2012 Nissan GT-R Coupe - FROM $89,950
The 2012 Nissan GT-R proves that world-class performance can be attained without stratospheric prices.
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Nissan GT-R gains more power, supplemented by a few styling and aerodynamic changes to the exterior and a few revisions to the interior. A new GT-R Black Edition debuts.
Where high technology meets high performance, you find some serious automobiles. As an example, look no further than the 2012 Nissan GT-R. As the representative of Nissan's latest technology, the GT-R packs some pretty serious hardware, including a fire-breathing twin-turbo V6, a dual-clutch automated manual transmission, an advanced all-wheel-drive system and a sport-focused suspension with adaptive dampers. The GT-R's performance numbers push it into supercar category, yet the Nissan maintains a significantly lower price point.
This year the Nissan GT-R expands its performance envelope even farther. Power output rises to 530 horsepower (45 hp more than last year) and 448 pound-feet of torque (up from 434) thanks to the combination of revised turbo boost and more free-flowing intake and exhaust systems. The already impressive brakes also have been enlarged slightly to better deal with the added performance potential.
The GT-R's appearance gets a mild freshening that goes beyond just a few cosmetic tweaks. A reshaped front fascia improves cooling of the engine and brakes, while other bodywork changes reduce overall aerodynamic drag and increase downforce. Nissan says the new wheels are both lighter and stronger than before. High-intensity LED running lights might be the most visually noticeable difference for the 2012 model, however.
Within the cabin, a carbon-fiber center stack is new, as are matte-black switches and a redesigned instrument panel pad. The backrests of the front seats have been reshaped. And this year's Black Edition comes with unique wheels, seats and interior colors.
We still have a few criticisms, albeit minor ones. We wish a traditional manual transmission had been made optional -- not just to satisfy the purists but also to avoid the awkward low-speed performance of the dual-clutch transmission. The GT-R's bulk (it weighs around 3,800 pounds) also makes it feel heavier in tight corners than the typical supercar, while Nissan's stiff-legged ride might be of concern to drivers who value comfort more than outright performance.
Even so, the 2012 Nissan GT-R is an amazing car, as easy to drive as a Nissan Altima yet able to easily match the performance of $500,000 supercars. If you take the GT-R's price as a base line for comparison, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 can keep up with the Nissan, but only if commanded by a truly gifted pilot. The Porsche 911 is competitive in regard to cost, but only the more expensive models (notably the Porsche 911 Turbo) can match it. In the end, the triple threat of performance, technology and price means there's pretty much nothing like the 2012 GT-R.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sport coupe with a 2+2 seating layout that is offered only in the Premium trim level.
Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, Brembo brakes, an electronically adjustable suspension, leather/faux-suede upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and an 11-speaker Bose CD/MP3 audio system with two subwoofers, satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. Also standard is a multifunction driver-configurable information monitor and a hard-drive-based navigation system with 9.4 gigabytes available for audio storage, real-time traffic and weather.
A new GT-R Black Edition adds lightweight black wheels, a unique black and red interior and leather Recaro seats. Options are few and include a no-cost Cold Weather package (darker wheels, Dunlop all-season run-flat tires and a unique coolant-to-water ratio for faster engine warmup), a rearview camera and an extra-cost "Super Silver" paint job that has been given three layers of clear coat and then polished by hand.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Nissan GT-R is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine that generates 530 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission routes this power to the ground via an advanced AWD system.
The previous GT-R was already one of the most impressive performers that have graced our test track, but the 2012 model positively stunned us into silence. The new GT-R reaches 60 mph in only 3.1 seconds -- more than a half-second quicker than before. The 2012 changes also improve handling, as witnessed by a 74.7-mph blast through our slalom and a sticky 1.02g on our skid pad (previously a 71.1-mph run and 1.00g, respectively).
Standard safety features on the GT-R include antilock Brembo brakes, stability control and traction control. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are also included. In Edmunds brake testing of a previous GT-R, we've recorded a best 60-0-mph stopping distance of 98 feet, which ranks among the shortest distances we've ever seen.
Interior Design and Special Features
The rather austere cabin of the 2012 Nissan GT-R is meant to convey an impression of performance and technology. The front seats have prominent bolsters and faux-suede upholstery inserts to keep occupants firmly located during high-G maneuvers, yet they remain comfortable during long-distance drives. The interior itself is well-constructed, with plenty of soft-touch materials, and most controls have a solid, positive feel. Opting for the Black Edition spices up the interior's appearance significantly.
The navigation screen can be used to display a variety of parameters, such as G-force during cornering, steering input, gear position and lap times. If this all sounds a bit video gamelike, there's a good reason. This interface has been designed by Polyphony Digital, the developers of the popular Gran Turismo series of driving simulation games.
Entering and exiting the GT-R takes no more gymnastic aptitude than that required by more conventional cars -- a rarity among high-performance exotics. The rear seats are much smaller and difficult to access, but they are adequate for child-sized passengers. Trunk space is commendable for this type of car, providing a deep well that can accommodate up to 8.8 cubic feet of cargo.
The 2012 Nissan GT-R achieves an impressive level of performance by utilizing technology rather than brute force. Instead of a large-displacement V8 that makes a burly rumble, the Nissan's twin-turbo V6 sounds like the sort of jet turbine you'd find in a sci-fi flick. All four wheels work in concert to maintain a tenacious grip on the asphalt, and the car accelerates past the national speed limit with startling immediacy. Braking is likewise as urgent and powerful.
The GT-R really shines on serpentine roads or racetracks, where its handling limits rank with the top supercars. The suspension is unfazed by speed, so the car tracks through curves with robotic precision. The steering is as communicative and responsive as we've ever experienced in an all-wheel-drive car. However, the GT-R's curb weight of 3,800 pounds keeps it from feeling as nimble as a Porsche 911.
The GT-R is much less polished in the confines of a congested city. The shift action of the transmission is clunky and loud while in automatic mode in stop-and-go traffic, and it will clatter like a racing transmission at a walking pace. When the road is open, the GT-R regains its composure, and the transmission shifts quickly and positively in automatic mode. On the whole, the transmission responds better when it's shifted manually. Road noise can be intrusive at times, but we think it's a small price to pay for the 2012 Nissan GT-R's otherworldly performance.