As someone who has long dismissed the notion of having car windows so blacked out that nobody can see in from outside as being totally dangerous and irresponsible, yesterday I wished this Nissan GT-R had been so equipped. In plain view for every other motorist to see on the commute home from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, there we were: four grown adults squeezed into a bona fide Japanese supercar. To enable all four of us to actually be seated and strapped in, we were contorted to the point of comedy. Clearly the GT-R has another purpose because, unless your family or colleagues are amputees, you'll need something else.
Of course, the GT-R does have another purpose. It exists to showcase the technical prowess of Nissan, to prove it can take on Porsche and the like by creating a devastatingly fast, safe and reliable car that demands respect. It's nothing short of a legend, this car, but in my previous experiences it left me cold. As impressive as its turn of speed always was, it didn't excite me. I never had the slightest pang of desire to own one.
Nissan was listening to its critics, and comprehensively overhauled the GT-R for 2012. And this is my first time experiencing one after the company's obsessive team came up with what it thinks will keep us satisfied. And I have to say, after three days in it, I'm mightily impressed - pitiful rear seats notwithstanding.
To look at it, you'd think nothing had changed. Physically, it's identical to the original, and that's no bad thing because it's a masterpiece of honed, muscular, and malevolent intent. It looks hard and it is. The flanks are complex, the glass line beneath the roof sleek and the Ferrari-esque rear lamps, set deep into a sheer cliff face of a rear bumper, simply add the finishing touch. "It's a bit chav, isn't it?" one of my passengers remarked. Who cares? It's got road presence by the truckload.
Today, I'm making the journey to and from my office on my own, free to explore this car's attributes without any complaining. The revisions to the GT-R are significant: the 3.8L V6 twin turbo engine has been mechanically uprated instead of the usual reconfigured ECU and exhaust systems. It has new cylinder heads, new sodium-filled valves and a revised intake system - to increase throttle response and provide more power higher up the rev range.
The suspension has been overhauled with newly programmed dampers, the springs are revised and the gearbox shifts even quicker and with less fuss. The car even has different spring rates and rear suspension geometry that differs from side to side to make up for the weight of the driver. Nobody could accuse Nissan of not taking this mid-life refresh seriously.
But does it all come together to form a more entertaining experience from behind the wheel? I reckon so. In automatic mode, at low speeds, the gearbox clunks noisily and you can practically feel the levers and linkages engaging and disengaging. It feels recalcitrant and stubborn, as if it's straining on some invisible leash, begging to be let go. And once you do give the GT-R its steam there isn't much out there that can keep up with it. A Lamborghini Aventador might just about outrun it but it would be a very close match, with the Nissan only giving way to the outrageous Italian at speeds over 250kph.