Nismo, Nissan's in-house high-performance division, has been churning out factory-tuned enthusiast rides for more than two decades now in Japan and has recently been gaining a foothold here in the U.S. Back in 2007, Nissan offered its first complete U.S.-spec Nismo model based on the last-generation 350Z, and its latest Z-based creation is the 2009 Nismo 370Z.
Built by Nissan's Specialty Vehicles Group with the help of Autech Japan, Nissan's longtime conversion partner, project engineers focused their efforts on making the new Nismo Z more aggressive in just about every aspect. First off, it looks the part. Its race-car-like body kit fits the stock lines well and produces more downforce at speed, officials say. Look closely at its nose and the integrated canard design on each side becomes evident. Although it has the same wheelbase as the stock 370Z at 100.4 in., the Nismo model is some 7-in. longer (167.2 in. stock vs. 174.3 in. Nismo) overall and slightly narrower (72.8 in. stock vs. 72.6 in. Nismo). Matching the kit's racer attitude on each corner are a set of wider, edition-specific lightweight five-spoke 19-in. Rays Japan alloys. The car's Nismo sport brakes (the same binders as on the 370Z Sport Package) at 14 in. front/13.8 in. rear, hide behind the forged rollers.
Speaking of corners, the Nismo Z is poised to attack all types of bends in full force thanks to a sturdier suspension setup. The brand's versatile FM (front midship) platform, underpinned by a double-wishbone front and four-link rear, gets sport dampers, stiffer springs, and larger stabilizer bars. Engineers managed to tighten up the spring rates by 15% and 10%, front and rear, respectively, and chassis bars by 15% (front) and 50% (rear). Yes, 50%. The Nismo Z's complete stiffness rate is up an impressive 15% overall, according to Nissan.An enhanced speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system is designed to further improve turn-in and high-speed stability. As expected, Nissan also implemented a standard vicious limited-slip differential and Vehicle Dynamic Control electronics to keep everything on the tarmac and out of the ditch. The result of their labor, engineers tout, is a more dynamic, predictable and precise handling coupe than the base car.