2012 Nissan GT-R review:

2012 Nissan GT-R

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Part of the GT-R's handling expertise comes from its electronically controlled suspension. As in the previous model year, it includes a comfort setting. And while there is a noticeable difference between Race, Normal, and Comfort modes, there is not particular softness in the last. The GT-R's Comfort mode gives it a ride like a typical sports car, similar to the fixed suspension in the Nissan 370Z.

If you want a car you can drive fast on the weekends that can also serve as a commute vehicle, and you don't care if it can't hit 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, a BMW is a better bet. The GT-R is a little too rough for dual duty. But its dual-clutch transmission handles the boring low-speed stuff just fine, without clunky shifts.

Despite the fact that loved ones won't want to ride with you on a leisurely cruise down to the coast, the GT-R comes with the full Nissan cabin tech suite, with all sorts of useful electronics for road trips. The hard-drive-based navigation system is the same one used by Nissan for a few years now, showing traffic and 3D maps. For the GT-R, topographical maps would have been a huge improvement, useful for checking out the upcoming terrain when racing down lonely canyon roads.

The navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive, leading to quick refresh times.

The system's touch screen works as well as ever, and it also supports very good voice command. It actually understood when we said "Tehama," the name of an alley street near CNET headquarters, something most voice command systems struggle with.

A Bluetooth phone system also comes standard with the GT-R, and supports dial-by-name through voice command.

Nissan added a few audio sources for 2012. The GT-R can now integrate with iPods and play music from Bluetooth streaming devices. There is also the onboard hard drive, to which you can rip music.

The Bose audio system, with 11 speakers, sounds very good. It has to compete with the sound of the engine, transmission, and road, but has enough watts to pump out the volume. Two subwoofers don't hurt either.

But the piece de resistance is the performance computer. It gives you seven preset and four customizable screens showing every aspect of the car's performance tech. Graphs show acceleration, braking, and lateral g-forces. Gauges display oil temperature, torque split, and turbo pressure. One screen advises when to change gears.

The performance computer shows useful data for track performance.

The graphics difference between the standard cabin tech suite and the performance computer is a little jarring. There was no attempt to give them a common theme. Also, a driver's notes function in the performance computer records what roads you've driven, but you can't port roads from the driver's notes into the navigation system.

In sum
The technology that goes into making the 2012 Nissan GT-R such a good sports car is truly amazing. An adaptive suspension and all-wheel drive keep its big tires sticking to the pavement. The twin-turbo V-6 and dual-clutch transmission ensure that the power comes on when you want it.

The cabin electronics, featuring a useful navigation system and Bluetooth phone system, are solid. The Bose stereo is powerful enough to compete with the engine noise. And giving the GT-R a big boost in the electronics is its performance computer.

The design of the GT-R is surprisingly subtle. People in the know will stop and gawk, or come up and ask questions. But most civilians will walk blithely along, unaware of the monster sitting at the curb.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Nissan GT-R
Trim Premium
Power train Twin turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6, 6-speed dual-clutch transaxle
EPA fuel economy 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 12.7 mpg
Navigation Hard-drive-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3-compatible single-CD
MP3 player support iPod integration
Other digital audio Onboard hard drive, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB drive, auxiliary input, satellite radio
Audio system Bose 11-speaker system
Driver aids Racing diagnostics computer
Base price $89,950
Price as tested $91,230

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