What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - Performance car

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  • 16 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2009 revealed
Performance car
What we were looking for: The best performance cars are all about controlled aggression. They have to give you plenty of big thrills, but not many cold sweats.

Best buy under £60,000
Nissan GT-R
List price £56,795
Target Price £56,795
Best web price na

Best buy under £100,000
Audi R8 Coupe
List price £77,405
Target Price £77,405
Best web price £75,114 (www.carfile.net)

Best buy over £100,000
Ferrari 430 Scuderia
List price £168,962
Target Price £168,962
Best web price na


The winner is…
Performance car
Nissan GT-R
List price £56,795
Target Price £56,795

You won't find a more thrilling, more accessible, more practical supercar than this at any price. It offers something special for drivers of all abilities.

Mention the word ‘Nissan' in the context of exotic performance cars and you're likely to be deafened by a barrage of scoffs and jibes. Qualify your statement with the letters ‘G', ‘T' and ‘R' and the next sound you'll hear will be the crunch of humble pie.

Such is the respect that surrounds Nissan's legendary supercar that any new version sends shockwaves of anticipation around the globe. Rightly so.

Styling
Make what you will of the styling of the latest model – it tends to divide opinion. There are even some who reckon that any supercar worthy of the name shouldn't actually have a practical four-seat layout and, the most serious crime of all, a decent-sized boot. What's not in doubt, though, is the fact that the GT-R is the most dramatic, full-on supercar you can buy at any price.

At its heart lies a hand-built twin-turbo 3.8-litre 478bhp V6 engine, which is set as far back as its front-engined format will allow. The gearbox is mounted on the rear axle to equalise weight distribution, and is linked to the engine by a carbonfibre driveshaft.

On the road…
Floor the throttle and, somewhere deep within, a bank of computers allows just enough power to be squirted to all four wheels to maximise grip and traction, regardless of conditions. That's just as well, because the thought of releasing the fat end of 500 rampaging horses on a slippery stretch of wintry UK road is the stuff of nightmares. Let's face it: you do not want to get it wrong in a car that can hit 60mph from rest in just 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of more than 190mph.

Of course, you're still free to write your own rule book. A trio of switches allows you to alter the throttle, braking and power settings to your heart's content. It isn't all about digital trickery, though, because the GT-R's steering provides plenty of good, old-fashioned analogue feedback. This, combined with the subtle intervention of all that electronic trickery, allows you to tackle tortuous routes with total commitment and confidence.

…Or race track
Should you decide to ramp up the playfulness on a race track, you can turn everything off and enjoy the age-old battle of rubber versus Tarmac, because the GT-R won't bite unless you're positively daft with it.

There's no need to feel intimidated, because the GT-R makes average drivers feel special, and it makes special drivers feel like they're getting the most out of it.

That's why it's our performance car of choice.


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What Car? Car of the Year awards 2009 - SUV

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