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Nissan GTR - What Dreams Are Made Of

Super Street Editors
Nov 1, 2008
Photographer: Terence Fitzpatrick
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By now, you should probably know every technical detail about the nissan gt-r, a ride that has been covered by all media outlets ad nauseam. So we'll spare you most of the nuts and bolts while describing our 24-hour experience with the greatest dollar-for-dollar sports car in the world, ever.

One of my favorite shows growing up was Knight Rider. The idea of a super sports car that could talk, make decisions, and out-drive anything on the road blew my mind. Imagine my victorious feeling when the opportunity came to pilot Nissan's GT-R, another super sports car that had a brilliant computer system that could turn a joe-schmoe like me into a halfway decent driver. The instant my ass hit the driver's seat and I took hold of the leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sensation of invincibility came over me that was, in a word, thrilling. I think the only other object of desire that could top the GT-R's sense of power is a fully functional light saber from Star Wars.

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While the GT-R isn't the sexiest looking car in the world, it definitely earns its share of head turns and questions from passersby. For instance, when I paid a valet an extra ten dollars so I could self-park the car in front of a restaurant I was having dinner at, and three of my hottest female friends stepped out, the looks on all the attendants' faces read that either I was rich as hell or hung like a baby's arm holding an apple. That was worth the price of admission had I actually paid for the car because neither of which is true!

The following day, the editors here at Super Street decided to take a mini road trip to run the GT-R through its paces. Believe me when I say that a car like the GT-R was designed to carve curvy canyon roads at blinding speeds, with absolute ease. One of the biggest question marks in every automotive journalist's mind was the paddle-shifting automatic gearbox and how much it would hurt the performance and reduce the fun of driving. While this wasn't the first car I've driven at Super Street that had these paddles, it was without a doubt the best I have ever driven. Going through the turns that twist like a rollercoaster, both uphill and down, the car was in a constant state of shifting between second, third and fourth gears, with each gear change taking place instantaneously after squeezing the paddle. The best part of this setup is that the foot never leaves the gas pedal. When I got through the last turn of the canyon, hitting a long straightaway, the gears hitting fourth, fifth and sixth faster than it took me to type that sentence out, gave me one of those memories I will think back to when I'm old and laying on my deathbed. Shooting out of that last turn with nothing but straight roads ahead, I floored it...65 mph...up further into our imaginations, the world around me was nothing but a smear of gold rocks, cactuses and sky. I heard a collective "Ohhhh Shieeeet!!!" from Charles and Jonathan.

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My heart was pounding like a tribal drummer getting ready for war. My hands became damp with the tightening of grip around the steering wheel. My eyes scanned the road ahead, going back and forth at a feverish pace. I started to lose my nerve and decided to ease off the gas; thoughts of some random cop hiding behind a bush that would lock me up and impound the GT-R flashed in my mind. Not that I was going that fast (wink), but when I'm in a loaner vehicle that costs a multiple sum of my yearly salary, and I have two of my friends riding along, one who had to keep his head cocked sideways because of the low slung rear window, I err on the side of safety. Officially, I do not recommend you readers try this, because it's dangerous to speed along mountainside cliffs and also extremely illegal in all 50 states of our union. But, if given another opportunity I'd take my chances.

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I had an ear-to-ear smile when I heard we were going to be test-driving the new GT-R. Talk about a day in the office. It's days like this that I overlook the crud I have to endure, like photographing models, attending car shows and covering races. Who am I kidding; I can't believe I'm getting paid for all this. This could possibly be the best car I'll ever get to test drive, so I spent every moment enjoying it. If my closet allowed, I would have showed up to work in a crushed white linen suit, sandals and t-shirt. Yeah that's right, Miami Vice steez. Not the version with Colon Farrell, but straight OG Sonny Crockett style. Luckily for me, my closet and salary, limits me to plain tees and jeans. This wasn't going to be a white Ferrari like Sonny had, but the GT-R definitely reinstates a guy's manhood. ARGH!

Of course we showed up to work early that day, instead of rolling in just before lunch. Then we immediately dove into LA's canyons, full of twists and turns. I'm always careful when I have passengers, so I had to keep things somewhat tame. Especially when the cargo consisted of all staff editors of the bestest (yea, I said 'bestest'!) magazine ever printed in the universe. I know the benefits of paddle shifters, and unlike most, I'm open to the idea. But all the paddle shifters I've driven so far have pretty much sucked ass. Well, the GT-R finally does some justice to this shift system. Every shift was so precise and quick; I really didn't miss having a full manual transmission. And, of course, it was nice to keep both hands on the steering wheel, in mid-turn shifts. The new GT-R weighs a beastly 3800 lbs, but with a perfectly engineered weight balance, the car never felt heavy. From turns, to acceleration, to braking, it was as easy to control and maneuver as a lightweight compact car. As monstrous as the brakes are, the car didn't feel over-braked. Braking was very controlled and steady. There are very few factory cars I've enjoyed like this. I can't wait to see and drive modified ones.

After a long day of driving a true sports car beast like this one, I don't think I can continue playing with my current car. I've got to step up my game. The gentleman's agreement is off and Japan is sending new competition.

There is no doubt about it - the GT-R does everything Nissan says it can do, and oh boy, does it do everything right. Even after spending more than 12 hours sitting in one, with a quarter of that time being slouched in the rear seat with my head pressed against the rear windshield, I wanted nothing more than to spend whatever remaining hours we had with the car than to be behind the controls, cruising, speeding along and being "that asshole" who caused camera phones to be pulled out without fail at every stoplight. Unlike Chuck and T, I already had some seat time with the GT-R but like any good thing, you can never have enough. Sure, I'd blasted a handful of laps at a closed circuit in Nevada and had a world-class driver show me the GT-R's full potential. But to have it in my own hands, without any adult supervision (remember, it's me), along with the streets and highways of Southern California in my backyard to serve as my playground, to say I wanted to show it off, is an understatement.

Like its predecessors, planting yourself inside a GT-R instantaneously gives you an overwhelming sensation of vehicular courage, a god complex that strikes fear in the heart of your infidels and makes you the life of the party, that is, if you're down for sausage parties. Sorry, but if you think it's going to score you tail, then the only action you'll be getting is going to be from the GT-R fan boys. No, wait, add in all "Z" drivers, aspiring-Honda owners who think they can pick a fight with you and the douche bag Porsche a-holes who act like you're not there, but break their necks as you cruise by with ease.

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So how does it drive, you ask? Unlike and very much like how you've imagined it to be. In its lowest gear settings, the combined heavy weight and clunky chatter of the gearbox make the chassis stutter slightly but maybe that's because every journalist who's had the car beforeus took this car to outer space and back. However, as you inch your way up the RPM band, you instantaneously forget because you are quickly thrust past earth's atmosphere inseconds as you punch the gas pedal and your evil grin widens to a huge smile. And that's pretty much where "just like how you've imagined it" comes into play. Fast beyond belief, handling so precise and controlled that you've forgotten how less of a driver you were just seconds before; now, you are legend. That's how good the GT-R is.

After two days of work with a GT-R, I gave myself a few more hours to play with it. No thrilling sprints on a closed-circuit, not even a time slip to tape on my desk at home. Just me and the GT-R, running the freeways of LA, windows down, breeze in my face and 480 hp at the tips of my fingers. I even took the long way to work the next morning to delay my departure with the car. I can't believe I stopped to sleep.

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