NISSAN 370Z NISMO
Harder, faster Zed brings the noise
Harder Zed finally hits Oz
THE 370Z notched up eight years in the Australian market in April, which, in automotive terms, qualifies the Zed for a letter from the Queen. So yes, it’s old, but now two things have happened – the standard 370Z received a price adjustment in August that saw the manual coupe dip below the $ 50K mark for the first time, while the sharper 370Z Nismo, available overseas for the past two years, is now here at $ 61,490 for the six-speed manual or $ 63,990 for the seven-speed auto.
And the Nismo Zed isn’t just a pensioner sports car in an Adidas tracksuit – it has real-deal mods that hone the standard model into a fitter, meaner vehicle.
Not that the basic package was especially lacking. There’s been little in the way of mechanical updates for the 370Z over the past eight years, but the 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6 has always been a linear, fairly torquey unit, with a fat mid-range courtesy of variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust cams and clever infinitely-variable valve lift hardware on the intake.
Yet, with only 8kw more peak power and 13kg more weight to lug, the 370Z Nismo doesn’t feel much swifter than the boggo Zed in a drag race. Instead it’s corners that the Nismo is designed to assault, not the quarter mile.
Firmer springs and dampers are exclusive to the Nismo, but the ultra-stiff suspension overstays its welcome on choppy backroads. The front tyres skip over nastier pockmarks and there isn’t the compliance necessary to keep traction over rough surfaces.
Once the road smoothes out the Nismo feels far more settled, with a fatter wheel and tyre package (245/40 R19 up front, 285/35 R19 out back) delivering superb grip at both axles.
Meanwhile, the Zed’s old-school hydraulic steering is a tactile, fast-ratio delight, and meshes well with its responsive doublewishbone front suspension. Driven hard, there’s the sense that the taut Nismo-tuned undercarriage would work wonders on a racetrack.
Free-breathing Nismo exhaust pipes endow the V6 with a gutteral howl at high revs, however there are also electronically generated tones mixed in with the natural note, resulting in a synthetic sound that’s at odds with the 370Z Nismo’s otherwise analogue driving experience.
Gearbox whine is also prominent, but is at least in keeping with the Nismo’s posture as a motorsport-inspired road car. Mechanical noises are welcome sometimes, and refinement is overrated in sportscars anyway. That said, road noise on coarsechip may test your tolerance.
The only major additions to the 370Z’s cosy cabin are a pair of excellent Recaro seats, an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, and a sprinkling of Nismo badges and crimson highlights.
The 370Z Nismo expresses a lot of old-school sports car values in the way it drives, and many of them are traits that are fast becoming extinct. Things like feelsome hydraulically assisted steering, a balanced front-engine/ rear-drive chassis, and a zingy naturally aspirated engine.
The 370Z Nismo’s feistier character gives Nissan’s ageing sports car a newfound lease on life. It’s angrier and harder to live with, yes, but its singular focus on handling elevates the oft-forgotten Zed from a biggerengined (and costlier) alternative to the Toyota 86, to a car that encourages owners to hunt down the curviest (and preferably smoothest) section of blacktop they can find and just drive.
Model Nissan 370Z Nismo Engine 3696cc V6 ( 60˚ ) , dohc, 24v Max Power 253kw @ 7400rpm Max Torque 371Nm @ 5200rpm Transmission 6- speed manual Weight 1480kg 0-100km/ h 5.6sec ( estimated) Economy 10.6L/ 100km Price $ 61,490 On sale Now