The Nissan GT-R is not everyone’s cup of tea. One man’s engineering masterpiece is another man’s Millennium Dome. We understand. Not every soul in the Autocar office is besotted with the Japanese giant-killer.
Neither was I until we borrowed the 2012 model for an utterly frivolous drag race at the tail-end of the year.
Chilly mornings on a deserted runway are custom-made for the GT-R. If half-mile sprints are its bread and butter, the similarly-priced Jaguar XFR and Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport are the ham and mustard. All were easily devoured by the uprated and insatiable Godzilla.
Reams have already been written about the propulsive quality of Nissan’s finest, but it really has to be experienced to be believed. Launch control on or off, manual or automatic shifts engaged, whether you’re really paying attention or not, the GT-R explodes from a standing start like a particle-accelerated proton.
Okay, so it’s fast. But does it really justify its newly increased, heavyweight price tag? Well, had my experience of the latest model been limited to a drag race then the answer to that £72,000 question may well have been no
Bruntingthorpe’s wide, windswept straight has a habit of sucking the context out of cars at the best of times, and the GT-R’s outrageous supremacy was ultimately about as endearing as Man City winning the Premier League title with five games to go.
No, as it turns out, the Nissan had sealed its place in my automotive hope chest the night before on the hour-long commute from Teddington to home. Inevitably, the weather was awful: torrential rain and gales set against a bin bag-black sky. Correspondingly, the great British motorist had dropped their average speed from an interminable 40mph to a jittery 35mph on the B roads that make up 50 per cent of my route.
Conditions couldn’t have been less conducive to a speedy getaway from the busy end of Surrey. Step forward my saviour. To say the GT-R excels in these conditions is like saying Yo Yo Ma is handy on a cello. While it’s difficult to appreciate the car’s otherworldly capabilities on bone-dry roads because it’s simply too quick, in the wet there is at least a sense of limit to the bottomless pit of traction, stability and outright grip.
What precedes that limit is a cauterizsing exhibition of control. The GT-R rattles across a drenched landscape like it’s scrolling through Google Maps street view. Time and distance are adjustable parameters for Nissan’s steroidal onboard CPU; previously unimaginable overtaking opportunities are rendered lazily achievable by the digitized whirlwind beneath the bonnet and, with comfort mode firmly engaged, there’s even enough pliancy to allow you to emerge, if not completely refreshed, then certainly able to stumble as far as the sofa without slipping a disk.
It’s slumped on that sofa that you’ll find yourself reflecting on the fact that you’re home 15 minutes earlier than normal, despite traversing a hurricane. You’re 15 minutes ahead of the curve, 15 minutes into your free time and 15 minutes closer to bed. In the morning you’ll be 15 minutes better rested and by the time you get back to work you’re 30 minutes up on everyone else.
By the end of the week you’ll have gained hours, and eventually, days and weeks. With all this extra time you’ll become a better prepared, more patient, punctual and likable human being.