SOMETHING happened to us while we were out driving our latest tasty road test treat, in this case the 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, and it simply blew us away.
A nod to the legend of NISMO
When we drive a nice car around we sometimes get people paying attention to it, whether they are car lovers or just genuinely interested in a not-so-common vehicle, or maybe they are just wondering what is making all that noise.
Which is what you get driving around in the 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO, because let’s face it, it attracts attention. But this was different.
As some people may know, Nissan has a cult following for its performance cars, and nowhere is that stronger than Japan. It’s the Nissan badge and the JDM obsession, coupled with Japan’s proud ancient culture of master craftsmanship.
Because of all these things, driving around in a NISMO is a bit like driving Japanese royalty. So here we are cruising the local main street, when we notice an elderly Asian man, who turned out to be Japanese, sitting at the bus stop.
Why did we notice him? As we approached, he stopped talking to the person next to him, fixed his eyes on the car, and stood up. As we passed, he bowed. Nothing crazy, just a little nod of the head in recognition of our sweet ride.
We are not freaking kidding you, this actually happened. The same car stopped a group of skateboarding teens in their tracks and scored us some massive thumbs up earlier in the week, but this was next level.
That wow factor is there in spades when you approach the 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO for the first time. You can see the influence of Japanese design in its hot, unique look, in its low ride height, its glossy red accents and ridiculously good looking 19-inch alloys.
You could walk around this car endlessly admiring its line, it’s curves and it’s NISMO badge. It’s street presence it’s off the charts, everyone turns and looks at this car when they walk by. You can even smirk over and over at the pun on the licence plate.
Pay close attention to the ‘innovation that excites’ catch phrase on the plate surround, and the letters and numbers directly below it; ANU-535. Someone at Nissan has a very left of centre sense of humour, and we like it.
When you first climb inside, the first thing you notice is the ultra-comfy snug red and black leather Recaro race seats. Fire it up and there’s a small earthquake under the hood as the 370Z’s 3.7-litre petrol engine roars into life.
The second thing you notice is orange, orange as far as the eye can see. Everything in the ageing interior is lit up in orange. Everything that’s not orange, is matte black. The one exception, is the seriously basic infotainment system.
It’s a touch screen, but they also give you a directional pad as well, like BMW, but we’re not really sure why. It’s not like anything actually works very well, it’s extremely clunky to operate and connecting your phone and hoping it stays connected; nope not happening.
The issue for Nissan here is that the 370Z is really dated, it landed in showrooms back in 2009, and while it’s had a few updates along the way, it’s still essentially the same – bereft of advanced safety features and looking older than your grandmother.
The last overhaul came in 2015 (ahead of the current upgrade which excludes the new NISMO, and is due to land in Australia shortly), which makes this NISMO model more than three years old already.
But here’s where the fun starts, jam the short throw six-speed manual into first and take off, and the first thing you do is forget all the ageing things that irk you about the 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO, because not one ounce of it matters.
That beautiful exhaust note from the 253kW power plant and the 371Nm of torque which combines with exceptional handing and direct, exact, steering takes you away, to a race track somewhere in the north of Japan, even if you’re driving in sunny suburbia.
It revs to about a million and changes gears with ease. The feedback you get from the wheel is haunting, goosebumps come up everywhere as you change through the gears and push the car harder and harder.
As you come into your first braking point and you down shift, the NISMO’s rev matching system kicks in, ensuring you can flat shift smoothly, making some wickedly cool sounds along the way. The 307Z NISMO i like Godzilla’s angry little friend.
All this with traction control still turned on. And then we switched it off. Now the drive is different again. You’re holding on for dear life, trying not to shred the rubber to much and giggling like a school girl.
There is no average low end power, and no crappy interior anymore, no dated design, no orange lights, because we don’t care about those things anymore, we care only about how much fun this thing is tor drive. We’re weak at the knees, and loving it.
The 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO, comes in just one colour, Pearlescent White, with gun metal and metallic deep red exterior accents. It will pull a 0-100km/h time of 5.79 seconds and Nissan claims combined fuel economy of 10.6-litres/100km.
It’s a genuine two-seater and hits the road at $61,490, or thereabouts. It’s $11,500 more than the base model 370Z. Despite its ageing design, it’s only real coupe competitor for noise and attraction factor is the V8 Ford Mustang.
Our 2018 Nissan 370Z NISMO was supplied by Nissan Australia. To find out more about it, contact your local Nissan dealer.