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By Jim Kerr
Photos by Grant Yoxon
You may be familiar with Ford’s SVT, Mercedes’ AMG or have seen the TRD decal on Toyota Products. These are all acronyms for departments or companies that specialize in high-performance vehicle parts for enthusiasts. Some manufacturers offer these parts already assembled on complete vehicles. Others offer kits, individual parts or accessories that can be added to enhance a stock vehicle. Now, another player has entered the market, and its name will become as familiar as its predecessors have. It’s called NISMO.
NISMO parts and accessories come from Nissan Motorsports International, which has a long history as the source for Nissan’s racing technology and high-performance parts. I remember some of the early rally and road racing 510 sedans and coupes and date myself by having seen the (Paul) Newman Racing 300Z compete decades ago. You may remember Nissan cars competing at Le Mans or in the IMSA GTP series. All these cars benefited from NISMO technology. Until now, NISMO parts have only been available in Japan and America; now, they are available in Canada.
Recently, Nissan showcased a NISMO-equipped 350Z coupe and Frontier pickup in Banff to launch the NISMO brand in Canada. The vehicles contained a combination of both on-road and race performance components. Nissan calls their on-road NISMO parts S-Tune and are for enthusiasts that drive on the street. They carry a one-year/20,000 km warranty just like any other Nissan part or accessory.
Race parts are called R-Tune and are for serious enthusiasts who desire optimum performance. They have no warranty because they may affect the civility of the vehicle during every day driving. Even though there is no warranty, these parts, just like the S-Tune parts, have been designed by factory engineers to fit properly and complement other vehicle components. Many of the engineers that have designed these parts also worked on the initial design of the complete vehicle.
In Canada, NISMO parts are available for the 350Z, Sentra, Altima, Frontier, Xterra and X-Trail. They include everything from floor mats and shift knobs to special wheels and Cat-Back exhaust systems. R-Tune products may include clutch components, camshafts, brake pads, cold air induction packages or headers.
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There are many other parts available, as well as a few for older vehicles such as the 300ZX, 240 SX and Sentra. The nice thing about factory-designed parts is that most of them can be installed individually, so you can modify a vehicle in stages to fit your budget. Of course, you can always look the part, too: there are graphics kits, hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that will keep you looking good.
Right now, the 350Z has the most NISMO parts available for it. The vehicle we took out for a short test ride came equipped with over $12,000 of both S-Tune and R-Tune NISMO parts. The alloy wheels, expensive at $939 each, were wide, tall and very light to enhance handling. They also looked great!
The shock and spring kit came in at $2,524.39 and lowered the vehicle by 15 mm for flat and precise handling. The other pricey part was a cat-back exhaust system at $1,676.83; it added six horsepower at the rear wheels, reduced weight by four kg and had a wonderful sound. Other lower-cost components on the car included front, side and rear spoilers, sway bars, floor mats, shift knob and a fantastic-looking graphics kit priced at a bargain $245.43. One R-Tune component, the Cold Air Intake package, was also added to increase horsepower another 5.5 at the rear wheels.
There are tons of accessories on the market that will enhance the looks or performance of a vehicle. Unfortunately, many of the parts require modifications to the vehicle so they will fit properly. I have installed many accessories over the years and have come to appreciate the quality of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts that fit correctly. Many times, an aftermarket part is a compromise, designed to fit different vehicles or different years. OEM parts can save a lot of time, frustration and in the long run, money. They also are engineered to work on the vehicle, so balanced performance is achieved. Before purchasing any accessory for your vehicle, check out how easy it is to install. You might be surprised at how much time and grief OEM parts can save you.