2009 Nissan GT-R

Godzilla hits North America

2009 Nissan GT-R

It’s immediately apparent when an automaker nails a car. Audi did it with the R8 and Nissan has done it with the 2009 GT-R. This fire-breathing four-wheel drive Godzilla is what enthusiasts the world over have been waiting for. If it’s not car of the year material, what is?

As Japan’s most powerful production touring car to date, the 2009 Nissan GT-R has roots dating back to the sixties and a successful R380 race car whose two-liter turbo straight-six was adopted for street use in the 1969 Nissan Skyline GT-R (the original), which went on to score 49 consecutive victories from ’68 to ’72 in the Japan Grand Prix series.

Over the years, GT-R became one of the nation’s most successful racing platforms and a feared adversary on any road or track. No stranger to the fast and furious crowd, Skyline GT-Rs had amassed over 1,000 victories by the time Nismo (Nissan’s motorsports arm) retired the last generation R34 race cars. They did so in favor of newer 350Z models to compete in 2002 Japanese Grand Touring Car championship. Now, it’s back in action in Japan’s 2008 Super GT racing series.

In the production sphere, this is actually the GT-R placard’s second revival in its 40 year history. Though it won’t have a Skyline badge, it does have traditional cues – like round taillights, for instance. This latest sixth-generation R35 interpretation will be the first production GT-R model to be sold outside Asia. It laughs in the face of today’s modern domestic muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger SRT, Shelby Mustang GT500E and upcoming Chevrolet Camaro. In fact, engineers had one primary goal in mind – build a car that would knock the 911 Turbo off its high horse.


Of the 12,000 Nissan planned to build this year, approximately 70 per cent of those bound for the States have already been sold. The first customer deliveries of the limited production Nissan GT-R supercar began on July 7, 2008; and, even after a recent price increase (apparently due to rising raw material costs), the GT-R’s $76,840 starting price ($79,090 for the premium model) is a downright bargain if you can get your mitts on one. If you’re among the lucky ones, destination and handling is another grand.


1. Sprints to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and stops in 110 feet.

2. Multi-function display tells you everything from throttle position to G-forces.

3. Switches on dash allow you to adjust suspension, shift-time and even shut off traction control. Oh… and they let you engage launch control.

The GT-R is only available through officially certified Nissan dealers that have met a number of strict sales, service and facility commitments, including dedicating a master technician to GT-R service. A searchable listing of the 663 certified Nissan dealers can be found at on nissanusa.com.


Power comes from an all-new twin turbocharged 3.8L V6 making 480 hp at 6400 rpm and 434 ft-lbs of torque between 3200 and 5200 rpm. Backed by an all-new, paddle-shifted, dual clutch rear transmission and a world first independent rear transaxle ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system, this engine (codenamed VR38DETT) is a technological tour de force.

Performance-wise, the third-gen R32 GT-R was the first Japanese car to go under eight minutes on the Nordschleife (Nurburgring). Right out of the box, the new GT-R did it in seven minutes, 38 seconds and it can attack corners at well over 1G. Nissan claims it goes from zero-to-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and tops out at 193 mph. All in all, that’s not too shabby for a 3,840 lb coupe. Possibly even more impressive is that the massive brakes can stop this monster in its tracks in just 110 from 60 mph.

Built on Nissan’s new Premium Midship chassis, the GT-R’s sculpted hybrid die-cast aluminum, steel and Carbon fiber body is as functional as they come. Thanks to two years of wind tunnel development with Lotus, the result is a very low 0.27 drag coefficient, while offering a ton of front and rear downforce at speed.


At the North American press launch in Nevada, I tucked the key fob in my pocket, hopped in the ultra comfortable sport seats and became the first in our group to fire up the beast. The GT-R is immediately easy to drive. Its telepathic steering, adjustable four-wheel independent suspension, torque-splitting tranny, potent engine and smart all-wheel drive system welcome my inputs and inspire confidence on the twisty Mount Rose pass leading into Reno. Power delivery is instantaneous and linear, and the wide 20-inch alloy wheels sheathed in Bridgestone RE070R run-flat tires grip the road like a chameleon does glass.

A driver change puts me in the passenger seat and I’m now fiddling with the GT-R’s cutting edge multi-function display. Developed by Polyphony (the same company behind Sony’s popular Gran Turismo driving simulator games), it gives me info like the current boost level, acceleration and cornering G’s, torque split, temperatures of various components and plenty more.

Although more noticeable at slower speeds, the run-flats do emit a reasonable amount of noise when the vehicle’s in motion. It’s nothing the great-sounding 11-speaker Bose audio system can’t remedy however. Plus, the security of being able to drive 50 miles at 50 mph after a puncture on expensive wheels is a decent trade-off.


Despite its hardcore appeal, the GT-R cruises without wind noise and is poised to spring into action in just two-tenths of a second (the amount of time it takes to upshift after the transmission has been put into R mode). In normal mode, shifts take half-a-second. A snow mode is also available.

Similarly, the advanced electronically-controlled Bilstein DampTronic suspension has three modes, including comfort to reduce freeway hop and improve ride quality on rough roads. R mode increases damping force for better cornering.

It’s mid-day when we get to Reno-Fernley Raceway and, after a quick lunch, debriefing and orientation lap with Nissan guru Steve Millen (the winningest driver in IMSA GT history), it takes only few laps to get comfortable enough to flip the transmission and suspension switches to R mode; the VDC-R traction control quickly goes offline too.


I just had to experience the GT-Rs launch control feature. To do this, the brake and accelerator are held down simultaneously. This revs up and holds the engine at 4500 rpm and, when you let go of the brake, all hell breaks loose as the GT-R’s 53/47 weight distribution shifts closer to 50/50 and the Gs hit you. To prevent bogging, the rear tires spin momentarily while the front ones grip. Once they do, you’d better be ready to click the right steering-wheel mounted shift paddle!


Compared to other vehicles of this ilk, the GT-R accelerates quicker and more eloquently than a Lamborghini Gallardo, shifts less harshly than a manual R8 and way faster than Audi’s DSG transmission. One of my newer faves, the C63 AMG, even feels slow around a circuit and neither Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage nor Jaguar’s XKR are as nimble on their feet.


Amazingly good brakes for such a heavy car Launch control Crisp handling and quick shifts


Heafty curb weight Loud and heavy run-flat tires Difficult to get your hands on one


The 2009 Nissan GT-R is perhaps the best handling car I’ve driven. It has a neutral and supremely confident feel, and unless you’re pushing the outermost edge of the envelope, there’s virtually no understeer. It truly blurs the line between sports car and super car, offering performance on par with the latter, minus the huge price tag normally associated with them. Kudos for getting it right Nissan!

  • Steples

    drive one and you will be asking yourself , what is wrong with the rest of the cars around?

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked