Update1: This article now includes the latest official images from Nissan.
The Nissan 370Z was the first model to get the comprehensive Nismo upgrade from the revered tuning arm of the Japanese auto giant. Long housed in an anonymous mid-rise factory with only a bright red door to signal something special inside, the Nismo team is spreading its wings with further upgrades to normal Nissan models.
The best-known work from these honorable speed demons is, of course, the GT-R . As we will see, this is not a team who adds some stickers and a lightly revised ECU to cars that don the “Nismo” badge.
The pitfalls of creating a performance spin-off series are many. Too much change and the price can nearly double, cutting volume by four in the process.
On the other side of the spectrum; too little enhancement, and the car is dismissed as badge and stickers job by those in the know. So there is a fine line to walk between the loaded 370Z Touring’s $38,000 price and the $43,000 base of the Nismo version.
After some seat time and some driving videos (viewable below), the 370Z Nismo is unlike any other Z-car driven to date. It features extensively restyled bodywork from every angle, a far lower ride height, and exhaust drums so large they might be packing oil reserves.
For those with allegiance to only hardcore performance, the 370Z Nismo really trumps the equivalent Genesis Coupe R-Spec s and Camaro s of the performance world. An apt comparison would be to the previous Ford Mustang Boss 302 that was basically a Laguna Seca time attack special.
The spec sheet of the 370Z shows how busy the Nismo team was in revamping the Z-car to its standards. This is far more than a body and paint shop; this car is purpose-built from the body-in-white chassis upward by Nismo.
Driving Clip One
In this clip, you can see me fudging the last shift as I grew familiar with the Synchro-Revmatch feature. It is selectable via a button just by the stick, allowing you to heel-and-toe yourself if you have the chops.
Exterior – Nissan 370Z Nismo – Driven
The exterior for this brand-new 370Z Nismo takes the previous monochrome appearance and cranks it up to maximum intensity.
New contrast colors and shapes form much of the lower air dams and body kit, while the dark-grey wheels and visible carbon-fiber accents are a special touch. The Nismo Z-car is a full 6.2 inches longer than the regular 370Z , as well as much wider and lower.
2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO – Nose Styling Analysis
In front, the most pronounced change is to the front bumper corners. These now feature smooth flow lines that extend and lower the hood’s leading edge. A smoother flow of air is also shot outwards and away from the huge 19-inch Rays alloys that come standard. These wheels are 9.5-inches wide all around, so grip is rarely a problem.
In this regard, the 370Z is the grown and mature mentor of the Subaru BRZ and its skinny eco tires’ eagerness to slide.
The 370Z Nismo is going for lap time victories, and sliding, albeit fun as hell, slows a car down. Such wide rubber shows the focus of the Nismo Z.
LED running lights are missing in front, despite room for them in the front light slash. Even so, the extra red detailing is clearly applied (painstakingly) by hand and is absolutely faultless. It is one of the many red tweaks to the styling outside, inside and under the hood.
2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO – Profile Styling Analysis
The 370Z Nismo is clearly unlike any standard Z-car. Its profile and styling is so greatly changed by the new front clip, full carbon-fiber air dams all around, and huge spoiler in back as to be virtually unrecognizable.
Luckily, it is still a 370Z where it counts. The latest roofline still carries the beautiful chopped look that made the 350Z so striking when originally launched, but also brings the latest xenon and LED lighting to keep up with the coolest sports cars.
The new 370Z Nismo is available in Pearl White, Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic and Solid Red.
2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO – Tail Styling Analysis
Unrecognizable is a world that comes to mind in back as well. The combination of the huge exhaust pipes, redesigned bumper and splitter, and the race-ready rear spoiler are unlike any of even the most-modified 370Z’s prowling the night streets.
The quality of execution out back is world class, and makes clear this is a factory racer with its integrated lower fog reflector between the pipes.
Interior – Nissan 370Z Nismo – Driven
The cabin is the lightest of the makeover areas versus the exterior and the chassis.
Some weight-saving brings less insulation, far sportier seats that seem just a few hours from racing harnesses, and only a four-speaker audio system as standard. The $1,400 Bose audio upgrade is about the only option, and is worthwhile for the Bluetooth audio streaming feature it includes.
Luckily, even this track special maintains air conditioning and all the convenience features needed for a daily driver.
Badges and special trims decorate the cabin very tastefully, with the upgraded steering wheel and its red-topped marker a highlight.
Performance Feel Analysis
The modifications for the 370Z Nismo are deep and extensive. Extra chassis bracing, a carbon-fiber driveshaft and aero enhancements were born in the CAD-CAM machine long before ever being built on a special line by NISMO.
The only curious part about the 370Z Nismo’s mechanical upgrade is that the engine is relatively untouched. While surely much stronger, more durable and therefor more tunable, it seems somewhat unusual not to offer a larger power jump.
Even so, the point about how the CTS-V doubled the regular CTS ’s price is very valid. For an extra $6,000 or so, the below list of upgrades is incredible.
Engine Detail – Nissan 370Z Nismo – Driven
The 370Z Nismo is available now at Nissan dealers nationwide with a base price of $43,020. This is unchanged for 2014, whereas the regular 370Z pricing is down by about $3,000 across the board. A good time for buyers to pounce on either model!
Conclusion – Nissan 370Z Nismo – Driven
Just about everything from the racing-strength dampers to the extra-tough brake lines has been given a huge upgrade from the regular 370Z . Both cars are extremely fast and sporty, but the Nismo version will last about 100 more laps of track abuse before its brakes and other components beg for mercy.
Speed is always on the table, but the real gem for the Nismo 370Z is its greatly-enhanced sense of purpose in high-speed corners.
As it stands, the Nismo brand will be quite popular indeed if the totally transformed driving experience of the Nismo 370Z and Nismo Juke is any indication. Bring on the Nismo Maxima!
– Track killer that eats Mustang’s for breakfast
– Chows down on Camaro’s for lunch
– Hot new styling upgrades are very current
– Seems to be ready for more power than the engine currently delivers
– Very exclusive and hard to find since its arrival in Summer 2013
– Bose option is money well spent to get back to the normal car’s thumping audio performance
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.