A damp racetrack and 550 horsepower are always fun.
Nissan invited Motors to the Mondello racetrack in Co Kildare to experience a pretty special car that sadly, because of the times we're in, will only sell in small numbers in Ireland.
As performance cars go, the Nissan GT-R is already a legend. With four-wheel drive, outrageous power and stunning electronic driver aids, the latest generation of the big Japanese coupé is a phenomenal performer.
Exterior styling is a mix of muscle car and GT. The PlayStation generation adores the GT-R's shape and once you experience what it is capable of even Ferrari drivers will love its brutish looks!
Inside, the GT-R is a comfortable place to be at any speed. The seats are soft and the 2+2 cabin is generous up front, with a modest amount of room behind the front two seats. A Bose sound system is fitted and there is a reversing camera too.
On the track power is delivered through a smooth automatic gearbox with, of course, option paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The suspension has a new asymmetric set-up. This allows Nissan engineers to fine tune the suspension perfectly for the weight of a driver - whether they are sitting on the right-hand side (RHD) or left side of the car (LHD).
Mondello is quite a technical track and for our test driving the international circuit was pretty damp – so we were never going to get beyond fourth gear. For brief periods we easily pulled well over 160kph (100mph) before going hard on the brakes to set up the next corner. Even when we deliberately got on the accelerator too early coming out of a bend the GT-R's wondrous electronics would allow the tail to get out of shape a little before correcting the power distribution, putting the car back on the intended course.
By measuring a load of things like steering input, individual wheel rotation and throttle positioning, the GT-R's brain works out what the driver wants to do and intervenes accordingly. Imagine the GTR as guiding hands on the shoulders of a drunk trying to walk in a straight line and you get the idea.
In 2013 things will get a lot busier for Nissan Ireland with a number of new cars coming on stream, with the new 'Note' first up; the rest will come later in the year. For now Nissan is heavily reliant on the very popular Qashqai (the number two best-selling car in Ireland at the moment). Nissan is bringing its 'Nismo' performance brand to Ireland and the Juke Nismo with 200bhp sounds like a lot of fun.
Purists will say the GT-R is too computer-driven to be a true driver's car and they have a point, but for mere mortals GT-R is simply brilliant. A GT-R will safely bring average drivers out the far side of a corner that only gifted drivers could manage in a more conventional sports car.
The Nissan GT-R is a fantastic machine.