Below the 2012 Nissan GT-R’s climate controls sit three important toggle switches that unleash the 530-horsepower coupe’s full potential. From left to right, the second and third are easy enough to decipher: An image of a shock absorber sits above the suspension switch, and a spinning tire identifies the toggle for stability and traction systems, though that tire symbol isn't the standard ESC Off symbol, either.
The first switch is a little more cryptic. There’s a differential housing with tires and what looks like an electrical schematic protruding from the rear end. What’s more confusing is the toggle’s lower “Save” mode opposite the fun-looking “R” mode that all the toggles have.
First impressions may lead you to believe the button controls the power split of the front and rear differentials — a common feature on all-wheel-drive performance cars — but that would be incorrect.
Using this switch is key to activating the GT-R’s “R mode start function,” more commonly known as launch control. When you want to use launch control, switching on the transmission’s R Mode feels less like entering a specialized transmission setting and more like arming a missile. Riding a missile is a suitable illustration for what R Mode start feels like, as the all-wheel-drive GT-R launches at 4,000 rpm from a standing start up to 60 mph in about 3 seconds.