NISSAN 370Z NISMO
Fairlady produces a podium-menacing lap time, but the overall recipe is out of date
NISMO is an abbreviation of Nissan Motorsport, so surely its tweaked 370Z would feel right at home on a racetrack? Yes and no. Its firmer suspension, grippier rubber, stiffer bodyshell and bigger brakes certainly delivered against the stopwatch, Luffy recording a stunning 1:36.9sec circuit of Winton, a mere second behind the turbocharged (and decidedly newer) hot hatches from Ford and Honda and good enough for a clear third on the day.
It achieved this time thanks to its field-best average corner speed, its 82.97km/h effort just 0.01km/h greater than the Civic Type R’s, but hey, a win’s a win. It stopped from 100km/h in only 33.68m, again trailing only that pesky Honda. On the drag strip it wasn’t quite so impressive, but 5.87sec to 100km/h and a 14.07sec quarter mile at 167.17km/h isn’t too shabby, its relative lack of torque only beginning to show at the top end.
Surprisingly, it also sounded the business from outside, doing a damn good impression of an E46 M3 (seriously!) as it howled its way around the track, its sharp, metallic song being music to the ears of bystanders. This only makes it all the more frustrating that from behind the wheel the Nismo sounds like an asthmatic vacuum cleaner, feeling harsher and more strained with every rev from 6000rpm to the 7500rpm redline.
Despite lacking any great enthusiasm for revs, the engine is effective and the gearing well-suited to Winton. The gearshift is far from buttery smooth, but it is at least short in throw. As much as it’s painful to admit, Nissan’s auto-rev function on downshifts is absolutely flawless and allows you to gain crucial metres under braking, safe in the knowledge you can simply select the next gear at any time and the computer will sort out that tricky heel-toe thing.
Unfortunately, this electronic wizardry only removes another layer of driver involvement from what is a fairly one-dimensional driving experience. A powerful, naturally aspirated rear-drive coupe on a racetrack should result in a smile a mile wide, yet the 370Z Nismo has, in DC’s words, been “smothered in grip”.
Wearing Dunlop SP SPORT MAXX GT 600 tyres measuring 245/40 front and 285/35 rear, the Nismo just doesn’t have the power or ability to generate enough speed to stress its sticky boots. As a consequence, you simply barrel into corners as fast as you can then mash your foot to the floor on exit – there’s little finesse required. At a very fast track this stability might be an advantage, but at Winton the 370Z just wasn’t that entertaining. Our resident racer was a fan, placing it 6th, but every other judge was less impressed, ranking it either second- or third-last. –
POLARISING Despite having mega grip, aural talents and an ageless design, the Nismo divided the judges – well, Luffy seemed to like it