If you blinked, you missed the opportunity to pick up the last iteration of the 370Z Nismo, because after just a touch over a year of availability, Nissan is replacing it with this updated 2015 model – the third 370-based iteration from the brand's in-house tuner. Consider this version to be the 370Z's swan song. An all-new version is expected soon with a downsized turbo mill (something in the vein of a 240Z would not be impossible). That reality aside, the latest 370Z Nismo is a compelling package. It looks like a million bucks, takes a corner with verve, and gets belated tech goodies. Here are our impressions from a drive we took last week near Nissan's US headquarters in Tennessee.
- The Recaro seats are wonderful (shocker!). In fact, the interior in general has a much more strapped-down feel about it. A run-of–the-mill 370Z feels pretty great, although it's not a place for the big-boned. As with past Nismos, upgrades include contrasting colors on the faux-suede seat inserts, the gauge hood, the ten and two positions on the steering wheel, and a red centering stripe on the wheel. The upgraded materials are all nicely chosen and the cabin is a very sexy place to live – weirdly practical, too, considering the huge cargo area. Checking the "Tech" model option box brings a 7.0-inch nav screen in place of the upward swinging door over a storage cubby, a much-needed backup camera, an impressively good Bose stereo, and de riguer Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming. Everything seems to work as advertised.
- This is probably the best-realized version of the 370Z's styling. The car looks finished in a way that can only come with – get this – six years of refinement (believe it or not the 370Z debuted in 2008). The nose and tail have been given a more purposeful look that's also less street-racer. A side benefit is improved aero performance with more downforce and a whopping three inches of reduced overall length. Muy bueno. The side skirts claim to improve aero, but we think they just look cool. Also, we dig that Porsche 911 RS-style ducktail spoiler and restyled 19-inch Rays Engineering alloys.
- The 3.7-liter V6 engine remains one of the gems of the auto industry: quick to rev, gutsy torque curve, and a bit more power than the standard car, although the same as the last model – still up by 18 horsepower and 6 pound-feet of torque versus the standard Z, to 350 hp and 276 lb-ft. The exhaust note is a delight, offering just the right amount of raspy crackle without even a hint of fart cannon.
- Straight-line acceleration can get into illegal territory really quickly, but it's the other elements of performance that shine. Stomp the brakes too often and you may walk away with a chest bruise, for instance. The Nismo benefits from chassis bracing and increased spring rates that provide a machine that's more tool than car – it's only as good as the driver wielding it, so in the hands of a master, it turns out beautiful work.
- Most of our complaints have nothing to do with the Nismo-ness of the car and everything with the Z itself: the weird gauges for fuel level and engine temp, aging interior plastics, terrible – terrible – rear visibility, and less than stellar steering response. This platform is really showing its age.
- Although we will always prefer manuals, we're beginning to turn the corner on the paddle-shifters versus the row-your-own manual – the best dual-clutch boxes are just quicker. However, in the 370Z Nismo the traditional hydraulic autobox still can't respond quite urgently enough. With anything but full throttle, there's too much of a delay.
- The manual box is simply a delight to work. Pleasingly notchy shifter, well-placed gears and rev-matching for the normals, but optimal heel-toe pedal placement for experienced drivers. Even better news for true believers who buy the manual is a shorter final drive ratio, bumped from 3.69:1 to 3.92:1. Automatic cars get stuck with a 3:36. Of course, it's all in the trans gearing choices, but we'd by lying if the manual didn't feel a lot more responsive in the all-important second and third gear ratios.
Related Gallery2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo: Quick Spin
- 3.7L V6
- 350 HP / 276 LB-FT
- 6-Speed Manual
- Rear-Wheel Drive
- 19 City / 26 HWY
- Base Price:
- $44,000 (est.)
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