Irvin Gordon’s Volvo P1800S is set to cement its place in the record books when it passes the three million mile mark this autumn.
Nissan GT-R review (2008 onwards)
What – Nissan GT-R
Where – Lisbon, Portugal
Price – £52,900
Available – March 2009
Key rivals – BMW M3, Mercedes CLK63 AMG, Porsche 911 Turbo
Affordable supercar takes on a new meaning as Nissan offers Porsche 911 Turbo beating performance for BMW M3 money
Likes: stunning looks, bang per buck, incredible technology, jaw-dropping performance
Dislikes: interior space and design, a bit chunky, we have to wait until next year
It's one of the most talked about cars of recent times. And having seen it in the flesh, and driven it, it's easy to see why there is such a fuss about Nissan's new GT-R. And though the Skyline name may officially have been dropped the lineage back to the original video game hero cars is explicit.But where to start? It's certainly one of the most dramatic looking cars of recent years. And while carrying various classic GT-R styling cues it's resolutely futuristic, the origami-style creases and detail distinctively Japanese in flavour. The super aggressive styling certainly shouts loud about the car's potential. But the technology beneath means it delivers too.
At every step of its development the GT-R has been benchmarked against the 911 Turbo. And in a further assault on the Porsche's reputation the GT-R has been honed on a track Porsche considers holy ground: the Nürburgring. Nissan even bought its own 911 Turbo, testing it on the Nordschleife against the GT-R lap for lap.But while the 911 is reverential - devoted even - to the past, the GT-R looks only to the future, ripping up the supercar rulebook. How so? For starters it's lapped the 'ring in 7min 29sec, three seconds faster than the 911 GT2. And while the Porsche retails at £131,000 Nissan is asking just £55,900 for the GT-R.
Put simply? Mind blowing. A car as big and as heavy as this - it weighs 1,740kg and is 205mm longer, 45mm wider and 70mm taller than a 911 Turbo - has no right to be this rapid. But even though it weighs 45kg more and has comparable power outputs to the Turbo it's a tenth quicker to 62mph.That it matches the Turbo's 193mph top speed exactly shows how closely chief engineer and Mr GT-R Kazutoshi Mizuno has pegged his pet project to its iconic German rival. Even Nissan insiders admit Mizuno-san is 'a bit of an obsessive', his mission to beat Porsche at its own game becoming an all-consuming passion.
So how have they achieved it? In true Japanese fashion they've thrown technology at it, with every facet of the car laden with acronym heavy innovation. The handbuilt, twin turbo 3.8-litre V6 tears up the 'gentleman's agreement' that saw previous GT-Rs limited to 276bhp - officially at least - and delivers 480bhp.This drives through a super-trick four-wheel drive chassis and rear-mounted, twin-clutch six-speed automated gearbox, the seamless shifts offering relentless acceleration as each gear punches home. It's a distinctively turbocharged power delivery too. The boost takes a moment to build but when it does the GT-R simply erupts, air howling through the induction system with a roar.
Ride and handling
The GT-R will play. But you need to be seriously brave - or extremely talented - to unstick it. And test driver Tochio Suzuki is both. But on a hot lap beside him it's telling to see how hard he has to provoke the car to have it carving sideways through the bends of Portugal's undulating Estoril circuit.Mere mortals - the rest of us in other words - will simply revel in the GT-R's huge grip and traction. This is a very easy car to drive fast. Corners are despatched with a flick of the shifter paddle, dab on the brakes and then, as soon as you dare, a lead foot on the throttle.
You feel the drivetrain and chassis squirm as the power comes on hard, but the black boxes divvy up the torque to where it's needed. Up to 100% can go to the rear wheels but if they are overwhelmed anything up to 50% can be sent to the front wheels, balancing under and oversteer.Simply cue up your exit, nail it and hang on tight, the power shuffling around the chassis. You have choices though - understeer negated by either lifting or powering through as you see fit. And unlike the previous R34 there is a decent amount of compliance in the three-way adjustable dampers too, a legacy of that 'ring development work.
Given the GT-R's size it's a pity the rear seats aren't actually usable, and the Nissan is in no way a four-seater like the M3 it matches on price. The design matches the brutality of the exterior too, and while appropriate to the car's character isn't what you'd call stylish.It's unlikely to put anyone off though, and there is at least a consistent quality to the switchgear which is a step up from previous GT-Rs. Geeks will love the multi-function display too, which shows everything from exhaust temperature to cornering G forces - all downloadable should you wish to compare telemetry on your daily commute.
Economy and safety
Nissan will proudly tell you the GT-R meets strict Japanese emissions standards, but that's about as far any nod to emissions and economy goes. For the record a US highway mpg of 24-25mpg is quoted but you'll be doing well to match it. Safe to say, you don't buy a GT-R if such things concern you.In safety terms the GT-R is a lot less likely to spit you off the road than its predecessors. And Nissan is keen to shout about the car's daily usability. Should the worst happen a full array of airbags, belt tensioners and suchlike are present, and there is a three-way adjustable stability control system.
The MSN Cars verdict: 5/5
There are going to be some very glum faces in Germany as BMW M, AMG, Audi's Quattro division and, not least, Porsche try and figure out how Nissan has taken the best of all their products and melded them into one devastatingly effective car. Not only that, they've priced it at an astoundingly competitive level.But this is no homage. The GT-R is a uniquely characterful car in its own right, not just an unbelievably talented one. The real trick has been to take all the hardcore, purist appeal of previous GT-Rs and create a genuinely usable everyday supercar without diluting any of the magic. A true 21st century supercar? Absolutely.
Ratings out of five: Nissan GT-R
Ride & handling*****
MSN Cars verdict*****
Need to know
Petrol engine3.8-litre V6, twin turbo
Top speed (mph)193
Combined mpgc. 24
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