Nissan with a capital Z

Nismo, a legendary name. An acronym that has always distinguished some of Nissan’s history-making and successful sports cars, the test bed for numerous hi-tech solutions that found their way on gritty road models.

The roots of the Z series, however, can be traced back a long way, half a century ago, to be precise. It was 1970 when the Datsun 240Z (part of the Nissan group) opened up the doors of the American market to the small yet exciting Japanese sports car. Since then, four additional generations followed, always characterized by dynamic performance in a small package and at a price affordable by most. The same formula can be found in the latest generation, the 370Z, unveiled first in 2009, restyled in 2013 and now in its latest 2018 version, and ready for the super exclusive 50th Anniversary Edition expected in 2020.


Just for two

As the smaller sister of the iconic Nissan GT-R supercar - a 600 hp Fast & Furious monster - the 370Z shares much of its appeal and technology, delivering adrenaline-fuelled performance at half the price, making the 370Z appealing to a wide range of thrill-seeking motorists.

A low, streamlined design, just 4.25 metres in length, a 12.5 cm ground clearance, a long, commanding bonnet that houses a standard six-cylinder engine, overhangs reduced by a 2.55 metres wheelbase and larger wheel track, give it that ready-to-pounce appearance.

The typical coupe silhouette - spider in the roadster version - with its streamlined and rounded front and rear design, features large air intakes in the front grille and the vertical brake cooling slots, a single minute window and a sloping rear window at the rear, interrupted only by a slender spoiler that enhances its sporty image. A recognizable style, thanks to its boomerang shaped light clusters with LED and xenon technology. Specially redesigned to improve its structural strength, the spider version benefits from an electrically folding roof, lodged inside a compartment in the boot without affecting the already small payload, 140 litres instead of the 235 litres offered by the coupe, so forget about using it to move furniture, the space would suffice at the most for a pair of small suitcases for a weekend out of town.

You get in, sit back, press the power button and you immediately feel like a racing driver. The only two seats available are separated by a central tunnel raised to allow the passage of the transmission shaft, a design that recalls the cockpit of a jet fighter. Inside, a retractable panel partially covers a multitude of control knobs and switches that grace the central console, including the main 7" voice controlled navigation display with its audio and communication management system, while the dashboard appears simple, with its large circular instruments, as the best sporting tradition requires, besides the display of the on-board computer.

The two seats enjoy great lumbar support besides being well heated and ventilated, which makes them not as extreme as those found on sportier models, ensuring a good level of comfort while driving in the city or for a day trip out of town. If you choose the Roadster, the airflow is definitely no cause for concern, even with the roof down, thanks to a design that leaves little room for turbulence. In winter, once the roof is lifted, the dual-zone A/C system guarantees a suitable temperature for each passenger. The finishing touches are just what you would expect in a Nissan Nismo, with a large choice between fabrics, leathers and alcantara, according to the standard Lev 1 and Lev 2, or Nismo interior trim, in which - needless to say - the large Z in the middle of the steering wheel reminds the driver of Nismo’s glorious lineage.


Thrilling technology

Despite the absence of a turbocharger, which would make it more nervous and difficult to drive on a daily basis - for that, as mentioned, Nissan offers the GT-R Twin Turbo -, the 370Z can rely on the dynamic qualities of Nissan’s six-cylinder petrol engine part of the QV37VHR series, entirely in aluminium, with a generous volume of 3.7 litres (hence the acronym 370), with over 328 hp in its standard version which soars to 344 hp in the Nismo version.

The overall displacement of 3,696 cc allows the powerful 60° V6, to deliver a maximum torque of 37 and 37.8 kgm respectively at 5,200 rpm, controlled by a six-speed manual transmission, with SyncroRey Match synchronization for faster engagement, or a seven-speed automatic AdaptiveShift Control, possibly with paddles at the wheel”. The VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) variable timing of the intake valves, by controlling the lift and the amount of air entering the cylinders, ensures acceleration in the region 5.2 seconds from 0-100 km/h (5.5 seconds for the Roadster and 5.8 seconds for automatic version) which, combined with optimized fuel consumption allows for a mileage of 10 km/litre, a value that would horrify any city-car but absolutely in line, if not lower than most popular sports cars in the same class. Pushing the limits, the 370Z effortlessly reaches a maximum speed - self-limited - of 250 km/h, under the control of a direct and precise steering rack and pinion, and the dynamic system of the vehicle’s Vdc, which can be disengaged if necessary or when you decide to go fast & furious.

The focus on reduced structural torsion, combined with improved weight distribution, led Nissan's designers to create a rigid aluminium structure to support the engine, forged aluminium front suspensions and hollow anti-roll bar, thus reducing weight, without sacrificing safety, to just over 1,500 kg. The four independent wheels and the 1550 mm wheel-track at the front and 1595 mm at the rear, are simply perfect for a sporty set-up, just as you would expect from a coupé, with great braking power guaranteed by four 350 and 355 mm diameter discs, with opposite callipers in cast aluminium, four pistons at the front and assisted by Abs with Ebd and Nba brake assistance. Completing the kinematic chain there is a standard differential with limited slip viscous joint, so that all the possible power can be transmitted to the ground at all times. The wheels, in particular, benefit from the different sizing between the two axles, with high performance 225/50 R18 at the front and 245/45 R18 tires at the rear, or - depending on the set up - 245/40 R19 and 275/35 R19 tires, with specific forged 19-inch wheels and 285/35 rear tires dedicated exclusively to the Nismo version.