First Look: 2008 Nissan GT-R

First Look: 2008 Nissan GT-R

Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Nissan targets Porsche, but ends up building a world beater

By Edward Loh
Photography by Mark Bramley
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Nissan‘s Rikubetsu Proving Grounds lie deep in the hills of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The area looks a lot like Germany’s Rhineland region, with steep mountains covered in dark evergreens. This is no coincidence; most of Rikubetsu’s road course was cribbed from Germany’s famous autobahn. Word is Nissan engineers contacted German transportation authorities and took tarmac samples during an official measuring session. They won’t say where in Germany they took their laser levels, but it isn’t hard to guess. Dotting the 4.5-mile test track are multiple blue and white Bundesautobahn 48 ausfahrt (exit) signs for the German city of Koblenz-some comically pointing in opposite directions.

Of course, it’s also no secret that the Japanese have long been enamored of German automotive engineering. Nissan, in particular, has made no bones about the performance target for its highly anticipated 2008 GT-R. Not only has it rented a garage facility across the street from the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife for the last couple years, but it purchased a brand-new 997 Porsche 911 Turbo to test alongside its GT-R development mules. What’s more, Nissan has made no attempt to disguise these intentions, boldly parading the two for the spy photographers who prowl the ‘Ring and even letting us drive both cars back to back, in an exclusive session last spring.

The irony is that for all this Germanic genuflecting, Nissan created a super sports car that would never be confused with something from Das Vaterland — or anywhere in Europe or the U.S. No, the Nissan GT-R is a distinctly Japanese supercar prepared to take on the world.


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