2011 Nissan NISMO 370Z Review

Tuned for the track, NISMO delivers more of a good thing

2011 Nissan NISMO 370Z Review
Share this Article

For some people, too much just simply isn’t enough. Nissan’s 370Z is quite the quick sports coupe, but some buyers just want more power and performance—but they don’t want to step all the way up to the expensive, top-line “Godzilla” GT-R.

FAST FACTS

1. The NISMO Z gets an 18-hp bump for a total of 350-hp.

2. Upgrades include 19-inch Rays wheels, upgraded brakes, a stiffer suspension, sport exhaust system, an LSD and some more aggressive bodywork.

3. Pricing for the NISMO Z starts at $39,990.

4. Expect a 0-60 mph time from the mid 4-second range to the low 5-second range.

To appease these buyers, Nissan has given the 370Z its NISMO treatment. More power and sportier handling never hurt anything, save perhaps the purchaser’s pocketbook.

NISMO EDITION INCLUDES A LONG LIST OF UPGRADES

As noted above, just because the 370Z is fast and fun doesn’t mean it’s perfect. For those looking for a little more sport from their Z, Nissan buyers can step up to the NISMO package, which adds 19-inch wheels, a NISMO-tuned exhaust, a sports suspension and an additional 18 horsepower to the 3.7-liter V6 for a total of 350.

The six-speed manual transmission—which is the only available transmission—also comes with Nissan’s SyncroRev Match, which uses computer wizardry to match engine and transmission revolutions while downshifting, thus negating the need for heel-and-toe shifting.

We had the chance to take the NISMO car for a spin around Wisconsin’s historic Road America track earlier this year, and even though our time was limited we did get a sense of the differences between this car and the “regular” Z.

There are other tweaks that make a NISMO a NISMO. For example, there are 14-inch brake rotors up front and 13.8-inch brake rotors in the rear, a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering setup and a limited-slip differential. There is also a carbon-fiber composite driveshaft. Other changes include special tuning for the ECM (electronic control module) and a H-shaped exhaust system.

The tuned suspension consists of new, stiffer springs with “high-response” shock absorbers, as well as NISMO strut tower bars at the front and rear.

There’s plenty of interior and exterior NISMO markings—such as the chrome exhaust tips—that let passengers know that this isn’t your average Z. But if those markings aren’t enough, fire it up and take a spin. The exhaust is loud, and the NISMO Z just feels like a cruder, rougher version of the regular Z—and we mean that in a good way.

AGILE HANDLING WITH BRUTISH V8-LIKE FORCE

Get on it and the Z feels plenty quick. The clutch is a bit abrupt in its engagement, but the shifter feels just right. SyncroRev Match will make you feel like a hero as it matches downshifts for your perfectly.

On the track, the NISMO feels somewhat like an American muscle car. It’s loud, fast and brutish, although its not difficult to control. It has a stiff ride that makes it a bit uncomfortable for daily driving use, but the tuned suspension feels at home on the track. The V6 powers the car out of corners nicely, thanks to the 276 ft-lbs of torque.

Inside, the car isn’t that different than the regular Z, and the cockpit on our tester was a model of function over form. This isn’t a luxury ride; the cockpit is all business.

For those asking where the NISMO name and upgrades come from, the answer is the Nissan Specialty Vehicles Group, in conjunction with Autech, Japan.

Again, this isn’t a luxury car. There are some sports coupes out there that are more about looks than speed – Posuer-mobiles if you will – but not this car.

That doesn’t bode well for the Z’s competition. Mitsubishi’s Eclipse doesn’t have the guts to keep up with the NISMO Z, and the Ford Mustang/Dodge Challenger/Chevrolet Camaro pony car trio play among a different market segment, all though all three match up fairly well performance-wise. Sure, the V8 versions of those cars can probably outrun the NISMO in a straight line in higher gears, but with 350 ponies, it won’t be too far out of the running. And while the Mustang is close in terms of driving feel, the others don’t even rate.

As for the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8, it’s a decent imitator to the standard Z, but it’s not even a fair fight with the NISMO.

THE VERDICT

Pricing for the NISMO starts just under $40,000, which makes it a tinge more expensive than a Mustang GT. A lot of American muscle-car buyers might not consider the NISMO Z, and that’s too bad, because it has more than a little American DNA in it. Compared to the rest of the Z lineup, the price is quite reasonable with just a $2,500 increase over the base car.

Most sportscar buyers will be happy enough with the standard 370Z, which isn’t exactly a slouch. Those who want a daily driver that can be taken to the track on weekends will best served by looking at this vehicle instead.

LOVE IT

  • More dynamic driving experience, in every way
  • Small price increase over base car for what you get
  • SyncroRev Match transmission

LEAVE IT

  • More power wouldn’t hurt, especially considering domestic muscle-car competition
  • Suspension is stiff
  • Exhaust note might be loud for some

RELATED READING

2009 Nissan 370Z Coupe

2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster Review

2010 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Review

2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i 2009 Infiniti G37x Coupe

Get AutoGuide.com in your Inbox