2011 Nissan Nismo 370Z new car reviews

The Nismo body kit is functional as well as stylish.
These wheels, forged by Rays, are boasted to be super lightweight.
A bare-bones but stylish interior features real aluminum trim and a Nismo-specific tach.
Those rear fenders really do stick out.
Bracing and a red engine cover are also part of the Nismo package.

Better than: Nissan 370Z
But not as good as: Datsun 240Z
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 88.81

The Nismo version of Nissan's 370Z is the same basic car with quite a bit more sex. It's all curves and flares, the kind that makes you want to grab a handful. Big exhaust tips hint at the extra power over the comparatively milquetoast standard car: it boasts almost 20 more horses, for a total of 350.

It's turned on in the places you can't see, also. Nismo, Nissan's performance arm, gave the suspension underneath a complete rework, adding stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, revised damping, more bracing, a viscous limited slip, and—what's this bit of exotica?—a carbon fiber driveshaft.

Presumably to reduce weight, it’s also a stripper—not many standard or optional comfort features here. There's a storage bin where the navigation screen would be, for example, but there are touches to remind you this isn't just a base model. Plenty of real aluminum trim reminds you of its track-ready purpose. Our tester, equipped with the optional Nismo carpeted floor mats ($115) and performance brake pads ($580), checked in at $10,000 over the base Nissan coupe.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Whether or not you like this car, you do have to give Nissan credit for offering an even high-tuned version of their latest sports car. I still wish it had more over-the-shoulder room. It's great on track, but not sure I could drive it every day.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Boy this car just wants to be on track. And by “just” I also mean “only.” On the street, the Z is a little too much... evrything. Too much tire noise, too much stiffness (bordering on harshness), too much peakiness from the engine which only seems to love operating in the upper revs, too much aggression from the optional brake pads. Just too much.

But oh what a willing partner it would be on track. Were you actualy in a position to make the most of those knife-edge responses instead of them being a distraction, the Nismo-tuned Nissan would reward you with lap after lap of confident speed. On the street, however, only the rough edges are allowed to show. Even “spirited” driving barely approaches the capabilities of the chassis, and leaves you with a bad case of automotive blueballs.

Alan Cesar Alan Cesar
SuperDork

The seats are comfortable in a racy sort of way: They have that high-bolstered hug to them. But that also makes it a bit difficult to climb in and out of. The interior, though well-trimmed, is sparse, and the Versa-grade stereo makes such pathetic sounds that drowning out the car's various noises in it is an exercise in self-loathing. Forty thousand dollars doesn't include a decent stereo? Come on, Nissan. Better audio can't add that much weight, or cost very much.

It's a harsh ride, to be sure. I picked up my mom at the airport in this car, and was thankful Florida roads are super smooth compared to the pockmarked north. I don't think she would've liked it as much if she got to experience potholes in it. That's the tradeoff for performance though, and this car can carve the corners. Its limits feel incredibly high—which also makes it a tough car to fully appreciate on the street. For getting groceries, it's not much more than a stiffly sprung economy car. The bodywork sure is sexy though.

That high price is ultimately what makes the Nismo a tough pill to swallow. A Mustang GT, for example, has quite a bit more horsepower and proper mountains of torque compared to the Z car's high-strung V6. Sure, the Mustang is heavier, but it still has the power-to-weight advantage--and it's a full ten grand less on the sticker, never mind that it also has a back seat. The Nissan SynchroRev Match system is cute—it blips the throttle for you on downshifts—but the new Mustang V8 is such a free-spinning sweetheart, it's no problem to blip the throttle yourself. The lack of performance with this Nismo doesn't make tolerating the rest of the car very worthwhile.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
11/23/11 10:21 a.m.

I'd like to hear from someone who has actually tracked the car, especially concerning the brakes.

Grantsfo
Grantsfo New Reader
11/29/11 12:24 a.m.

I have tracked the car a couple times. It needs work to be run on the track even in Nismo tri. Needs a big oil cooler, better shocks and springs. I opted for JRZ clubsports coil overs, needs bigger/better front brakes (I use same front brake as grand Am race cars - Brembo race caliper), needs deep sump oil pan with doors to hold oil in the turns and finally it fuel starves on hard right handers with anything less than 3/4 of a tank. Oh and it needs a real LSD. I went with OSGiken

It is very nice handling car. Does 1:44 lap times on Laguna Seca on stock width wheels with DOT R tires. That pretty quick for

Here is my car http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RMPQT1kGTcw/TaxV7vJwvVI/AAAAAAAAAB8/BZa1u9Z-YXA/s1024/JR1N0711.JPG

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

The Nismo version of Nissan's 370Z is the same basic car with quite a bit more sex. It's all curves and flares, the kind that makes you want to grab a handful. Big exhaust tips hint at the extra power over the comparatively milquetoast standard car: it boasts almost 20 more horses, for a total of 350.

It's turned on in the places you can't see, also. Nismo, Nissan's performance arm, gave the suspension underneath a complete rework, adding stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, revised damping, more bracing, a viscous limited slip, and—what's this bit of exotica?—a carbon fiber driveshaft.

Presumably to reduce weight, it’s also a stripper—not many standard or optional comfort features here. There's a storage bin where the navigation screen would be, for example, but there are touches to remind you this isn't just a base model. Plenty of real aluminum trim reminds you of its track-ready purpose. Our tester, equipped with the optional Nismo carpeted floor mats ($115) and performance brake pads ($580), checked in at $10,000 over the base Nissan coupe.

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