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30th November 2009

DCOTY 2009: How the Nissan GT-R didn’t win the Best Performance Car Over $60,000

posted in Car News Articles |

There will be plenty of people out there who will read our DCOTY wrap-up and wonder aloud how we managed to choose anything other than the Nissan GT-R in this category.

Let’s face it, the Nissan is one of the most hyped, anticipated and desired cars to be released in many years.

And yet it didn’t win this contest.

The question is, given that this is a performance-car category after all, how can a car that wouldn’t see which way the GT-R went possibly beat it to the silverware?

Look at the bald numbers; they tell a mighty performance story.

Godzilla’s 357kW is near enough to an incredible 480 horsepower in the old currency. In a road car. A 3.8-litre road car at that.

The V6′s torque output is an equally monstrous 588Nm and that’s available anywhere from 3200 to 5200rpm.

Against the stop-watch, the GT-R covers the first 400m in 12 seconds flat and in the process, sprints from rest to 100km/h in under four seconds.

Make no mistake, these are supercar numbers.

So again, the question raises its head: How did anything else in this category knock the GT-R off its potential perch?

Well, if you read the explanation, you’ll know that the Drive judges put usability, comfort and day-to-day smarts ahead of the Nissan’s brutal driveline.

That’s why the BMW 135i Coupe took out the gong.

But this was one of the most argued categories. The HSV GTS is a brute of a machine and the most spacious and practical of our finalists. Arguable the most fun, too.

The Audi S4 is also deceptively quick and impressively practical.

Still, the BMW nails it with a blend of fun and functionality. And it’s seriously quick.

But did we get it right?

Should a performance-car category reward performance over all else?

If your answer is yes, then we can certainly see your point.

But consider this: Nissan itself is guilty of altering its priorities when it comes to this very car.

In the first place, the GT-R’s brief was all about performance at all costs.

But ultimately, Nissan’s call was to install a measure of durability before outright performance.

Originally hitting the market with launch control, driveline problems caused by the sheer ferocity of the available launch meant that Nissan had to rethink its strategy.

By removing the launch control function, Nissan effectively took the GT-R from being an 11.5 second 400m car to a 12-second car.

And it’s a move that begs exactly the same question as the one over the Nissan’s failure to claim this DCOTY trophy: Would you rather a car that can accelerate as hard as it’s physically able to with the chance that it’ll go bang sometime down the track, or would you rather a car that is still blisteringly quick but a better chance to hang together?

It’s your call.

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