2009 Nissan GT-R Long-Term Road Test


2009 Nissan GT-R: Does It Have Character?

January 19, 2009

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Even though I'm not driving our Nissan GT-R anymore, I've been thinking about what some previous commenters had to say about the car's character -- or specifically the lack thereof. Here are my thoughts on the subject after my two weeks with the car.

First, I'll let you in on a little secret: this was my first time driving our GT-R, and to be honest, I wasn't all that pumped about driving it before I took the keys. Of course, I wasn't going to turn it down or anything, but most of the potential excitement you would expect wasn't there. I was tired from the years of GT-R hype, didn't particularly care for the car's styling and wasn't drooling over its performance capabilities. You could say I was "over" the car before I even drove it.

However, those feelings changed the more time I spent with the car. It didn't happen immediately -- I remember a coworker asking me what I thought of the GT-R after a few days, and I replied, "I'm not sure." But as each day passed, I found myself looking forward to driving it more and more.

Is "character" the reason? Perhaps, but it's a different type of character than you might expect. This is Nissan's sports car that you can use everyday. I drove my wife and daughter around in it, and not just as a test but for real drives. I used it for mundane stuff like grocery shopping and picking up dry cleaning. I gave friends rides in it and talked to wide-eyed bystanders at gas stations. And, yes, I took it out one early morning to blitz my favorite driving road near my house.

I'd argue there's character from the car's technology, too, with the automated manual transmission (like it or not) and the configurable gauge display. It's the Japanese approach to the same goal Porsche sets for its 911 -- the everyday sports car. It's fun and engaging to drive the GT-R because you can use it in so many ways, and it's never intimidating.

There's no getting around the fact that our GT-R still doesn't sound exceptionally engaging. (Perhaps an owner could address this with aftermarket components?) But as for the styling, I've decided that in a Manga sort of way, it has a look that's distinctive and different. And as for the stiff ride quality, I didn't find it to be particularly bothersome.

How do you want to spend $70,000 for a sports car? Corvette Z06? Stripper 911? Loaded Cayman S? It all depends on what you want. But the GT-R is far from bland.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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