First Drive: 2016 Nissan GT-R

2016 Nissan GT-R 45th Anniversary Gold Edition

Yes, the 2+2 GT-R looks great. It has a severely sloping roof, huge quad exhaust pipes, four LED headlights, matching four-ringed taillights and a fixed wing on the trunk; muscular wheel wells and aero blades on the fenders’ edges provides optimum airflow around the tires and along the body.

As slick as this car looks, however, the sheet metal covers up the fact that GT-R this is a supercar. For the uninitiated, that means the GT-R’s top speed is in the 200 mph category.

And its nitrogen-filled, high-performance run flat 20-inch tires suggest that the Nissan GT-R can achieve its top speed of 196 mph. The 3.8-liter dual turbocharged V6 engine generates 545 horsepower and 463 foot-pounds of torque. The dual clutch six-speed automatic transmission shifts gears at warp speed.

That transmission can be put in manual mode for the paddle shifters to be employed. This car can get to 60 mph from a standstill in three seconds. Its speed is breathtaking and that’s what can get you in trouble.

The V6 engine has a little bit of growl on startup, but no visceral sounds that indicate the power under the GT-R’s hood. It’s like a sheep in wolf’s clothing. That’s what can get you into trouble, not knowing just how fast the car is and the respect with which it should be driven.

Nissan claims that the GT-R has the first independent rear transaxle all-wheel-drive system that optimizes weight balance and handling. It is rear-wheel biased; it sends all of the torque to the rear wheels, but can split power up to 50-50 between front and rear wheels depending on the speed of the car, lateral acceleration, steering angles, tire slip, road surface and yaw rate.

Nissan says, “Of note is a special GT-R-specific yaw-rate feedback control, which measures the differences between the target yaw rate calculated from steering angle and actual yaw rate detected by the yaw-rate sensor and G sensor to adjust torque bias.”

That is supercar jargon and the company went on to say that the midship layout places the transmission, transfer case and final drive at the rear of the vehicle, without the use of traditional torque tubes, allowing the suspension to operate independently and optimizing tire grip at each corner.

2016 Nissan GT-R 45th Anniversary Gold Edition

The faster I pushed the car, the more stable it became as the all-wheel-drive system sent more torque to the front wheels. All four wheels stuck to the pavement like it was flypaper. Cornering was precise and acceleration was effortless. This car was really, really fast.

Although most folks have no idea what it is, the Nissan GT-R has been amongst the most highly regarded automobiles for almost 50 years. Yes, the GT-R has been around in one iteration or the other since 1969. This latest rendition has been with us since 2007. Of course, it has been updated.

The 2016 model has been left pretty much alone. Last year, the car got a recalibrated suspension for a more sophisticated ride, LED headlights, front and rear end revamps and a premium interior, a quieter cabin brought about by a standard active noise cancellation system. It also had carbon style instrument templates.

I drove the 45th Anniversary Edition with a special gold paint job, gold tone VIN plate inside the engine compartment and a plaque with the name of the technician who assembled the handmade engine.

The car has driver adjustable shocks, the settings are normal, comfort and R Nissan said for maximum suspension compliance (read track). The same three stage adjustability existed for the GT-R’s VDC (vehicle dynamic control) system and transmission shifts.

The car has speed-sensitive power rack and pinion steering which provided plenty of feedback from the raod. With that much speed, brakes become vastly important. The GT-R is fitted with Brembo monoblock six-piston front and four piston rear calipers with 15.35-inch front and 15.0-inch rear full floating, cross drilled two piece rotors.

The passenger compartment is relatively spacious, sight lines are great and there is plenty of room for a front-seat passenger. I never got the feeling of being cramped while trying to see out of a cave. The GT-R is a very easy driving machine considering what it could do.

The only option on my test GT-R was its $1,000 45th anniversary premium paint job. GT-R logo floor mats are $296 and there’s a sizable $1,595 freight charge. Add that to the $101,770 based price and the sticker comes to $104,660.

Yes, that is six figures. But other supercars, and the GT-R does qualify as such, will cost you a whole lot more.

Frank S. Washington is editor of