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Car reviews - Nissan - GT-R - coupe range

Launch Story

Nissan logo24 Feb 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

NISSAN’S awesome GT-R supercar has finally landed in Australia – but with a modified launch control system as well as the second price increase in a month, even before it officially reaches showrooms.

In October last year, when the GT-R appeared at the Sydney motor show, Nissan Australia announced a starting price of $148,800, then in late January the company said currency fluctuations would result in an increase to “at least” $150,300. Now, even though nothing has changed in the past month, Nissan has revealed that prices will start at $155,800.

However, the company said that the “more than 150” customers who have slapped down deposits will get their cars at the original price.

Furthermore, it claims that anyone who pre-orders before the car officially goes on sale on April 1 and has their GT-R delivered before June 30 will also get the car at the lower price – a saving of $7000, or almost five per cent.

Similarly, the GT-R Premium – a slightly more luxurious model that has been chosen by all but a handful of pre-order buyers – is now priced at $159,800, but anyone who orders the car before April 1 will get it at the original price of $152,800.

When probed how this would work, given that only about 150 GT-Rs will be delivered here by June 30 and Nissan Australia already has more orders than that, company executives said it would depend on what spec the customer wanted (such as colour) and curiously explained that they would “talk with the customer” before finalising the price.

Since being launched in Japan in November 2007, then in North America in July last year, the GT-R has garnered rave reviews that have been tempered only by a dozen reports of transmission failure as a result of using the launch control function.

Although Nissan prefers not call it launch control – claiming it was never promoted as a feature of the car, even though rivals BMW and Porsche offer it – the function does exist as part of the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) program and has resulted in about a dozen cases of first gear failure overseas when drivers have attempted savage drag starts with the VDC switched off.

Consequently, the engineers in Japan have introduced “enhanced programming that optimises clutch engagement control for improved drivability” for all GT-Rs, with the aim of preserving the hand-built six-speed dual-clutch manumatic transmission.

Nissan “strongly suggests” that GT-R drivers avoid driving with in VDC OFF mode (except when trying to get free of mud or snow), but just to be safe has dropped the launch control step-off point from 4500rpm to only about 2700rpm.

The company claims that, with the VDC left on, the revised programming produces faster acceleration, and that the 2009 model GT-R will race from rest to 60 miles per hour (96.5km/h) in just 3.3 seconds.

Incredibly, that is not only three-tenths faster than the Porsche 911 Turbo, but at least a couple of tenths faster than the superseded 2008 model GT-R (0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds) – which weighs the same, has the same torque and only 4kW less power.

Nissan said it would return to the famed Nurburgring north circuit in Germany soon to hopefully lower the GT-R’s much-vaunted but somewhat contentious lap record time of 7m29s set by test driver Toshio Suzuki, who came to Australia for the local launch.

Regardless of such issues, the four-wheel-drive GT-R remains a potent and technically advanced super-coupe with staggering performance from its 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6, which produces 357kW of power at 6400rpm (5kW less than the European-spec car) and 588Nm of torque between 3200rpm and 5200rpm (the same as overseas).

Australian specifications are essentially the same as for the rest of the world, with 2009 model-year changes including revised spring and damper rates, revised ABS, slightly larger fuel tank (74 litres) and more rigid lower front suspension bushes to reduce deflection.

It comes standard with a three-mode “DampTronic” computerised suspension, Xenon headlights, heated side mirrors, MP3-compatible six-speaker audio with steering wheel controls and 9.3Gb hard-disc drive, colour touchscreen monitor (programmable with up to 11 screens of vehicle and driver data), hill-start assist, push-button ignition, Bluetooth compatibility, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and front, side and curtain airbags.

The GT-R Premium model differs from the regular model only in having black (rather than dark chrome) 20-inch alloys fitted with Bridgestone RE070R tyres (instead of Dunlop SP Sport 600 DSSTs on the standard GT-R), a premium Bose 11-speaker sound system and red seat trim accents.

Nissan Australia’s regular three-year/100,000km warranty and roadside assistance package applies to the GT-R.

As we have reported on many occasions over the car’s extended gestation period – it first appeared as a concept car at the 2001 Tokyo motor show – the GT-R takes aim at the automotive world’s best performance cars, including the benchmark Porsche 911 Turbo, but at half the cost.

As well as the hand-built twin-turbo direct-injection straight-six engine, the GT-R features a dual-clutch gearbox mounted at the rear (unique in a four-wheel drive car), massive 380mm Brembo brakes, an impressive aerodynamic drag figure of 0.27Cd and extensive use of weight-saving aluminium and carbon-fibre throughout the car.

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