What exactly is the definition of a supercar remains a contentious issue. If a sports car is a powerful car designed for high speed with great handling and flashy looks then what is a supercar? And if a supercar is an exotic sports car with superior performance and a price tag to match, what is a saloon car like Nissan’s GT-R that can outrun many exotics and cost half as much?
At the very least, the Nissan GT-R has a right to consider itself a supercar for the rest of us, though ironically you’re less likely to see one around than some of the more “exclusive” sports cars out there. On paper it’s impressive, a relatively inexpensive (for what it is) saloon car with supercar performance that operates at the sharp end of automotive engineering. Just reading through the list of gadgets is enough to alienate some potential buyers. But then this car is aimed at the train spotters, the aficionados; owning one says more about who you are, than who you aspire to be.
But you couldn’t ignore the GT-R even if you were ignorant of its technology. Looks-wise it positively crouches with a pent up raw energy that makes no concession to grace. In fact, this GT-R existed virtually in a computer race game before it was ever seen in the metal and there is something about it that looks a little unreal even now. Hit the red start/stop button – in between the front seats on the centre console – and things get trippier, with a healthy roar from the 470bhp 3.8 V6 Twin Turbo engine. Once underway, 60mph can be reached in just 3.5 seconds, which is astonishingly fast.
And here the technology comes into its own: the six-speed twin clutch gearbox has a different clutch for the odd and even gears. This means gear changes are much, much quicker as a result, especially in the high performance R mode. Here a bank of switches on the dash tighten and stiffen the suspension to produce the best handling possible. At the same time, using the twin clutch gearbox – manually operated by paddle shifters for the most spirited driving – the car’s clever tech pre-selects the next gear change for you so the car is essentially ready before you are. This adds further urgency to the gear change, reducing gear shift time down from the normal mode’s 0.5 seconds to a near-seamless 0.2 seconds. And should you find yourself getting into any OMG moments, the 4WD system – which drives the rear wheels only, unless the car loses grip – can instantly send 50 per cent of torque to the front wheels to keep you on the straight and narrow. This means progression is absurdly brisk.
Inside, the interior is wrapped in leather with contrasting red trim, including a small and extremely comfortable leather steering wheel and a multi function display adds even more information – engine temperature, oil temperature, you get the idea – though I’m too busy to read them.
I can’t imagine having a lot more kit on a fighter jet, which seems coincidental because I’m sure that the GT-R under hard acceleration sounds quite a bit like a jet fighter. At least to me. It’s a wonderful sound, it communicates – all at once – that the car’s advanced systems are all working as instructed, purely for you – yet the noise is also a reminder than any lapse in attention could lead to a loss of license. Things happen very, very quickly in a GT-R. On a British motorway you can’t stand on the gas for long without fear of hearing the blood-chilling sound of the nee-naws which is one reason, no doubt, why the car tells you when you’re approaching a speed camera. And that’s before you even put the thing in race (R) mode. The GT-R is fantastically outrageous and driving it is awesome.
NISSAN GT-R BLACK IGNITION
TOP SPEED: 194mph
CO2 G/KM: 295g/km
MPG COMBINED: 22.8mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY