The new Nissan 370Z is one of the most impressive sports cars on the market today. The V6 engine pumps out 332 horsepower and the car has ample torque to get it from 0-to-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. When an already great car like the Z is handed over to Nismo, the specialty vehicles division of Nissan, you can expect big things out of their special edition models.
The Nismo name doesn’t have much recognition outside of Japan. For the past twenty years, they have been providing special performance editions of Nissan vehicles to the Japanese market, and their first model to hit the United States was a Nismo edition of the 350Z back in 2007. Well, they’re back and better than ever. The first thing you’ll notice that sets the Nismo Z apart from the standard model is that handling. The Nismo engineers took a fine tooth comb to the Z’s suspension and made several adjustments that tally up to a big change. The spring rates in the front and rear have been increased, by 15% and 10% respectively, as have the chassis bars, by 15% and 50% respectively. The Nismo engineers estimate that their tweaks have led to an overall increase of 15% in chassis rigidity.
While those suspension adjustments will help keep the Nismo Z flat when you’re running through the corners, an upgraded power-assisted steering system has been introduced to help keep you pointed in the right direction. Also, there is a limited-slip differential and a host of electronic stability controls. In all, these enhancements add up to an incredibly tight, and incredibly responsive, sports car. Quite impressive when the base Z handled very well itself.
There have also been changes to the body of the car, making it about seven inches longer (the wheelbase is the same as the base Z, though), and a hair narrower (about 0.2 inches). There are new lightweight, and wider, 19-inch wheels at the corners that make the Nismo Z’s stance even more aggressive.
Now, onto the engine. The upgrades to the 3.7-liter V6 aren’t as extreme as what you would expect from a specialty vehicles division. Horsepower has been increased by 18, up to 350, and the torque ratings have been increased by only 6, up to 276 lb-ft. Also, while the extra power is nice, the car has actually gained some weight, about 70 pounds, over the base 370Z. This extra weight and the minimal engine enhancements mean that the Nismo 370Z probably won’t go any faster than a stock Z in a straight line. This car wasn’t built for the straight line race, though. The Nismo lives for the corners.
All told, the Nismo 370Z looks to be a great option for the racing enthusiast. No, it won’t perform much better than a stock Z in a drag race, but once you get it on the track and start taking it around corners, you’ll immediately notice the difference. The body styling adds a bit of tuner-car flair to the stock Z’s already streamlined looks, setting it apart from the standard model. Official pricing hasn’t been released, but it’s a fair bet to say that the 2009 Nismo 370Z will cost somewhere in the low to mid $40k range. The base Z ranges from $31,000-$36,000, so an extra five thousand or so for the suspension upgrades, body kit, and mild engine tuning seems about right.