Nissan GT-R is Pure supercar under $100K

Kudos to Japanese carmaker Nissan for coining the best term yet for a base model. New for 2018, the GT-R Pure is for those seeking pure supercar performance and style without some of the extras that drive up the price.

No premium sound system here, no engine sound enhancements nor titanium exhausts. Of course, if you want all that jazz, the Premium, Track Edition and extreme Nismo versions return this year, too, with prices that can set you back more than $175,000.

The Pure brings the GT-R back under $100K — barely — for the first time in four years. It’s listed at $99,990 (plus $1,695 for destination and handling), which is about $10,000 off the Premium version.

Only modest sacrifices are needed — the Pure is anything but base. It still gets the same hand-built 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 paired to a dual-clutch transmission and it’s still crazy fast, clocking a 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds. Plus, it is well equipped with 20-inch Rays forged alloy wheels, rear spoiler, leather and synthetic suede seats and dash, and 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity.

The GT-R, now entering its 11th year in the U.S., picked up some nice exterior improvements in 2017, including a wider grille, new front and rear spoilers for stronger downforce and grip, functional vents and flashy new colors like Blaze Metallic orange.

Nissan’s flagship supercar is better known for its outstanding all-wheel-drive performance. Jackrabbit acceleration comes from a hand-built V-6 that is rated at 565 hp, just 35 horses less than the race-driven Nismo, and 467 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is nearly 200 mph.

The 6-speed dual-clutch auto-manual transmission is smooth and swift on the upswing, but maybe a tad sluggish on downshifts. Brembo brakes, six-piston fronts and four at the rear, bring it to a halt with crisp efficiency.

A sophisticated AWD system sends most of the power to the rear wheels, appropriately, can split the torque 50-50 depending on road surface, tire slippage and drive dynamics. Steering is precise and the GT-R maintains good balance through curves, though its 3,900-pound curb weight makes it less agile than its German foes.

An adjustable suspension firms up for track days; R mode sharpens steering and shifting response. Then there’s a Comfort mode which eases back on everything for smooth commutes. It’s more comfortable and quieter this year, too, with added sound insulation.

GT-R fuel economy, however, lags among some of its cohorts. EPA estimates are 16 mpg city, 22 highway.

Inside is a well-built cockpit with a quality, Infiniti-­like feel thanks to recent enhancements. Nappa leather-trimmed front seats are firm, supportive and roomy enough even for bigger guys. The rear seat, on the other hand, is only for kids — small kids, at that — or packages. Cargo space is average for the segment at 8.8 cubic feet and don’t bother trying to fold down the rear seats; they won’t budge.

The best thing about the dash are gauges and displays that monitor performance data, including 0-60 times, G-forces, shifting patterns and road grip. The infotainment screen now gets a controller on the center console that is easier to use but often slow to respond. A 6-speaker sound system replaces the 11-speaker premium Bose system on higher trims.

The GTR lacks advanced tech-safety features but contains the usual air bags, traction and stability control.

Shopkeepers know 99 cents sounds better than $1.00. Nissan hopes you’ll get the same feeling from $99,990. Either way, this high-performance sports car is up to the challenge of even pricier foes.

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