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2009 Nissan GT-R : Test Drive


Despite focusing on real-world driving here, we can't ignore the eye-popping numbers generated by our Nissan GT-R at the test track — although those numbers seem to differ depending on the test car itself. The 0-60-mph sprint disappeared in 3.9 seconds, while the quarter-mile went by in 12 seconds at 114.7 mph. That's quicker than an Audi R8 and only a hair slower than a Porsche 911 Turbo. However, given that each GT-R engine is hand-built and therefore slightly different, it's not surprising that we've generated lower numbers with other GT-R testers. We've also discovered from talking with Nissan engineers that after such constant use/abuse, special tune-ups are required to maintain the GT-R's performance potential. When it comes time to stop, our long-term GT-R went from 60 to zero in 108 feet, although another GT-R we tested previously stopped in 98 feet, which is remarkable.

On our favorite mountain roads, the 2009 Nissan GT-R was a ceaselessly capable car that seemed to reach only about 65 percent of its capabilities. For a majority of drivers, it's going to be far more car than they'll ever be able to experience fully — particularly if they never take it to such circuitous roads or a track.

But at least the GT-R makes it easy. Its all-wheel-drive system constantly moves power between front and rear, distributing torque based on steering input, and yaw and lateral G sensors. What the heck does that mean? Well, the GT-R behaves like a machine with a mind of its own — but like a well-meaning Commander Data, not a crazed HAL 9000. Going around a tight corner, you can give it more throttle than you normally would and it'll take care of the rest, sending you around said corner in the fastest way possible without letting you fuss things up. It's not idiot-proof, and it can get you in trouble should you disrespect its massive power potential. However, as long as you're not a complete fool, the GT-R makes things almost so easy that it can get boring.

The GT-R is likewise easy to drive on a daily basis. Around town, you'll find the steering that's so quick and communicative when going fast is pleasantly light in traffic. And with all the jetlike thrust at its disposal, passing on the highway is not only easy, you'll look forward to slow-moving vehicles so you can slingshot past them. Forget merging onto the highway; the GT-R feels as if it could merge into orbit.

Although the six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission provides lightning-quick shifts with rapid response from paddle-shifter inputs, we actually found ourselves letting the car do its own thing in automatic mode. It, too, snaps through gears with seamless precision and with none of the herky-jerky motions sometimes associated with other automated manual transmissions. Under light acceleration, it has a tendency to shift up to 6th gear as quickly as possible to maximize fuel economy, but with so much engine torque and an eagerness to downshift quickly, this never proves to be a problem. And it's effective, since the GT-R manages 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined — pretty darn good for a car this blindingly fast.


There's actually a Comfort button in the GT-R, but it's more ironic than descriptive. This toggle switch selects among the car's three suspension modes: Normal, Comfort and R (for track use only). The default mode is Normal, but even the most pristinely new asphalt will jiggle and shake your midsection. Flicking that switch to "Comf," therefore, becomes a habitual action after firing up the GT-R, but you'll still feel every bump, and harsh pavement is greeted with equally harsh crashing that's sent through your backside.

Once inside the 2009 Nissan GT-R, you'll be struck by the generous amount of leg- and headroom for front occupants, along with a good driving position even for tall drivers. Sadly, the GT-R lacks the adjustable side bolsters and extending thigh support found on the Infiniti G37, and larger drivers will find the seats a tad pinchy in the behind and upper torso. However, if you fit right, the GT-R seats tend to get more comfortable with every passing mile.

The backseat is the losing end of a 2+2 affair with very little leg- and headroom. It's best suited for kids, and we found that two child seats will fit back there…albeit with great effort.

We'd love to report on wind noise inside the GT-R, but there's too much roaring road noise to notice. On that aforementioned gnarled pavement, casual conversations can result in hoarse throats.


The beauty of the GT-R is that its controls are virtually identical to the excellent climate and audio controls found in the Infiniti G37. In fact, they are better placed — located high, slanted upward and canted toward the driver. A large LCD screen displays everything you'll need to know and is controlled redundantly by a touchscreen, physical buttons and a small multipurpose control knob. The iPod integration is one of the best on the market, while the navigation system is easy to program and features real-time traffic.

Unlike some other supercars, the GT-R features a rather sizable trunk that can fit two sets of golf clubs and a standard carry-on roller suitcase. The lift-over is very high, though, and the rear transaxle and gas tank underneath can heat up your groceries.

Design/Fit and Finish

The GT-R's cabin is filled with the same high-quality, soft-touch materials found in Nissan's more expensive offerings, while adding more leather surfaces, alloy trim and Alcantara faux suede seating inserts. It's not luxurious, but it's not cheap either. Some may expect more luxury for this sort of money, but keep in mind, more luxury will come with either a massive performance drop or a massive price increase.

Who Should Buy This Vehicle

The 2009 Nissan GT-R is best for car nuts and power junkies who want exotic supercar thrills for half the price. Living in an area with pristine pavement or having a high tolerance for suspension crashing is a must.

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Cars used in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace

I just caught the latest installment in the James Bond universe - the Quantum of Solace over the weekend. I’m abit disappointed that the sexy Aston Martin DBS did not get much screentime other than an initial heated car chase scene.

Instead, Bond goes on to drive a few SUVs from the Ford group of marques, though the makers did try to “balance” them out with a fuel efficient small car.

Let’s have a look at the cars of the Quantum Solace.

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

The Aston Martin DBS replaces the Vanquish V12 as the new flagship of the marque. The GT is powered by a 6.0 liter V12 engine producing 510 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 569Nm of torque at 5,750rpm. It also had carbon ceramic disc brakes, which is a first for a road-going Aston Martin.

Everyone probably looked forward to seeing this in action the most. It’s expected really, since the DBS is pure Aston Martin design language, which is possibly the sexiest of all with all the right curves and lines in all the right places. Plus the DBS was also first revealed to the public in Casino Royale (though they were actually reskinned DB9s), and only made a public physical appearance a year later at Pebble Beach 2007.

The vehicles in the Bond movie is probably a deal with Ford, so I suspect the Aston Martin DBS got KO-ed so early because Aston Martin is no longer part of the Ford group. The movie opens with a car chase scene with plenty of flying bullets, and Bond in the DBS is being chased by delicious-looking Alfa 159s. The 159s end up getting wrecked of course, that’s not even a spoiler as it’s so predictable.

Alfa Romeo 159

Alfa Romeo 159

While we have to be content here with Sime Darby Auto Connexxion still flogging the 156 (though the 159 is promised soon), its successor has been on sale since 2005, long enough for the producers of Quantum of Solace to buy a few and destroy them in a heated car chase scene in Italy.

The 159 is available in both front wheel drive and Q4 all-wheel drive configuration, with the top of the line being the JTS Q4 powered by a 3.2 liter V6 engine putting out 260 PS at 6,200rpm and 322Nm of torque, though most Europeans may opt for the 2.4 JTDM turbodiesel with 210 PS and 400Nm of torque instead.

Jaguar Daimler Double-Six

Villain Dominic Greene (apparently inspired by Nicolas Sarkozy and Tony Blair) sometimes rides in a big Daimler Double-Six whenever he’s bored of his silent hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Greene Planet for a “Greener” planet, he says?

Range Rover Sport

Range Rover Sport

This is one of the two SUVs featured in the movie, but this one’s powered by a regular combustion engine, and a powerful one at that. The Range Rover Sport isn’t just a Range Rover with a powerful engine, its actually a completely different and smaller vehicle based on the Discovery.

It’s powered by a 390 PS 4.2 liter Jaguar V8 supercharged engine, though a normally aspirated version was also previous available but since dropped due to lack of popularity. It’s also rather infamous - it seems that it was made a target of Greenpeace protests in 2005 because it was such an inefficient vehicle.

The Range Rover is piloted by a certain “Miss Fields” and later by Bond.

Ford Ka

Ford Ka

The Ford Ka is the Bond Girl’s car. Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, the leading lady picks Bond up in her golden Ford Ka - who wants to bet a special edition will be sold by Ford in a similiar golden paint in a movie tie-up? A similiar scene is repeated later in a classic Volkswagen Beetle… I’m pretty sure Volkswagen didn’t pay for that!

The Ka is even smaller than the Ford Fiesta and in its original iteration it was truly low-cost in the sense that Ford even resorted to using a 1.3 liter Ford Kent pushrod engine under its hood. The new Ka has Italian origins - its based on Fiat Panda/500 underpinings and uses modern petrol and diesel engines.

Volvo S40

Volvo S40

Bond drives a Volvo S40 rental car in Austria. The facelifted Volvo S40 was recently launched in Malaysia in locally assembled form and offers European premium motoring at a price of under RM200,000. Though it’s one size smaller, those considering Japanese 2.4 liter D-segment cars but don’t really need the space should consider it.

Ford Edge powered by Hydrogen

Ford Edge Hydrogen

The Ford Edge is a crossover SUV but no real hydrogen-powered version of it currently exists, though Ford has announced a “HySeries Drive” version that combines electric drive powered by either an on-board hydrogen fuel cell or lithium ion batteries that have plug-in charging capabilities.

In the movie, the Edge is part of a fleet of green vehicles owned by the villain’s company Greene Planet. Bond ends up driving one of these, and this just so happens to take place in a desert where the fuel cell’s pure water exhaust would be most appreciated.

So what’s your favourite vehicle in the movie, and what did you think of the movie? My favourite is of course the Aston Martin DBS and I didn’t think any of the other cars had very much of a stage presence except for the Range Rover Sport.

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3rd Generation Lexus RX unveiled at LA 2008!

Lexus RX

Lexus has unveiled the new Lexus RX range at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show today. The RX will be offered with a two-model range, the RX350 with a regular 3.5 liter V6 engine and the RX450h also with a 3.5 liter V6, but running on the Atkinson cycle together with a hybrid electric system. In the UK, the RX will be offered exclusively as a hybrid.

The RX350’s 3.5 liter V6 engine puts out 275 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed transmission. Both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions are available, with the latter using an Active Torque Control AWD system that varies torque distribution according to driving conditions. Both this model and the hybrid version uses a new double-wishbone rear suspension for better control.

Lexus RX Remote TouchWhile current Lexus cars use a simple touch screen interface to access its in-car entertainment and navigation systems, with the new RX, Lexus now has its own iDrive/MMI-like system.

It uses a “Remote Touch” controller that’s supposed to be as natural to the driver’s hand as a computer’s mouse. Let’s see if the Japanese get it better than the Germans. The system also uses HDD-based storage.

The hybrid RX450h’s 3.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine together with its hybrid electric drive system has a combined output of 295 horsepower. To differentiate it from the regular combustion engine-only RX350, it has its own front grille and bumper design, hybrid badging, blue-trimmed Lexus logos, an optional 19 inch wheel design that’s exclusive to the RX450h, blue-tinted headlamps and taillamps and optional LED headlamps.

Lexus RX450hThe RX450h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system has two new features - the first is an exhaust gas heat recovery system that reduces the time it takes for the engine to warm up. As only a sufficiently warmed up engine can do automatic stop and go smoothly, this reduces the time it takes for the start-stop feature to be activated. The second feature is a cooled exhaust recirculation system which reduces pumping losses, helping improve power and fuel economy.

Unlike the RX350’s mechanical all-wheel drive, the RX450h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive can allows it to function as an all-wheel drive via an electric motor powering the rear wheels. The rear motor also functions as a brake energy recovery device, which means brake energy recovery can be performed on all four wheels.

Lexus Malaysia Sdn Bhd has been known to bring in new Lexus products rather quickly into the market (partly thanks to the ease of bringing in a CBU model), and looking at how the second generation RX has been spoiled by all the grey market RX and Toyota Harriers running around being sold at a much cheaper price, you can expect the new RX to make a Malaysian debut very soon next year.

Look for a hi-res gallery of the new RX after the jump.

Volkswagen Scirocco TUNE IT! SAFE! Concept

Volkswagen Scirocco

The TUNE IT! SAFE! program is an initiative by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, the VDAT (Association of German Car Tuners) and Messe Essen (Essen trade fair company) and is held in conjunction with the Essen Motor Show every year, which for 2008 is coincidentally this month.

According to the organizers, German car enthusiasts spend as much as 4.4 billion Euros every year to modify their cars! There is of course safe tuning and modification with proper tested and proven accessories and there is of course inferior, inexpensive pirated copies of products. In fact, you could even call aftemarket HID kits which are not really engineered to point its beam properly as an unsafe modification.

Every year the TUNE IT! SAFE! program has prime examples of good and safe modification on display and this year there is this nice police-liveried Volkswagen Scirocco you see here. Look for more photos of it after the jump.
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NISMO Fairlady Z Type 380RS - 3.8 liter 350Z

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NISMO has a 300 unit limited run of a special edition tuned up Nissan 350Z called the NISMO Fairlady Z Type 380RS that has it’s engine displacement up to 3.8 liters from the original 3.5 liters of the VQ35HR engine.

This 3.8 liter engine is a detuned version of the 400 horsepower 380RS-Competition club racer 350Z, putting out a lower 350 horsepower at 7,200rpm and 397Nm at 4,800rpm, but still higher than the facelifted 350Z’s original 313 horsepower.

More photos after the jump.

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Nissan Fairlady 350Z

Picture Collection

3.5 Roadster FL (M)