Spannerhead Dot


September 13, 2011 by Matt

Nissan GT-R

Let’s discuss the Nissan GT-R for a minute. Here we have an example of a car which, by the numbers, should not be able to do what it can do.

What are the numbers, you ask? The relevant ones: 530 bhp, 3,800 lbs. It’s down 22 hp and 32 hp on the Lexus LFA and Ferrari 458, respectively, and weighs over 500 lbs more than either. The horsepower deficit may not disadvantage it quite as much, but 500 lbs is a massive weight handicap in the automotive world.

So what can it do? In spite of the significant power-to-weight ratio gap, it beats both the LFA and 458 around the Nürburgring (unless you count the purpose-built, special-edition LFA). And in a recent gratuitous drag race staged by Motor Trend, it bested 10 other cars, some very heavy hitters among them.

Jeremy Clarkson, in his review of the car, calls it a “machine that [takes] the laws of physics and simply break[s] them in half.” And Car and Driver, in their “Best Handling Car for Less Than $100K” comparo, notes “Someone needs to explain to the GT-R that weight is the enemy, because it certainly doesn’t drive like the heaviest car here.”

Nissan GT-R Engine VR38DETT

As I see it, there are 3 possible explanations for its seeming ability to tamper with the spacetime continuum:

  1. Either the power is deliberately underrated (not uncommon among Japanese automakers while the informal 276 hp cap was in effect) or the car’s weight is overquoted. Not really sure why you’d do that last one.
  2. The relationship between the engine management, powertrain and chassis is honed to such a fine degree as to make the car supremely effective at putting its power to the ground and responding to commands from the driver. Given the handbuilt nature of the car and reports that each transmission is specifically matched to a complementary engine throughout the manufacturing process, and Japanese automakers’ history of state-of-the-art AWD systems, this possibility is very plausible.
  3. The car exhibits some kind of self-directed telekinetic ability acquired via a pact with the devil. Hmm…maybe.

In all seriousness, it’s an amazing achievement. It’s a shame the fat-lower-lipped fascia is so hideous, but I can’t knock the technical execution. In many ways, especially given that its price is an order of magnitude lower, it’s even more impressive than what Lexus accomplished with the LFA. And given how good the Lexus supercar is, that’s high praise indeed.

Filed under: Nissan


  1. John D says:

    There is only one word that can adequately describe this car. SCHWING!

    • John D says:

      …or maybe ‘YOWZA’. That’s the second word that came to mind. And now (much like Natalie Embruglia) I’m torn. Fortunately I’m not an engineer or else I’d start articulating about which word is technically more indicative of the corresponding impulsive primeval emotion elicited by such a machine. (Which is a good thing, because I think I used up all my big words for the day and should limit my vocabulary to three letter words for the rest of the day or risk dain bramage. Oh crap…)

  2. John D says:

    (I take it upon myself to counterpoint your many accurate and insightful articulations. The ying to your yang. For the sake of political correctness. Just so you know… ;)

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