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2009 Nissan GT-R: The Wraps Come Off Nissan’s Supercar

Nissan pulled the cover off the long-awaited GT-R at the Tokyo motor show. This 473HP (480PS), all-wheel-drive coupe promises to be a monster on the road for those willing to part with its mid-$70,000 price next summer. The transmission is a BorgWarner six-speed dual-clutch setup, and if it’s as good as Audi’s you might not even miss the old days of clutch-pedal shifting.


Pricing in Japan starts the equivalent of about $67,500, where it is offered in three trim levels; these trim levels are primarily organized around features, as the GT-R offers only one powertrain setup. In the States, Nissan’s most expensive product is likely to start in the mid-$70,000 range. For perspective, the 2008 Corvette Z06 (505HP) has an MSRP of $71,000 and the 2008 Mustang Shelby GT500 Cobra an MSRP of nearly $43,000. Neither of those offer AWD and the Vette only has seats for two, but the GT-R’s interior and fit/finish needs to be outstanding to help support the price point they are looking for. Being the legend it is, it won’t be a difficult sell its first year. Beyond that, buyers need to see what they’re getting for $75,000, and 473HP and all-wheel drive might not be enough for this to be considered a strong value.

In the States, technicians expected to work on the GT-R are required to go through a two-week training course in Japan. Nissan, at least in Japan, is also including the first three years of service as standard, including checking and adjusting engine, transmission, and wheel alignment after 1000km and again at 12 months. The program will not only help to make owners happy, it should also give Nissan consistent feedback on how the cars are doing in the field.


The GT-R is a technological tour de force, with an all-new twin-turbo 473HP 3.8L DOHC 24v V6 (VR38) mated to a dual-clutch six-speed transmission. The engine sports plasma-sprayed bores and a twin-turbo exhaust manifold system. Low-rev, around-town torque is increased with a secondary air management system, a system that also helps the GT-R meet Japan’s U-LEV standards.
The GT-R’s suspension is independent all-around, with a Bilstein DampTronic system helping stability and control in straight-line driving, cornering, and braking. Braks are large Brembo full-floating drilled rotors and Brembo monoblock six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers. The GT-R gets a set-up switch for adjusting transmission shifts, shock absorbers, and Vehicle Dynamic Control for normal, comfort, or R if they are looking for a particularly aggressive drive. Nissan gave the GT-R run-flat tires, further proof that run-flat technology can be applied to specialty tires as well as middle-of-the-road all-weather situations. GT-R’s safety systems, though adequate, don’t push the edges or bring anything new.
Developed, according to Nissan, to be “an ultimate supercar for anyone, anywhere, at any time,” the GT-R boasts an AWD system to deal with climate issues. Contributing to even weight distribution and a terrific front-to-rear weight balance is the placement of dual-clutch transmission, transfer case, and final drive at the rear instead of front of the vehicle.

Styling, always subjective, is dramatic and aggressive. The GT-R’s look is rooted in the history of the home-market legend and Nissan says it follows function over form. Overall shape and detail elements were developed to maximize the driving experience and ensure this looks like a supercar. The body is steel, carbon fiber, and aluminum, and Nissan claims a 0.27 coefficient of drag and high front and rear downforce. And the GT-R does look like a supercar, particularly from the front. It also has much more personality and activity in the front than along the side or the rear. If this car comes up behind you, you’ll notice. If you’re following, there isn’t much to indicate this is a really special coupe; even the decklid spoiler is a tame one. The four-ring taillights speak to GT-R’s heritage and the exhaust tips are overlarge.

The GT-R’s interior, Nissan says, is key to its usability as a daily driver. From the sculpted front performance bucket seats, center-mounted tachometer (which incorporates the gear display), to the engine start button, the interior is meant to be at once purposeful and comfortable from a daily driver perspective. The display car sported a black interior with minimal accents, and these were chrome.
Interesting, in this world where the common perception is the “everybody” wants a green car, the GT-R was on display next to a cute, quirky little electric car called the Pivo2. While the Pivo2 did attract attention, it was more for its novelty than its practicality, and it was very, very clear that the star of Nissan’s stand, and perhaps the show itself, was the GT-R.

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