The GT-R achieves speed like Laetitia Casta draws stares -- naturally, effortlessly, almost as if it doesn't realize how remarkable it is. The ride is quite good, even in its firm setting. Steering feel could be better, but for a big, heavy, four-wheel-drive car, the GT-R cuts a fine line. And even when driven hard, it's as cool and collected as an astronaut on the pad; with heroic feats to accomplish but the DNA and the moxie to pull them off with apparent ease. That it stickers for only about $70,000 is truly astonishing. For delivering so much at the price, the GT-R rightly deserves a seat atop the auto world's Olympus.
And yet...to read much of the breathless prose surrounding the new Nissan, you'd think it was the Second Coming, the Greatest Sports Car of All Time.
It isn't. Several weeks ago, I test-drove the new 2008 Porsche 911 GT2. Yes, the Porsche starts at $192,560, nearly three times the price of the GT-R. In a value fight, the Nissan wins in a runaway. But for those for whom cost is no object -- and there are many -- the Porsche delivers a driving experience the GT-R simply cannot match. I mentioned that the Nissan's steering feel could be better. The GT2's is near-perfection, your fingertips reading the tire treads like Braille, cornering forces building like a masseuse squeezing your trapezius muscles. And while the GT-R is blindingly quick, the GT2 is...otherworldly. True, at just 3.2 seconds the Nissan gets to 60 mph two tenths quicker -- thanks to four-wheel-drive traction and short gearing. But after that, all you can see from the GT-R is GT2 whale tail. By the time the Nissan reaches 100 mph (8 seconds flat), the Porsche has been there, done that (7.3 seconds). From that point on, the GT2 just disappears.
As this graph shows, it doesn't take $190K+ to out-gun the already fabled GT-R. After 110 mph, the Corvette Z06, the Viper SRT10, and the Ford GT are all pulling away. As for "involving driving experience," the players at, say, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Lotus, Bugatti, and more have legitimate claims of superiority over the new GT-R.
With that, its time to go into the typical fanboi rant/counterpoint. 110mph+ cars costing more money pull away. Or the Corvette Z06 that on paper makes more power, and is about 700 lbs lighter is able to pull away. If you take the Power House Amuse R35 GT-R, with exhaust, boost at 1.25 kg/cm2, and a little bit of light weight parts, I wonder where we stack up now. In theory, the Power House car should be a mid 10 second car, at around 130 mph.