Some people will say that the NISMO 350Z-the first-ever complete NISMO-tuned car offered in the U.S.-is just "a Z with an exhaust." Don't listen to these people; they're idiots. Saying so is like saying that Neil Peart is "just another guy who plays drums." While both statements are technically correct, both car and drummer exhibit a technical mastery of their respective crafts that only true aficionados can appreciate.
Now that we've got the ponytailed Guitar Center crowd locked into subscriptions for the next two years, we can talk about the car that is the NISMO-badged Z. Yeah, it is a 350Z with an exhaust, and even NISMO's engineers will admit that the tuned shiny piece of tubular metal really doesn't add a whole lot in the way of performance. And with this exhaust being the only power adder, we could forgive you for thinking that this limited-edition Z is nothing more than a spoiler and sticker package.
But Nissan wouldn't throw that "NISMO" badge on the car if there wasn't some sort of performance-enhancing technical wizardry. Real performance tuning focuses on more than just big power, and sensing that the 350 Z's VQ35HR V6 was a potent enough powerplant, NISMO's engineers set their sights on tweaking the rest of the car. The end result is a NISMO-tuned Z that can run Tsukuba a second and a half faster than a regular 350 Z.
So just how did NISMO make the Z that much faster without upgrading the engine? Simple: It spared no expense in modifying just about everything else. Thanks to tricks like extra weld points, a new reinforcement cage in the engine bay and a reinforcement panel in the trunk, the NISMO Z's chassis is stiffer than a basement-dwelling D&D player downloading Seven of Nine JPEGs while listening to "YYZ" on repeat. We all know that a stiffer chassis is good for handling, but a super-stiff chassis can also produce a lot of brain-rattling, performance-killing body vibration. To keep this unwanted shaking in check, NISMO added some very special body dampeners to the fore and aft of the Z. With the NISMO Z's potentially seizure-like ride kept in check, the upgraded spring/damper combo can do a better job of keeping the Rays wheels (wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE050As) planted firmly on the ground.
NISMO didn't stop with just a few chassis mods. That aggressive aero kit you see was designed using the same wind tunnel and computer programs that shaped the Super GT GT500 class 350Z. The resulting aero kit is actually functional and provides real, usable downforce at highway speeds. Some may say that the kit looks a bit "ricey," but we like it. What's not to like about a kit that boasts both a factory level of fit and finish and real, wind tunnel-proven performance gains?
Though this Z's exterior gets a radical revamp, NISMO pretty much left the interior alone. Outside of the requisite racy red stitching, red door and seat inserts, NISMO tachometer and serialized NISMO-etched aluminum plaque, the NISMO Z's interior is very much stock. NISMO made sure that this car can kick ass on a track, but it also worked hard to ensure that it could be comfortably driven on a day-to-day basis. All the creature comforts we expect in a modern car-sound insulation, power windows, stereo and A/C-are all present and accounted for.
So how does this Z with "just an exhaust" drive? Unsurprisingly, it drives very much like a normal Z. We didn't have a stock Z on hand for comparison purposes, but we found the NISMO Z to be civil in heavy gridlocked traffic, poised and confident in the twisties and frighteningly fast on the freeways. The NISMO Z is a very well-balanced all-around sports car. We're eager to get one on a proper racetrack to see how it fares.
This car is so balanced as-is that NISMO is refusing to sell the parts individually. You can't buy the aero kit, you can't buy the suspension and you can't buy all the cool chassis-reinforcing parts. Its engineers say that since each component of the NISMO Z is specifically tuned to the NISMO Z alone, the parts just won't work well if they're slapped on to some random, plain old Z. This means that the only way you'll have a NISMO-look Z is to buy the complete NISMO Z from the dealer. Still, with the MSRP set just a hair higher than the 350Z Grand Touring, buying this track-ready car as a complete, factory-backed package seems like a bargain.
That New Car Smell
'07 Nismo 350 Z Coupe
The Sticker $38,070 est.
Under The Hood 3.5l 24-valve dohc v6
The Power 306 hp @ 6800 rpm, 268 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Scale Tipping 3352 lb
Layout Front Engine, rwd
Gearbox 6-speed mt
Stiff stuff front/rear: independent multi-link
Rollers Rays forged alloy wheels 18x9 (f), 19x10 (r); bridgestone potenza re050a 245/40r18 (f), 265/35r19 (r)
Stoppers Power assist abs with ebd; brembo 4-caliper piston w/ 12.8-inch disc (f), 2-caliper piston w/ 12.7-inch disc (r)
At The Pump 20/27 epa mpg city/highway
Deep thoughts a full-tune race car with a super gt pedigree and a factory warranty-what's not to like?