Nissan GT-R Clinches Motor Trend 2009 Car of the Year

November 18, 2008
Continuing its penchant for pithy one-liners, Motor Trend doles out a parade of them while gushing over its winner of the 2009 Car of the Year contest, the 2009 Nissan GT-R. Here's a brief sampling from Angus MacKenzie, editor-in-chief: "no 2009 contender crushes our criteria like the GT-R...the Nissan GT-R rewrites the rule-book for high-performance vehicles...rivals the world's best-known supercars, at a fraction of the price...the GT-R sets benchmarks every automaker in the world will be studying." Thankfully the winning vehicle is actually deserving of the award, unlike dubious picks such as the GMC Envoy, SUV of the Year winner for 2002. In our review, we gave that SUV 6.8 out of a possible 10 points.

The GT-R, indeed, has the stats to back up its win, with a base price significantly below the vehicles with which it competes (and in many cases, beats). The heart of the GT-R is its twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6, which is hand-assembled in a clean, climate-controlled environment. Transmitting the power to all four wheels is a rear-mounted, six-speed dual-clutch automated manual, the latest and greatest in high-performance transmission technology.

The GT-R is reportedly capable of a 0-60 mph run in a swift 3.3 seconds, and climbs to a top speed of over 190 mph. Its 480 hp and 430 pound-feet of twist ensure fleet performance, and a relatively small displacement allows still-sane mpg ratings of 16/21 mpg by the EPA's yardstick. To be sure, the GT-R is no lightweight, ringing in at over 3,800 pounds, according to Wikipedia. If weight is the enemy of performance according to Colin Chapman, then the GT-R could stand to go on a diet. With competitors like Chevy's Corvette Z06 tipping the scales at a comparatively svelte 3,180 pounds (courtesy of an all-aluminum chassis), one has to wonder if the laundry list of technology and hardware in the GT-R ends up being worth its weight. For track day glory, no doubt, the GT-R claws its way to supremacy. But what kind of beast would it be to live with day-to-day?

Motor Trend continues to use whimsical language in describing some of the remaining competitors ("hero cars," they claim) for COTY: BMW 1 Series ("tight"), Pontiac G8 ("suave"), Audi A4 ("coolly restrained"), Honda Fit ("cheeky"), and Lincoln MKS ("glitzy"). As long as the machinery really is deserving, we'll go along with the high-octane epithets. For sure, there are some remarkably deserving automobiles on the market for 2009, no doubt driven in part by a challenging market and rapidly changing consumer tastes.--Colin Mathews
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