The 2018 Nissan GT-R offers thrilling sports car performance

The 2018 Nissan GT-R. —Nissan

It’s not overstating things to say the Nissan GT-R is one of the most coveted sports cars in the world. Sure, there are more expensive and flashier sports cars, but the GT-R is special. It looks aggressive without being garish and delivers on those looks with thrilling acceleration and performance-focused handling best experienced on a track. It’s quite simply fantastic.

The Nissan GT-R is affectionately known as Godzilla for how it attacks the road. We had the opportunity to drive Godzilla through the streets of Los Angeles, where fancy, expensive sports cars are a common sight. In the company of cars twice its price, the GT-R still turned heads. It doesn’t try to be an attention-getter. Instead, it’s stealthy, garnering a second look for the burble of its exhaust as you pull away from a stop light, as well as its sleek, confident design.

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Power comes from a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque paired to a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission. It powers all four trims from the new Pure, priced at $99,990, to the track-focused Nismo at $175,490, which gets a boost to 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque.

Before we took the GT-R out on the street, Nissan gave us the chance to have a little fun in a parking lot with professional stunt drivers. That might sound weird in Boston, but in Los Angeles, where movies are filmed on practically every street corner, a couple of stunt drivers doing smokey donuts in an abandoned mall parking lot isn’t weird at all.

It didn’t take much time behind the wheel to understand what makes the GT-R such a beloved sports car. Hard braking, tight turns, and the most aggressive driving we could muster weren’t enough to make the GT-R lose its composure.

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Sports cars are fun, but they can be scary creatures. The temptation to push beyond your skills is right there, but the GT-R handles so well it lets you confidently take advantage of its power. This wasn’t a perfectly smooth track, but a parking lot with dips and bumps and bits of loose gravel. None of that made a difference because the GT-R stays planted to the road with controlled handling that never flinches.

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It’s one thing to have the chance to play with a sports car in a controlled environment, but it’s another thing altogether to take it out on the road. Although there are some people who might buy the GT-R as a track car or something to drive only on occasion, others will buy it with the intent of driving it as much as possible.

This seems like a good idea. Who wouldn’t want to take a sports car to work every day? The challenge comes from a sports car’s firm suspension, which can be unforgiving on roads that are anything but perfect. Boston’s streets are far from pefect, but the GT-R will surprise you.

It was remarkably smooth to drive on the highway as well as along city streets. It wasn’t a harsh ride and instead proved to be quite comfortable. Even the bumps and dips weren’t a bother, making the Nissan GT-R the rare sports car you can enjoy driving daily.

The GT-R hides another trick that makes it a worthy everyday driver. It has all-wheel drive, which does two things. First, it helps the GT-R remain planted and controlled in aggressive driving scenarios like the track, even when you’re pushing the GT-R to its limits. Second, the all-wheel drive means it doesn’t have to hide the second the weather turns. It’s still a sports car with low ground clearance that’s no friend to snow, but on rain-slicked roads the GT-R will hold its own.