The Z for Nissan has been in existence for almost 50 years. It all started in 1969 when the Datsun 240Z coupe was launched, instantly becoming a classic. Over the years we’ve seen the 260Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z and today’s now nine-year-old 370Z. Be it a Datsun or Nissan the Z cars have always been a mass-produced GT sports car.
With long noses, aggressive looks and most importantly fantastic dynamics. Now another famous name, NISMO – Nissan’s performance division has joined the party. But has it taken the 370Z to another level, Chris Bowen attended the national launch for EFTM to find out.
We know a fair bit about the 370Z, we all had a turn at living with one for three months earlier this year. Trevor said, “It gives you a cheeky grin”, Geoff called it a “sexy little beast” I once described it as “an aerodynamic escape artist”. Fair to say we love the Z. But it’s an aging beast, way behind on the technology front and until recently, overpriced, more on that later.
What Has Nismo Done.
When you think NISMO, power and performance are the first words to jump into one’s mind. Well it’s added just 8Kw and 8Nm to the pre-existing 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6. So 253Kw @ 7000rpm and 371Nm @ 5200rpm, cue the online outrage. But enough can be enough and I firmly believe the 370Z in standard guise has just enough up and go to be a perfectly adequate spirited Sunday drive.
Outside of minimal power increases, there’s a fair bit going on beyond just the badge. NISMO has added many cosmetic changes including its own body kit, unique front and rear fascia and side sills, NISMO styled side mirrors, a discrete rear spoiler and bespoke engine cover. But it’s the hardware upgrades that aim to lift the 370Z above the rest of the range.
The suspension is of course tuned by NISMO with increased spring, dampening and changes to stabiliser rates. A stronger three-point front strut tower brace has been fitted. The exhaust is now a true dual set up helping to reduce back pressure significantly. Grip is provided by Dunlop SP SPORT MAXX GT 600 tyres with the front measuring 245/40R19 and the rears 285/35R19. They’re wrapped around 19-inch RAYS rims.
Inside, the extra goodies extend to Recaro leather accented seats, blackout treatment around the vents, NISMO tachometer, Alcantara leather steering wheel and shifter, unique door inserts and a slightly different start button.
But What About The Drive?
A spirited drive west of Brisbane over Mt Glorious to Kilcoy and back again provided the type of road this car is made for – S-bends, hairpins and straights. From behind the wheel the same engaging, raw rear-wheel coupe experience is there. The NISMO treatment has given the car more of a “Series II” type feel. It steers sharper, feels more planted and accelerates with just a tad more enthusiasm. The sound remains very similar, some hate it but for me it’s nice to hear a car that doesn’t sound like it’s artificially trying to sound like a bowl of Coco Pops. It’s muted, but gives you enough base and blast to make you feel, well just happy.
The car still feels heavy and makes you work a lot harder as a driver to extract the most from it. Ultimately the performance-orientated upgrades are simply incremental. But the combination of an easy to throw around six-speed manual that automatically blips the throttle on downshifts and the potential to get the rear loose, easily still ticks a lot of boxes all these years on.
What will annoy some is the pricing and I’m not talking about the NISMO effort. Nissan has dropped the standard 370Z to $49,990 for the manual coupe. When I last reviewed the same car in 2013 it was $69,890 before on roads. The NISMO coupe will set you back $61,490 for the six-speed manual, or $63,990 for the seven-speed automatic. Basically, you’d be filthy if you bought one last month, but such is life I guess.
Beauty Defies Age?
In the case of the 370Z yes, partically now it’s more sharply priced. Sure, the infotainment system is at Game Boy levels, the interior features very mid-2000s plastics and even backlighting but it still pulls the looks, the nods of admiration and the odd inquisitive question from a passer-by. The front and rear ends have been given just enough of a going over to keep the current model pumping along for a little while longer, that’s because at the end of the day it’s simply still a classic.
There are four colours on offer, Diamond Black, Brilliant Silver, Shiro White and Eau Rouge Red. The interior scores red inserts and seat treatment, irrespective of the palate chosen. The three-pod instrument cluster moves when you adjust the steering column and still looks great. Just sinking into the 370Z is always a fun occasion, just don’t expect to see much out of the steeply raked rear window.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp.
Nissan expects the NISMO model to account for 30 percent of 370Z sales, time will tell. It’s managed to incrementally improve the only obtainable Nissan sports car outside of the epic GT-R. But the strategy of introducing NISMO models to Australia would want to be carefully considered. The almost unanimous verdict, is the next variant to feature the badge will be the humble Juke. In the meantime, I award the Nissan 370Z NISMO the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval. It’s still a hoot to drive, puts that grin on your face and yes has the sexy looks.