2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition Verdict
Godzilla Goes Bye-Bye
Throughout its 13-month loan, our GT-R Black Edition was in constant motion -- whether as a participant in signature events like our Best Driver's Car (November 2012), in comparison tests against supercars such as the Porsche 911 Turbo S (June 2012), or as a foil to other high-performance machines. One of my most memorable drives was a freeway blast to Chrysler's Arizona Proving Grounds to meet up with the new Shelby Mustang GT500 for our 200-mph attempt (August 2012).
The GT-R was not only a high-powered editorial engine, but a social media motor as well. Our hundreds of Tweets, Instagrams, and Facebook updates generated tens of thousands of hearts, likes, and followers, making it far and away the star of the MT garage.
For obvious reasons, it was a hit among the staff. At the outset of our loan, I promised to treat the GT-R as our Stanley Cup, and cycle all but the rawest Motor Trend staffers through it. Those many nights and weekends ensured we logged some serious miles, but not all of them were pain-free. Early on, two separate high-speed incidents yielded minor body damage to the GT-R and major wallet damage to one of our road test editors. A low-speed parking garage mishap resulted in some paint rubbed off the front corner. Only a month before her departure, a noble attempt to save the nose while exiting a steep driveway accidentally sacrificed the driver-side rocker panel. Your editor-in-chief was also wrongly cited for a sushi stop -- aka a "California roll," which is ironic on many levels. I take stopping and eating very seriously.
While our own faults and foibles resulted in a few dings to sheetmetal and pride, the GT-R performed flawlessly. We experienced no mechanical failures despite countless launches during regular testing and the filming of World's Greatest Drag Race 2. The only a minor incident: a hiccup in the nav system that caused it to reset a half dozen times on two separate occasions. This is currently being addressed by Nissan service bulletin #NTB12-070a.
By the time she went back, we'd racked up nearly 27,000 miles, four tire changes, and some strong opinions.
When first released back in 2008, the GT-R's stunning performance turned the supercar world upside down. In 2009, we named the GT-R our Car of the Year, calling it a technological high-water mark for the audacity of its performance numbers relative to its price. Back then, it was easy to overlook the whirrs and clicks of its transmission and the dull roar that reverberated through the cabin at freeway cruising speeds. In the intervening years, Nissan has smoothed out the transmission, but hasn't fixed the tire noise. Other manufacturers have caught up, chiefly Porsche, whose latest 911 offers much of the performance of a GT-R for a similar price, but with a much quieter cabin and more refined driving experience.
The GT-R also quivers and crashes over potholes and rough pavement, a trait as common to supercars as practically useless back seats (if there even are any) and abysmal fuel economy. The flinty ride is a function of the run-flat tires and stiff suspension and takes some getting used to, but will always remind me of a bit of related cheapness that's harder to forgive. The button I most frequently pushed after ignition is the toggle switch for the dampers. This engages COMF, the comfort setting. That it only takes a bit of the starch out of the ride isn't the issue -- the problem is the brittle creak of the plastic switch and surrounding panel when the button is depressed. Cars costing this much demand more polish.
Tire noise, stiff suspension, and a creaky button are relatively minor annoyances when considering the GT-R's many gifts. It's an excellent daily driver with a driving position that can be tailored to fit. The Black Edition's leather-trimmed Recaro seats absolutely nail the trifecta, providing excellent support on the track, fatigue-free long hauling, and easy ingress/egress. Outward visibility impresses; the trunk is large for the segment; and the transmission has no weakness. Manual purists will whine, but I challenge them to find a gearbox that works better on both the gridlocked 405 freeway and Turn 11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Through four very expensive sets of tires (normal wear only accounted for one set), I've come to respect the GT-R's three greatest traits: grip, responsiveness, and confidence. Despite the noise generated by the standard Dunlop tires and optional Bridgestones, they mate perfectly to the GT-R's phenomenal all-wheel-drive system and are arguably the top two run-flats on the market. This was highlighted by a short stint on a set of regular (non run-flat) ultra high performance tires. Road noise and ride harshness decreased slightly, but grip went away dramatically, often in a frenzy of understeer and heretofore unseen traction-control lights.
Combine this AWD grip with the immediacy of the GT-R's steering and dual-clutch transmission, and you have a formula for giddy, indestructible confidence. Remember that feeling you had at age 17 when you thought you had the world all figured out? That's what the GT-R delivers at every corner or freeway entrance. It is, as GT-R chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno claimed at launch, the all-conditions supercar, suitable for anyone, anywhere, any time. That's why we'll miss it so.
|Total mileage||12 mo/26,938 mi|
|Options||Black Edition Package ($9,500), GT-R Logo Floor Mats ($280)|
|Average fuel economy||1.28 lb/mi|
|Price as tested||$107,600|
|Energy consumption||222 kW-hr/100 mi|
|Maintenance cost||$766.70 (3-oil change, inspection; 1-cabin-air filter, engine-air filter)|
|Normal-wear cost||$2526.92 (4 OE Dunlop tires, mounting, balancing)|
|3-Year Residual Value*||$51,514|
|*Automotive Lease Guide data|
|2013 Nissan GT-R (Black Edition)|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, AWD|
|Engine type||Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads|
|Valvetrain||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|Displacement||231.8 cu in/3799 cc|
|Power (SAE net)||545 hp @ 6400 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||463 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm|
|Weight to power||7.1 lb/hp|
|Transmission||6-speed twin-cl auto|
|Suspension, front; rear||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|Brakes, f;r||15.4-in vented, drilled disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled disc, ABS|
|Wheels, f;r||9.5 x 20-in; 10.5 x 20-in, forged aluminum|
|Tires, f;r|| 255/40ZRF20 97Y; 285/35ZRF20 100Y|
Dunlop SP Sport Maxx
GT600 DSST CTT
|Track, f/r||62.6/63.0 in|
|Length x width x height||183.9 x 74.6 x 54.0 in|
|Turning circle||36.6 ft|
|Curb weight||3887 lb|
|Weight dist, f/r||55/45%|
|Headroom, f/r||38.1/33.5 in|
|Legroom, f/r||44.6/26.4 in|
|Shoulder room, f/r||54.3/50.0 in|
|Cargo volume||8.8 cu ft|
|Acceleration to mph|
|Passing, 45-65 mph||1.4|
|Quarter mile||11.1 sec @ 124.8 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||105 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||1.03 g (avg)|
|MT figure eight||23.0 sec @ 0.91 g (avg)|
|Top-gear revs @ 60 mph||2200 rpm|
|Airbags||Dual front, front side, front curtain|
|Basic warranty||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|Powertrain warranty||5 yrs/60,000 mi|
|Roadside assistance||5 yrs/60,000 mi|
|Fuel capacity||19.5 gal|
|EPA city/hwy econ||16/23 mpg|
|Energy cons, city/hwy||211/147 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 emissions||1.05 lb/mi|
|Recommended fuel||Unleaded premium|
|CO2 emissions||0.77 lb/mi|
|Recommended fuel||Unleaded premium|