The Nissan GT-R has an instantly recognizable shape and style, just like Corvettes, Vipers, 911s, and Veyrons.

The GT-R can seem like a combination of automotive ideas, in spirit, function, and form. It's part extreme tuner car, part exotic, and it even has elements of an ordinary coupe. If you view it as the latter, it seems to be clad with boisterous fender flares, deeply scooped air intakes, and a comically large rear wing. And if you step up to the NISMO, you'll fine GT3-inspired aero work, which seems an even more extreme departure from an everyday coupe.

From the front, the GT-R remains more of a luxury coupe wrapped in anime armor. Neither as instantly familiar as the Porsche, nor as lurid as any Italian, the GT-R has its finer points. The roofline chops into the rear end like a tomahawk, and the circular taillamps are an easy marker, now even more so that the 'Vette isn't using them anymore. We find it attention-getting, albeit a bit too 'digital' for some tastes.

The GT-R's cabin has improved much over the past few years, although the fundamental layout has carried over. Thanks to all those upgrades, it's now much more in keeping with Infiniti levels of luxury. The dash and instrument panel don't resemble anything else in the current Nissan lineup, and center-stack controls are angled toward the driver, as you perch, rather upright, in heavily bolstered seats. The Black Edition earns kudos for its special black and red interior and Recaro seats.


The Nissan 350Z marked the rebirth of an icon—one of Japan’s most long-running and beloved sports cars: the Z.

First birthed in 1969, the Z-car line spanned the next four decades with four generations of progressively larger, more powerful sports cars. Then, in 1996, the Z was no more in North America. Its price had grown out of proportion to its performance, and the public—as well as Nissan—lost faith in the Z.

Further helping the Z’s cause as the rebirth of the Nissan sporting heritage, it wore a sleek, minimalist design that remains attractive today, nearly five years after the 350Z was replaced by the 370Z. It might not be a truly timeless shape, but it’s sure to remain an iconic design in sports car enthusiasts’ hearts and minds for years to come.

The interior of the 350Z was spartan at best, especially in base models, with hard plastics and gray color themes making for a rather bland experience. For the sports car driver, these faults could be overlooked; for the more ordinary driver looking for an attractive coupe, the bare-bones aesthetic could be a fatal flaw.

Though higher-tier (and more expensive) trim levels were offered, including Touring and Grand Touring models to complement the more hardcore Base, Enthusiast, and Performance models, the 350Z didn’t grow into its own in terms of refinement and equipment levels until the final years of its model run. Even at its best, however, the 350Z is no match for the much-improved 370Z when it comes to interior comfort—though the 350Z’s handling traits and raw fun-to-drive nature still stand it in good stead in the sports car world.


The 2012 Lexus LFA is an anomaly. Born of a program that consumed itself at least once in development, only to rise from its own ashes, the $375,000 supercar sits alone in Lexus' lineup as a halo car without a tie-in to its mainstream cousins.

That's not to say that, in a vacuum, the LFA isn't a brilliant car; it is. Weighing in at just over 3,250 pounds, it's a relative lightweight in the supercar class, and its zingy 9,000-rpm V-10 engine is almost in its own world. Power output, on the other hand, isn't, at just 552 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. That fact puts the LFA's performance on par with cars that cost less than one-third its price tag, running to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and to a top speed of 202 mph.

A single-clutch six-speed sequential gearbox is an archaism in such an otherwise high-tech car, and well behind rivals sporting lightning-quick dual-clutch transmissions. Exotic bits like its 65-percent carbon fiber body, carbon-ceramic brakes and titanium exhaust tubing only serve to point up the pointless preeminence of engineering over any relationship to performance or price.

One thing the LFA does have going for it, however, is exclusivity. Lexus can only build a handful per month under optimal conditions, and conditions have been sub-optimal since the tsunami and earthquake in Japan earlier this year. Demand, however, may not even be up to par with the limited production schedule, but that just serves to make the LFA even rarer. It's hard to imagine the massive price as an investment, or a timeline long enough to allow a real return on investment as a collector's car, but it's a possibility.

Inside, the LFA is an equally odd mixture of spartan elements and extreme high technology. It's comfortable in the way most supercars are, which is to say, if you expect the ride to be firm and the cockpit to be close. The digital tachometer front-and-center in the instrument cluster is perhaps the highlight, chosen because no analog gauges could keep pace with the quick-revving V-10 engine.
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