Friday, September 12, 2008

The Nissan GT-R – Athlete or Axe Murderer?

If you’ve never seen nor heard of the Nissan GT-R, then you’re probably living in a type of bubble that boasts several guest houses; tennis court; indoor and outdoor lap pools; home theater and nightclub for 200. And your Pap says Good For You, Stay That Way!

For the rest of us, we’ve had the displeasure of seeing these cars on streets like Roscoe, Burbank, 196th, Hoover and on and on. And you can’t get away from it because it’s more powerful than you – it’s Godzilla and it’s pure brute force. Other sports cars make associations with a race horse, a shark or an agile cat – all lithe animals with precision movement. But not the GT-R, it’s adopted the persona of the Japanese monster Godzilla. It mindlessly and aimlessly tears down buildings and turns cars into pancakes. Yeah, it’s powerful, but for what?...what need was filled that was not previously by say, an Italian exotic? Yes, in the $70k range, it’s a fraction of the cost for cars we’re used to seeing around L.A., but is it really necessary to give that much power to the masses? – “with great power comes responsibility.” Give the Porsche 911 Turbo that much power and it’s an athlete; give it to the GT-R and it’s an axe murderer.

Currently, the GT-R does 0-60 in 3.2 seconds! And they’re making an even faster version next year called the GT-R V Spec. For now, performance is in the upper end of exotic car territory. But unlike your Ferrari, your Porsche Turbo or your Lamborghini…well, actually your Pap just said it all. The GT-R is simply unlike those cars. Nobody within a 5-carat stone’s throw of Sunset Boulevard recognizes this car because quite simply, it looks like a $25k Mitsubishi, $249/mo. with your good credit. The car looks like it’s been kicked around a few times by the large foot of an upright lizard, which is where the car seems to get some of its severe creases and tumultuous angles. It doesn’t look terrible (it’s not like BMW designers got their hands on it) but it does have a certain childish, remote control car type styling.

You certainly can boast of the performance, maybe tolerate the spine-compacting suspension and even overlook the cheap interior, but in better parts of L.A., the folks you share the road with aren’t so open-minded. Nissan execs think they can entice you to buy their GT-R rather than a 911 Turbo since it costs half as much and performs “better.” But we’ve seen mark-ups on the GT-R pushing the price to over $125k. And then we put down the puff-puff and looked again…and our bloodshot eyes did not lie, it was in fact $125,000 after the dealer mark-up. At a minimum, six-figures can be the expected market-price of the GT-R.

Six damn figures for a Nissan! No doubt valets and car-wash attendants will appreciate this car. And the prospect of having the car serviced alongside a Nissan Sentra and being offered free Folgers coffee at the service bay does sweeten the pot. Pleeze! There’s a market for this car, but it’s not going to lure 911 Turbo drivers away from Porsche, and you’ll rarely see them in Beverly Hills. And if you do…Pssss – they were bussed in.

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