Test Drive: 2020 Nissan 370Z NISMO
2020 Nissan 370Z NISMO
Class: Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 162
Fuel used: 8.9 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||C|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||350-hp 3.7L|
|Drive Wheels||Rear-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 18.2 mpg
Driving mix: 30% city, 70% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 17/26/20 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas recommended
Base price: $45,790 (not including $925 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Pearl White Tricoat paint ($395)
Price as tested: $47,110
The great: Robust acceleration; sharp handling; classic sports-car feel
The good: Special trim features of NISMO model add a distinctive character inside and out
The not so good: Occupant space; entry/exit for big and tall folks; cargo room; stiff ride; aged basic design
More 370Z price and availability information
If you’re willing to overlook its age, Nissan’s 370Z can be a real sports car bargain. You can get a 2-seat coupe with a 332-horsepower V6 for as little as $31,085 with delivery.
But that’s if you’re content to have the most basic of the four 2020 models on offer. Skip the steps and take the elevator to the penthouse of performance—and cost—and you’ll find yourself out at least $46,715 for a tuned and tricked-out 370Z NISMO like the one that Consumer Guide tested.
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The handiwork of the Nissan Motorsport folks on this model is evident in a higher-output engine, an aggressively tuned suspension, bigger brakes, aerodynamic body enhancements, and more. Meanwhile, the interior is swathed in Alcantara microfiber fabric, and Nissan raises the luxury level with standard navigation, Bose 8-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, active noise cancellation, active sound enhancement, heated outside mirrors, and LED-illuminated “Z” side-marker emblems.
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That, too, may seem like a bargain for less than $50,000, but it is a price that comes at a cost. The NISMO’s ride is exceptionally firm—heck, it’s hard. The independent suspension has stiffer springs all around to reduce suspension travel and restrict body roll. That may be just right for smoothly paved racetracks, but public streets and highways are rarely that smooth for long, and the average commute is sure to register its share of cabin-rocking hits. Larger stabilizer bars are another feature of this amped-up suspension. So are the 19-inch-diameter RAYS forged-alloy wheels specific to the car that are one inch wider in back than they are in the front, and shod in Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600 rubber.
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If the ride is a challenge to live with, the handling is a redeeming feature. Steering is very precise, and body motions are determinedly restrained. The NISMO is bestowed with body dampers mounted on the frame rail at the front and under the cargo area in back help squelch vibrations, and a reinforced 3-point shock-tower brace also plays a part in chassis rigidity. As on all but the base 370Z, a traction-optimizing viscous limited-slip differential is standard. The NISMO has the largest brakes ever offered on a 370Z: 14-inch 4-piston front discs and 13.8-inch 2-piston rear rotors. When it’s time to turn “go” to “whoa” they clamp down really well.
The NISMO version of the 3.7-liter V6 steps up to 350 horsepower at 7400 rpm and 276 lb-ft of torque at 5200 revs. That’s plenty of power to get it to take off like a shot, abetted by a racy-sounding free-flow dual exhaust. Nissan says the H-pipe-configured exhaust reduces back pressure by up to 30 percent and enhances high-end performance. While the report is genuinely muscular, it is persistently loud in highway cruising, which might get tiring after a bit. Unique front and rear fasciae, side sills, and rear spoiler improve aerodynamics for high-speed running.
Transmission choices come down to a 7-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and downshift rev matching (a $1400 option) or the 6-speed manual that was in the test car. We’d like to be able to say nice things about the 6-speed, but it won’t let us. The short-throw shifter was stiff and notchy through the gates, which made it tough to hit some changes just right. The NISMO’s clutch felt heavier than the one CGers experienced in a Sport Fiftieth Anniversary job, but it wasn’t terribly tricky to modulate or wearying to use.
The EPA estimates that the 350-horse 3.7 with 6-speed should be good for 17 mpg in city driving, 26 mpg out on the highway, and 20 mpg in combined use. When this reviewer topped off after a 64-mile stint with just 18 percent city-type operation, he saw 19.2 mpg.
Rooted as it is in 2009 (with only a 2013 freshening), the 370Z isn’t the most au courant thing on four wheels. You won’t find any of the now-common high-tech safety aids like forward-collision alert and mitigation, blind-spot monitor, or lane-departure warning. All your smartphone is asked to do is link up with the Bluetooth; it won’t be Apple CarPlaying or Android Autoing. The steering column tilts (in unison with the instrument cluster) but doesn’t telescope. Driving gauges and convenience controls are best described as nostalgic, especially in the lower-line base and Sport models. The navigation system standard in Sport Touring and NISMO models comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, so the dash in these models looks perhaps just six years old and not the full 11. The nav controls are a familiar Nissan unit with function buttons arrayed around a central dial, but they rest facing up at the foot of the recessed touchscreen and aren’t easy to read at a glance.
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A silver lining is that 370Z controls remain refreshingly simple to operate in an era of rampant infotainment overload. You can input radio presets on the screen, but physical tuning buttons make set-up a snap. The single-zone automatic climate system is managed by convenient dials for fan speed and temperature. The NISMO does get a specific centrally located tachometer distinguished by red graphics.
Seats are well-bolstered Recaro buckets with red Alcantara inserts to help keep occupants secured when the going really gets, well, going. Adjustment is manual—8-way for the driver and 4-way for the passenger. Lots of padded or Alcantara-covered surfaces are found on the doors, steering wheel, and padding on the sides of the console. Red contrast stitching is another NISMO signature touch. The seating position is low, so entry and exit will be a challenge for some, and taller drivers may long for more headroom. Driver vision isn’t the best.
Cabin storage space is limited. In fact, the nav unit occupies space that is a covered storage bin in base and Sport versions. Luggage capacity is restricted as well. The space beneath the standard cargo cover is shallow, and there’s no underfloor room. Finally, liftover is high.
The 370Z NISMO is too track-focused to be an enjoyable daily driver. But there are “Z cars” that can be—and for less money.
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