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2010 Nissan GT-R review:

2010 Nissan GT-R

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Most cars that come in at over 80 grand, even ones intended for fast driving, incorporate a luxury element. The car companies figure that if you can afford such an expensive ride, you are used to the nicer things in life and expect them from your car. But the GT-R dumps any luxury expectations, even down to its cabin materials, which mostly consist of leather and plastic.

The GT-R may not be a luxury car, but it offers a decent navigation system, complete with traffic avoidance.

However, Nissan serves up a solid cabin tech suite with the GT-R; GPS navigation and Bluetooth phone support are in keeping with the car's overall high-tech nature. The navigation system--a hard-drive-based unit--doesn't have the prettiest maps around, but it is very functional, offering live traffic and dynamic routing around problems.

As usual when there is a hard drive present for the navigation system, space is reserved for an onboard music library. The stereo rips CDs with its single-disc player, tagging the resulting tracks appropriately from a Gracenote database. Strangely, the system didn't recognize our test CD, Gorillaz's Demon Days, suggesting the database was out of date.

Nissan also includes a compact flash reader, a legacy music source that we imagine will eventually be dropped. What hasn't appeared in the GT-R since its launch is iPod integration, something Nissan will add for the 2011 model year, along with Bluetooth streaming audio.

The 11-speaker Bose audio system is almost up to the task of drowning out road and engine noise. This system produces good response across frequencies, with bass helped by two subwoofers set between the rear seats. We found highs a little shrill, even though the A-pillar tweeters look tiny. A centerfill speaker helps round out the sound and contributes to good staging in the cabin.

Custom gauge screens push the GT-R far into the video game realm.

A real treat with the cabin electronics are the plethora of digital gauges available on the center screen, showing everything from turbo pressure to accelerator pedal angle to fuel economy. The driver can save four customized screens, showing whichever collection of gauges she deems most useful, although we found little opportunity to look at this screen while driving hard.

And speaking of fuel economy, it is not a strong point for the GT-R. Unlike the Audi S4 we tested recently, which balanced performance with decent mileage, the GT-R burns gas in bucket loads. EPA ratings are 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. In our testing, which favored fast cornering, we came in at 16.2 mpg. Expect to spend a lot of time at the gas station with the GT-R.

At least gas stops will be a chance to gather admirers. Those in the know will recognize the GT-R's beefy front end and cap-like roof instantly. Others will at least know there's something special about the GT-R, its mix of muscle car and coupe styling unlike anything else on the road.

In sum
Although we found some serious problems for the everyday driver with the 2010 Nissan GT-R, it is one of the best track cars for the money. Nissan has already announced an update for the 2011 model year, addressing ride comfort and cabin tech, and notably adding iPod support. Because of these upcoming changes, most potential buyers should wait.

As for this model year, the GT-R earns a top score for performance, as all of its high-tech gear leads to amazing capability in the corners and rocket ship acceleration. We dock it only a point for its miserable fuel economy. As for cabin tech, Nissan covers the basics, and gets a boost from the traffic integration with navigation, the Bose audio system, and the unique and customizable performance computer. We also give it an excellent score for design, as the body is unmistakable while retaining some subtlety, and the cabin electronics interface is intuitive.

Spec box
Model 2010 Nissan GT-R
Trim Premium
Power train Twin turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6
EPA fuel economy 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 16.2 mpg
Navigation Standard hard drive-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3 compatible single disc
MP3 player support none
Other digital audio Compact flash, satellite radio
Audio system Bose 11 speaker system
Driver aids Racing diagnostics computer
Base price $84,060
Price as tested $88,340

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