The 370Z plays second fiddle to the Nissan GT-R, so how does the Nissan 370Z Nismo version fit in? The Nissan 370Z Nismo is the last step before the giant leap to the almighty Nissan GT-R. The 370Z Nismo’s £36,995 starting price is well below the cost of a GT-R and £4,000 more than the 370Z GT. Of course, the Z has smoother looks than the bold lines of the GT-R to deal with the fashionable Audi TT and BMW Z4 while being a more livable machine on a day-to-day basis. From an enthusiast’s viewpoint, it comes with something the GT-R doesn’t offer – a six-speed manual gearbox.
What does the Nismo kit include?
Nismo – which stands for Nissan Motorsport – has given the Z a decent working over. The visuals make it loud and clear that this Z is a little bit special. You can only have it in silver at list price, but choose the only other colours available – white or black and you’ll pay £550 extra. All three work well with the dark grey detailing used around the skirts of the body kit, mirror caps and that massive rear wing. It works especially well with the Z’s muscular haunches, which are bolstered by the lightweight 19in RAYS alloys (painted dark grey, too), and the fatter front chin spoiler and rear bumper that melds perfectly with the body. While it’s a tad boy-racer, smart touches such as the red stripes on the mirrors, brake calipers and within the front apron make for a cohesive look: the Nismo looks far from a 370Z with a set of cheap modifications.
What about inside?
You’ll slide into the cloth-covered Nismo seats, which are supportive but the seat cushions feel a little flimsy. There’s the regular 370Z three-spoke steering wheel, but it’s covered in part leather with Alcantara, and it feels excellent. It also has a rally-style red-leather strip at the top and red stitching, which is used on the gear lever, handbrake and on the door trims. The instrument cluster, which moves with the up-and-down-only movement of the steering column, has a red ring around the tacho, but that’s all the Nismo gets inside. Equipment-wise, it has everything the 370Z GT has, including dated but easy-to-use sat-nav with a 9GB hard drive, electric front seat adjustment, cruise control and keyless start.
What about mechanical changes?
There’s more power, with 11 extra horses for 339bhp from the 3.7-litre V6, as well as 276lb ft of torque, an extra 7lb ft. The increase comes thanks to a larger sports exhaust, with two pipes barreling out of the dark rear diffuser menacingly. The Nismo Z also sits 10mm lower on 15% stiffer suspension, with those wheels running wider rubber. Nissan also make a tenuous link with the GT-R, saying that the Nismo shares the same brake lines and brake fluid as the German-slayer. Is that the best it could do?
Does it feel any different to drive?
Minor tweaks mean that the Nismo 370Z offers a drive that’s not distinctly different to the rest of the 370Z range. The V6 is a brilliant unit, with a deep exhaust note, but despite the token power increase the Z still feels heavy thanks to a throttle response that’s a little lazy. It’s still a quick car, with a 5.2-second 0-62mph claim, but the changes haven’t improved its effectiveness as a performance coupe, at least not on the road. While we love swapping cogs ourselves, the Nismo’s gearbox is a little clunky to slot in gear, and the weighty clutch feel is out of sync with the shift’s lightness. Move over to the brake pedal, and despite those ‘GT-R inspired’ brakes, it’s no star performer in emergency stops, despite the pedal being a tad bitey around town.
The biggest single difference is in the Nismo’s ride: it’s much firmer and there’s excellent feedback through the wheel: you’ll feel every nuance of the road beneath you, but on bumpy surfaces it requires constant input to keep it on course. On the plus side, there’s still loads of traction out of corners, and even with the stability turned off, you can power out of corners and the Z grips and goes – yet the regular 370Z can do the same for less money…
Glance in the mirror as you make progress, and you’ll be reminded that you’re in the Nismo version by that rear-wing blocking the view.
Looks-wise, the Nismo 370Z has a much greater sense of occasion to it, and it does have a certain aura and heightened street cred. It’s tastefully executed for a boy-racer coupe, which is the main reason you’d want it. For the extra coin, you’ll struggle to feel the difference between the Nismo and any other 370Z, so this is a car for passionate Z-car fans that want something a little different. It’s simply too expensive and doesn’t take enough steps forward to make it standout from its more affordable models.