Review: 2009 Nissan Nismo 370Z

Don Sherman
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ELECTRONIC TEMPTATIONS

The NISMO's four-speaker entertainment system plays AM/FM/CD and plug-in portable material through an Auxiliary jack. The illuminated steering wheel controls allow you to adjust the background music during the heat of racetrack battle, if you so desire. A Navigation Package consisting of an Ipod interface, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, and highly legible color mapping adds $1850 to the price. Bluetooth hands free cell phone connectivity is also offered.

THE V-6 WITH V-8 ASPIRATIONS

Nissan's VQ engine has proven to be a highly versatile and spirited power producer. In 3.7-liter form for the NISMO it is equipped with variable intake valve lift and timing, a reflashed engine control computer, and exhaust pipes joined together with a flow-improving H-shaped connector. (The standard Z exhaust consists of two Y-sections joined by a single pipe.) The 350 hp peak output lies at 7400 rpm, only one hundred revs before the redline. The 276 lb-ft torque peak also lives high on spin mountain at 5200 rpm. The lofty 11.0:1 compression ratio works without benefit of direct fuel injection. Backing up this V-6 is a close-ratio six-speed transmission with SyncrhoRev Match, a means of automatically blipping the throttle for smooth down shifts. That's an especially handy feature for drivers too lazy to learn the fine art of heel-and-toe pedal operation.

TRACK TUNED BODY AND SOUL

While the basic body structure and suspension systems are shared with the standard Z coupe, NISMO has fiddled with several calibrations. The underhood brace has a couple of additional gussets. Front spring rates have been upped 15-percent, rears are jacked 10-percent. Total roll stiffness is greater by 15-percent thanks to a front bar with a 15-percent higher twist rate and a rear bar that is 50-percent stiffer. The front dampers provide 40-percent more control while the rear shocks have been fortified by 140-percent.

One out-of-the ordinary tuning touch is a pair of dampers added to the NISMO Z's unibody. One is mounted horizontally between the front longitudinal rails, the other is positioned just behind the differential in back. These laterally oriented dampers quell high-frequency body vibrations driven by the stiffer suspension calibrations. They not only reduce the buzz you would feel through the seat of your pants on rough roads, they also provide a calmer and more stable base of operations for the track-tuned suspension systems.

The brake system is unmodified from 350Z specifications. The vented rotors are 14.0-inches in diameter in front and 13.8-inches in back. They're clamped by fixed aluminum calipers with four pistons in front and two pistons per rear wheel. ABS and VDC (stability control) are standard.

The power rack-and-pinion steering assist is speed dependent. More robust mount bushings augment feel and precision. The 19-inch Yokohama Advan Sport radials are the same size as standard Z rubber in front but 10mm wider in back. Also, the tire speed rating rises from W(168 mph) to Y (more than 186 mph). The RAYS forged-aluminum rims are 9.5 inches wide in front, 10.5-inches wide in back, a half-inch increase at both ends of the car. To accommodate the rolling stock, the front track is 0.2-inches wider while the rear track is 0.6-inches narrower. A viscous-type limited-slip differential (part of the standard Z's Sport Package) helps maintain momentum in tight turns and during aggressive launches from rest.

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