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Good news! The first affordable performance Nissan in years has finally landed in Australia. Not-so-good news! It’s pretty much the same car as the last affordable performance Nissan.
Yep, Nissan’s 370Z has received a performance makeover, and is now the second Nismo-stamped model in the line-up (below the ballistic GT-R that arrived earlier this year) - breathing new life into the brand’s two-seater that went on sale way back in 2009.
More power, better dynamics and enough Nismo branded accessories to fuel a new The Fast and the Furious movie headline the changes inside and out, but is that enough to focus the spotlight back on Nissan’s iconic Zed car?
|Nissan 370Z 2017: Nismo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The arrival of the Nismo halo car has actually put some downward pressure on the rest of the 370Z range, which now starts with the Coupe ($49,990 man, $52,490 auto), and steps up to the Roadster ($60,990 man, $63,490 auto). The hardtop-only Nismo sits atop the pile, demanding $61,490 for a manual-equipped model, and $63,990 for the automatic version.
That cash will net you unique 19-inch alloy wheels and LED DRLs and tail-lights outside. Inside, expect figure-hugging Recaro seats, a 7.0-inch screen with nav, pairing with an eight-speaker Bose stereo and a 9.3GB hard drive. Push-button start, climate control and cruise control round out the standard features list.
The 370Z is still a good looking and well-proportioned coupe, and waving the Nismo wand over this version has injected extra aggression from every angle.
Outside, a full Nismo makeover includes new aero, a redesigned front and rear fascia and a rear spoiler, as well as unique badging and engine cover. Inside, you’ll find red-on-black Recaro seats, a leather and Alcantara steering wheel (a design theme that extends to the gear shift, too), and a smattering of Nismo extras.
There’s no hiding the age of the cabin, though, and while it doesn’t feel too out of date at first glance, dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover some not-so-premium materials (the soft-touch plastics on the doors, for example, feel so thin they’re almost transparent), while the driver’s binnacle is a celebration of analogue technology in a world of digital, configurable screens.
It’s a two-door coupe, so I wouldn’t be making a break to Ikea in it.
The cabin is snug, and just the single cupholder separates the two front seats, while the pockets in each front door are pretty small, too. There are USB and power connections in the central storage bin, though, and the while the touchscreen set-up is clunky and slow to load, the stereo is actually very good.
At the back, there’s a shallow but wide boot, offering up 235 litres of storage space.
The familiar 3.7-litre V6 has been tweaked ever so slightly (mostly due to new ECU mapping) to produce slightly more power and torque, up from 245kW/363Nm in the existing cars, to 253kW at 7400rpm and 371Nm at 5200rpm in the Nismo version. That power can be fed through a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed automatic transmission, and is sent on the rear wheels.
The manual option includes Nissan's 'SynchroRev Match', which automatically matches the revs when you downshift, saving you from all that annoying heel-and-toe business. It works, too, and is one less thing to think about when tackling something twisty.
Other under-the-skin changes include reworking of the suspension for a firmer, more dynamic ride - including new Nismo-sourced performance dampers front and rear - and an all-new dual exhaust.
The 370Z Nismo will sip 10.6L/100km in manual guise, and a marginally better 10.4L/100km with an automatic transmission.
It's 72-litre tank will accept 95RON fuel, but Nissan says 98RON will help extract its maximum performance.
If the 370Z was sold in the hipster suburbs of inner-city Sydney and Melbourne, it would be lovingly referred to as “retro”. But the rest of us might use a different term - 'old'.
See, the 3.7-litre Zed was launched way back in 2009, and it’s remained largely unchanged in the eight years since. And that’s an awfully long time in the fast-moving world of cars. Put it this way; the 370Z was launched the same year Barack Obama was elected US President, and he’s now served his two allowed terms in full, and is likely currently laughing at America from a beach towel somewhere.
And so, when you do jump into the cabin of this new Nismo-stamped 370Z, it obviously doesn’t feel like you’ve been suddenly transported into the future, But to be fair to it, it doesn’t feel like you’ve been sent too far into the past either. It’s hiding its age well, with only its slow-moving multimedia system and some of the cabin materials a true giveaway to its vintage.
Weirdly, it’s advancing age is the thing I most like about this car. It’s old enough to feel a little raw and raucous from behind the wheel, which is absolutely charming in a delightfully old-school way.
It's big brother, the GT-R, has been accused of feeling too digital, too detached from the drive experience, but that is absolutely not a criticism you could level at the 370Z.
It’s engaging, piloting this thing on a twisting road. It's 1.5-tonne (tare) feels heavy, and you need to wrestle it a bit. It shifts its weight around on the entry to corners and then flicks its rear a little when you stamp on the gas on the exit. It’s fun and frantic at speed, and offers a sense of engagement that's sometimes missing from modern, more scientific sports cars.
Is it as sharp as one its German competitors? No, it’s not. Nor will you be as deeply in love with the steering, which can feel a bit wooly in places. But it’s also half the price of those cars, and for this kind of money, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The downsides? It will follow every crack and line in the road like a nose-to-the-ground hunting dog, and so you find yourself constantly making little corrections as you drive. The safety offering is out of date, too, as is the in-cabin technology, and the wrong road surface will send a lot of tyre noise into the cabin.
Is Nissan going to sell thousand of these? Unlikely. They don’t sell that many of the standard 370Z, coupe or convertible. But what they are trying to do it lay a groundwork for this Nismo performance brand (Nissan’s answer to an M Division or an AMG).
And while this is nowhere near as fast or as hardcore as its GT-R big brother, there’s definitely enough family resemblance here to keep fans amused.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
Ah, not great, I’m afraid. But let’s start with the positives; a reversing camera with guidance lines is standard fit, as is ABS, EBD and the usual suite of traction and and stability systems. There are six airbags, too, including dual front, front-side and curtain bags, as well as side intrusion bars and active headrests.
The 370Z Nismo is covered by Nissan's three-year/100,000km warranty, and will require servicing every six months or 10,000km.
It's covered by Nissan's 'Service Certainty' program, which publishes a detailed list of servicing costs on the Nissan website. Each service during the warranty period, for example, will cost between $283 and $586.
The Nismo makeover doesn't just afford the 370Z a new lease on life, it also adds a much-needed model to the performance sub-brand's line-up in Australia. And while the 370Z Nismo can be raw, loud and heavy at times, it's also constantly engaging as a result.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|