Not everyone loved the Nissan 370Z Nismo when it landed in 2013. Maybe Nismo took that to heart, because in the intervening year or so it’s rolled it back into the workshop, done some tinkering and sent it back out into the big wide world armed with a thorough set of updates.
That means the 2015 model year Zed Nismo gets altered damper rates for a more forgiving ride, tighter-hugging seats and improved sound deadening so you get less of an ear-bashing on the motorway.
Nissan 370Z Nimso 2015 model year: a new look
The styling’s changed too, with a jagged new nose and a smaller ducktail rear spoiler joined by shinier wheels and the inevitable addition of daytime running lights.
Don’t know about you, but I think I liked the looks better before. With its droopsnout nose, GT-racer rear wing and droolworthy 19-inch RAYS alloys, the original Nismo 370 looked as if it had been plucked straight out of an underground night race meet in Tokyo, which if you have any kind of susceptibility to that kind of thing made it quite alluring. By contrast, the new design looks fussier and less cohesive somehow, to these eyes at least.
There’s a more prosaic purpose behind the new look, anyway – Nismo says the stubbier tail spoiler and new front splitter work together to create meaningful downforce at speed and distribute it more evenly front to rear, for a more planted stance.
What about the non-cosmetic changes to the 370Z Nismo?
Rear spring and damper rates have been fiddled with to make the ride more supple on rippled surfaces. There’s a secondary motive behind that change as, in conjunction with different carpets and rear wheelarch liners, the reconfigured dampers help to cut road noise, something that’s always been one of the 370Z’s standout entries in a sizeable collection of flaws.
It is quieter than before – relatively speaking, of course – there’s still no shortage of road and wind noise and the drivetrain’s still coarse and buzzy (sadly the 3.7-litre V6 sounds more like a powerful cement mixer than a sonorous sports car), but less of it finds its way into the cabin than before.
Little’s changed on the drivetrain front. At the 370Z Nismo’s heart is the same naturally aspirated 339bhp V6 as before, hooked up to a heavy-duty six-speed manual gearbox (with rev-match software witchcraft for perfect downshifts every time) and a limited-slip diff.
It is a quick car, no question, that big-chested V6 pulling strongly through the long gears. The engine on our particular test car felt less tight at the top end than the last Nismo I tested, but as before it does the bulk of its work in the mid-range. The gearchange felt less obstructive too, and the rev-match function works as spookily well as ever. You can disable it if you’d prefer to do things yourself but the system works so well you never feel the need to DIY.
Quick in a straight line, then. What about corners?
Despite appearances, the 2015 model year 370Z Nismo is not a lairy machine that spends most of its time trying to crab around corners sideways. In that way the Tokyo Drift looks sell it short, as its handling is more sophisticated than that.
Even in the wet there’s enormous grip and traction from the big Bridgestone boots (285/35 at the back, 245/40 at the front), it changes direction very well for a car that weighs around 1500kg and body control is more than competent. The suspension’s certainly firm, with a borderline allergy to body roll, but it doesn’t feel out of its depth on gnarlier road surfaces – you’re not going to lose any fillings here.
The steering’s lovely too, with a measured feel and plenty of feedback through the alcantara-trimmed wheel. That’s part of an interior that’s well equipped and feels less cheap and rattly than a regular Nissan 370Z, Tonka Toy switchgear aside. Granted, it won’t keep any Porsche designers up at night, even if the Nismo’s price veers uncomfortably close to the Boxster/Cayman.
Those new Recaros certainly do hug you tightly – a little too tightly if your shoulders are at all broad. In fact, if the seat’s set reasonably far forward the side bolsters can ever so slightly restrict your left arm as you change gear, which isn’t ideal.
Nissan 370Z Nismo (2015 MY): verdict
I’m not ashamed to admit that I really liked the first Nissan 370Z Nismo, and that enthusiasm’s undimmed for the updated version. You’d get some of the same thrills from a regular Zed for far less cash, but the Nismo feels sharper, more together and generally less rough around the edges.
Admittedly, there are plenty of weak points: practicality (or lack of – the boot’s shallow and over-the-shoulder visibility is non-existent), it’s more than a little thirsty (27.6mpg – and that’s the best-case official combined cycle figure) and the price will be too high to stomach for many. But it’s good clean fun.