Performance is where there's absolutely no doubt as to why the 2013 Nissan GT-R earns a spot among some of the world's top supercars and exotics. On that stage, it's a relative bargain--a budget Bugatti Veyron, offering much of the performance but without all the leather and aluminum and at about a tenth of the price.This is a car that no one can begin to max out on public roads, so that part of it will need to be saved for track days. There, it's a stupendous performer, turning in record-setting lap times at some of the world's most challenging race tracks. Advanced all-wheel drive and massive, meaty treads do shear off some of the unpredictable driving "joy" you'd find in some cars, and while they're assets there, it's difficult to find its character at times.
Otherwise, you could argue that the GT-R is about raw power, and it gets even more of that for 2013. It's become something of a yearly rite for the GT-R to get a power boost, and it does again this year. The 2013 GT-R, through improved intake efficiency and reduced airflow resistance, gets another 15 horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque--for a total of 545 hp and 463 lb-ft.
On the street, the all-wheel drive is more of an asset; it shunts the massive torque output of the engine solidly to the tarmac, while a burly six-speed, automated-manual transmission smacks through the gears. 0-60 times have dropped to 3.0 seconds or less, with top speed drifting higher to just under 200 mph. It's a feat of physics, for sure, but with such sure-footedness, it doesn't waste any time on the way there. Nissan claims to have improved the shift feel and transmission quietness for 2013 due to some strengthening measures and a high-performance differential oil.
The other secret weapon for leaping away from the starting gate so quickly is Launch Control; it can be dialed in by flipping and tapping the GT-R's traction control and sport-mode buttons, by braking and by goosing the throttle. And it's like an amusement-park ride, or a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, like parachuting on a horizontal surface, with the beefy four-wheel disc brakes to haul you back to reality.
Provided you're not pushing the GT-R's boundaries--and barring insanity, you wouldn't dare on the road, the GT-R is a brilliant handler. Along with all-wheel drive, the GT-R also has adjustable suspension settings to relieve its stiff ride when you're just tooling around for admiration. In "R" mode, all those reflexes are sharpened, and it's staggering to wind the GT-R into long sweepers at triple-digit speeds and feel almost complacent as it just hangs on, drama-free.
If you can't quite obtain a GT-R, it's easy to be a hater. Just focus in on the non-exotic engine noises, its surprisingly ordinary interior, and the automatic transmission. We're converts from the driver's seat, but from a bleacher seat it won't hitting everyone's performance sweet spot.