Nissan GT-R MY14 on road and ice: part two
> Nestled in amongst the black runs and cable car stations of Val Thorens is a pristine ice-racing track owned by none other than former F1 driver Alain Prost. Its slick surface and four tight corners are the perfect place to demonstrate the GT-R's formidable four-wheel-drive system at speeds that won't see us travelling back in time.
Well, so far as Nissan is concerned. To me, introducing such a powerful car to this unforgiving environment (there are full crash barriers lurking beneath the snow banks) is an accident waiting to happen. And it is with this in mind that I tentatively venture out onto the circuit, my only comfort being that we've been swapped into cars with studded tyres.
I'm joined by a chisel-jawed professional racing driver called Chris, who's there to teach me how to get the best of the car, but mainly to prevent my worst fears (shattered bodywork, fire, screaming) from coming true. We start by mooching around the track, getting a feel for the levels of grip and the surprising distances needed to bring the car to a halt on the ice.
"Floor it!" Chris then shouts, rather unexpectedly. Rounding a tight hairpin, this is the last thing I expect him to say, but I duly oblige and the GT-R's rear end breaks loose, tightening our line around the corner.
A touch of corrective steering input and the car is straight again. It is undoubtedly the GT-R's clever juggling of power between the front and rear axle that has kept us out of the snow banks, but now I feel like a proper hero and approach the next corner with even more gusto. Stabbing the throttle again provokes the car into even bigger angles of oversteer and, spurred on by Chris's whooping, I coax more and more performance out of the GT-R.
I'm just getting into the swing of things when our time on the circuit comes to an end. Chris offers to take me out as a passenger to show me what the car can do in the hands of a man with no fear. It's an epic display: the full fury of that monstrous V6 engine let loose on the ice sees the GT-R constantly sideways, with the on-board computer display showing how the car is modulating power to each wheel, to keep it pointed exactly where he wants it.
"It's very powerful, but more controllable than anything else on this surface," says Chris, impressed with the capability of Nissan's finest vehicle. I'm inclined to agree. The drive has been a jaw-dropping demonstration of the sheer prowess of the GT-R, a car that will surely go down in history as one of the all time greats. It makes ham-fisted drivers (me) feel like a driving god, but has enough of an edge to keep a really talented wheelman entertained.
And the best bit? At £77,995, the Nissan GT-R is much less than half what you'd pay for a Ferrari or Lambo of equivalent performance.
Model: Nissan GT-R Model Year 2014
Engine: 3.8-litre V6, twin-turbocharged
Power: 542bhp, 632Nm
Max speed: 196mph
0-60mph: 2.6 seconds