GT-R: giant slayer?

We’ve already been astounded by the Nissan GT-R’s performance – now it’s time to see how it compares to the high-performance elite from Lamborghini and Porsche

GT-R Group test

In the world of performance cars, there’s a widely held belief that you get what you pay for. The bigger your budget, the faster you can go – it’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Even though the first UK buyers are yet to take delivery, Nissan’s GT-R is threatening to upset the balance of power in the elite club that is the supercar sector. But there are two new arrivals on the scene which could raise the high-performance benchmark.

The Nissan was crowned Sporting Car of the Year in our 2008 New Car Honours, and the four-wheel-drive 473bhp machine has already claimed a notable scalp in the shape of Audi’s R8, in Issue 1,019. But just how good is the Japanese newcomer? Beating its closest class rivals is one thing; seeing off models at the very top of the supercar ladder is another matter entirely.

To discover exactly how talented the GT-R is, we’re pitching it against its two newest competitors. Heritage has already earned them an instant place in the supercar history books. Porsche’s 911 GT2 was designed for the race track and comes with a 530bhp engine – which is a tweaked version of the unit fitted to the already astoundingly quick 911 Turbo. At £131,080, it costs £74,980 more than the Nissan, but is widely regarded as one of the fastest and most extreme 911s ever.

Equally exotic and no less exclusive is the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. Yours for the hefty sum of £147,330, the Italian machine comes with a thunderous V10 that generates 552bhp. As with the Nissan, it delivers its power through a state-of-the-art four-wheel-drive system, and is quite simply one of the world’s most desirable sports cars.

Can the GT-R put in a giant-slaying performance, or will the might and muscle of ‘cost-no-object’ supercars prove to be a challenge too far?

Verdict

If speed and performance are your overriding concerns, then look no further than the awesome Nissan GT-R. Despite losing out in the horsepower stakes, the Japanese machine accelerates quicker than either of its two opponents here.

It’s also the easiest to exploit, and can make an average driver feel like a legend in the space of two corners. The fact it undercuts both rivals by more than £75,000 is merely confirmation that Nissan has quite literally pulled a fast one on the performance car sector.

Yet while it takes the victory, fans of more traditional supercars shouldn’t tear down their Porsche and Lamborghini posters just yet. Although the Nissan is clearly a remarkable feat of engineering, in terms of sheer desirability, its rivals remain kings of the hill. You admire the Nissan, but you adore the 911 and the Gallardo.

So which finishes second? For our money, the LP560-4 offers the definitive supercar package. The new engine makes it even quicker, and the styling tweaks give it a sharper look. While the 911 is amazingly quick, it’s a little too focused for daily use, and we reckon a standard Turbo would be more than enough for most.

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