Nissan 370Z Nismo review and pictures

Still a lot more money than the standard Z, can the latest Nismo version justify the extra expense?

What is it?

There’s no denying the Nissan 370Z is getting a bit long in the tooth, but this updated Nismo version serves as a timely reminder that a muscular front-engined, rear-drive coupe is a recipe with enduring appeal. It doesn’t seem like that long since the first 370Z Nismo went on sale, but in true Japanese fashion it’s already been subject to a number of detail design and engineering updates.

Technical highlights?

Nissan has addressed criticism that the original Nismo lacked compliance and refinement by revising the rear spring and damper rates and introducing new inner wheelarch liners and carpets to absorb road noise. These measures have achieved some level of success, but the car still lacks the refinement of a Golf GTI or BMW M235i. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re used to more grown-up machinery the lack of isolation from road and mechanical noise will challenge you a little.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

The heart of the 370Z Nismo remains its 3.7-litre V6. No different to the outgoing model’s, and in all honesty little different from the regular Z’s, that means peak power and torque outputs of 339bhp at 7400rpm and 274lb ft at 5200rpm respectively – up 16bhp and 400rpm, and 6lb ft at the same revs, compared with the non-Nismo 370Z.

Those are respectable figures, but the Z is a relatively chunky 1535kg, so the Nismo works with a power-to-weight ratio of 224bhp per ton. That’s the same as an M235i and roughly halfway between a Cayman and a Cayman S. For context, the GT-R Nismo has around 50 per cent more horsepower to propel every kilo but asks for more than three times the money for the privilege.

What's it like to drive?

The Nismo Z only comes in coupe form with a six-speed manual, so there’s no doubting its credentials as a pure drivers’ car. This sets the tone for what is a very simple and transparent driving experience. The big V6 starts with the push of a button and settles into a lusty idle. It’s not vocal in the contemporary, contrived sense. Indeed, it would benefit from being more exuberant, to live up to the expectation set by the extrovert styling.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The control weights are reassuringly substantial, the ride no-nonsense firm but with enough low-speed compliance to suggest it’ll work on real roads. There’s a barrel-chested swagger to the way the Nismo Z goes about its business, with plenty of part-throttle response and urgency. The steering responds with encouraging immediacy: a roll of the wrists is all that’s needed to peel into fast- and medium-speed corners. In the wet you’re quickly mindful that the front-end responds more rapidly than the rear-end can support, but in the dry you can lean on the nose with greater conviction and trust in the available traction and inherent balance of the chassis.

Circumspection is prudent in the rain, but dry roads require a more robust approach. The ride is busy and the Z is constantly deflected off-course on bumpy roads, albeit only slightly, but if you’re prepared to boss it around, the Nismo comes alive in entertaining fashion.

A standard limited-slip diff means it’ll slide when provoked, but the diff could be faster to react: as it stands there’s a delay between getting into the throttle, the diff locking and the tail beginning to slide. Consequently the transition between grip and slip feels like a clutch kick rather than being smoothly progressive. The Z therefore lacks delicacy and precision compared with a (slower) Toyota GT86 or a (classier) Cayman.

An area of disappointment is the 3.7 V6. Undeniably effective, yet never less than coarse, it feels and sounds reluctant to rev much beyond 6000rpm, even though the red line suggests you’ve got the best part of 2000rpm left to play with. Aurally there’s little pleasure to be had from working it harder, but persevere and the rewards are there in terms of pace. The gearing is tall, but more playful than a Cayman’s, and you have the option of an annoyingly sweet rev-match mode that activates a throttle-blip function (something Nissan pioneered). The motor might lack sparkle and an appetite for revs, but there’s no doubt the Nismo Z ups its game when wrung-out.

How does it compare?

At a little short of £38k the Nismo Z is a big chunk more money than the car on which it’s based, but the fact a standard Z represents great value compared with a GT86 distorts the picture slightly. The Nismo is also a couple of grand cheaper than a bum-basic Cayman and £11k less than an un-optioned Cayman S. If you’re prepared to look beyond the coupe genre, the more rapid and infinitely more practical Golf R is £7k cheaper.

Anything else I need to know?

The Nismo's aero package has been tweaked (via a reshaped front bumper and smaller rear wing) to achieve greater overall downforce and a more even balance front to rear. Nissan goes so far as to claim the Nismo Z has more downforce than any sector rival.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Inside, the Z’s cockpit is dominated by a pair of new Recaro seats. Trimmed in red and black leather and Alcantara, they are built around a shell structure rather than a tubular structure, so they’re lighter and more rigid. Greater adjustment and increased support also makes them more comfortable.

The 370Z Nismo relies on you buying into its niche appeal. It looks the part, but it either needs sweeter, heavier under-bonnet ordnance or a more pliant, fluid chassis – preferably both – to commend it to a wider audience.

EngineV6, 3696cc
Power339bhp @ 7400rpm
Torque274lb ft @ 5200rpm
0-62mph (claimed)5.2sec
Top speed (claimed)155mph (limited)
MPG (combined)26.6
On saleNow
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/land-rover/discovery-sport/201862/2019-land-rover-discovery-sport-d180-se-review
Land Rover Discovery Sport

2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 SE review

18 Oct 2019
Visit/volkswagen/201859/volkswagen-t-roc-r-review-ever-wish-the-golf-r-was-a-little-bit-taller
Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc R review - ever wish the Golf R was a little bit taller?

17 Oct 2019
Visit/toyota/yaris/201858/all-new-toyota-yaris-revealed-and-hot-gazoo-models-arent-far-behind
Toyota Yaris

All-new Toyota Yaris revealed – and hot Gazoo models aren’t far behind

17 Oct 2019
Visit/hyundai/201854/updated-2020-hyundai-i30-n-spied-before-reveal-early-next-year
Hyundai i30 N

Updated 2020 Hyundai i30 N spied before reveal early next year

16 Oct 2019
Advertisement

More on 370Z

Visit/nissan/370z/18070/should-i-keep-my-nissan-370z-evo-market
Nissan 370Z coupe

Should I keep my Nissan 370Z? – evo Market

If you can’t face selling your car, take a look at the latest options to upgrade and improve it instead
23 Aug 2016
Visit/nissan/370z/15344/yutaka-katayama-father-of-the-nissan-z-cars-dies-aged-105
Nissan 370Z coupe

Yutaka Katayama, father of the Nissan Z-cars, dies aged 105

The man behind Nissan's most iconic model passed away on February 20
23 Feb 2015
Visit/nissan/370z/15238/nissan-370z-nismo-roadster-concept-drops-its-top-in-chicago
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster concept drops its top in Chicago

Concept previews potential production variant, pending sufficient interest
12 Feb 2015
Visit/nissan/370z/13972/nissan-370z-nismo-specs-pictures-and-details
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Nismo specs, pictures and details

Nissan's 370Z Nismo gets a mid-life refresh, with a focus on adding refinement. Details and pictures here
27 Aug 2014
Advertisement
Visit/nissan/370z/13582/nissan-idx-concept-previews-toyota-gt86-rival
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan IDx concept previews Toyota GT86 rival

The Nissan IDx previews a budget rear-drive sports car to rival the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ
20 Nov 2013
Visit/news/evonews/290101/nismo_and_williams_road_cars.html
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nismo and Williams road cars

Nissan's Nismo performance arm partners up with Williams for road car projects
27 Jun 2013
Visit/nissan/370z/14373/2013-nissan-370z-nismo-review
Nissan 370Z coupe

2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo review

The Nissan 370Z Nismo is a more powerful, harder cored coupe. Can it take on the Porsche Cayman?
19 Jun 2013
Visit/nissan/370z/13256/nissan-370z-nismo-prices
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Nismo prices

Nissan prices its new 370Z Nismo and updates the standard Coupe and Roadster
23 May 2013
Visit/nissan/370z/12949/nissan-370z-nismo-revealed
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Nismo revealed

The Nissan 370Z Nismo finally comes to Europe courtesy of tuned 339bhp coupe
22 Jan 2013
Visit/nissan/370z/12761/nissan-370z-facelifted
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z facelifted

The updated 370Z has been revealed, with an updated look and a better quality interior finish.
25 Sep 2012
Advertisement
Visit/nissan/370z/12426/nissans-toyota-gt-86-rival
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan's Toyota GT 86 rival

Nissan chief hints at a downsized 370Z to tackle the new Toyota and Subaru sports coupes
10 Apr 2012
Visit/nissan/370z/12249/updated-nissan-370z-revealed
Nissan 370Z coupe

Updated Nissan 370Z revealed

Nissan pulls the wraps off a revised 370Z coupe at the 2012 Chicago motor show. News, video and pictures here
8 Feb 2012
Advertisement
Visit/nissan/370z/12147/nissan-370z-roadster-nissan-370z-roadster
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Roadster: Nissan 370Z Roadster

We've had the chance to put some miles on our new drop-top 370Z. So what do we think?
28 Nov 2011
Visit/nissan/370z/12084/nissan-370z-roadster-nissan-370z-roadster
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z Roadster: Nissan 370Z Roadster

Ian Eveleigh welcomes a new car to the evo long-term fleet – a drop-top Nissan 370Z
28 Nov 2011
Visit/nissan/370z/11644/nissan-esflow-sports-car-gallery
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan Esflow sports car gallery

evo got exclusive access to the new Nissan Esflow electric sports car. Big picture gallery here
17 Mar 2011
Visit/videos/planetevovideos/258781/evos_dunlop_race_academy.html
Nissan 370Z coupe

evo's Dunlop Race Academy

Video of evo's Dunlop Race Academy, including the crowning of our winner. Find out how his racing debut went
26 Oct 2010
Advertisement
Visit/nissan/370z/11274/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

End of term report on our 10 months with a Nissan 370Z
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11273/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

Our Nissan 370Z meets its 240Z ancestor
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11272/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

We set a lap time around the West Circuit at the Bedford Autodrome
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11270/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

Nissan's 370Z is surprisingly practical and capacious
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11269/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

There's a lot to like about the 370Z if you just relax...
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11268/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

Turn the ESP off and you can go playing in the snow. But something else happens too...
10 Aug 2010
Advertisement
Visit/nissan/370z/11267/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

The Nissan 370Z's ESP system is puzzling Catchpole
10 Aug 2010
Visit/nissan/370z/11266/nissan-370z
Nissan 370Z coupe

Nissan 370Z

The clever synchro-rev gear shift is really starting to be appreciated
10 Aug 2010
Advertisement