Review: 2009 Nissan Nismo 370Z

Don Sherman
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If you commanded the Nissan genie to pimp your Z-car, the result would be the second-generation NISMO model now available at dealerships. (The NISMO name stands for Nissan Motorsports International, the prime source of extreme performance parts and special-edition models created by Nissan factory experts for hard core street and track use.) Updates beyond the standard 370Z are 18 extra horsepower, 6 lb-ft more torque, various interior and exterior design touches, a retuned suspension, wider 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels, and Yokohama instead of Bridgestone tires. Even after you add a $780 dealer-installed engine oil cooler, the NISMO package runs only $6980 more than the regular 350Z equipped with a Sport Package.

NECK TORQUING EXTERIOR

The NISMO Z is not for those who prefer slipping through traffic unnoticed. The new nosepiece, which adds about six inches to overall length, includes a prominent chin spoiler and corner canards aimed at improved aerodynamic downforce. Add-on side sill extensions help manage under-car air flow. The new rear appendage is a biplane affair combining a spoiler with a wing. That device in combination with a diffuser panel between the exhaust pipes helps stick the rear tires to the pavement at high speed. Rear-fender slots are purely cosmetic.

The factory claims that there is genuine aero downforce at the felonious velocities this car is capable of achieving. Five color choices are offered-white, silver, black, red, and graphite. After exposure to one red and one silver NISMO Z, we highly recommend the red choice unless your driving record is already under assault.

COCKPIT CREATIVITY

Interior distinctions are mainly cosmetic. The bucket seats are upholstered with grippy woven cloth to hold two thrill seekers securely in the likely event hard cornering and braking ensue. The driver benefits with 8-way adjustability while the passenger must scrape by with 4-way motion. Power adjusters are not part of the deal.

The color theme is red, white, and black with red accent stitching and NISMO logos sewn into both backrests. To aid the memory challenged, this identification is sprinkled throughout the car in no less than 16 locations. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob also receive attractive red stitching. All three pedals are trimmed with aluminum plates and there's a distinctive identification plate containing a serial number and the model year. Less than 1000 2009 NISMO Zs are planned for sale in the US.

The list of equipment shared with lesser Z-cars includes a highly legible three-pod instrument cluster, active head restraints, push button starting, power windows and door locks, automatic climate control, and no less than four cupholders (one to the left and right of each occupant).

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