2009 Nissan NISMO 370ZPosted on September 11th, 2009
Performance model takes Nissan’s sports car to the next level
By Nina Russin
NISMO is Nissan’s performance arm: responsible for producing specially-tuned cars, parts and accessories. Whereas the Nissan 370Z is a sports car that can go to the track, the NISMO 370Z is a street-legal race car.
The NISMO grade is one of three 370Z models available, the other two being the coupe and roadster. Based on the coupe, the NISMO 370Z comes in one completely-equipped version, including a retuned exhaust for enhanced engine power, close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, bigger wheels, special suspension and brakes. Nissan’s front-midship platform creates a near-perfect front-to-rear weight ratio: 53/47.
Designers added functional ground effects and a rear spoiler to the exterior, while the interior sports unique upholstery, gauges, aluminum pedals and a plaque of authenticity. MSRP is $39,130, not including the $720 destination charge.
Responding to concerns from Nissan enthusiasts, the automaker is making an aftermarket oil cooler available through its dealerships as a competition part. When oil temperature in the Z reaches a certain level, the vehicle automatically shifts into a reduced power mode to protect the engine. The competition part keeps the oil temperature from reaching this point, so drivers can take full advantage of the car’s performance potential.
At a recent media event in northern California, I had the opportunity to test drive the NISMO 370Z on a combinations of highways, city streets and winding canyon roads. While the high-performance Z isn’t for everyone, it has enough comfort and convenience features to function as a daily driver.
A little extra power and a specially-tuned chassis
The NISMO model shares the same 3.7-liter V6 engine with the other two 370Zs. Engineers boosted the engine’s power by substituting H-configured exhaust pipes for the stock system, and changing the on-board computer.
While the close-ratio manual transmission is best suited for the track, it has a light enough clutch pedal and enough gear range to work in urban traffic. Nissan’s SynchroRev match technology automatically blips the throttle to smooth out shifts. It takes some getting used to, but can enhance the driver’s ability to drive the car well at speed.
The initial part of the test drive included a segment along the streets of San Jose and area freeways during the morning rush hour. I was able to maneuver the car through traffic comfortably without experiencing leg fatigue.
The most obvious difference between the NISMO model and the other two 370Zs is its torsional rigidity. Engineers stiffened the car’s front and rear springs and stabilizer bars, to enhance steering feedback and high-speed handling.
The stiffer chassis isn’t a problem on the smooth California roads. On pothole-filled roads in the upper Midwest, it might be too much of a bumpy ride.
Ground effects enhance downforce to keep the chassis from lifting on the track. The body panels also make the NISMO 370Z slightly longer than the other two models. The rear spoiler also enhances downforce. Since it’s a rather large piece, it does restrict rear visibility on top of the car’s rather wide rear pillars.
Unique forged aluminum wheels are larger and lighter than the stock rims on the other two models, to increase the NISMO’s footprint without adding unsprung weight. Yokohama Y-rated performance tires make the most out of the car’s contact patches with the ground. If it’s possible to make the NISMO Z lose traction, doing so is beyond my driving abilities.
A speed-sensitive steering system provides more assist at low speeds, while maintaining positive on-center response on the track or highway. The NISMO Z comes with Nissan’s sport brakes: 14-inch vented rotors with four pistons in front, and 13.8-inch vented rear rotors with two pistons. The car stops on a dime.
The interior of the NISMO model is similar to the other two 370Zs, but with some nice embellishments. Anyone familiar with the rear strut brace in the 350Z will be happy to discover that engineers relocated it on the new car. The old strut brace divided the cargo area in two: the new one does not.
As a result, the new car works much better as a daily driver, with enough room in back for groceries, luggage and other cargo. A locking glovebox and storage box behind the passenger seat hold smaller parcels.
Because of its small size, the 370Z doesn’t hold the type of gear many endurance athletes need to carry. Buyers looking for a larger cargo area have plenty of choices among Nissan’s truck, sport-utility and crossover vehicles.
The seats have enough bolstering to keep the driver and passenger in place, without hurting access and egress. The three pod gauge cluster at the top of the center console provides oil temperature, a voltmeter and digital clock. It’s a functional unit that also speaks to the car’s mission.
The larger gauge cluster includes the speedometer and tachometer. I found the gauges easy to read in bright sunlight with polarized lenses.
The center console includes a leather-wrapped shift knob. I also appreciate leather shift knobs in the southwest, where metal ones can become too hot to touch. The shift lever’s short throw allows the driver to fully enjoy the manual gearbox.
Standard keyless entry and start is standard, as are the basic creature comforts most buyers look for: 12-volt power points, cupholders, automatic climate control, and an AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary port.
The NISMO 370Z comes with standard antilock brakes, front side and side curtain airbags, active head restraints, traction and vehicle stability control.
The NISMO 370Z is currently on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A high-performance sports car that can double as a daily driver.
Dislike: Limited visibility out the back due to thick rear pillars and a spoiler.
Model: NISMO 370Z
Base price: $39,130
As tested: $39,130
Horsepower: 350 Hp @ 7400 rpm
Torque: 276 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway
Comments: The manufacturer recommends the use of premium fuel.
2 responses to “2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z”
oh yeah baby.. i love the look of the 370z i own the g35 and am in love with it but i think i may have to cheat on it one day as i have found true love in the 370z. it just looks so sleek and has some great specs.. all i can say is wow
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