You'd have to spend a lot more than the Nissan GT-R's $100,000 base price to sling yourself to 60 mph any faster on four wheels. The next step up? The Bugatti Veyron, at a cool million-point-plus, if you even qualify for consideration.
There's no doubt the GT-R qualifies as one of the more insane performance bargains of modern humanity. So how does it get there? By letting a pair of turbochargers rampage all over a 3.8-liter V-6. Rising in cadence with its advancing years, the formerly 480-horsepower GT-R is up to a solid 545 hp now, with 463 pound-feet of torque, tweaked last year with quicker fuel injectors for better midrange response and a new oil-pan design so it won't starve while hanging semi-permanently at the zenith of its grip.
All-wheel drive and a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission are the only way to restrain that kind of power and transmit it with any effectiveness to the pavement. The transmission and related bits live in the rear end to give it even better weight balance than its rear-biased setup, and Nissan worked on shifter feel and refinement last year to quiet it down--early GT-Rs generated as much driveline clatter as they did tire detritus. Constant improvement hasn't held it back at all--it's vaulted it forward even more nauseatingly quickly. The GT-R will accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds, and top speed has drifted up into the 200-mph zone.
It doesn't waste any time in getting there either. With Launch Control, the GT-R can rip off consistent accel runs with a simple tap and flip of the traction control and sport-mode buttons, and by braking and by goosing the throttle. It's truly a once-in-a-lifetime thrill to execute one of those runs--like parachuting horizontally. It's so fast it can be unsafe to exercise fully on public roads--you'll want to save it for the track, where it's set records at some of the world's most challenging circuits.
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 road car. The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system can vary torque split from 0:100 to 50:50 depending on speed, lateral acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate. The GT-R also has adjustable suspension, transmission, and stability-control settings to relieve its stiff ride and neural responses 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, ready for you to throw on its Brembo six-piston front, four-piston rear brakes.
For the ultimate rendition of its Formula formula, the GT-R Track Edition is the way to spend more than $115,000. Its handling is tweaked to improve high-speed handling, with relocated front suspension bushings and a new stabilizer bar, plus new adjustable dampers and higher spring rates.With all its NASA-grade hardware, the GT-R still can leave some drivers cold. We're at a loss to explain why, but its all-wheel drive and massive, meaty Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT treads can shave off some of the unpredictability that gives life to other supercars. They're undeniably the GT-R's defining traits, but they do make it more difficult to suss out its character.