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The Japanese can seem like a strange bunch at times. Theirs is a nation that likes its fish raw, its alphabets plentiful and its used underwear dispensed from public vending machines. Most baffling to us, however, is the fact that this delightfully odd nation loves its 200mph supercars dirt-cheap and dripping with absurd but loveable technology.
We can't claim to agree with Japan's ways all the time, but we're more than happy to test the Nissan GT-R, a sports car that offers all the thrills of a for a mere £62,550. The model reviewed here is the top-of-the-range Black Edition, which is available with optional black paintwork, darker alloy wheels, a black ceiling and one-off black and red seats.
The GT-R is as unconventional a supercar as it's possible to find, particularly where looks are concerned. It's an angular, vent-ridden beast, and its designers seem to have drawn inspiration from American muscle cars, European thoroughbreds and mud-churning rally cars all at once.
Nissan employed its American design team to craft the car's rear and Nissan Europe to sculpt its roof line. These western influences haven't robbed the GT-R of its crazy Japanese sensibilities, though. The rest of the car's bodywork is a beautiful hotchpotch of square lines and vents, apparently inspired by the giant armoured robots from theanime series.
The little engine that could (rip your face off)
The GT-R sports a rather unusual choice of engine. Rather than opt for a large 12- or eight-cylinder V12 or V8 as found in most supercars, Nissan's fitted its offering with a comparatively petite, 3.8-litre V6 engine, of the sort usually found in weedy mid-sized saloons.
But don't be fooled by this apparently miserly decision. In typical Japanese fashion, Nissan's chosen the path of the mentalist and bolted on a pair of parallel Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries turbochargers. If these sound crazy, that's because they are. They compress and force additional air into the engine so more fuel can be added, leading to bigger, more powerful explosions in each of the engine's six cylinders. The end result is a quite impressive 485hp at 6,400rpm.
Four by four
The GT-R again sidesteps the supercar norms where its drivetrain is concerned. Unlike most high-performance models, which are driven by the rear wheels, this plucky Japanese upstart utilises an all-wheel-drive system that turns all four wheels at once.
This provides a number of benefits, most notably prodigious grip when launching the car from a standstill. With all four wheels clutching the tarmac, the GT-R achieves a 0-60mph sprint time of 3.5 seconds, which is a couple of hundredths of a second quicker than most supercars -- theincluded.
Numbers will never quite do justice to the sheer brutality of the GT-R's acceleration. In the 3.5 seconds that it takes to reach 60mph, your facial expression will have changed half a dozen times, from smile to grimace to slack-jawed disbelief and back again. The colour of your underwear, it must be noted, may also change.