In the same way that The Beatles needed The Stones, 50 Cent needed Kanye and Larry Bird needed Magic, a healthy competition between powerhouses of an equal echelon can increase ratings, fan statistics and sales on both sides of the fence, while motivating each to bring their A-game. With so much capital potential presented, it's no wonder why the benefits of a friendly rivalry have filtered into the JDM and Domestic supercar classes, none with more hype than Nissan's Godzilla GT-R and GM's giant Chevy Corvette Z06.
The Nissan GT-R's anticipatory buzz is at a record high with its slated release steadily approaching. The Chevy Corvette, with its popular styling and bold performance, has been core to the American car canvass for 55 years and only continues this well-worn tradition in '08 with the advanced Z06. Whether your allegiance is sworn to hot imports or stateside rides, surely you can appreciate the wrench time put into both efforts.
MSRP (base): $69,850
Engine: 3.8-liter, 32-valve, V38, V6
Horsepower: 480 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 434 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
MPG: City: 15; Highway: 21
Performance - 19/20
The Nissan GT-R is arranged atop a broadened aluminum deck, attributing much of its cornering capability to its 109.4 inch girth. Suspension guru, Bilstein, provides the five-link, independent configuration known as DampTronic, aided by an ECU governed stability control. Solely offered in AWD trim, the GT-R ride is as smooth as glass, utilizing the ATTESA ET-S (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Electronic Torque Split). The run-flat RE070A rubber was made possible by Bridgestone and the award-winning stopping package is a product of Brembo's innovation.
Cited as being one of the most unconventional engine displays, the twin-turbine with an intercooler, 3.8-liter, 32-valve, V38, V6 block with plasma sealing may very well induce shallow breathing and rubbery knees. The 'tween- sized aluminum motor allows for 480 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, with 434 lb-ft of torque from a well-spread 3,200 rpm to 5,200 rpm. With the hammer down the GT-R owns the drag strip, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, an 11.7 second quarter mile and a max speed of 193 mph. The beastly coupe is harnessed by a Borg Warner, six-plate, dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic gearbox and its correlating magnesium paddle shifters that make the transmission on the Nissan GT-R unlike any you've ever experienced before.
Exterior - 17/20
The design appeal of the modern Nissan GT-R lies in its pressingly aggressive stature and needle-sharp detailing. Initially designated as a concept rendition at the Tokyo Auto Show (in 2006), much of that sketch has found its way onto the final assembly lines. Die-cast aluminum composite is found from the returning crimson GT-R badge to the hood, doors, rear deck spoiler, and trunk lid , while much of the bumpers are crafted with polypropylene plastic to grate the excess weight off the mass index. The blacked-out grille, acute headlamps and stout, raised fenders only add to the ominous effect that the Nissan GT-R emits. The "battle god of Japan" also features its signature quad-tail afterburners and four orbed taillights.
Interior - 8/10
The Nissan GT-R's cabin is cavernous and offers ample room for maneuvering, save for the rear split bench that can only comply with children or mid-sized adults at best. The spongy, yet firm, bolstered cowhide upholstery is a welcome amenity and is aggressively accented by the polished aluminum sport trim. Being sure not to abandon functionality, the pilot's chair is adorned with an inconspicuous inclined curvature, strategically located nigh the small of the back for pronounced rigidity with a bit of give in harsh turns. The dials on the operator-friendly HUD are brilliant in both color and dimension, and lend visual pop to the Nissan GT-R's cockpit. The center meters were a collaborative effort put forth by Nissan and Polyphony Digital, a name easily recognized by gamers worldwide as the source behind PlayStation's simulation series, Gran Turismo. Resembling a virtual information paradise, the electronic gauges are the most comprehensive we've seen in some time; displaying engine coolant temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, transmission oil pressure, turbo boost psi, torque split, throttle position, steering angle, and longitudinal/lateral G-force. There is also a data library that tracks and updates in real time to keep the driver well informed.
Sound system/goodies - 6/10
As if the outstanding engine output wasn't entertaining enough, even supercars come with an exuberant scroll of multimedia bells and whistles attached. The GT-R appeases all with its lightning quick and responsive CARWINGS navigation system for its Japanese market and a slightly less capable interpretation of the system stateside. Both appeal to the techie in all of us with a paramount 30 GB hard disk drive, showcasing a simple-to-manage touch pad in addendum to more traditional navigational switches. The monitor interface is uber versatile and not only suits your directional demands, but also makes the most of a separate Music Box hard drive, six-disc, in-dash CD changer, DVD player and hands-free Bluetooth 2 audio technology. Nissan will utilize an accolade-worthy, premium Bose sound system, with two forward-facing sub woofers gracing the rear center armrest in junction with conventional door speakers -- 11 in total. All speakers are mounted in aluminum die-cast pods and provide the enriched quality expected of the brand.
Bang for your buck - 19/20
The Nissan GT-R was employed to recapture the supercar title and to readily quench the North American arena's thirst for the celebrated "Skyline." With a fuel consumption rate of 15 city mpg and 21 highway, and the underhood savvy to out-motor the Ferrari 430, Porsche 911 Turbo and Lamborghini Gallardo, the $70,000 asking sticker is a steal.
Driving experience - 18/20
The GT-R delivers the race-bred technology and styling of a ride far more exotic than a JDM, while maintaining the long trek agreeability of the Altimas and Maximas of the Nissan catalog. Not to mention you'll be driving a GT-R ... an actual GT-R. For any gearhead, that alone is the best part of the experience.
Overall score - 87/100
The engineers have really nurtured what was once a concept model from blueprint to assembly line as the Nissan GT-R collects.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
MSRP (base): $71,386
Engine: 7.0-liter, 32-valve LS7 V8
Horsepower: 505 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 475 lb-ft @ 6,300 rpm
MPG: City: 16; Highway: 22
Performance - 18/20
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 adds a degree of separation from the entry tier C6 by being structured around an amended hydro-formed aluminum base, and is exclusively outfitted in a RWD format. The 106-inch wheelbase remains a staple from all other Corvette trims, as does the short-long arm suspension and transverse leaf spring blueprint. Lending assistance to the already pillow-esque dampers and abundant rolling stock is the cross-perforated, four-wheel disc brake setup, complete with Delphi four-channel ABS. An air of race influence is derived from the naturally aspirated, 7.0-liter, 32-valve, LS7, small block V8, with dry sump oil lubrication and employs AE44 magnesium alloy in the engine cradle. A hearty 505 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 475 lb-ft of torque is the result of the engine's 427 cubic-inch geometry. Intended as a slightly diluted variant of the C6.R, with a wide-open throttle you'll see upwards of 195 mph, a sub 12-second quarter mile, and 0-60 mph in 3.7 ticks. A limited slip differential accompanies the six-speed manual transmission.
Exterior - 17/20
The body paneling of the all new Corvette Z06 was meticulously sculpted, with every component deliberately intended to improve the aerodynamics by transferring air more efficiently and minimizing lift. Resting atop the 10-spoke wheels is an extended front fascia with a widened grille, a splitter surfacing the bottom and "Gurney lips," which create an absurd amount of downforce. Preventing the engine from getting too balmy, a larger cold-air hood scoop was implemented to accommodate the air input system. A fixed-roof body was integrated to supplement rigidity, as the capacious rear flared fenders and brake cooling scoop aft of the wheels are elemental in aiding the coupe's symmetry. Rounding out the order is the taller, "shopping cart" spoiler that adds to the wind-splitting effect, but may throw some consumers off.
Interior - 5/10
The cockpit of the Corvette Z06 is the setting for a considerable amount of noticeable advancements. Although interior options may seem slim and few when involving the somewhat confined format of a two seater, Chevy has made a valiant charge at extending comfort and convenience. In accordance with its aim for graduated performance and to the dismay of many, engineers did have to order a few components to the chopping block. The sacrifices included bold, fixed, side- bolstered seating, as opposed to the adjustable variants found on rival models. The snug and stalwart, two-tone bucket seats are race inspired, weighing less than standard Corvette seats with the Z06 badge emblazoned in contrasting stitching onto the suede surfacing. Ensuring that your wingman gets a workout, the electronic passenger chair's controls were scrapped in favor of manual cranking, to skim the weight of a power-adjust mechanism. The HUD has a revised gauge cluster with a "track mode" option, providing accurate readouts of the (dry sump) oil pressure and lateral G's achieved. There is a new three-spoke steering wheel, shrunken in diameter for nimble agility, and a reworked acoustic package for more audible in-car feedback of the powertrain.
Sound system/goodies - 4/10
When cross referencing the checklist of in-class media options, the Corvette Z06 seems primitive and, at best, dismally basic. It too incorporates a Bose audio system and an in-dash, six-disc CD changer, and although it claims to support most media, the Z06 struggles to scan MP3 codes and isn't nearly as refined, complete or sophisticated as the system found in the Nissan GT-R. The navigation module isn't compatible with Bluetooth, but the available OnStar GPS is equipped with a phone service and a Homelink setup, but almost as if it recognizes you're piloting a punchy supercar, the estimated arrival times can seem too expectant of some serious driving. Just shy of being a handicap, there is no easily feasible way to set multiple destinations. Other bonuses include heated seats, side air bags and a telescoping steering wheel.
Bang for your buck - 16/20
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the fastest and most powerful offering from GM, and it has one of the most devout enthusiast followings to ever come out of Detroit. What it lacks in its marginal cache of electronics, it makes up for in kinetics. An EPA of 16 city and 22 highway aren't exactly-wallet friendly figures, but $71,000 is an acceptable MSRP.
Driving experience - 15/20
While the Corvette Z06 can certainly handle motoring from city to country all in the same outing, the mass of audible noise reverberation is excessive and can be annoying on extensive roams. What you're getting here is an all-American drive in an all-American car that will continue to be popular no matter what GM does.
Overall score- 75/100
The outstanding credentials of the Corvette Z06 are not to be ignored. With minimal quirks, Chevrolet reached a new tier when they created this true American supercar.
And the Winner Is ...
The Chevy Corvette Z06 has some major grunt and is poised to be a sure hit with domestic and import connoisseurs alike, but falls shy of besting the GT-R on the whole. And really, when we think about it; even a Lambo would pale in comparison to the much-coveted Nissan GT-R right now.