After a week behind the wheel of this monster, I still struggle to find words to articulate my ambivalence towards such an impressive piece of machinery.
Nissan’s iconic GT-R is in a league of its own. For many purists, this weapon is the goal. Scrap your McLarens & Ferraris, there are many drivers out there who simply wouldn’t look past the ultimate incarnation of their 2001 Skyline from back in the day. I’ve never had so many people direct message me for a quick spin in a press car – and we’ve had a stellar line-up of whips over the years.
This car, however, is the NISMO variant. Taking your standard GT-R to an atomic level, the GT-R NISMO one of the fastest cars you can buy on the market today. It’s also super rare at present, given 2018 is the first run of this line domestically (that, and they cost a lazy $300k, which is a lot of coin for basically a life-size Fast & Furious Matchbox toy).
The Nissan GT-R NISMO is a racecar, and racecars only ever have one true home – the track. So when you copy and paste such a vehicle onto suburban Sydney roads, you’ve got yourself a headache.
This has to be the most mechanical supercar to ever exist, clunking and knocking its way about the streets. Just like Godzilla itself would smash its own path through a city centre, the GT-R NISMO has a similar effect, dominating the road as if it were the only car on it for miles.
The nickname’s connotations reign true for just about every aspect of this car. The presence of this 1750kg vehicle on the streets is unfathomable, and from behind the wheel, the experience is just as overwhelming.
Even in comfort mode, the suspension is shockingly tight; the carbon body kit bringing it within an extremely uncomfortable proximity to the ground. It couldn’t even leave the dealership without a little peck on the lips. The mammoth wing in itself is enough to turn heads at the traffic lights, more so a theatrical statement rather than having any influence on downforce at 40km/h in a school zone.
There’s an untameable sense of power under your foot, and when you do get a cheeky chance to give it a nudge, you’re equally scared of which way you’re going to end up facing a further 200 metres down the road. The gearbox whine gives you the impression you’re in a fighter jet about to take off, the roar finally taking over the soundtrack at the mid to upper gears, maxing out revs at just over 7 grand.
Unless you’re shifting manually, however, there’s a massive lag from applying the accelerator to actual acceleration – we’re talking at least three seconds here. The gearbox is lightning quick in the prime driving mode, though is constantly shuffling and clunking its way through otherwise.
The GT-R’s infamous launch control could be otherworldly on a track, but like most features of this car, it’s somewhat sacrificed (and often not even possible) in suburbia. Though not all of the car’s practicalities are irrelevant away from a circuit. There is a rather sizeable boot, and to my surprise, a four-seater cabin – though the number of seats on paper and the GT-R’s practical legroom are two separate matters entirely.
So we come back to the age-old dilemma. You can own a helluva lot of supercar for 300 grand, but how much of it can you exploit on the daily? In the case of the GT-R NISMO, it’s not even a matter of squeezing out what you can, it’s about getting from A to B without ruining your day with bumpy frustration or wrapping yourself around a pole.
The battle to summarise the GT-R experience is a credit to how counter-intuitive it is to one’s expectations of a supercar. Perhaps an ‘experience’ is the only appropriate way to put it. As much as annoyance seemed to be my initial reaction, a subtle fondness – nay, a sense of respect – grew on me towards the end of my seven days.
Every person will enjoy a different rush of the senses when at the helm of these wheels, fuelled by every aspect of this car’s iconic infamy, but one consensus to be agreed on is that the Nissan GT-R NISMO is an experience few are likely to forget.