2010 Nissan GT-R Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 9, 2010

The 2010 GT-R achieves the unthinkable: It outraces some of the world's top sports cars, at a fraction of their price.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Nissan GT-R to bring you firsthand driving impressions of this world-class sports car here in this Bottom Line, and to provide a full slate of information, TheCarConnection.com has also perused the range of professional reviews to bring you a wealth of information on the 2010 Nissan GT-R, all in one place.

With its tremendous twin-turbo V-6 engine, all-wheel drive, and automated manual transmission, the 2010 Nissan GT-R is a supercar in all but the price tag. To those who don't mind the modest cachet, the four-seat GT-R is a bargain Bugatti Veyron at less than one-tenth the price.

Far from a completely new idea, the GT-R descends from a long line of Japanese-market Skyline sports cars. Nissan made a smart choice in bringing this one to the United States, as it's one of the most attractive versions yet. With a more conservative, minimalist look, the GT-R's design shows a lot more restraint next to flamboyant, sensuous Italian exotics and all-business German sports cars. The flared-out, reaching front end and rakish roofline cut into the rear end with tomahawk clarity, with a prominent rear wing and abruptly abbreviated rear end, marked with quad rear circular lights. Inside, the GT-R looks quite different than other current Nissan products in the United States, with a definite cockpit feel, including center-stack controls angled toward the driver and rather narrow, heavily bolstered seats.

For 2010, the Nissan GT-R gets an additional 5 horsepower, with output from its twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 now at 485 hp. Coupled to that is a stout paddle-shifted automated manual transmission (no clutch pedal here). No doubt, the GT-R delivers dizzying acceleration, with 0-60 times of about 3.3 seconds. Up until now, the transmission hadn't been so smooth in normal driving, but Nissan has improved drivability for 2010. Braking has also been updated, with rigid brake lines and improved stability control. The GT-R's handling is brilliant, and its adjustability gives the GT-R something of a cushion on public roads—made more assuring with the variable-power-split, all-wheel-drive system. Our only complaint is that there’s a bit of detachment from its driving experience—with capabilities so awesome and an experience that's so user-friendly, it’s a bit like driving a video-game car.

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Surprisingly, you'll find two real rear seats in the 2010 GT-R, though adults won’t be happy wedged back there. Think of the GT-R as a race-worthy car adapted for the street and you'll be more positive about the interior; some of the materials used in the cabin are merely acceptable, with none of the exotic woods and swirled-aluminum finishes of the truly upper-crust sports cars. But you’ll never mistake it for an Infiniti G37. And even though the suspension has been retuned for 2010, the GT-R’s somewhat punishing ride and noisy transmission remind you constantly that you’re in charge of a machine that could throw down for track time and reach 193 mph.

The 2010 Nissan GT-R—or any of the previous model-year GT-Rs—hasn’t been crash-tested, and it almost seems a blasphemy to even contemplate the tests. Both GT-R versions now come with seat side airbags and roof-mounted curtain bags, and you can even shut off the traction and stability control for track-time fun.

Just two options and two accessories are offered on the GT-R for 2010. There's a Cold Weather Package, Special Super Silver Paint, an iPod interface, and special floor mats. Base GT-R models now get 20-inch smoke-finish RAYS forged-aluminum wheels, while the Premium model gets a "near black" metallic wheel finish and nitrogen-filled run-flats. Premium models also add heated seats and an upgraded Bose audio system with Music Box hard-drive storage.

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2010 Nissan GT-R

Styling

Not everyone might see the 2010 Nissan GT-R in the same light as other exotics, but it definitely polarizes those who love sports-car design.

Far from a completely new idea, the GT-R descends from a long line of Japanese-market Skyline sports cars. Nissan made a smart choice in bringing this one to the United States, as it's one of the best-looking versions yet. With a more conservative, minimalist look, the GT-R's design shows a lot more restraint next to flamboyant, sensuous Italian exotics and all-business German sports cars. The flared-out, reaching front end and rakish roofline cuts into the rear end with tomahawk clarity, with a prominent rear wing and abruptly abbreviated rear end, marked with quad rear circular lights.

Reviewers are more positive than not about the exterior styling of the 2010 Nissan GT-R. The shape, Popular Mechanics comments, “commands respect in a way that no swooping Italian supercar can,” with the reviewer musing that Nissan nicknames the uniquely creased back pillar the "Sword Pillar." Nissan’s designers aim to “reflect Japanese culture and avoid aping the razor-cut European exoticism of Ferrari and Lamborghini” with the car's shape, says the Los Angeles Times, also sniping that the GT-R “sure does look menacing in person…like a Kabuki mask (or Cindy McCain).” Edmunds contends the GT-R has a “polarizing exterior design.”

But there are also plenty of naysayers who don't think the GT-R comes close in styling to other exotics. Car and Driver feels “Japanese cars have never been this exotic from the factory.” Cars.com, meanwhile, contends “it's like your 350Z left middle school for the summer and reappeared after it hit puberty and then the gym.” They continue: “To the average American, this just doesn't compare to the best of the Germans and Italians, and even, I daresay, the domestics.” Edmunds concludes “the angular exterior styling isn't for everyone—but then, when a $70,000 car can get you to 60 mph faster than any Ferrari or Lamborghini currently in production, does it really matter how it looks?”

Popular Mechanics points out the GT-R is “huge” by supercar measures: “at 183.3 in. long, it’s almost a foot longer than a 911, and it’s half a foot wider than a Honda Civic, at 74.6 in.” The sheer size, they say, is “striking.”

Inside, the GT-R looks quite different than other current Nissan products in the United States, with a definite cockpit feel, including center-stack controls angled toward the driver and rather narrow, heavily bolstered seats. Edmunds calls the interior “somber but appropriately driver-centric.” Popular Mechanics is somewhat distracted by “more switches, displays, gadgets and gizmos than you could ever imagine,” while Car and Driver observes it’s “graced with the same electric, futuristic feel of the film Blade Runner that pervades all of Tokyo.”

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10

2010 Nissan GT-R

Performance

Although the 2010 Nissan GT-R might not satisfy the emotional connection demanded by some drivers, its performance is among the best in the world.

By any gauge—acceleration, top speed, braking, or handling, on the road or on the track—the GT-R's performance is stunning. For 2010, the Nissan GT-R gets an additional 5 horsepower, with output from its twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 now at 485 hp. Popular Mechanics says that the GT-R's powerplant is the “most powerful production engine Nissan has ever built.” Coupled to that is a stout paddle-shifted automated manual transmission (no clutch pedal here).

No doubt, the GT-R delivers dizzying acceleration, with 0-60 times of about 3.3 seconds. Edmunds says the GT-R "delivers true supercar performance in a user-friendly package for less coin than a base Porsche 911.”

The GT-R is capable of astonishing acceleration times. How about a cornea-peeling “3.2-second zero-to-60 mph time,” as Motor Trend records? Edmunds reports the GT-R “teleported to 60 mph in a drama-free 3.3 seconds, thanks to its launch control function [no longer offered], and turned in a blistering 11.6-second quarter-mile at nearly 121 mph.” Motor Trend attests the GT-R “ties our best runs in a Porsche 911 Turbo and a 911 GT3-R, and trails only the Ferrari Enzo (3.1 sec) and Bugatti Veyron (2.7 sec) among production test cars,” making it a “Ferrari killer” in the eyes of the L.A. Times.

The much-acclaimed launch control system that made its debut in the 2009 GT-R is now gone from the 2010. Motor Trend explains that the system burdened Nissan with warranty claims, as it " tempted too many overzealous owners to abuse it while saying, 'Hey, watch this!'"

Edmunds says that the gearbox “ranks right up there with the best in the business.” Edmunds adds, though, “as good as the GT-R's exclusive clutchless manual is, you can still shift many competing models the old-fashioned way if you want, and we wish the same were true of the GT-R.” Up until now, the transmission hadn't been so smooth in normal driving, but Nissan has improved drivability for 2010.

The GT-R's handling is brilliant, and its adjustability gives the GT-R something of a cushion on public roads—made more assuring with the variable-power-split, all-wheel-drive system. Nissan calls the all-wheel-drive system ATTESA E-TS. “Though the AWD system has a rearward torque bias, up to 50-percent of the torque can be sent through the computer controlled center differential to the front wheels. How much torque depends on speed, lateral and transverse acceleration, steering angles, tire slippage and yaw rate,” Popular Mechanics explains. "Some cars provide tail-out fun, but the GT-R is serious business and keeps the party moving, flat and composed, in the right direction," says NADAGuides.

Handling is also aided by adjustable electronics that control the shift quality, suspension firmness, and steering response in the GT-R. Three switches allow drivers to fiddle with settings: “One controls the suspension, another adjusts how quickly the transmission shifts and the last determines the intrusiveness of the VDC-R stability control,” Popular Mechanics observes. “R” mode “is the most aggressive setting possible, short of turning the stability control off,” they add. There is a “perceptible difference between the 'R' and 'Comfort' suspension settings,” they note, while Edmunds reports “as capable as the GT-R is at the racetrack, it nonetheless manages to be bearable on the street, even if no one will mistake it for a luxury coupe…although the GT-R's ride is never less than stiff, the suspension settings can be fiddled with so pavement imperfections need not be treated like land mines.” MSN Autos says the GT-R’s “steering is very direct with a level of feedback rarely found in even today’s best high-performance offerings, keeping the driver in control and informed about what the car is doing."

The same holds true for the brakes, with a solid and direct pedal connecting the driver to the massive Brembo calipers, and Cars.com feels “this car rides impossibly smoothly.” Braking has also been updated for 2010, with rigid brake lines and improved stability control.

Overall, most reviewers sound a bit awestruck when summing up the experience. “This is a nearly foolproof chassis with supernatural balance,” Car and Driver declares. “It makes any driver seem smoother and faster.” On the challenging Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, the awesomely capable “GT-R lapped the Nurburgring in 7 minutes 38 seconds with a pro driver in partially wet conditions,” Popular Mechanics points out.

The only complaint—both from TheCarConnection.com and from several other reviewers—is that there’s a bit of detachment from its driving experience; with capabilities so awesome but an experience that's so user-friendly, it’s a bit like driving a video-game car. Cars.com also feels “it’s not engaging to drive in day-to-day circumstances.” The Los Angeles Times calls it “Godzilla on Prozac” and says it’s “not all that exciting to drive.”

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2010 Nissan GT-R

Comfort & Quality

A small backseat is more than you'll find in other supercars, but the 2010 Nissan GT-R leaves something to be desired—especially when it comes to the dull interior.

Surprisingly, you'll find two real rear seats in the 2010 GT-R, though adults won’t be happy wedged back there. And although reviewers understandably get caught up in describing the driving experience much more than the interior appointments themselves, a few sources discuss the GT-R’s cabin accommodations and its fit and finish.

Edmunds notes how its “snug sport buckets and a high center console envelop the driver and front passenger.” “The seats held me in place on the track but weren't too restrictive in normal driving,” attests Cars.com. Edmunds adds, “Ingress and egress—for the front passengers, at least—is a piece of cake by exotic-car standards.” In back, “rear passengers won't complain as long as their legs aren't long enough to dangle off the seat cushions—which is to say, as long as they're under the age of 3,” Edmunds reports, while Cars.com advises “the backseat isn't for grownups, but it's a backseat, and that's not something you'll find in your average supercar.”

Overall quality of materials is ordinary by some supercar standards. Think of the GT-R as a race-worthy car adapted for the street and you'll be more positive about the interior; some of the materials used in the cabin are merely acceptable, with none of the exotic woods and swirled-aluminum finishes of the truly upper-crust sports cars.
The Los Angeles Times says “the car is built like the freakin' Yamato. I mean, it's solid,” while Cars.com points out the details that go into engineering a car with such high performance levels: “the wheels have a knurled bead to keep them from spinning in the tires.” Cars.com contends, “The materials are mostly decent quality, but no one's very keen about the carpet on the inner door panels. Maybe because it's really carpet—the same stuff that's on the floor.”

While drives of Italian exotics—or even Corvettes—include long lines about the sound of the engine, there are few comments, surprisingly, about the sound of the GT-R's mill. “I like the exhaust note under heavy acceleration, but this is no horizontally opposed engine or rumbly V-8 or V-12. Out on the town, it's pretty tame,” Cars.com observes. Car and Driver notes “excessive road noise” and “interior creaks” in their example.

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9

2010 Nissan GT-R

Safety

Plenty of safety equipment comes with the 2010 Nissan GT-R, though there aren't any crash tests to go on.

The 2010 Nissan GT-R—or any of the previous model-year GT-Rs—hasn’t been crash-tested, and it almost seems a blasphemy to even contemplate the tests. Both GT-R versions now come with seat side airbags and roof-mounted curtain bags, and you can shut off the traction and stability control for track-time fun.

“Standard safety features on the 2009 Nissan GT-R include massive Brembo brakes with antilock capability, stability control and traction control,” Edmunds reports, adding “front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on GT-R Premiums but unavailable on the base model.” Likely, this is to accommodate owners who will only use their cars on the track.

The GT-R comes with a comprehensive stability control system, and it can be shut off for track driving. However, it's unobtrusive, and there's no penalty to keep it on, reports the Los Angeles Times. “You can turn off stability control, but it's plain the car's dynamics have been developed with the system ciphering away in the background. Which is to say, the car's faster around a racetrack with stability control on.”

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9

2010 Nissan GT-R

Features

Although toys and comforts aren't the point of the 2010 Nissan GT-R, it has plenty of them.

The 2010 Nissan GT-R comes in two different versions, Base and Premium, which differ only in equipment and options. Just two options and two accessories are offered on the GT-R for 2010. There's a Cold Weather Package, Special Super Silver Paint, an iPod interface, and special floor mats. Base GT-R models now get 20-inch smoke-finish RAYS forged-aluminum wheels, while the Premium model gets a "near black" metallic wheel finish and nitrogen-filled run-flats. Premium models also add heated seats and an upgraded Bose audio system with Music Box hard-drive storage.

Overall, the GT-R offers a decent equipment list, with some creature comforts that won't make this coupe feel so edgy if you don't want it to. Edmunds points to the navigation system, "with a 30-gigabyte hard drive, 9.4 gigabytes of which can be used for audio storage."

The GT-R’s navigation and gauges deserve special notice. The GT-R’s display allows users to customize those screens, and the automaker even hired designers who worked on the Sony PlayStation's Gran Turismo game to design the interface. A “must-see feature,” according to Cars.com, the navigation screen hosts “a total of 11 screens” that “give more information than I've ever seen in a production car, starting with the mundane oil temperature and pressure, turbo boost gauge and fuel economy, and ranging up to steering angle, acceleration and braking in percent, AWD torque distribution, and lateral, acceleration and braking g-force.”

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2010 Nissan GT-R 2-Door Coupe Premium

Precision driving and complete driving control

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It is VERY fast and at any speed, it is 100% driver controlled. With the summer extreme performance Bridgestones, I was able to maintain control at speed, on a winding, snow covered road. Awesome! This car... + More »
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