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Nissan’s 2014 GT-R Takes Performance Sports Cars to a Higher Level - Much Higher

Give Nissan GT-R a deserted, twisting country road and it comes alive.
Give Nissan GT-R a deserted, twisting country road and it comes alive.
Nissan/Ron Moorhead

2014 Nissan GT-R


Though there are a few drivers who have declared the Nissan GTR a “Gator” to drive I have not seen any resemblance to an animal that can bite your head off as quickly as that reptilian. Is the GTR a beast? Absolutely. This Nissan has the capability to scare the living stuffing out of you, if you let your attention wonder. However, the GTR is so full of electronically controlled management systems that you would have to do some really, really dumb things for some sort of calamity to befall you. There is a saying in auto racing; you can’t beat physics.

You can see the tension in the Nissan GT-R design, it is ready and willing to hit the road.
Ron Moorhead

The beautiful 2014 Nissan GTR sitting in my drive right now is a masterful collection of design and technology in the automotive world. It is also a vehicle that has the power and agility to be ranked right up there with Porsche Turbo, perhaps not quite as sophisticated. I say not as sophisticated because the Nissan tends to lean toward raw expression of speed where the Porsche Turbo is an equal on the road or track but leans a bit toward luxury in the passenger compartment.

The very first time I met the GTR I was smitten. On a small race track in the desolate Nevada desert, I got the feel for how fast and how well the GTR can perform. To say it is a rocket ship with four wheels is as close as I can come except to add that it is a rocket ship that can take hairpin turns nearly as fast as it can go in a straight line.

I have not put a stop watch to the GT-R but it has been reported to hit just a tick over 3 seconds getting up to 60 mile per hour from a standing start. From the driver’s seat I can tell you that it seems that number is spot on, thanks to its 545 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. A hand assembled engine by the way and that is attested to by the signature plaque attached to every GT-R engine. My test car’s engine was built by a very Japanese sounding chap, Nobumitsu Gozu. And I thank him very much.

Getting that level of horsepower to the road can be quite a challenge for engineers but the Nissan folks did their job well, assembling a all-wheel drive system that not only can handle the extreme demands placed on it from the massive torque. And massive torque it has, with 463 lb-ft. the GT-R will set you back in your seat quicker than an Apollo Rocket.

Looking to ever improve the GT-R, Nissan engineers supplemented the extraordinary handling characteristics by increasing the body rigidity. By reducing body flex, even slightly allows the suspension to do the work it is designed to do without compensating for movement of the body or chassis.

On the suspension side Nissan made specification changes to the shock absorbers and springs as well as anti-roll bars lowering the center of gravity, improving high-speed handling and a more refined ride. Refined ride is not how I would classify the suspension of this or any super performance car. These automobiles are not meant to coddle you in silky comfort. Yet, surprisingly, Nissan engineers have provide us with a car that will absolutely astound you with handling and power that makes your eyes water. On the other hand the GT-R is not going to beat your body to a pulp as some other high-performance cars will.

As impressed as I am with the prowess of my test GT-R there in the back of my mind lies the fact that my Premium model is not the most outrageous performer in the GT-R ranks. Taking this ultimate sports car a step or two closer to radical is the Track Edition. Here Nissan moves even closer to a pure racecar, if that could even be possible for a street machine.

The GT-R Track Edition is available in very limited basis as a mere 150 will find their way to the USA. Aimed at impressing on the track as well as the street, the Track Edition receives specially tuned suspension system along with brake cooling guides to assist in keeping the brakes cool under aggressive driving. A modified front spoiler adds carbon fiber air ducts to direct air to the areas that need additional cooling. Even the rear seat is removed, replaced by a lightweight quilted mat. After all, every ounce counts.

Like most specially built sports cars the GT-R has a unique design. The GT-R’s front, mid-engine configuration helps keep the balance as neutral as possible. Another factor in this idea of striving for a unique race car balance is Nissan’s ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system. What all those letters mean is the transmission, transfer case and final drive units are placed at the rear axle, all to maximize handling capability and optimizing weight distribution.

Nearly complete driver control over adjustability is accomplished via set-up switches located at the center of the instrument panel. The driver can adjust transmission, shock absorbers as well as the Vehicle Dynamic Control system. Three distinct settings include Normal (Ha, this car is anything but normal), Special or R. Here again Nissan engineers strove to build a car that will be 100 percent thrill ride.

Do not let me misinform you as to the level of sophistication hidden within the GT-R. This is a sports car that has a high level of unadulterated performance. However, this is also an automobile that I would not hesitate for a second to jump behind the wheel and set off on a cross country trek. It may be a beast but it is a very civilized beast. Just don’t let the beast get the better of you. The Nissan GT-R goes to the top of my list of automobiles I lust for.

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