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Driven: Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.

Driven: Nissan 370Z Nismo
Updates for the ultimate version of Nissan's 370Z.

   



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Nissan 370Z Nismo

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: good looks, largely decent cabin, excellent soundtrack, charismatic engine, brilliant handling

Not so good: tyre noise, some interior niggles, significant price premium over regular Z

Key Facts

Model tested: Nissan 370Z Nismo
Pricing: £37,575 basic; £38,125 as tested (£550 optional Storm White metallic paint)
Engine: 3.7-litre V6 petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, two-seat coupé
CO2 emissions: 248g/km
Combined economy: 26.6mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Power: 344hp at 7,400rpm
Torque: 363Nm at 5,200rpm

Our view:

On the face of it, the Nissan Z-car formula should be hugely appealing to any petrolhead. A big engine up front, drive sent to the back and lots of oversteer in between. Strangely, though, the 350Z and 370Z cars of the 21st century have never really lit my fire. The former was at least something different when it was released in 2003 and it was good to see the long lineage back to the Datsun 240Z carried into the new millennium, but from various personal experiences its 3.5-litre V6 was coarse and lacking the muscle expected of it, while the dynamics were never quite as thrilling as hoped.

The 370Z remedied some of those issues - for instance, the VQ37 VHR engine is a vast improvement over the old V6, albeit it's still not perfect - but my opinion of the later Z was tainted by a drive in an automatic Roadster version, which was (and I'm being kind here) awful. Thus, I must confess I've always kind of overlooked the Nissan sports car offering when recommending mid-priced coupés to readers.

Nismo, though, is a word to get anyone's juices flowing and with Nissan trying to establish its performance brand in the UK, it was worth getting the ultimate 370Z in for a longer test with it, especially as it has just been overhauled for 2015. OK, so the Juke Nismo isn't for all tastes and by all accounts, the R35 GT-R Nismo is too hardcore for the public road and is also much more expensive than the sublime 'standard' version. But it's still an evocative brand; is the 370Z Nismo the machine to cement Nissan Motorsport's place in the motoring world's conscience?

Talking of extra expense, the 370Z Nismo falls into the same trap as the GT-R. When you can get into a Z coupé from just £27,435, on the face of it a £10,140 premium is nothing short of a bloody liberty - especially when horsepower rises by just 16hp from the 328hp of the standard car. Nevertheless, the Nismo offers more than modest power and torque increases. The unapologetic body kit is the first thing to catch the eye. The MY15 Nismo has a redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes, extra air inlets, new LED daytime running lights and splashes of red Nismo trim. In fact, the whole aero package has been reworked and the best thing about that is the rear spoiler - it's now an attractive ducktail affair, rather than the aftermarket-esque thing that previously perched on the boot. Good to see the fat twin tailpipes made it through the restyle; overall, we like the looks of the 2015 Nismo. Get it in optional Storm White (£550), too, as it really suits the car's muscular haunches and stocky stance.

Other upgrades are a gorgeous, dished set of smoked 19-inch Rays alloys, revised suspension tuning for better ride comfort and refinement, moves to reduce road noise and fantastic Recaro seats in the cabin. Which is another of those Japanese interiors that's very good, but is still undone by one or two annoying details that you wouldn't find in a German car. So the infotainment controls are clear and easy to use, but the graphics of the displays in the instrument cluster are old hat. The cluster itself moves with the steering wheel, but it's only adjustable for height, not reach. The button to cycle through the trip computer is hidden behind the wheel rim on the dash, some of the plastics are a bit cheap, and the 'row of dots' gauges for water temp and the fuel tank are difficult to read at first glance. However, the Recaros are magnificent, the steering wheel is the perfect size and shape, and the driving position is spot on. On balance, the cockpit - just about - gets a thumbs-up.

Within the first 200 yards, however, you're quickly warming more and more to the idea of living with the Nismo. Even at moderate pace, there's a wonderful heft to the steering, gearchange and brakes, while those suspension revisions really have made a difference to the ride. You can tell it's firmly sprung but the damping eases away the worst of road surfaces, so that long-distance journeys are no longer a chore; on that note, we saw nearly 30mpg average during our 500-mile week with it, well above the quoted 26.6mpg combined economy. It is quieter inside than previously, although the V6 still sings its gruff and appealing song, but tyre roar remains the biggest intruder into the passenger compartment.

So it's a more confident cruiser now, but is it any good off the motorway? Give the Nismo some stick and it all comes together beautifully. It's a particularly rear-led chassis, adopting oversteer of varying degrees of wildness purely according to the heaviness of your right foot and your level of bravery - and slides are even easier to elicit if the surface is in any way greasy, which it was for most of our Z time. This is huge fun, but keep the 370Z neat and tidy and it's also a devastatingly quick coupé on back roads. The body control is bang on the money at all times, while understeer takes a long, long time to appear. And with the gearbox rev-matching for you on downshifts (turn it off by pressing the 'S-mode' button in front of the lever and you can execute pretty good blips of the throttle yourself), it proves at last to be a 21st century Z that's a proper hoot to steer.

Issues remain with the 370Z, not least the tiny boot, iffy bits of the cabin and the price of this Nismo model, but this is good, old-fashioned entertainment: rear-wheel drive, plenty of power and a short wheelbase chassis. Unlike a Subaru WRX STI, whose drive just feels dated now, there's a timeless appeal to this muscle car thing and the 2015 Nismo has got it nailed in an era when no one else is really offering it. We can see Japanese car fans migrating from the Subayota BRZ/GT86 or even Mazda MX-5 to this, to avoid going to the staid German opposition. The 370Z Nismo is epic, characterful fun and we hope the Z-line continues in this vein when Nissan finally replaces the base car.

Alternatives:

Audi TTS: finally, the third-gen TT adds some driving bite to its urbane looks. From £38,790, it offers 310hp and quattro grip, but it's perhaps not quite as charismatic as the Nismo.

Porsche Cayman: for £39,694, you can get into a 275hp Cayman, for which Porsche will probably charge you extra for the luxury of decent seats and a steering wheel. Yet the Cayman offers a sweeter, purer drive than the Nismo.

Subaru WRX STI: we could have picked the BMW M235i, but for people who like old-school Japanese thrills, the Subaru offers two extra doors and pretty much the same performance and eco stats for ten grand less. The Nissan's a lot better.


Matt Robinson - 22 Mar 2015



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2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.



2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Image by Nissan.
 






 

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