'Honest' is a word that continues to come up when discussing the Nissan 370Z NISMO
. It's the very opposite of its Juke counterpart
in fact. Where that car is evidently trying extremely hard to be something it isn't, there's no such pretence with the big Zed. You know where you are with it almost immediately and, by and large, that's a very good thing.
Looks inviting, reality can't quite match up
There's a naturally-aspirated V6 in the front with the power going to the rear through a six-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. You probably knew that already but it's worth repeating. Not especially trendy in this turbocharged, dual-clutched, fancy traction control era but even more appealing because of it.
That VQ37 lump dominates from the off for both good and bad reasons. Heck is it gruff. There's a huge sense of inertia in the engine when mooching around, an issue compounded by a noise that doesn't exactly encourage gratuitous blips. It's coarse and bland and just not that pleasant from a configuration that should produce a great sound, especially unsullied as it is by forced induction. You sense a few breathing tweaks would help substantially but that's something NISMO should really address.
It's a really torquey engine though, which is great. It's linear, predictable, big capacity (well, relatively speaking) shove that again is so unfamiliar in 2015. Fourth is useable in so many situations.
Facelift or not there's no mistaking the Zed
And if the 370 is pushed harder? Erm, it's a bit strange actually. That engine note and the bountiful torque will ensure 4,000rpm is never really breached while still rocking along quite nicely. Really pushing it out towards the 7,500rpm limiter feels like the most unnatural thing in the world; your ears will say it's madness but there is some performance up there, or so it seems. Some real performance actually. What does the spec sheet say? 344hp at 7,400rpm. That would explain it then. Peak torque is at 5,200rpm. The numbers say it wants to rev, the experience often suggests different. Curious. If any PHers have 370s with tweaks to the exhaust or induction system, we would love to hear from you. Does it make a significant difference?
Dynamically the NISMO is, again, refreshingly simple. It's not as good as Porsche Cayman down a challenging road - too heavy and lacking some precision - but it is very entertaining. It's a big car but not one that feels especially lazy or cumbersome with a ride that's pretty stiff at low speeds but soon becomes more forgiving. Typically its composure is very good, the weight occasionally making itself known in quick direction changes or under braking. The Zed seems to prefer a slow-in, fast-out approach rather than maximum attack, ensuring the front isn't overly stretched and pushed into understeer.
RWD, V6, manual - still a great combo
What a wonderful sensation it is to feel a limited-slip differential doing its job. Not in wild bouts of Tokyo Drift oversteer but accelerating out of bends, sensing the power being apportioned across as the lock is wound off. With the traction control off (one button, one press - hallelujah!) the NISMO will oversteer and feels superbly balanced when it does move. Imagine how good it would feel as slightly smaller, significantly lighter car...
With manuals becoming rarer by the day, those that do remain need to be good. Like the Juke, the Zed's certainly is, but for different reasons. As you would hope from a big, burly coupe, it's a heavy and mechanical shift and one that's really quite satisfying. Again rather like the Juke though, the driving position is compromised. This steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach either and the seat doesn't quite go back far enough for those with gangly limbs. It's a shame really given the new Recaro 'Spinal' seats are pretty good.
Costly at £37K but they're for sale under £30K...
Having not driven the first 370Z NISMO it's impossible to draw firm conclusions but it doesn't appear a transformative change with this revised car. The same positive aspects relating to the looks and the dynamics remain with the same slightly frustrating drawbacks of an uninspiring engine and plain interior. At £36,995 it looks pricey but when cars with delivery miles at less than £30K
it looks considerably more appealing. If coupes like the Audi TT
really don't appeal, the NISMO will provide a refreshing tonic. Bring on the RS.
NISSAN 370Z NISMO
Engine: 3,696cc, V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 344@7,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 274@5,200rpm
Top speed: 155mph
MPG: 26.7mpg (claimed)
[Pics: Tom Begley]