The 2009 Nissan GT-R is the sports-car value of the year, if not the decade—a car under 80 grand whose performance matches that of a $200,000 supercar. Engineers scrutinized every component to squeeze out more performance while saving weight and money. Inside the twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V6’s aluminum engine block, the walls surrounding the pistons receive a coating that dissipates heat better than the typical, heavier cast-iron linings. The engine produces 480 horsepower and hurls the GT-R from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds—quicker than a Lamborghini Gallardo. The GT-R tops out at 193 mph, making it one of the fastest cars on the road, and you don’t have to be a professional driver to tap its potential. A twin-clutch system, rare in a car at this price, handles gearshifts, and an adjustable shock-absorber system can stiffen up so that the GT-R feels like a Ferrari F430. Finally, the videogame-inspired control panel displays arcana like steering angle and brake-pedal pressure, giving the driver more detailed information and more control than any other car. Now that Nissan has proven that it can be done, expect more accessible, technology-rich supercars in the years ahead. $77,000; nissanusa.com
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