Stick Shift: 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition

By: Brandon Randall 

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A car  synonymous with speed, the very whispering of ‘GT-R’ reverberates turbo-charged ecstasy through the minds of car fanatics everywhere. For those with a love of four-wheeled machinery, this Japanese-beast is a thing of bedroom posters, highway mirages and 6-speed twin clutch wet-dreams.

Though the look of the 2014 model isn’t breaking through glass ceilings, the performance of the GT-R lives up to its nickname ‘Godzilla’. Trailing behind this newest achievement by Nissan is a long road of racing heritage and waving checkered flags. Between 1969 and 1974, and again between 1989 and 2002, Nissan produced the Skyline GT-R, which was a high performance version of their Skyline sedan.

This car achieved tremendous success on the road and race track and became an iconic part of Nissans line-up. With all wheel drive and a turbo charged engine, the GT-R quickly became a force to be reckoned with on and off the track.

It was extremely tuner friendly and with just a few bolt-on upgrades could make immense power.Growing in refinement and performance prowess, the GT-R matured from the R32 model to the R33 and R34, with the very capable twin turbo in-line 6 cylinder engine that could be massaged to produce over 1000hp and still maintain a level of reliability and practical daily use.

Every tune and conceivable upgrade that could be conjured up for the GT-R was developed and tried out. It gathered wins in Japans Super GT race series, SCCA, even the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. It appeared in thousands of car magazines around the world and collected awards and recognitions by shows and publications like Top Gear, Popular Mechanics, Motor Trend and many more. It was only in 2008, to the excitement of thousands of car nuts, that the Nissan GT-R finally hit U.S. shores.

Engine/Transmission

The new GT-R replaced the old in-line six cylinder for a more compact and efficient V6 configuration, coded VR38DETT. It’s still twin turbocharged and makes plenty of power. The 3.8L produces 545 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. All that muscle is managed with a dual-clutch, paddle-shift 6-speed transmission that’s as fast and eager as the engine. Some might bemoan the lack of a manual gearbox as an option, but the dual-clutch delivers precise gear changes at an impossibly fast rate.

The best feature of this car is its acceleration! It’s the first thing mentioned in any review or ride along. It’s violently fast and has a launch control feature that will let you launch the car like a rocket from 4000 rpm’s. The GT-R is so fast that it claimed a Guinness world record for fastest 0-60 acceleration by a four-seater production car. This boosted V6 is a perfect pairing with the all-wheel drive and very capable transmission. Traction is always there. Power is never wasted senselessly spinning the tires and the speed is always visceral and surprising.

Exterior

Nissan chief creative officer, Shirō Nakamura, once compared the new GT-R to the giant robots in the Gundam series. The design of the GT-R successfully reflects Japanese culture instead of just mimicking another European supercar. Design cues like the famous four round tail-lights tie the new GT-R to its predecessors, while the rest of the cars exterior sets it apart. Nissan used a beautiful dry carbon-fiber front and rear spoiler, along with generous amounts of aluminum in the body panels to help keep the weight down. Also helpful in this department are the attractive 20” black forged aluminum wheels by Rays. Overall, the GT-R’s styling is aggressive, muscled and put together like the prize fighting competitor it is.

Interior

The inside of the GT-R may not be as polished as other much pricier supercars, but with the cost savings and a car that can out-perform vehicles three times as expensive, you won’t spend much time thinking about it. The interior is still wrapped in padded black leather and carbon fiber panels that add an attractive contrast and race-car look. The steering wheel was a little clunky and the blue trimmed high grip seats looked cheap and out of place in the otherwise ‘all-business’ cabin, but besides that the interior was clean and attractive.

A vivid 7” color display provided the usual navigation and media information, but also a plethora of engine and transmission data. In attractive graphs and digital gauges, at any given moment the GT-R could tell you engine and transmission oil pressures, temperatures, boost figures, the efficiency of separate gears, engine temperature, tire pressures, average MPG, which for me was around 19 combined. Lateral G’s during hard cornering from -1.0 to 1.0 and G forces during acceleration and hard braking as well. This might not matter much in the mundane day to day driving, but is very useful at the track to keep things from overheating or blowing up.

Comfort

Even with the suspension and chassis settings to ‘Comfort,’ the GT-R isn’t a car built for easy, comfortable drives around town. The high performance run-flat tires, stiff spring rates and aggressive ride height ensure your spine will feel every bump and road imperfection. The seats, while adjustable, are built to keep your butt planted while racing around corners at the local track. There isn’t much cushion. My husband and I decided to make the drive from Phoenix to the California coast with the GT-R as our chariot. It proved to be a pretty punishing experience after five hours. The steering is tight and the GT-R won’t allow you to relax much. It demands that you pay attention while driving. On our way back, both of us exhausted as it was late and we’d both spent way too much time in the sun, we pulled over at a rest stop and mistakingly thought we could catch a few zzz’s. Sleeping in the GT-R is beyond impossible, of course. I really don’t know what we were thinking. With blurry red eyes we gave up any attempts at rest and pressed on.

Braking

Braking force is delivered via Nissan/Brembo monoblock 6-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers with floating cross-drilled, ventilated brake rotors. The brake pedal has a nice weight to it and is as consistent and effective as you’d expect. If there was ever any brake fade I never realized it. An Electronic brake force distribution system, (EBD) further helps keep things as efficient as possible. With all of this, I can see the GT-R running hot lap after hot lap without a single problem in the braking department.

Overall Performance

The GT-R isn’t comfortable on long trips. It’s not the most fuel efficient car out there. It doesn’t double as an impromptu roadside hotel. Who cares! This car was built for the track. It was built to run blisteringly fast quarter miles and lap the Nürburgring in an astonishing 7:18. It was designed and engineered to compete with Corvette ZR-1’s and Porsche 911 GT3’s. What it was built to do it does extremely well. When you drive the GT-R the way it was meant to be driven you feel all those accolades. You feel the racing heritage, the decades of progress and development. It’s the GT-R’s rich heritage and pedigree that’s helped make this car as good as it is, and every time you mash the ‘go pedal’ or tuck the nose into a tight corner you’re reminded of it.

 

Price as tested: $116,995.00

 

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