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The 2012 Nissan GT-R is a magical piece of metal, though it doesn't entirely look like one at first glance. Nothing rivals its straight-line performance even at five times the price, and brilliant handling makes its 0-60 mph times of under three seconds all the more thrilling.The brilliance begins with the GT-R's thundering twin-turbo six-cylinder engine. It's no homage to the 300ZXs in Nissan's past--it's a blistering performer with 530 horsepower and 448 pound-feet of torque, enough to slingshot the GT-R to epic speeds, and to make it quicker than a Porsche 911 Turbo or a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Awe-inspiring traction from a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and big wheels and tires produces seemingly endless amounts of grip and beautifully balanced handling, with a slightly softer ride or a launch assist available at the tap of a switch. The clunky-sounding automated-manual six-speed transmission fires off upshifts and downshifts at the click of a paddle, perfecting the GT-R's videogame feel while giving some room but no cover to critics who believe all supercars need to be rear-wheel drive, manually shifted, and powered by V-8 or V-12 engines.
The GT-R's styling doesn't exactly press its exotic-car case. Tomahawked sheetmetal cuts an interesting, not gorgeous, shape, and carbon fiber trim gives the plain interior just a dab of intrigue. It's all put together with care, though, and unlike some other supercars, the GT-R has great room for people in front, and a bit of room for small people in back, as well as a useful trunk.
Standard features include stability control with an all-the-way-off mode, and all the usual airbags. A rearview camera, offered as an accessory, addresses the GT-R's blind spots. Also on the standard-feature list: a Bose audio system that wages war with the GT-R's considerable drivetrain noise, perforated leather upholstery on power seats, and a DVD navigation system with plug-in USB connectivity.
Priced unlike few other cars of its performance range, the $90,000 GT-R has some obviously bargain-priced bits and pieces, but none of them are remotely involved with its NASA-grade performance. To feel the magic, and see why it's so incredible as a supercar, you can't just sit in it. You have to flog it, push it, and let it remind you--almost gently--that it always has more grip and more power at hand.
- Amazing handling, grip and poise
- Blink-and-you'll-miss-'em shifts
- Shattering acceleration
- Pricey, but still a bargain
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- Un-exotic styling
- Driving experience can feel digital, unengaging
- Not a real manual transmission