Testing the Nismo-fied Z
The Z-Car has been around since the late ’60s, but it wasn’t until 1969 that the Datsun 240Z landed in the United States. Over the last 45 years, the two-seater sports car has transformed into what we have today. Back then, not only was the Z affordable, reliable, and fun to drive, but it also competed against the likes of the Volvo 1800E, Chevrolet Corvette, and Jaguar E-Type.
Over the years, the Z-Car has been redesigned, upgraded, and refined into what we now call the Nissan 370Z. However, this car no longer goes up against the same competition. Now, the Z goes head to head with the Audi TT, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and the rear-wheel-drive twins, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. The affordability factor of yesterday is gone, and in its place is a performance-oriented sports car with little luxuries but plenty of power and performance. But is it still one of the top cars in the segment?
When you get behind the wheel of the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo, you’re hit with some contrasting features. We expected the Nismo model to be a stripped-down version that’s ready for the track, but we didn’t expect it to be as bare-bones as it was for its $46,425 price tag. The only things that didn’t come as a standard feature or part of the Nismo package were $125 Nismo-branded carpeted floor mats. The only real creature comforts came in the form of keyless entry and ignition, bower windows, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, and satellite radio.
Our model came equipped with a Nismo-tuned engine, exhaust, and suspension, a signature red engine cover, polished exhaust tips, front and rear vibration performance dampers, and 19-inch Rays forged alloy wheels. A Nismo aerodynamic body design included an updated front and rear fascia, body side sills, and a rear spoiler. Interior touches exclusive to the Nismo package included Recaro leather-appointed seats with Alcantara inserts, an Alcantara-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shifter, red accent stitching, and a red tachometer.
But the one thing we couldn’t like was the manual seats. Granted, there weren’t many features from this era aside from the infotainment system and performance aspects. The seats were adjusted with three knobs on the side of the seat, and they were hard to turn with the door closed. After a few scraped knuckles, we had to open the door to find that ideal seating position. Aside from that, the interior felt like it finally made the jump to modern times and better matched with the aggressive exterior styling.
Almost all those little annoyances are erased from your mind as soon as you get it out on the open road. It’s easy to lose yourself behind the wheel of the 370Z Nismo. All your concentration goes to shifting, accelerating, and enjoying the speed and power. Although it was fun to drive, it took us a day or two to get used to the clutch and shift smoothly. Even compared with other sports cars, the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo’s clutch is heavy, stiff, and has a short engagement point. Added to that, the position of the shifter isn’t ideal, forcing us to lift their arms slightly, causing some soreness later on.
Because of the Nismo-tuned suspension, the ride was as stiff and bumpy as you’d expect from a two-seater sports car, and every road imperfection was unforgiving. Out on the open highway, there was less to get in our way, enabling us to take full advantage of the performance aspects of the 370Z Nismo. We were hard-pressed to stay within the speed limit — we were itching to release all 350 horses. And while city streets required more stop-and-go shifting, it was here that we could see for ourselves how well this car handled. You could throw it into a corner with the confidence that the rear end won’t swing out from behind you, and listening to that engine growl was a pleasant experience all on its own.
However, get this car out on the track, and it shines. Its 3.7-liter V-6 engine propels it from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, just a tenth of a second slower than the 2012 Nissan 370Z we had in a few years ago. Even the quarter mile came in a tenth of a second slower than the older model—13.5 seconds at 105.4 mph. Braking from 60-0 took 114 feet, a whopping 8 feet more than the older Z. But the 2015 Nissan 370Z averaged a figure-eight time of 25.3 seconds with an average 0.78 g, with an average lateral acceleration of 0.93 g. Statistically, the older model outperforms the newest edition on the track, but the new 370Z Nismo offered faster times than competitors such as the 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ. Stacked up against the 2016 Audi TT, however, the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo was left in the dust.
Although our time behind the wheel of the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo was enjoyable, there were some definite shortcomings. For the $46K price tag, we would have liked more creature comforts, such as power seats and more upscale materials. But as it sits, the new 370Z Nismo is a track car for the streets. The market for those types of cars in this price range is growing smaller as more customers are attracted to the higher-end performance models. Compared to other two-door, RWD sports cars, the Nissan is significantly more expensive. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec comes with a base price of $29,500, and even the new 2015 Ford Mustang comes in lower at $25,000. It isn’t until you move up to the likes of the 2015 Audi TT that prices start matching up, but at that point, the performance of the 370Z becomes overshadowed. In the end, the 2015 Nissan 370Z is one of those cars that is fun to drive but hard to justify buying.
|2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$46,425|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.7L/350-hp/276-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,416 lb (54/46%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||170.5 x 73.6 x 51.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.5 sec @ 105.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||114 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.3 sec @ 0.78 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/26/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||187/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.93 lb/mile|