Video: Goodwood Supercar run in a Nissan GT-R almost ends in tears
For a select band of Journalists, Goodwood Festival of Speed is the chance to drive a supercar up the infamous hillclimb circuit in anger.
This year, Nissan handed me the key to the latest, enhanced 2011 version of the 523bhp GT-R. This was particularly exciting as the GT-R is a car that I was keen to drive.
The day started early with a 7:30 am sign on at the amazing driver's club, which is particularly exclusive as only drivers at the Festival are let in. Early nerves began to bite as I looked around the walls, noticing that they are covered by pictures of famous drivers past and present. Still, a silver driver's band is issued, which I'm dead proud of and won't be coming off my wrist for a while!
From there, it was straight down to the Supercar paddock to acquaint myself with the GT-R. It might have been early and the run still a way off, but the draw of Ferrari's first practical four-wheel drive and four-seat FF, the new McLaren MP4-12C, the monsterously loud Hennessey Venom and of course the GT-R, was already bringing interested crowds.
As I'd not driven the GT-R before, Terry Steeden from Nissan's press office, ran me through the controls. He thought I might like to try the launch control from the start, but the transmission oil had to be fully warmed for it to work, so the engine and launch control were switched on and the traction control switched off. A decision I might regret later on the track.
At 8:20am I joined the rest of the multi-million pound convoy, which funnelled its way to the start. The sights and sounds were amazing and I felt like a proper hero with people snapping away pictures of the GT-R.
It was then to the holding area, where I did a bit of star-spotting. In front, was a Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale, driven by TV Chef and car fan James Martin, whilst alongside him was Bentley's ice speed reccord-breaking Supersports, driven by the reccord-breaker himself, Juha Kankkunen.
We were then moved to the bottom of the track, where we were formed into the order we would be going up the hill. I was parked behind the latest Jaguar XKR-S, with Jaguar handling guru Mike Cross at the wheel. It wasn't too long until we followed in convoy to the start. There's a tyre warming area just before the start and as the XKR-S lit up its tyres, the butterflies in my stomach started - I was next!
I wasn't worried about driving the GT-R, I was more worried about making a fool of myself in front of the gathering crowds and Nissan Public Relations people. As I waited for the starter to drop his hand, I held my feet on the brake and accelerator. The hand dropped, I took my foot off the brake and the Nissan launched itself off the line with searing pace, turbo induction and little drama.
Before I knew it, I was almost doing 100mph, making the GT-R's 0-60mph time of 3.046 seconds seem very believeable and I was closing fast on the first corner. So it was hard on the brakes, then thinking the worst of the corner had passed, I then started to feed the power back in.
This was a big mistake, as the next thing I knew the back of the GT-R was trying to join the front. Thankfully, with a dab of opposite lock I was back facing the correct direction and I could carry on up the hill.
Thankfully, I can safely say that while the rest of the course wasn't quite driven with quite such commitment, it was exciting, if uneventful.
Behind the wheel, the Nissan GT-R feels every bit the modern supercar for the Playstation generation. You only have to look at the centre LCD screen, which monitors every important part that helps with the performance.
The Nissan supercar's steering is well-weighted, the brakes have more than enough bite to deal with the 198mph top speed and the four-wheel drive handling is secure (as long as you don't fiddle with the traction control or have more talent than me!).
To sum up, this short drive has whetted my appetite for its formidable performance, but I want to see what it's like to live with a car like this on a day-to-day basis. Watch out for a full roadtest on Autoblog UK soon.
Check out the video of my run below: