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2012 Nissan GT-R: New Car Review

Pros: Very fast; superb acceleration; extremely agile; upscale interior; an abundance of premium amenities; very affordable relative to competition

Cons: Less of a status symbol than most competitors; feels a little large and heavy in corners

The Nissan GT-R is a 2+2 sport coupe, but that description doesn’t do it justice. This pseudo-supercar’s track-caliber credentials are on par with many exotics that cost three, four and five times as much. For that reason, it is considered one of the best high-performance values in the world.

The GT-R achieves its world-class status thanks to an extremely potent twin-turbo V6, a fast-shifting automated manual gearbox, a sport-tuned suspension, powerful Brembo brakes and a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. All of these elements come together to make the GT-R an extremely capable sports car.

Despite its performance intentions, the GT-R is not light, with a curb weight of almost 3,800 pounds, nor is it small in size. Although its dynamics are above and beyond those of most performance cars, the car can feel a little weighed down when taking corners at high speeds. Regardless, if you buy one, you’re going to want a track membership to go with it.

Inside and out, the GT-R looks the part of a fast car. Its exterior is sleek and aerodynamic, and inside there’s a well-crafted, sport-infused cockpit with no shortage of performance cues.

For 2012, the GT-R is improved in both power and fuel efficiency. It has a reshaped front end and new colors, while the interior gets minor styling tweaks. There’s also a new Black Edition with black and red Recaro seats and specialized blacked-out wheels.

Blending performance, technology, aesthetics and affordability, the Nissan GT-R is a rare breed among fast cars. Some may be turned off by the fact that it’s a Nissan, but for anyone wanting a superb sports car without breaking the bank, there might not be a better choice.

Comfort & Utility

The GT-R’s four-passenger interior is defined by a high-tech, high-performance cockpit that looks like that of a sports car in the future. Premium-quality materials are used, and everything – gauges, meters, controls, vents, dash panels – comes together seamlessly. The entire space is visually stunning with superior ergonomics. You’ll forget you’re in a Nissan.

The front compartment is headlined by a new carbon fiber center stack with matte black switchgear and a dash-top multifunction display that details performance data such as G-forces, shifting patterns and lap times. This is information the driver can use to improve his or her piloting skills.

The front sport seats are supportive and very well bolstered, designed to keep occupants in place through all of the GT-R’s high-speed acrobatics. Unlike many performance cars, there’s plenty of head- and legroom in front, even for those over six feet tall. And the seats are comfortable, too, more than adequate for normal everyday driving and longer highway journeys.

The GT-R’s rear seats are tight and difficult to access. They are fine for kids, but most adults will not want to be back there. In terms of trunk space, there’s a useable 8.8 cubic feet, enough for a couple of overnight bags.

Notable convenience features include xenon headlights, leather/suede upholstery, power front seats with heat and a premium 11-speaker audio system. The newly introduced GT-R Black Edition trades in the standard front sport seats for a pair of black and red leather Recaro seats.


The GT-R’s most notable advanced electronic feature is the standard multifunction display unit, which captures pertinent high-performance driving data and allows it to be reviewed by the driver. Other technological amenities include Bluetooth with streaming audio, a USB interface, navigation with real-time traffic and a hard-drive music storage component.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The 2012 Nissan GT-R is equipped with an uprated 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes a tremendous 530 horsepower and 488 lb-ft of torque. That’s 45 extra horses compared with last year. All of this energy is fed to an advanced all-wheel-drive system by way of a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. This transmission offers three driver-selectable shifting programs.

The uptick in power has shaved almost a half second off the GT-R’s 0-to-60-mph time, which is now down to 3.2 seconds. Top speed is just over a blurring 190 mph.

As one would expect, the GT-R’s acceleration is awe-inspiring. Making the performance experience even more ethereal is the rev-matching throttle-blip feature, which mimics the skill of heel-and-toe driving. The GT-R also offers steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for drivers who prefer that approach.


Standard safety features for the GT-R include ABS, stability control, traction control and six airbags: front, side and head curtain.

Driving Impressions

From a speed and acceleration standpoint, the GT-R is as good as it gets, with blinding fast straight-line performance and tire-melting torque.  All this power feels a little less daunting because it is accompanied by a very precise steering system, a sophisticated all-wheel-drive setup and big, strong brakes designed to reel the car in when it threatens to hit its top limit.

The GT-R is as sure-footed and stuck to the pavement as a world-class sports car can be. That’s especially true when it takes to the curves, whether on harrowing canyon switchbacks or a racetrack. The GT-R feels extremely confident in corners, almost regardless of speed. It maintains racing-car-like grip and balance, offering a true sense of control and stability. But if the driver is feeling a little daring and feels the urge to break the car loose, stability control can always be shut off.

The main trouble with this car is its 3,800-plus-pound curb weight, which makes the GT-R feel a bit less agile than a few of its top German competitors. If this car were to shed 200-300 pounds of technology equipment, it could very well outmatch any other performance car out there.

The GT-R offers an easygoing ride, thanks to a driver-tunable vehicle dynamics system. In normal mode, the car takes on a less rigid personality, making it viable for daily commuting or interstate cruising, something that many vehicles in this category can’t claim.

Other Cars to Consider

Porsche 911 The Porsche is more expensive and is more of a status symbol. It’s also more nimble in corners. The GT-R’s off-the-line acceleration is more impressive.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – The Corvette is more affordable than the GT-R. But from a pure performance standpoint, the GT-R is quicker and more agile in corners. In short, the Nissan is a better track car.

Mercedes Benz C63 AMG The Mercedes can offer both luxury and performance at very high levels. But it’s pricey. The GT-R is not only more affordable but delivers a quicker 0-to-60-mph time, a higher top speed and more overall track prowess.

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The GT-R comes in a single model, so there isn’t much choice when it comes to equipment. There’s only one option, a Cold Weather package with all-season tires, which buyers in northern climates should seriously consider unless they plan on garaging their GT-R for the winter. For 2012, there’s also a new Black Edition, which is primarily an appearance package. For an extra $5,000 (taking the base price of $91,000 up to $96,000), you get black and red leather Recaro seats, a black headliner and blacked-out alloy wheels for an extra dose of aggression on an already mean-looking performance machine.


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