By Bob Nagy - Updated Date: 10/19/2011
When most people think "Nissan," they think of an affordable, fun and rugged line of vehicles. But, there is one Nissan that dares to step into the world of the exotic supercar, delivering performance and a price tag unlike anything Nissan has ever offered, at least in this country. The 2012 Nissan GT-R coupe isn't some base model car with a big motor stuffed under the hood, it's a bona fide high-end performance machine designed from the ground up to take on such lofty names as the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and even the Chevy Corvette Z06. Sadly, while many Nissan fans applaud the company for finally bringing the car stateside (it has been sold in Japan for more than a decade under the name Skyline GT-R), its $90,000-plus price tag probably means the closest they'll ever get to experience a 2012 Nissan GT-R coupe is in the video game Grand Theft Auto. For those who do have the money, the GT-R offers a unique combination of old-world supercar performance attributes with Japanese-style high tech. With only 650 Nissan dealers authorized to sell and service the car, some folks may never see a GT-R on their local Nissan dealer's showroom floor. Then again, having to drive a few hundred miles to have your car serviced is the perfect excuse for a true enthusiast to spend as much time behind the wheel as humanly possible.
Unlike Europe, where exotic cars seem to proliferate like rabbits, in the U.S. a car like the 2012 Nissan GT-R coupe is a coveted possession. If you're looking for cutting-edge performance in a fairly exclusive car, the GT-R is likely to be far more satisfying than a BMW M3, Audi R8 or Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
If you're looking to get the most bang-for-your-buck, the Chevy Corvette Z06 offers roughly the same power at a lower price, and is far easier to find and service. Those looking for something costing half as much but still packing a punch might entertain a Nissan 370Z or Ford Mustang GT500.
Along with a new look, new wheels and new colors, the 2012 Nissan GT-R coupe gets a new Black Edition trim with unique black and red Recaro sport seats, a black headliner and black 6-spoke RAYS lightweight alloy wheels. Horsepower jumps from 485 to 530, while city/highway fuel economy moves from 15/21 to 16/23
Pressing a single button is all that is required to bring the 2012 Nissan GT-R's twin-turbocharged V6 engine to life, but it's the pushing on the car's throttle that brings the driver to life. The GT-R's neck-snapping acceleration would be terrifying if not for the impressive array of mechanical and electronic suspension components designed to keep both car and driver safe at high speeds. Thankfully, the GT-R's well-weighted power steering, driver-selectable suspension and variable torque-split all-wheel drive combine to give the driver exactly the control he requires. Requiring only the slightest inputs, the 2012 Nissan GT-R's steering is precise and direct, and the big Brembo brakes perform faithfully even after repeated hard stops. Those who really enjoy pushing the limits will revel in the GT-R's "Race mode" settings that can be set to quicken shifts, stiffen the shocks and, wisely or not, deactivate the electronic stability and traction control.
Twin-turbo V6 engine
A paragon of usable power, the GT-R's hand-built, 530-horsepower V6 delivers smooth, quick and predictable responses that make this ultra-quick Nissan easy to live with in town but an absolute rocket when called upon to give max performance.
Driver Tunable Vehicle Dynamics
The 2012 Nissan GT-R Coupe lets you select from several different and distinct ride compliance, stability control and transmission shift program settings, which can transform it from a high-profile but quite livable urban cruiser into a hard-edged corner carver that can run with the best-handling cars in the world.
Nissan's 2012 GT-R coupe has an interior so high tech you'd swear you were sitting behind the wheel of a concept car rather than a production model. The GT-R coupe's highly stylized cockpit is cozy, yet sport seats with nine inches of travel and a tilt/telescopic steering column help to accommodate all but NBA-sized drivers. The user-friendly meters and gauges are placed at a uniform height, an important attribute that helps minimize the driver's head movement. The centerpiece of the GT-R's interior is a multifunction display that rests atop the center dash. The unit collects and stores data detailing your driving activities which, after a few hot laps around the track, can be reviewed to see which skills might need improvement.
Even with its new, wider grille, LED running lights, and revised air intakes, the 2012 Nissan GT-R performance coupe retains the trademark look linking it to the last five generations to wear the Skyline/GT-R badge. A collage of sharp angles, rounded contours and crisp edges conspires to give the GT-R a slippery 0.26 coefficient of drag. A carbon-fiber underbody diffuser and subtle rear spoiler help keep the GT-R grounded at high speeds. Certainly the 2012 Nissan GT-R's enormous front fender vents catch everyone's eye, but they are not just there to turn heads; the vents provide front downforce and optimal side airflow. Staggered-width 20-inch alloy wheels, which are wrapped in 255/40 tires up front and 285/35 tires in the rear, further aid the GT-R's stability.
The 2012 Nissan GT-R Coupe is equipped with a 530-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, sequential 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual rear transaxle, ATESSA E-TS all-wheel-drive system, Brembo anti-lock brakes and adjustable suspension and stability-control settings. Inside, leather, Alcantara and brushed-aluminum trim complement a full roster of power assists, a voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, 11-speaker Bose Surround Sound audio system, XM Satellite Radio audio with NavTraffic/NavWeather and Music Box hard drive, dual-zone climate control, speed-sensitive wipers, auto on/off headlights, push-button ignition, dual front airbags, bi-xenon HID headlights, heated front seats, unique vehicle information-system graphics, side-impact and side-curtain airbags and Bridgestone RE070A performance tires. The Black Edition adds RAYS black metallic lightweight alloy wheels, red and black Recaro leather seats and a black headliner.
Nissan offers only one option for the 2012 GT-R coupe: a Cold Weather Package featuring Dunlop all-season tires and a specialized water/coolant ratio mix.
The 2012 Nissan GT-R Coupe has a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that develops an electrifying 530 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and an equally riveting 448 pound-feet of peak torque from 3,200-5,200 revs. Set back behind the front axle, the all-aluminum engine sends this Nissan super coupe streaking to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, and on to 100 mph in about eight seconds, as it heads to a top speed in excess of 190 mph. Matched to this might is a 6-speed, sequential dual-clutch transmission that offers three driver-selectable programs and a rev-matching throttle-blip feature, plus a conventional console shifter and finger-friendly paddles mounted on the steering column. While hard running will guarantee your mileage to be less, the GT-R's official EPA numbers are 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6
530 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
448 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Nissan GT-R Coupe is around $91,000, and tops out around $96,000 for the Black Edition. Even so, there's no disputing this extreme Nissan offering is one amazing performance value. To be sure you are not paying too much, check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price which shows what others in your area have paid for their GT-R. We project that all decently maintained GT-Rs will fare on par with the Corvette Z06 and considerably better when it comes to long-term value retention than many of their prime price rivals like the Porsche Cayman S, as well as more expensive exotics, including the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo. Based on past owner loyalty, most GT-R devotees will likely view any resale-related issues as moot.