Nissan 370Z Nismo

Better late than never for sizzling Japanese muscle coupe

by LOUIS CORDONY

ENGINE 3696cc V6, DOHC, 24v / POWER 253kW @ 7400rpm / TORQUE 371Nm @ 5200rpm / WEIGHT 1490kg / 0-100KM/H 5.7sec (est.) / PRICE $61,990 ĎNISMOí. Skyline enthusiasts revere the word like a deity. The companyís been tuning road cars for years while running Nissanís global race operations.

But while early examples were only limited runs (think Skyline GT-R 400R) the outfit only became Nissanís answer to M or AMG outfits in the late noughties, offering tasty top-of-the-line R35 GT-Rs and 370Zs since birth.

Yes, theyíre both eight-year-old cars, but Australiaís had to watch the rest of the world enjoy them for almost a decade. Apparently due to ďADRs, timing, and capacityĒ, Richard Emery, the brandís thenlocal CEO, told us last year.

But Emery made the right noises and convinced Japan to greenlight Nismo models for Aussie tarmac.

And the 370Z is the latest result.

Thankfully, Nismoís done better than paste the 370Z with a stickerpack, and instead tweaked it like you would with five-minutes on Forza Motorsport.

Outside it wears GT-R inspired front and rear bumpers, while side sills and a lip spoiler round out the bodykit. Snazzy new Rays 19s are half-an-inch wider and press an extra 30mm (up front) and 40mm (out back) of Dunlop Sportmaxx rubber onto the road. Special dampers, uprated springs, and stiffer rollbars put the staggered rubber to work, while special brake hoses and fluid are included too.

Oh, and the door mirrors are Nismofied in black.

Engineers have fiddled with the 3.7-litre V6ís spark and timing and bolted on a new cat-back exhaust system. Itís enough for an 8kW and 8Nm uptick, and a total of 253kW and 371Nm. You can have a sevenspeed automatic íbox as well, which we didnít have the chance to sample. It marries with a tasty carbon propshaft and viscous LSDbased drivetrain.

The Zed might be reaching its twilight years, but the cabin has aged well. Itís ergonomic, and the material mix feels premium, thanks to the Nismo's scattered Alcantara and leather. Dual-zone climate control, and quick-fold backrests, are sorely needed, however, the Recaro sports seats definitely cradle you nicely.

Unleashing it on road reveals a planted, grippy, and hunkered chassis. As far as sub-$75K coupes go, turn-in is more immediate than a Ford Mustang GT. Throttle response is sharp, and feedback from the brake pedal strong. And while the hydraulic steering rack isnít as textural as youíd like, it weights up nicely like a Toyota 86ís.

The Zed threads flowing, smooth roads with sparking balance.

Each gear arrives with a solid clunk and the clutch errs on the heavy side. The oncegroundbreaking rev blip feature still works a treat and the V6 prefers punching from high in the rev range. Itís a macho device, if only it sounded more like it.

The new pipes have unleashed a noise, but itís a bit strained and whiney, failing to impersonate an atmo GT-R as you might hope.

The ride, like the exhaust, lacks sophistication. And although Yamaha chassis dampers help filter out bite, it bucks, rather than drifts, over ruffled blacktop.

With the Nismoís arrival pushing down the base carís price to $49,990 there are about 11,000 reasons to dodge the range-topping Zed, which asks $61,490 with a manual. The auto wants $2500 extra. But what the Nismo buys is a clearer focus on the modelís core strengths as a sports car rather than a grand tourer. Which, thanks to horrible tyre roar, two seats, and a stiff ride, is non-existent.

The exhaust has finally given the big-capacity six some proper pipes, even if it doesnít sound overly organic, and the sharpened, communicative handling is exactly what youíd expect of a true twoseat sportster.

Although it has no real rivals at this price, there is a genuine case against a Mustang V8 here, if you donít mind a six-pot wail instead of a burbly baritone, or the two-seat configuration. And it still looks like itís coming out next year. Just as well, because the 370Z Nismoís been worth the wait. M

STAR RATING 4.0

Like Dislike Chassis feedback; steering feel; looks Synthetic cabin sound; harsh ride

What the Nismo buys is a clearer focus on the modelís core strengths