Full 2011 Nissan GT-R Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Nissan GT-R is no longer offered in a base trim level, leaving the Premium model as the sole choice. Nissan has retuned the suspension for greater comfort, while the exterior has darker wheel center caps, double clear-coat paint on the front and rear fascias and revised rear cooling ducts. Automatic headlights, speed-sensitive windshield wipers, iPod connectivity, streaming Bluetooth audio and DVD playback are all now standard. Furthermore, real-time traffic and weather capabilities have been added to the navigation system.
A supercar can often be seen as an embodiment of an automaker's core philosophy. Some carmakers employ massive engines that churn out brutal amounts of power while others feature jaw-dropping beauty and fantastic visions of the future. In Nissan's case, the 2011 GT-R showcases how stratospheric performance can be achieved through high technology while still allowing a relative bargain in the supercar realm.
Now in its third year, the 2011 Nissan GT-R continues to be one of the most breathtaking performance cars available. It accelerates to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and stomps the quarter-mile in less than 12. Handling is likewise impressive, with quick steering and an advanced all-wheel-drive system that keeps all four tire patches solidly tethered to the pavement. To achieve this, the GT-R doesn't ask much of the driver, and indeed it's one of easiest cars to drive in its class.
As superb as Nissan's supercar is, there is still room for improvement. For 2011, the GT-R receives a suspension retuning to reduce some of the ride harshness that was one of our complaints in the previous two years. Nissan also saw fit to discontinue the base model and add a few standard features to the surviving Premium GT-R. What remains of our gripes is the lack of a traditional manual transmission and the GT-R's relative heft when compared to other high-performance cars.
Even so, no similarly priced car can challenge the GT-R for its all-around dominance. The new Lotus Evora represents an eyebrow-raising alternative, but sacrifices in comfort and convenience could scare off some drivers. The two-seat Corvette Z06 is also worthy of consideration, but even still, only a truly gifted pilot would be able to keep up with the GT-R. It's only when you start looking at cars like the Porsche 911 GT3 that you'll find the GT-R outclassed, but at that point the price of entry is considerably higher. In the end, the 2011 Nissan GT-R remains one of the smartest supercar purchases in recent memory.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Nissan GT-R is a high-performance sport coupe with a 2+2 seating layout. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels shod with high-performance tires, automatic xenon headlights, Brembo brakes, an electronically adjustable suspension, leather/faux suede upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, Bluetooth, keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control and an 11-speaker Bose CD/MP3 audio system with two subwoofers, satellite radio, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth 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 are also supported.
Options are few and include a no-cost Cold Weather package (Dunlop all-season run-flat tires, a unique coolant-to-water ratio and a darker wheel finish) and an extra-cost "Super Silver" paint job that is triple clear-coated and hand polished.
Powertrains and Performance
The Nissan GT-R is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that generates 485 hp and 434 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission routes this power to the ground via an advanced all-wheel-drive system. In testing, we've timed the GT-R from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. The quarter-mile flashes by in 11.6 seconds at 118.9 mph. Fuel economy registers an EPA-estimated 16 city/21 highway mpg and 18 mpg combined -- about what is expected from a high-performance car.
Standard safety features on the GT-R include massive antilock Brembo brakes, stability control and traction control. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are also included. In brake testing, 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 2011 Nissan GT-R's cabin conveys a mix of performance, technology and seriousness. The well-shaped front seats with Alcantara inserts keep occupants firmly anchored during high-g maneuvers, yet remain comfortable over long distances. The interior itself is well-constructed with plenty of soft-touch materials. Most controls have a solid, positive feel.
Notably, the navigation screen can be used to display a variety of car and performance parameters, such as g-force, steering input, gear position and lap times. If this all sounds a bit videogamelike, there's a good reason. This interface was 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 of regular cars, which is a rarity among high-performance exotics. The rear seats are much smaller and difficult to access, but they are adequate for child-size passengers. Trunk space is commendable for this type of car, providing a deep well that can accommodate up to 8.8 cubic feet.
Nearly everything about the Nissan GT-R exudes an aura of high-performance through high-technology. Instead of the raucous roar of a big-displacement V8, the Nissan's twin-turbo V6 makes a jetlike whoosh and whistle. With all four wheels working feverishly to maintain grip, acceleration is immediate and doesn't let up even as you pass extra-legal speeds. Braking is likewise urgent, and just as impressive.
On serpentine roads or racetracks, the GT-R is a marvel of handling dynamics. Even our skid pad rating of 0.94g belies this supercar's road-holding prowess. The suspension seems unaffected by road imperfections all the way up to its very high limits as the GT-R tracks through curves with robotic precision. All of this is aided by steering feel that is as communicative and responsive as we've ever experienced in an all-wheel-drive car. The heavy curb weight and large proportions do keep the GT-R from feeling as tossable and lithe as a Lotus or Porsche 911, though.
The GT-R is much less composed and polished in the confines of a congested city. The transmission is clunky and loud in stop-and-go traffic, with awkward lurches and a disturbing metallic clatter emitted when driven at walking speeds. In free-flowing conditions at normal speeds, the GT-R regains its composure with smoother shifts and takeoffs when the transmission is in automatic mode. Road noise can be intrusive at times, but we think it's a small price to pay for the 2011 Nissan GT-R's otherworldly performance.