SEATTLE, March 9, 2016 — The Z car has been a staple Nissan brand for decades now. My first memory of one was riding around in a 1976 Datsun 280z – there was something very fun about this car. It wasn’t the fastest sports car around nor the best handling but for the money was one helluva fun ride. There was something visceral about the inline-6 cylinder engine, rear wheel drive and manual transmission that made countless people fall in love with it. It would go on to continue building a worldwide fan base.
So when the chance arrived to take out the 2016 370z Nismo edition, it was hard to not be excited at the opportunity – even if for the small chance of reliving a childhood memory of what a “Z car” represented in my mind.
For those new to the brand, Nismo is the motorsports and performance division of Nissan which was formed in 1984. Vehicles with this moniker will have better performance in some capacity, along with features you’re more likely to find on a track-rated car.
The Nismo version of Nissans potent 3.7 liter V6 produces 350 horsepower with 276 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The overall response of this engine/transmission combination is quite good, however, 0-60 time for this nearly 3400 pound car is still over the 5-second mark at 5.3. And while that’s not exactly slow compared to many cars on the road, it’s still not as fast as other cars in its price range such as the Mustang GT.
There’s something quite sublime about having a short-throw manual transmission and that’s exactly what you get here. Slamming gears, holding gears, nailing the gas in such a way with proper clutch action to get the rear-end going sideways. Hearing that sweet growl of the finely-tuned exhaust. One of the best features you’ll find here is Nissan’s SynchroRev Match mode which will automatically match the engine revs while downshifting. I’m in heaven.
Nissan has slapped on a kick-ass braking system with four piston, 14-inch disc brakes on the front and two-piston 13.8-inch discs on the rear. The result is fabulous braking power that help the car some to a stop nearly quicker than it takes to say the words, “Nissan 370z Nismo”.
Inside this Nismo edition are standard Recaro bucket seats that are 100-percent manual. While it makes sense to see this name brand of seat inside, what doesn’t work to well is the accessibility of all of the seat controls. For example, the controls on the back-most part of the seat, are nearly inaccessible unless the door is open because of how close they are to the door when it’s closed. Additionally, while seats like this might be great for the track, they are highly uncomfortable for tips longer than say, 90 minutes or so.
There are massive blind spots due to the large pillars – it’s very unnerving to try and figure out if there’s someone in the driver’s blind spot. Why Nissan doesn’t have blind-spot indicators on a car like this is beyond me.
The car feels quite small inside and that’s largely due to how relatively low the driver sits compared to the height of the middle console – you’ll feel as if you’re peeling yourself off of the ground, every time you get out of the car.
Its infotainment system isn’t bad but suffers from the same dated look that seems to plague all of the current Nissan vehicles – this basic design has been around now for far too long. Audio quality is good but far from being great. If you’re going to slap-on a high-end brand like “Nismo” then also put in high-end audio please.
Ride quality is very stiff which is great for having the car feel very flat around the most rigorous corners but leaves you feeling beat-up after a couple hours or more. This is compounded by one of the loudest road-noise levels we’ve heard in any car. Again, this is not a good car for taking those in-state trips that are over 2-hours long.
This car is going to highly cater to die-hard “Z” fans or those addicted to the track – its track-level ride, uncomfortable seats are going to leave its demographic very limited. Frankly, there are far better-performing cars at a lower cost that also have a better ride, and overall comfort quality that lend to being a daily driver.
In as much as I really wanted to love this car, overall, the loud road noise, ultra-stiff seats, unforgiving bumpy ride are a bit too much for this auto reviewer. However, maybe you’re wanting this car as we “weekend warrior” to have a track day or simply goof-off around town and for that, it’d work well.