Review: Switzer Performance P800 [Nissan] GT-R

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
review switzer performance p800 nissan gt r

Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to . . . GT-R Fields. Almost nothing is real, whether you’re talking about the ridiculous Nürburgring-centric engi-marketing, the programmed-to-self-destruct transmissions, or the amazing shrinking customer warranties. Still, there’s nothing to get hung up about (so to speak). The entire concept behind the GT-R—building a car that more or less steers itself for people who can’t drive for shit, live in downtown Tokyo, or both—is stranger than any LSD trip John Lennon could have possibly imagined.

But if a stock GT-R is a strange machine, the Switzer Performance P800 GT-R, with seven hundred and seven horsepower at the wheels and a 10.8-second quarter-mile time, is plain deranged. Tym Switzer, recently notorious in Porsche-tuning circles for his nine-second “Sledgehammer” 997 Turbo, claims his tuned GT-R is “driveability-oriented.” He has dyno charts to prove it, AND the P800 runs on 93-octane pump gas.

Last week, your humble reviewer was invited to attend a “shakedown” for a privately-owned P800 at the BeaveRun road course near Pittsburgh. I know BeaveRun reasonably well, but I’d never run it in the wet— and it was more than wet by the time our test session started.

To warm up a bit, I drove my Audi S5 around the course for a few laps. The track was slick in some places and just plain Teflon in others. With ASR turned off, the Audi, which has nothing like 707 wheel horsepower, cheerfully and dramatically oversteered from each exit. Not good, and not good for our chances of testing the P800. Surely Switzer wouldn’t put a notoriously temper-prone journo behind the wheel of a 700-plus horsepower customer car in the wet, right?

Before I could even have that discussion, the rain stopped . . . and it started to snow. Fluffy little flakes covered the Nissan’s catfish nose and blanketed the visor of my Impact! Air Draft Carbon helmet. The owner was nonchalant about it: “Go ahead and drive it. Try not to bring it back on the wrecker.” So there we go: the most powerful car I’d ever driven, on a narrow, elevation-change-intense track, in the snow.

As the Jalopniks trained their HD cameras in my direction, I found that I could give the roided-up Nissan full-throttle in a straight line. This is a big deal. After all, a 600hp Viper can’t accept full throttle at any speed below 100 mph in the dry without spinning wheels, and this bitch is freight-training ahead with slush on the track.

The front section of BeaveRun is a typical Alan Wilson corner combination with a concrete curb at the critical midsection. I hit the concrete at full chat . . . and nothing happens. The car still steers. The power is, apparently, routed somewhere else. Maybe to a rubber band attached to the nose, because we exit with no drama and barely a smidgen of oversteer. Time for the uphill right-hander. Press the brakes which have very little backchatter in ABS mode, dial the steering, floor it up and over the crest of Turn Seven.

Time for full throttle. The P800 holds the line with no drama and we arrive at the back hairpin with a ton of momentum. At the exit, I yield to temptation and flat fucking floor it. The world goes sideways, I dial in a twist of correction, and we’re Tokyo Driftin’ to the front straight. Nissan’s done the stupid thing and fixed the paddles to the steering column. (Shuffle-steerers of the world, unite! Your time is at hand!)

So I let the car run free a second to straighten out and use full power. Click. Click. One hundred and thirty miles per hour. Plus. In the snow. Easy as pie. In the same space of time it took the Audi to hit 110. Hit the ABS for Turn One and do it all over again.

The snow and sleet bring visibility to a minimum, but we’re alone on a track I can drive from memory now. Faster. Hit the curb harder. More power, earlier. It’s never too early. The GT-R has a disturbing sense of power distribution. It’s in control. Not you. By the seventh lap I realize that I’m starting to risk my passenger’s safety in a search for excitement, so I bring the car in to the pits.

Therein lies the problem with the Nissan GT-R. It’s not exciting enough, not even in “R mode,” not even with 800 horsepower. I never for a moment doubted Switzer’s claims about that power (under twenty grand). The P800 pulls like a porn star at a bachelorette party. But there’s no drama. For me, that makes it a pointless car, because there’s no challenge for the driver beyond basic competence. I’ll take a Viper over this Voltron G35 every day and twice on Sundays. But for the people who really, really want a GT-R, trust me: this is the one to have.

[ Switzer Performance provided the vehicle reviewed, insurance, track time and gas.]

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  • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Apr 22, 2009
    So Nissan needs to make a 550hp 1400kg rwd manual gearbox version of the GTR to finally shut everybody up? :) That's unpossible because they won't ante up for the magically German pixie dust that apparently costs many thousands of dollar per application*. *application of magical dust may adversely effect reliability

  • on Aug 15, 2012

    [...] several years ago, you forced the Switzer P800, a Nissan GT-R which place somewhat over 7 100 horsepower to the wheels. Switzer has because gone [...]

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.