By Keith Griffin
There’s no doubt it is a great thing to be an automotive journalist. I get to drive some amazing cars and visit some interesting places. It’s just a pain when the two collide.
That was the case with a recent trip to the VW manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the all-new Volkswagen Passat is produced. I left on a Monday morning and was back Tuesday by midnight. (Nobody will ever say the travel is glamorous.)
So, what arrives in my driveway while I am on an extremely interesting plant tour? A 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition – a high performance sports car I have been itching to drive and I knew was coming.
Normally, missing a couple days with a car wouldn’t be an issue but Nissan only loans the GT-R out for three days at a time. The car that arrived Monday morning was leaving on Thursday morning and me with just about 36 hours to drive it. Unfortunately, about 12 hours sleep and work would whittle that down to just about eight hours of available driving time.
And I filled up every minute I could with what Nissan rightly describes as “the ultimate supercar that can be driven by anyone, anytime, anywhere,” unless, of course, you’re daydreaming about it in a 120-degree paint booth in Chattanooga, which does have a Choo Choo in its skyline, apropos of nothing.
What makes mere mortals lust after this car? The main thing would have to be its power vs. its price. For the 2013 model year, its renowned V6 twin turbo engine has received major refinements (including improved intake efficiency, reduced airflow resistance including an enlarged air intake duct for the intercooler, and improved exhaust emissions efficiency and enhanced control) with the end result being 545 horsepower and 463 lb. ft. of torque. All of that power from a 3.8-liter engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s a stunning 143 horsepower per lit for about $106,000.
With that stunning power comes stunning acceleration times. Now, I can’t confess to personally achieving this mark, but I’ve seen video of the GT-R hitting 60 mph from a dead stop in 2.7 seconds. That’s faster than the Ferrari 458 Italia. As one writer pointed out, that’s faster than a person can change his mind. Obviously, highway merging was never an issue.
Interestingly, my most exhilarating acceleration didn’t come straight-line starts. It was when turning from one street to another. Slam the accelerator, feel the rear end swivel back and forth and then grip the road, glance down, and you’re north of 60 mph. Just like that – with a little chirp of the tires thrown in for good measure.
Of course when one travels that fast one needs to stop quickly, too.
Stopping power is provided by Brembo monoblock six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers with 15.35-inch front and 15.0-inch rear Brembo full-floating cross-drilled two-piece rotors and low-steel high-stiffness brake pads that minimize fade and provide, as Nissan puts it, “intense stopping performance.” That’s not an overstatement. Edmunds.com got this car to go from 60 to 0 in a stupefying 98 feet. Next-to-nothing stops in less than 100 feet except for super cars, Vipers, and Corvettes. Add the GT-R to that list, too.
What most surprised me about the 2013 GT-R is how nicely it rides. Normally, muscle cars like this announce every joint separation in the road with a loud thunk. The GT-R did a relatively good job swallowing them up. I’m not claiming this is a smooth-riding cruiser by any stretch of the imagination but it is a comfortable car for its high levels of performance.
The best part is, at least for those of in New England, is it has all-wheel drive. This super sports car could be driven probably 360 days a year without problems. Dump six inches of snow or more and it will struggle but it’s going to handle most other winter challenges.
Here’s another interesting thing about the 2013 Nissan GT-R. It actually has decent fuel economy numbers of 16-mpg city and 23-mpg highway with a combined 19 mpg. Sure, it runs on premium gasoline and I confess to achieving nowhere near those numbers, but again, those are numbers you could live with if this was your daily driver.
Did I mention it has four seats? Sure, you’re not going to fit adult back there but my seven-year old sure enjoyed her ride. Not sure how I’m going to break it to her that she can’t go to college because daddy wants to buy a GT-R. Maybe I just need to work with her on shooting from her weak hand so she gets a basketball scholarship.
(For the latest new car news, follow me on Twitter at aboutusedcars. You can also learn about buying and selling a used car at UsedCars.About.com.)
- Wheelbase: 109.4 inches
- Length: 183.8 inches
- Width: 74.6 inches
- Height: 53.9 inches
- Curb weight: 3818 lbs.
- Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6
- Horsepower: 545 @ 6400 rpm
- Torque: 463 lb. ft.
- EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/23
- Base price: $96,820
- As-tested price: $106,320
- Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Corvette ZR-1, Porsche 911, Audi R8
Photos (c) Nissan