The Nissan 370Z Nismo uses the same 3.7-litre V6 found in the regular 370Z, but gets another 16bhp and 6lb ft of torque, thanks to a sportier exhaust and tweaks to the engine management system.
Your £36,995 (which is a whole £10k more than the entry-level 370Z) also buys you a less-than-subtle bodykit, dark grey 19-inch alloys, stiffer suspension, ‘special’ brake fluid, plus a selection of interior goodies. No optional extras are available.
So far so good, then, but would we advocate a close encounter?
What’s the 2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo like to drive?
Stab the Start button (while you depress the heavy clutch) and the throbbing soundtrack should be enough to put a broad grin on your face. If not, we’d recommend checking your pulse.
Pull away, and it soon becomes apparent that you’ll need a left arm like Popeye’s. The six-speed manual gearbox is heavy and clunky, and the process of disenganging and re-engaging the clutch when changing from first to second elicits a wincingly large amount of mechanical noise. It’s bad enough to make you question your gearchanging skills.
The obstinate ’box grizzles through second to third, but is more willing to let you look less of a ham-fisted fool in the higher gears. You’ll forget all about the gearbox when you’re up to speed, though, as the road noise makes it impossible to concentrate on anything else - other than the appalling rear visibility (because of a huge rear wing) and ‘in your face’ door mirrors. They make checking for other road users a real pain.
At least the 370Z Nismo’s precise steering makes life more pleasurable. The stiffened suspension quickly piles on the misery again, though, as it fails to damp even minor bumps; hit a rut mid-corner and the Nismo will be jarred off-line, which somewhat destroys the car’s raison detre, as well as your confidence.
The easily modulated brakes are well up the job of scrubbing off speed, though, and the engine emulates ‘heel and toeing’ by blipping the throttle on downchanges to match the engine revs for the new gear.
However - and we’ve saved the worst ’til last - the Nismo simply doesn’t feel as fast as its figures suggest. What should be electrifying performance though the gears is actually rather lethargic as you count the seconds before wrenching the gearlever through the gate.
Peak performance is delivered at 7400rpm, but you won’t want to go anywhere near that because beyond 4500rpm the V6’s poor refinement sets the pedals a-trembling and there’s no joy to the engine note.
What’s the 2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo like inside?
Taller drivers will be hobbled from the outset by a steering wheel that adjusts only up and down. The driver’s seat holds you in all the right places, although it could be a bit more substantial and has an odd mixture of electric switches and rotary dial adjustments.
The main instruments consist of analogue dials, while a large touch-screen displays sat-nav and audio information. The screen can also be operated via a dial just below the screen, but it’s a bit of a stretch and isn’t the easiest to programme, so diverts your attention from the road for too long.
The Nismo brings red stitching to the seats, while the steering wheel is covered with Alcantara and leather. Most other materials are up to the job, but the metal-effect plastics look cheap.
There’s plenty of head- and legroom for both occupants, but they’ll have to pack light because the boot is very shallow.
Other standard equipment includes auto bi-xenon headlights and wipers, an eight-speaker Bose stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear parking camera, electric windows and climate and cruise control.
Should I buy one?
No. The 370Z Nismo simply doesn’t offer enough for the money. Yes, its body and suspension have been stiffened sufficiently to make it a useful track-day car, but the same modifications make it less suitable for our broken roads.
The Nismo is barely quicker than the regular 370Z, anyway, so save yourself £10k and buy one of them. Then again, that’s a two-star car and the Porsche Cayman has five stars. If you can afford the extra couple of grand over the Nismo, get that.
By Rob Keenan
What Car? says...
Audi TT S
Nissan 370Z Nismo
Engine size 3.7-litre V6
Price from £36,995
Torque 271lb ft
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 26.6mpg