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Nissan 370Z v HSV R8, Evo X, Cayman S

By Ash Westerman, Jesse Taylor and Peter McKay, 26 Jun 2009 Reviews

Nissan 370Z v HSV R8, Evo X, Cayman S

Not content to have stung Porsche with its upstart GT-R, Nissan widens the front with a Zed-led assault.

The term 'modest underdog' may have been forged through war and toil to somehow encapsulate the Aussie spirit, but it's a fairly dull way to roll, isn't it? Far more compelling and colourful are those who strut, swagger and talk up a big game.

After all, who would watch a boxing match where, in the pre-fight interview, the challenger offers something like: "Well, Mike, my opponent is much faster, fitter, and hits harder ... so I'll just be thankful if I'm not in a coma when I get carried out tomorrow night."

No, the more a contender big-notes their chances, the more eagerly we gather to witness the glory ... or wince at failure.

Introducing Nissan, the current kings of Talking It Up In A Big Way. Or maybe just a company with a massive, Nürburgring-sized axe to grind with Porsche. Either way, when word came through from Japan that Nissan's engineers claimed to have benchmarked their new 370Z against Porsche's Cayman S - surely the greatest pound-for-pound two-seater sports car on the planet - the Wheels team was just about up on their desks, throwing air uppercuts and baying for comparo blood to be spilt.

Now, it should be noted that at no stage did Nissan chief product specialist John Yukawa say anything to the effect of, "And not only can our car roll with Cayman S, but it can also outsprint an HSV R8 on the strip, and smack down an Evo X on a race track."

No, we cooked up this bit ourselves, because we thought it sounded like a challenge to which the Zed could rise. The Clubsport R8 is the muscled-up bully boy of straight-line stomp, with enough grunt to shut down just about anything this side of, well, a $155K Porsche Cayman S. We reckoned the newly lightened, more powerful Zed, while falling slightly short in terms of power-to-weight ratio, would surely run the R8 close in a dragstrip showdown.

Then there's the Evo - a podium finisher in every Wheels handling test it has contested. If the Zed could chew a chunk out of the all-wheel-drive tarmac terror, it could hoist a highly-prized scalp.

All that would remain would be for it to prove that the talk of benchmarking against the Cayman S really did come from Nissan's engineering department, not the marketing guys, and the point would be made. The new Zed could be categorically declared 'apex predator' of the automotive world spanning $65K-$160K - and our work of highlighting its talents would be complete.

Time to get it on.