Nismo is an abbreviation of Nissan Motorsport, so surely its tweaked 370Z would feel right at home on a racetrack? Yes and no.
This track review was carried out in conjunction with MOTOR's Bang For Your Bucks 2018
Its firmer suspension, grippier rubber, stiffer bodyshell and bigger brakes certainly delivered against the stopwatch, Luffy recording a stunning 1:36.9sec circuit of Winton, a mere second behind the turbocharged (and decidedly newer) hot hatches from Ford and Honda and good enough for a clear third on the day.
It achieved this time thanks to its field-best average corner speed, its 82.97km/h effort just 0.01km/h greater than the Civic Type R’s, but hey, a win’s a win. It stopped from 100km/h in only 33.68m, again trailing only that pesky Honda.
On the drag strip it wasn’t quite so impressive, but 5.87sec to 100km/h and a 14.07sec quarter mile at 167.17km/h isn’t too shabby, its relative lack of torque only beginning to show at the top end.
Surprisingly, it also sounded the business from outside, doing a damn good impression of an E46 M3 (seriously!) as it howled its way around the track, its sharp, metallic song being music to the ears of bystanders.
This only makes it all the more frustrating that from behind the wheel the Nismo sounds like an asthmatic vacuum cleaner, feeling harsher and more strained with every rev from 6000rpm to the 7500rpm redline.
MOTOR comparison: 370Z Nismo v Mustang GT
Despite lacking any great enthusiasm for revs, the engine is effective and the gearing well-suited to Winton. The gearshift is far from buttery smooth, but it is at least short in throw.
As much as it’s painful to admit, Nissan’s auto-rev function on downshifts is absolutely flawless and allows you to gain crucial metres under braking, safe in the knowledge you can simply select the next gear at any time and the computer will sort out that tricky heel-toe thing.
Unfortunately, this electronic wizardry only removes another layer of driver involvement from what is a fairly one-dimensional driving experience. A powerful, naturally aspirated rear-drive coupe on a racetrack should result in a smile a mile wide, yet the 370Z Nismo has, in DC’s words, been “smothered in grip”.
Wearing Dunlop SP SPORT MAXX GT 600 tyres measuring 245/40 front and 285/35 rear, the Nismo just doesn’t have the power or ability to generate enough speed to stress its sticky boots. As a consequence, you simply barrel into corners as fast as you can then mash your foot to the floor on exit – there’s little finesse required.
At a very fast track this stability might be an advantage, but at Winton the 370Z just wasn’t that entertaining. Our resident racer was a fan, placing it 6th, but every other judge was less impressed, ranking it either second- or third-last.
Balancing time sheets with spreadsheets on Bang For Your Bucks 2018
Nissan 370Z Nismo BFYB 2018 Results - 8th place
0-100km/h: 5.87sec (8th)
0-400m: 14.07sec @ 167.17km/h (8th)
Lap Time: 1:36.90sec (3rd)
Bang Index: 154.9
Bucks Index: 81.7
BFYB Index: 121.9
Warren Luff - 6th
“Out of all the cars here it’s probably the easiest car to produce that kind of lap time. Probably the only thing that makes the car nervous is the ABS. It’s like it has a bit of a trigger on the inside wheel and causes the car to pull a little left-right, which upsets the car. Still, the mechanical grip and the amount of lateral grip this car has is phenomenal. The gearbox is good, while the engine probably feels a little raw and unrefined.”
David Morley - 14th
“Zed’s dead, baby. ”
Dylan Campbell - 13th
“Smothered in grip, like a bad meat pie with tomato sauce”
Scott Newman - 13th
“Substitutes handling for grip. Quick but not very pleasant”
Louis Cordony - 13th
“A car that continues to hit and miss at MOTOR. Fast, but a bit numb”
2018 NISSAN 370Z NISMO
BODY: 2-door, 2-seat coupe
ENGINE: 3696cc V6, DOHC, 24v
BORE/STROKE: 95.5mm x 86.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 11:1
POWER: 253kW @ 7000rpm
TORQUE: 363Nm @ 5200rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
SUSPENSION: A-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: 355mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (f); 350mm solid discs, 2-piston calipers (r)
WHEELS: 19 x 9.5in (f); 19 x 10.5in (r)
TYRES: Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600; 245/40 R19 (f); 285/35 R19 (r)
Bang For Your Bucks 2018
The Contenders, Judges & Criteria
15 of the hottest new fast cars under $100K roll up to take on our famous formula. Which will be number 1?