and its snugly supportive seats are comfortable enough for long hauls.

Views of the 2009 Nissan GT-R's engine and rear details

The V6's twin-turbochargers spool up nearly instantaneously and offer oodles of oomph, yet it takes serious hubris to unglue the GT-R's sticky Bridgestones on public roads. The six-speed sequential gearbox shifts quickly in normal mode, and in true video game style, nearly instantaneously in "R" mode. With suspension and transmission in "R" modes, the GT-R did everything we asked while attacking Reno-Fernley Raceway, aiming itself like a precision-guided projectile while reigning itself in when asked too much.

After several confidence-inspiring laps, we attacked the track with traction control completely disabled, and to our surprise, the GT-R pulled no punches; its predictability made us feel like rock star racers. Equally ennobling are the GT-R's Brembo brakes, which dished out lap after lap of fade-free stops.

Though its hushed exhaust note doesn't come close to betraying the vast reserves of horsepower under its bulged hood, a few hours of road tripping will make you appreciate the GT-R's surprising civility and unbelievable power. It's an unexpected blend of politeness and brawn, one that makes the GT-R even more of an oxymoron in a world of exotics costing up to six times as much.

A three-quarter rear view of a silver 2009 Nissan GT-R on the track at the Reno-Fernley Raceway in Nevada

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Warranty/Service: Three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty with complimentary roadside assistance and alternate transportation; three-year annual complimentary inspections.

Base Price: $69,850 /As tested: $71,900

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: mid-mounted front-engine, all-wheel drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged 24-valve DOHC V6
480 hp @ 6,800 rpm
430 ft-lbs @ 3,200-5,200 rpm
dual-clutch sequential 6-speed rear transaxle

Curb weight:
3,836 lbs
109.4 in
183.1/74.9/54.0 in
Turning circle: 36.6 ft (est.)

Brakes: all-wheel full-floating, ventilated disc with ABS and electronic brake force distribution
Suspension: independent double-wishbone on front, independent multi-link on rear

Traction: traction control, vehicle dynamic control, limited slip differential

0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 193 mph

EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 21 mpg

CO2 Emissions: 1.13 lb/mile

Safety: energy-absorbing steering column, slide away brake pedal, dual-stage supplemental front air bags, side-impact airbags, pre-tensioning and load limiting seat belts, tire pressure monitoring system

Likes: outstanding performance, long-distance comfort, groundbreaking technology

Dislikes: styling that lacks sensuality, no option for manual transmission, absence of nameplate mystique

Check out other Nissan models
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Visit the Nissan website

Text and photography: Basem Wasef

(Updated 06/12/12 NW)

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