If the typical Z Coupe buyer is a 30 something guy & the typical Z Roadster buyer is a 40 something guy, then who is the typical NismoZ buyer? A 40 something who thinks he’s a 20 something? All I know is that whatever the demographic is, I want to be part of it!
All the good things I’ve said about the Coupe and Roadster apply, so let’s not waste time with the basics. Let’s chat about the changes that make the Nismo version special when sitting next to a pair of stunning siblings.
The 2010 NismoZ is the absolute embodiment of the modern Z car. Upgraded suspension, drivetrain and visuals all combine to elevate the already good 370Z car to superstar.
The 3.7 VQ engine supplies 350 horsepower and 276 lb-ft torque in the Nismo Z, up from 332 & 270 in the base car. These improvement come thanks to an exclusive H configured exhaust and some ECM tweaking.
Front and rear spring rates have been increased, as have the sway bars. This increases roll stiffness by 15%. Front and rear shocks have been revalved to increase damping by 40% in the front and a whopping 140% in the rear. To finish out the performance side of the package are some great big Brembos. 14 inch discs up front are clamped by massive 4 piston calipers while the rears are 13.8 inch units with 2 piston calipers.
For years, manufacturers have been adding visual bits to performance packages to differentiate them from the more pedestrian models. In some cases, the performance packages have been strictly visual teasers with absolutely no actual go fast goodies. With the Nismo Z, designers have added visual elements that will make the tuner crowd happy while also actually being functional. The exterior receives a complete body kit including extended nose, integrated chin spoilers, side sills, unique rear bumpers and a rear spoiler. The nose, chin spoilers and rear spoiler are functional pieces that increase downforce at high speed. In other words, the lapping day crowd should be a faster than their 370Z driving counterparts! On the inside there are Nismo logos and special black & red seats with red stitching. Each Nismo Z comes with a numbered dash plaque that certifies its authenticity. Much like some Mustang models, certainly this numbered element may help with future collectible value.
While the power increase may seem slight, the real improvement comes on the road when the whole package comes together quite nicely. Besides, no matter what the power freaks may say, 350 horses in a car with such a short wheelbase is just oodles of fun. Without the superb stability control system one would need a really soft touch on the throttle. As it is though, this car is pure magic. I drove it on the wickedly twisty Pescadaro Creek Road outside San Jose, where safety and sanity meant I was largely confined to 2nd and 3rd gears. The Nismo Z turns in sharply and goes exactly where it is pointed. Getting hard into the throttle on exits, the car explodes towards every rapidly approaching corner when the huge brakes haul it down with ease at every application. While we were by no means at track speed, in over 20 miles of hammering, there wasn’t a hint of brake fade the entire time. The DSC system is set up so that drivers can have a bit of fun, allowing a decent amount of drift angle before protecting the moron from himself. For the truly top notch driver or those who just think they are better than everyone else, the system can be disabled but it is so good that it just doesn’t make any sense to do so.
Not only is the Nismo Z fun to drive fast, but it is incredibly easy to drive fast. I could have easily spent the entire day doing nothing but running these roads and wouldn’t have felt tired. That said, there were some grumblings from some fellow journos that the suspension was too stiff and would never do for a daily driver. To each his own I guess, but I thought it felt great. Perhaps my only complaint would be that the tuned exhaust is a bit too quiet for my liking. A machine of this stature should sound like it is ready to attack and scare the crap out of competitors. Again, others must disagree.
One of the few concerns I had with the base Z is the massive amount of front end lift on hard acceleration in 1st and 2nd. From the looks of the 140% increase in rear shock stiffness, I would suspect it was actually rear end squat causing that feeling. Either way, those stiffer rear shocks have eliminated that effect.
Overall, the Nismo Z is possibly the most exciting car I’ve driven this year. Visually the Z shape stirs the emotions while the body kit just makes it all that more agressive. The driving experience is nothing short of spectacular. Obviously the setting I drove it in added to the feeling but this is most definitely a car I could see in The Garage. Perfect for Mom & Dad escaping for a date and equally perfect for track days.