NISSAN GT-R 523hp MSRP: $97,820
The Nissan GT-R is utterly unlike any other car in the Japanese automaker's lineup. With its scaldingly powerful twin-turbo V-6 engine, all-wheel drive, and automated manual transmission, it's a supercar in all but price tag--a bargain Bugatti Veyron at less than one-tenth the price, though admittedly without all the cachet to spare.
The GT-R descends from a long line of Japanese Skyline sportscars. It's one of the best-looking versions yet; the rakish roofline cuts into the rear end with tomahawk clarity, while the arching, reaching front fenders imply animalistic urges under the hood. It's completely unlike the sensuous Italian offerings and the all-business German exoticars--an Ultraman among ultra-sportscars.
In its latest iteration, the four-seater brings with it a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 that pumps out 473 horsepower. That's if you listen to Nissan's official estimates; enthusiast magazines have tested the GT-R on a dynamometer, which measures horsepower, and come up with figures far higher. Coupling that amazing power to a stout paddle-shifted automated manual transmission (no clutch pedal here) and a variable-power-split, all-wheel-drive system, the GT-R achieves the unthinkable: It outraces the likes of Porsche 911 Turbos and Chevrolet Corvette Z06s, while ringing in at a price tag in the low-$90,000 range.
Its handling is brilliant, and it's adjustability gives the GT-R something of a cushion on public roads--but you'll never mistake it for an Infiniti G37. The GT-R's somewhat punishing ride and noisy transmission remind you constantly that you're in charge of a machine that can rocket to 60 mph in about 2.8 seconds and spin around the world's most difficult racetracks faster than any other car ever has.
Nissan has set an impossibly tough price-to-power ratio with the GT-R. It's the performance equal of cars costing twice as much. And though there's a bit of detachment from its driving experience--its capabilities are so awesome and user-friendly, it's a bit like driving a video game car--it's absolutely stunning to be at the helm of such mechanical magnificence.
Engine VR38DETT Twin Turbo V6
Power 523 bhp / 390 KW @ 6400 rpm
Torque 612 Nm / 451 ft lbs @ 3200 rpm
Gearbox GR6 6 speed Semi-Automatic
All wheel drive
0-60mph 2.8 sec