REVAMPED NISMO SHINES
Nissan’s “Z” models have been the most successful sports cars in automotive history. Since the iconic 240Z debuted in 1970, over two million Zs have been sold worldwide. In the last 45 years, the Z has gone through six redesigns, with the last one coming in 2009. Although this current model, the 370Z, is in its sixth year of production, it’s still going strong.
One of the reasons for its success is that Nissan has not sat on its laurels with the Z. The 2015 version gets revised suspension and steering settings and two new levels of trim. However, the top-of-the-line NISMO model, the subject of this review, gets even more. This version of the Z comes with new seats and interior accents, refreshed bodywork and an optional automatic transmission.
Although Nissan overhauled the body last year, their designers gave the NISMO more aggressive look for 2015. Up front, there’s a broader grille, vertical air inlets and new LED running lights. At the rear, a more aerodynamic spoiler replaces the gaudy-looking one from last year. Completing the update is a narrow band of red paint, the NISMO color, which encircles the car at the bottom edge of the bodywork.
Inside the NISMO, driver and passenger are ensconced in new Recaro seats that hold you firmly in place during vigorous driving. The seats are two-tone, in black leather with red faux-suede in the center. The same suede-like material provides a secure grip on the steering wheel. The instrument panel moves in harmony with the tilting steering wheel so that the gauges are always readable. Three supplemental gauges on the top of the dash provide an unexpected retro touch.
If there is a complaint that is heard about the Z-car, it’s that the cabin is tight-fitting for six-footers. Head- and legroom are just adequate for tall drivers, and getting out of the Z is a real problem for folks with big feet. Storage space is also an issue. There is a dearth of cubbies up front, and less than seven cubic-feet of cargo room in the rear.
However, buyers of the Z-cars are more concerned about performance than they are about creature comforts. All models come equipped with a 3.7-liter, V-6 engine that generates 332 horsepower, except for the NISMO, which is tuned for 350. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a seven-speed automatic is optional. My NISMO Z, with the manual gearbox, was capable of hitting 60 in about five seconds. This power train has plenty of gusto.
On the road, the Z feels robust and sure-footed. The clutch pedal is somewhat stiff and the shifter a bit hefty. Nissan’s synchronized revving system blips the engine for smooth downshifts, making the heal-and-toe exercise obsolete. (If you are not into shifting, the smooth automatic is not a bad alternative.) The slightly heavy steering is very precise, enabling the Z to go exactly where it’s pointed. The retuned suspension does its part too, enhancing the Z’s grip on the road, a quality that this car has been known for. The ride is bumpy on back roads, but quite acceptable for a sports car.
The NISMO is available with the new Tech package this year. This $3500 option includes a navigation system, a backup camera, Bose audio, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The backup camera is especially welcome since the view to the rear is minimal. Pricing for the 370Z NISMO starts at $42,800. My test car, with the Tech package, had a bottom line of $46,300.
Strong Power Train
Sports Car Handling