By on September 14, 2012

For one week every September, the residents of Toronto are paralyzed with awe, any notion of rational thought gone with the proverbial wind, as The Centre of the Universe braces for an influx of Hollywood A-Listers, B-Listers and A-List hanger-on types during the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF, as it’s known, is a great attraction for the city, bringing in free-spending tourists and some mild cultural cachet to a city that still battles a wicked inferiority complex.

Not that said inferiority complex isn’t still warranted. Any illusions harbored anywhere that Toronto is a “world-class city” on par with New York, Paris or London are immediately shattered by the presence of throngs of starfuckers, stacked six-deep outside the city’s luxury hotels. Wide-eyed, open-mouthed, cameras (some of the mobile phone variety) in hand, waiting to catch a glimpse of somebody, anybody famous. Naturally, I just drove right past them and pulled up to the damn door.

The GT-R may not wear the most prestigious badge in the wuuurrrrrllddd, but the general public all knows what it is. Well, let’s be real. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 all know what it is. Our ride to the Ritz was plagued by bad timing at the stop lights, and every single halt brought an onslaught of catcalls from this demographic, with some combination of “sick” “ride” and “bro” used each time. The adoration of the Axe-washed masses was gratifying. The ride quality, not so much.

Toronto’s roads, perpetually pockmarked and pot holed, are the great undoing of the GT-R’s chassis. Even with the shocks set to “Comfort”, it rides like the back of a short bus, with the bumpstops seemingly made of limestone. “Damping” is a theoretical concept here, since the car seems to crash over every single imperfection in the road.

It took some time to get out of the downtown core and escape its busted roads, but once we were free, the GT-R’s mythical performance characteristics duly emerged, and revealed a resemblance to another Japanese legend; the Mitsubishi Evo MR. It makes sense, really. Both the Nissan and the Mitsu have turbocharged powerplants, twin-clutch transmissions and all-wheel drive. Both have their roots in much more pedestrian offerings — the Evo is a tarted up Lancer, while previous GT-Rs were tarted up Skyline family sedans and the current car shares some aspects of the Infiniti G37’s platform which are deliberately ignored by the majority of the Internet. And, of course, both offer superlative driving experiences.

They’re not that different either. In the Evo, you hit the paddle to execute a downshift, wait for the decidedly non-best-of-breed dual clutch gearbox to downshift, wait again for the turbo to spool, and soon you’re propelled down the road at speeds that endanger the lives of everyone in your vicinity. There is more turbo-and-intake wooshing and driveline whine than actual engine growling, but it seems appropriate for a car that is more digital than analog.

The GT-R is much bigger, and much faster, but the gearbox still feels a little slow and antiquated, and it doesn’t project it’s voice in the way a Z06 ‘Vette or a European exotic would. Did I mention it’s fast, planted and utterly foolproof to drive quickly? My initial drives in a GT-R were a little underwhelming, in that it felt like a point-and-shoot sports car that required zero finesse or skill. After many miles on the road and a few on a road course, I still feel that way, but boy is it fun to stomp the throttle and annihilate everything in sight. The Mitsubishi claws back some of the quantitative gap in the qualitative aspects; where the Evo has a steering system that can be adjusted in microns, the GT-R feels a little ponderous and numb. Porsche may need to look over their shoulder with regards to Nuburgring lap times, but even the EPAS in the 991 (wrongly despised by those who don’t know better) has the GT-R beat hands down.

From the anonymous crush of the Gardiner Expressway, it was a quick hop to the Ritz, where we pulled in to the driveway and were greeted by an onslaught of valets. They didn’t take us for anybody important (all the VIPs are being shuttled in black Audis, courtesy of the brand’s sponsorship agreement with TIFF), but they were excited to see the GT-R. It ended up being parked in a row with an all original Acura NSX, a C5 Corvette and a McLaren MP4-12C. Anyone looking for an example of model bloat should put these three in a row. My crappy iPhone camera couldn’t capture them all properly, but the GT-R is absolutely gargantuan next to the lithe aluminum Acura.

The crowds nestled behind the barricades weren’t as astute as the valets. As my co-driver and I prepared to exit the car, we saw rows and rows of cameras and camera phones at the ready, waiting for someone important to exit the GT-R. When they saw our hairless scalps emerge from the cockpit, there was a barely audible sigh as they realized we were merely a couple of shmucks looking to quaff a couple of overpriced Mojitos. Before we could process our 15 microseconds of public adoration, all cameraphones swung in unison to catch Kate Hudson popping out of the hotel’s front door. We headed inside to the bar. The crowd of nobodies seeking somebodies was thick enough that we were forced to stand next to a table and drink. The patron next to us was wearing a vulgar Breitling chronograph. He complained incessantly that we were casting shadows over him and his companion, who was a veritable R35 GT-R in proportion to Ms. Hudson’s slim R33. Will we return to the TIFF next year? Possibly not. Even when you’re driving the star of Japan’s A-list, celebrity is overrated.

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20 Comments on “How I Used Godzilla To Crash The Toronto International Film Festival...”

  • avatar

    From all Reports I have read and seen on the TORONTO TV Channels, the whole thing was a great success, the only comment I heard was that the Canadian dollar was not at Par any more,other than that I am sure everyone had a great time enjoying the Sights and Life in Toronto with the Sunny weather and nice temperatures/

  • avatar

    Actually, it’s USD$1.03 right now.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’d rather have a lightly optioned 911 Carrera S, everyone knows it’s Porsche. The GT-R is a fantastic car but you really have to look to recognize one.

  • avatar

    where I am EVERYONE knows what an R35 is… even people who are not car enthusiasts… the shape is unlike any other and its usually going warp factor 9 overtaking everyrone in the wrong lane

    that’s the GT-R lyfe

    while a 911 is just another porsche and could be anything from 10 yrs ago… no one except Porsche experts (like you and me) knows the difference btw. a 997 GT3 4.0 and a 996 carrera 2

  • avatar

    Toronto may not be the world city it would like to be, but it’s gotten to be ahead of Montreal. Forget pock-marked, our downtown roads are falling down.

    Just yesterday I was driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic and a kid in a tired, hopped-up Golf was vying to get next to me. What kind of performance did my car have, he wanted to know. He then revved his engine to redline trying to get me to race him, despite the sea of cars ahead of us. Was I in a new Ferrari? A classic Porsche? Nope; an all-stock ’99 Miata aside from 15″ aftermarket wheels and a negligible ~.75″ drop.

    Thanks for the story, Kreindler. I enjoyed it.

  • avatar

    DK: Your comment on the Breitling begs the question: what, pray tell, adorns your wrist?

    • 0 avatar

      Louis Moinet Magistralis, when I’m doing yard work or changing oil I will switch to a 6264 Daytona.

      Just kidding. I have an Omega Speedmaster Professional. And I would wear a Seiko5 before any of the dogshit Breitling has put out in recent years.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, I have a vintage Speedmaster Moon Watch as well as a Navitimer. I have a harder time with the concept of Omega since the Swatch took over.

        As some seem to feel about Breitling wearers, I feel about Panerai and Graham guys…

        Check Linde Werdelin’s though. Indestructible and great design although a little niche.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Good taste. I have a Seamaster Professional, although sometimes I still wear the old analog Timex I got in high school.

  • avatar

    DK, you’re right;

    Breitlings ARE for 24K-Trump-plated, groin-trussed, hair-plugged, planet-paving, prune-juice-Martini-(otherwise known as a “Regis Philbin”, btw)-swilling, Nitric-Oxide-be-priapism’d, Ayn-Randian-Architect-scale douchenozzles.

    Like school on Sunday;

    -No Class…

  • avatar

    Hmm. Around the Bay Area, all the GT-Rs seem to be daily drivers by performance-car liking execs at tech companies. One lives next door to my consulting company’s HQ, and there are two others I meet regularly on 880 when I am going south in the morning (as opposed to west). None of them are precisely slow, but they’re usually #2 lane traffic speed not #1 lane zooming, and all the parking lot enthusiastic entry tire marks at the common driveway at our HQ office are either my RX-8 or my Evo driving coworker. The GT-R here has never even done the private 1/4 mile drag strip zoom along our back lot, as far as I’ve seen.

  • avatar

    For extra points, did you have Blue Oyster Cult on the stereo?

  • avatar


    I certainly agree about the GT-R. A bit robotic and anesthetized. But its suspension problems are common with many high-performance, semi-super cars nowadays, except McLaren, apparently. Part of the blame can be assigned to extremely low-profile tires: deadly on tar-strips, expansion joints, rough pavement, and potholes. The rest of the suspension hardly has time to react!

    You mentioned: “Porsche may need to look over their shoulder with regards to Nuburgring lap times, but even the EPAS in the 991 (wrongly despised by those who don’t know better) has the GT-R beat hands down.”

    I don’t think Porsche will have to worry too much about looking over its shoulder except through binoculars. Here are Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch’s Nürburgring lap-times under controlled conditions:

    1 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Mk2 620 …….7:24
    2 Gumpert Apollo Sport 700………….. 7:24
    3 McLaren MP4-12C 592 ………………7:28
    4 Porsche 911GT3 RS 4.0 500……….7:30
    5 Porsche Carrera GT 612 …………….7:32
    6 Porsche 911 GT2 Mk1 530 …………..7:33
    7 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Mk2 450 …….7:33
    8 Pagani Zonda F 602 …………………….7:33
    9 Audi R8 GT 560 …………………………..7:34
    10 Koenigsegg CCR 806 …………………7:34
    11 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk2 530 …………..7:34
    12 RUF Rt12 997 650 …………………….7:35
    13 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk2 530 …………7:36
    14 Lambo G. LP570-4 S.L. 570 …….7:38
    15 Corvette ZR-1 647 …………………….7:38
    16 Lexus LFA 560 …………………………..7:38
    17 Ferrari 458 Italia 570 …………………7:38
    18 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk1 486 …………..7:38
    19 Techart GTStreet 997 Mk1 630 …….7:39
    20 Ferrari 430 Scuderdia 510 …………….7:39

    Yes, the 530-HP Nissan is creeping up, but can’t even overcome a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Mk2 with “only” 450 HP. As you said, Porsche has it beat hands down. Now, next year’s 600-HP GT-R may be a different story. But I don’t expect Porsche to be sitting on its hands all this time either….

    BTW: For EPAS, did you mean PASM (Porsche Active Stability Management), DEMS (Dynamic Engine Mount System), PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control), and PTV-P (Porsche Torque-Vectoring Plus)?

    ref’s – – – –; (Watch video);


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