First drive: Nissan 370Z Nismo

20 June, 2013 | by Vijay Pattni

That car looks like it lives its life a quarter mile at a time.

It’s certainly got more than a whiff of The Fast & The Furious about it, hasn’t it? It’s the Nissan 370Z Nismo: the new range-topping, halo version of Nissan’s big-hearted V6 sports coupe, tuned by Gran Turismo stalwarts Nissan Motosport.

Big-hearted, you say?

Indeed. Underneath sits a tweaked version of the Zed’s 3.7-litre V6, here treated to a new engine management and ‘exclusive’ dual exhaust system. The performance gain is marginal, though: the standard Zed’s 241kW becomes a shade under 253kW, while the engine’s torque – always a strong point for the 370Z – grows from 362Nm to 373Nm

Oh.

Indeed. What with Nismogetting involved, we were kind of hoping for more, but, nevertheless, this tweaked 370Z is able to accelerate from 0-100kph in just 5.2 seconds. That’s an entire 0.1 seconds quicker than the standard car.

What about all that external frippery – is it just decoration?

No sir, everything you see is functional. Cast your eyes around the midnight-racing wannabe and you’ll pick up a new front splitter, rear diffuser and that tasty rear wing, here acting to generate negative lift and improve the airflow under the car. It exists, says Nissan, to improve stability and control at higher speeds.

There’s also a new set of lightweight 19in alloys, 0.8kg lighter at the front and 0.1kg lighter at the rear than before, while those rears are actually half an inch wider.

And finally, for the helmeted sportscar enthusiast, there is a tweaked suspension setup, including reinforcement bars to aid stiffness, 14 per cent stiffer springs at the front, and stiffer shocks at the front and back (by 23 per cent and 41 per cent respectively).

Let me guess: it’s been developed for us pesky Europeans and our demanding roads?

Correctomundo. Although a version of the 370Z Nismo has existed for a few years in America, this one is specially built for us. And… it’s a fraction harder, sharper and more agile than before.

You’ll notice the ride at first. It’s firmer, but the damping won’t trouble your dentures, or your dignity (much), feeling very self-assured. Oh, and it’ll still play the tail-happy hooligan at but a bootful of throttle’s notice.

Sadly, the dual exhaust system hasn’t engendered a snarling soundtrack to complement the Fast & Furious aero, instead droning on much like the normal Zed; in fact, a little too much like the normal Zed – we were hard pushed to notice any real difference between the pair. It’s just a shame Nissan couldn’t dial into the character of the old 350Z a little more.

Performance-wise, it’s still an eager, enthusiastic engine, and coupled with the whirry, muscly six-speed gearbox – there’s no auto option here – will appeal to those sturdy young gentlemen with rather more hirsute, energetic forearms.

That said, the steering is a touch quicker, but to use that age-old road tester-ism, isn’t the most communicative of helms. The brakes though, good god. Nissan has fitted the brake fluid and hoses from the GT-R into this 370Z, and they feel fantastic. Let the late-braking heroics commence.

Who needs a PlayStation! I want a 370Z Nismo!

Hold on there, sparky, because here’s where we roll out The One Answer To Every Motoring Question In This And Many Other Universes: just get a Porsche.

It feels a bit unfair to compare a 370Z with a Cayman, but Nissan has priced this Nismo version at a whopping *R590 000. That’s around *R40 000 off the base Cayman, and this car is only 0.1s quicker to 100kph. That’s a helluva lot of money.

It does come loaded with kit – every option on the list is standard on the Nismo Zed – but that price point is the entry to dangerous territory. Our advice? The 370Z is still a characterful, loveable car, and if you must have one over a 86/BRZ, then buy the standard one, and fettle it yourself. It’s what the original Nismo ‘midnight racers’ would have done.

*Estimate price

     

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