We and a lot of others have said that the current generation Nissan 370Z is the “ultimate” Z car. But now we just might have to correct that statement because the 370Z is now available with a factory-tuned Nismo treatment. So for the sake of clarity, we feel it is our duty to investigate this situation, and once more see just how “ultimate” a Z car can get. A year ago we took the redesigned Nissan Z car to Georgia’s two-mile Roebling Road raceway, so we automatically knew it was the perfect test venue for our NISMO 370Z.

The power source is familiar: a 3.7-liter twin-cam 24-valve V6. But NISMO tweaks produce 350 horsepower-a boost of 18 over the standard Z-and 276 pound-feet of torque-an upshot of six.  Ripping through Roebling’s nine turns, the NISMO’s specially tuned exhaust note is sweet and aggressive.

Putting power down are upsized 19-inch NISMO wheels with Yokohama sport tires, from a near perfectly geared six-speed manual. Nissan’s Synch Rev Match works well here. It recognizes when a lower gear is selected and blips the throttle for smoother clutch engagement, much like heel and toeing.  Still, some of our drivers are purists, and turned it off, preferring to drive by their own footwork.

Moving up through the gears produced 0 to 60 runs in 5.3 seconds, with the quarter mile in 13.8 seconds at 105 miles per hour. That’s slightly off last year’s runs, as the NISMO took more effort than before to hookup.

Compared to the standard car, the NISMO has undergone some purposeful chassis upgrades.  Body rigidity has been enhanced thanks to a NISMO-specific strut tower bar.  The four-wheel independent suspension has also been specially tuned featuring unique NISMO stabilizer bars, springs, and dampers.

Flying around the track, the NISMO is super tight with virtually no body roll. Scooting from corner exit to entrance, the car’s stiffer setup keeps it well planted-definitely more competition-oriented than last year’s car.

Still, we thought the stability and traction control might be too intrusive, dialing back handling response. But the moment we switched it off, the NISMO showed nasty understeer, even getting a little skittish. For the balance of the laps, we left the electronics on.

The NISMO uses sport brakes with special pads, four-piston front and two-piston rear aluminum calipers.  Our tester halted from 60 in 123 feet.  A fine number, but again, slightly longer than last year. Fade and lack of stability were never issues.

After hours, on normal tarmac, we were surprised to find the NISMO, for all its performance acumen, wasn’t as harsh as we expected.  Its overall feel is not that far off from the standard everyday 370Z with the Touring Package. Add to that Government Fuel Economy ratings of 18 city/26 highway on premium gas.  That’s pretty impressive for such a bonafide track machine.

The NISMO’s uniquely integrated body design builds upon the standard 370Z’s already striking boy racer appearance. Up front, the bi-functional xenon headlamps flank an extended nose design which maximizes air flow.  Down below is an integrated front chin spoiler.

The car’s taut bullet-like profile dons racy NISMO side sills and a NISMO-specific rear bumper and oversize rear wing help to increase down force at track speeds. Within, the NISMO offers a cozy two-seat cockpit with good fit and finish and an upscale look.

Unique red stitching makes its way throughout the NISMO interior: seats, steering wheel, instrument panel, and door trim, and performance cues include a NISMO-specific Tachometer, a trio of dash-mounted auxiliary gauges, and aluminum-trimmed pedals.

There’s also a plaque of authenticity, detailing the NISMO’s serial number and year. Behind the rear seats, you will not find generous cargo space.  It’s small, but it’s certainly usable.

Our NISMO 370Z was a late 2009 model, but there are no changes for 2010 except price. Base rises slightly to $39,910, or about $9,000 more than the base 370Z. 

NISMO brakes and handling hardware can be added to the Touring Edition with the Sport Package, but you save only a grand, and it doesn’t include engine or interior upgrades. For all the agility and balance of the normal 370Z, the NISMO is easily a notch higher, and we loved it.

But, honestly, the 370Z is such an extraordinary sports car to start with, unless you’re after weekend autocross trophies, or want NISMO bragging rights, it isn’t worth the extra money. We also know this NISMO is not really the ultimate Z-Car, because, with this exceptional machine, there’s always next year.



  • Engine: 3.7-Liter Twin-cam 24-valve V6
  • Horsepower: 350
  • Torque: 276 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.3 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 105 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 123 Feet
  • EPA: 18 MPG City/ 26 MPG Highway