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.