The alternate title of this article may as well be Zen and the art of driving. Nissan had a singular purpose for the 370Z, and focused it even more for the 2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo: Driving precision and enjoyment. The underlying basis of the car is performance. It definitely needs to be experienced on both the street and the track to understand it true nature.
Let’s talk about the street manners first. The 370Z Nismo is VERY stiffly sprung. It is never harsh, and it is always properly damped. The car does not have adjustable dampening, it has proper dampening for the spring rates and sway bars. The suspension never bottomed out, clunked, or did anything unusual, even over nasty highway expansion joints. The steering, while slightly lacking in feel, is always perfectly weighted and has a quick and proper ratio for a sports car. I always knew where the car was going to go and what it would do when driving aggressively. This car does NOT have a variable ratio steering rack, and for that I am grateful. It’s so refreshing to have linear steering: it’s the way it should be. The 3.7 Liter, 350 horsepower VQ37VHR engine is a joy. It’s very flexible, confident everywhere, and races towards it’s 7400 RPM redline with aplomb. The chassis in this car is so rigid, confident, and composed, that is feels like it could easily take another 150-200hp. Maybe a GTR engine’d 370Z R would be appropriate?
The interior is as it should be: focused. With it’s center mounted tachometer, the 370Z Nismo affirms it’s commitment to the driver. The fabric (no leather here, folks) Nismo specific seats are well bolstered and very grippy. Leather just wouldn’t work here. There is a bluetooth equipped stereo with voice command, but no navigation is offered, and to be frank, it’s the only way I’d have it.
A friend invited me to the Nismo Academy program at Homestead-Miami Speedway a few weeks back, and I jumped at the chance. I was privileged to drive the provided 370Z Nismo on the track for quite a while, and I came away even more impressed than on the street. The car is in it’s element here. The synchro rev match system, while not to my liking on the street, was absolutely brilliant on the track. Heel and toe downshifts weren’t necessary as the system would rev-match for you, leaving you to focus more on your driving line and technique than your fancy footwork. The Nismo Z was absolutely balanced at the track. The 14″ front and 13.8″ rear brakes never hinted at fading, and pedal feel was extremely predictable and firm throughout the range of travel. Neutral doesn’t even begin to describe it. Throttle steering was simple, and the car would rotate at will. Even with traction control engaged, I was never delayed or disappointed. It’s worth mentioning again that the chassis is really a work of art. It is so rigid and composed, that it makes every movement of the Z so much more pure and deliberate. If you input, the Z responds. It’s that simple. Sweeping corners, hairpin corners, the Z was always a willing partner.
All in all, this car is just FANTASTIC. I’m so happy that companies like Nissan create these cars for driving enjoyment. With consumers wanting more and more features, options, and technical gizmos on their cars, a car this focused at this price point renews my faith in the automotive industry at large. If you think the ride on this car is too stiff for you, this car is not for you. If you care more about racing to Starbucks than road racing, this car is not for you either. For the true enthusiasts out there- this car ticks all the right boxes. Not all people will appreciate the 370Z Nismo, but those who do will LOVE it.