In a bit of focused lineup simplification, the well-heeled performance fanatics will only be able to purchase the limited-production 2011 Nissan GT-R in a Premium trim level. Due to start arriving in dealers today, Nissan said the decision to drop the base model of this scintillating super coupe largely reflected the real-world preferences of its buyers. The key functional differentiators between the two GT-R variants was confined to heated seats, a Bose premium audio system and slightly darker-finish alloy wheels wrapped in stickier Bridgestone RE070A tires in place of the base GT-R's Dunlop SP Sport 600 DSST rubber. Pricing for the 2011 Nissan GT-R Premium starts at $85,060, a $1,020 bump over its 2010 opening figure and $3,270 beyond the now-departed base model. Although rumors have been circulating that the U.S. allocation of 2011 models will only be several hundred units, a Nissan source maintained the move to Premium-only status isn't likely to impact the sales volume of the iconic GT-R, and still expects it to average about 1,500 units per year.

While the changes for the 2011 Nissan GT-R Premium are modest, they are nonetheless, noteworthy. Its powertrain carries over unchanged -- a 485-horse/3.8-liter twin-turbo V6, six-speed dual-clutch rear-mounted transaxle and Nissan's superb ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system -- but the car's suspension has been retuned and the rear bushings revised to deliver better ride comfort without compromising control. Cosmetic tweaks include slightly darker wheel center caps and double clear-coating on the front/rear fascias. Less visible are new cooling ducts tucked up under the rear diffuser. On the functional feature front, the 2011 Nissan GT-R Premium gains auto on/off headlamps and speed-sensitive windshield wipers as well as an upgraded navigation system with a higher-resolution screen plus XM NavTraffic and NavWeather features, streaming audio via Bluetooth, DVD playback capability, and a USB/iPod interface.

So far, no word on whether or when we'll see the even-more-potent GT-R Spec V model due to launch in Japan and Europe later this year make it to our shores.

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