2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo essentials: I should love this
What is it:The 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo is the latest in a long line of front engine, rear-drive Z cars from the Japanese brand known for its motorsports prowess. The Nismo version only comes one way: all content options included. Some paint colors and accessory stuff is optional. Its 3.7-liter V6 continues making 350 hp.
Key Competitors: Audi S5, Porsche Cayman, Ford Mustang
Base Price: $46,575 As-Tested Price: $47,120
Highlights: For 2018, the 370Z Nismo gets Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600 performance tires, replacing Bridgestones. It also gets a new high-performance clutch from Exedy. This Nismo version gets 18 more hp than the standard coupe using an optimized engine calibration. Basically the company just turned the volume up, which is fine with us.
Our Opinion: I want to love this car more than I do. It looks great, it handles great, it rides great over rough roads. There’s just...something about it that doesn’t tickle my fancy anymore.
The 370Z cockpit is near perfect. I like the new manually adjusting Recaro seats but the shifter throws are a little long for my taste. I don’t love the rubbery/plasticky feel of it either and there’s a little notchiness between gears. There are also huge blind spots so you will do a lot of neck craning when backing up, but most of the coupes in this class are in the same boat. The 370Z has tiny rear side windows, which makes it much worse.
Nissan’s tech? I’m always a fan. Plug in the iPhone while it’s playing a podcast and without missing a beat it’s playing through the speakers. I did have to reach a little for the navigation controls, which are on the dash, but it’s a straighforward system and easy to use.
Putting power to the pavement is simple with 285-width, 19-inch rear tires. Unfortunately it’s hard to spin them for show in a car that’s built with grip in mind, even with 350 hp. Steering feel is above average with the right amount of weight. Now that I think about it, I’ve never taken one of these to the track. It would probably kick ass. Note to self...
The clutch pedal is springy, and hard to modulate without practice. In fact, I never quite perfected it over the weekend while I had the car.
A quick addendum: As I'm posting this, I just got out of a 370Z Heritage Edition, which I did love. It's about $32K, gets the standard 332 hp and feels much more true to form than this Nismo. I now think all enthusiast cars should have a "heritage edition" featuring almost no options, cloth seats and a manual transmission, for cheap.
--Jake Lingeman, road test editor
Options: Pearl white paint ($395); Nismo floor mats ($150)