The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.

Before the Nissan GT-R was ever a glimmer in the eyes of designers and engineers, the company’s flagship sports car was the Z. In terms of the number you see on the road — and on track — the Z is still Nissan’s mainstay performance car, and the alpha male of the Z lineup is the 370Z NISMO.

We had a chance to sample one at Willow Springs International Raceway during the Motor Press Guild’s “Track Days” testing program.

The top-shelf 370Z demonstrates the NISMO spirit: race-proven engineering that is attainable, and once you learn the base price of the NISMO Z, you realize it really is something a lot of people can afford. Redesigned for 2015, the 370Z NISMO is the manufacturer’s attempt to balance the needs of street and track in one car. That’s no easy task, but the NISMO Z hits pretty close to the bull’s-eye on both fronts.

New for 2015, the NISMO Z is offered as a “Tech” model, which features a standard navigation system and an available seven-speed automatic. The automatic features a manual mode and paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel.

On the outside, the NISMO Z is fitted aero bits inspired by the GT-R. They are designed to optimize front and rear downforce. The car also comes with new 19-inch super lightweight NISMO forged aluminum wheels, and they present a nice contrast to each of the four colors available on this car: pearl white, magnetic black, brilliant silver and solid red. The colors, aero bits and wheels clearly set this car apart from the garden variety Z, and the red accent stripes really drive the point home.

The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.
The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.

Inside, the NISMO Z is fitted with seats co-developed with Recaro exclusively for this car. The driver’s seat is adjustable eight ways and there is four-way adjustment on the passenger side. Your HPDE instructor will have to make do with that.

Material choices are a step up from the standard model. The car comes with an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel with a red band at the top to indicate on center. The tach is dead ahead of the wheel, with its lofty 7,400-rpm redline, and the classic three-gauge cluster at the center includes an oil temperature gauge, volt meter and a digital clock.

The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.
The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.

Under the hood, the NISMO Z comes with a 3.7-liter V6 engine

with “variable valve event and lift control,” which seems like a fifty-cent way to say variable valve timing. The power plant is rated at 350 horsepower at 7,400 rpm, and that’s 18 horsepower more than a standard 370Z Coupe. Torque output is decent at 276 pound-feet, which peaks at 5,200 rpm.

For the first time, two transmission choices are available on a NISMO Z. For track duty, the six-speed manual is the way to go, and if you haven’t yet mastered heel-toe downshifting, don’t sweat it. The NISMO Z can do it for you.

According to Nissan literature, “The close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission features standard SynchroRev Match, the world’s first synchronized downshift rev-matching manual transmission, which allows rev-matched heel-toe-like downshifting. The SynchroRev Match function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially ‘blipping’ the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts. This not only allows the driver to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical ‘shock’ when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own.”

There is also a newly available seven-speed automatic with downshift rev matching, adaptive shift control and manual shift mode with paddle shifters.

During the “Track Days” event, manufacturers can be pretty protective of their cars. Just ask the Ford guys why. They left with their test Mustang on a flatbed. As such, the cars are turned loose with all the electronic nannies on in full. NASA Director of Business Development, Jeremy Croiset, who built the first Spec Z in the country, took the NISMO Z for a spin.

“It was really hard to gauge true balance because you can’t disable the stability control. Took a lot of the fun away from the car,” Croiset said. “You can turn the traction control off and it will let you hang the tail out quite a ways. It likes to get sideways on throttle. It makes good power, and it has good brakes, but they are a little easy to overpower.”

Starting at $41,990, the 370 NISMO Z is a veritable bargain. In the market for cars that can do double duty on the street and the track, it’s certainly worth a look.

Specifications

Engine:

3.7-liter DOHC V6

Horsepower:

350 @ 7,400 rpm

Torque:

276 @ 5,200 rpm

Front suspension:

Double-wishbone aluminum control arms

Rear suspension:

Independent aluminum multi-link

Transmission:

Six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters

Rear axle ratio:

Manual, 3.92:1; Automatic, 3.69, limited slip standard

Curb Weight:

3,372 lbs.

Base MSRP:

$41,990
The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.
The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO features exterior, interior and performance refinements, along with an expanded model selection that includes both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions and a new 370Z NISMO Tech grade.
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