2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo
2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2011 Nissan 370Z

A lot has happened since Datsun turned the sports car world on its ear with the 1970 240Z. This stylish, attractively priced and capable two-seat coupe packing a sweet straight-six under its long bonnet was a Jaguar E-Type for the masses, and a great success.

In the early eighties, Nissan ditched the Datsun nameplate, the Z-car grew soft and bloated, found some of its former glory in 1984 with the 300ZX, left North America in 1996, then returned with a vengeance in 2003 with the 350Z.

For 2009, Nissan gave us an all-new Z that stuck even closer to the original script. It was lighter, lower, wider, and with a wheelbase shortened by 100 mm, it packed 332 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. from its 3.7-litre V6.

2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo
2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Click image to enlarge

And now, another Z milestone: Canada gets the Nismo for 2011.

Developed by Nissan Motorsports (NISMO) in conjunction with partner Autech Japan, this is the first Nismo to migrate north of the 49th Parallel, having been available in the U.S. since 2007. It arrives in six-speed-manual-only guise with a price tag of $46,898 – a $6,000 hit over the standard issue 370Z.

So what is a Nismo? For those hip to the Nissan 370Z Coupe’s brand of tough-guy/sophisticate performance, this hyper version delivers more of the same. It’s loud, raucous, looks super nasty and dishes out rear-drive sport car thrills by the bucket full.

That said, if you are at all interested in, oh, maybe relaxing for a moment behind the wheel while enjoying GT cruise mode, the Nismo is probably not for you. This sports car demands your attention at all times. Looking for the Nismo’s feminine side is an exercise in futility.

Distinguishing Nismo visuals include a rear deck spoiler, sill extensions, reworked rear fascia and an aggressive snout that adds 16.5 centimetres to the Z’s length. A word of caution – that chin-spoiler sits perilously close to the pavement.

2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo
2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo
2011 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Click image to enlarge

The lightweight forged 19-inch alloys (wearing 245/40R front and 285/35R rear performance tires) allow a nice view of the Nismo Sport Brakes featuring 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented discs squeezed respectively by four-piston and two-piston aluminum calipers.

My tester was finished in Nismo-exclusive Airstream Silver, and yes, it was a head-turner. At $135, the metallic paint was the only option here. Other available shades are Hakone White, Magnetic Black, Solid Red and Gun Metallic.

This is the most powerful production Z ever offered, getting a version of Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.7-litre DOHC V6 that makes 350 hp and 276 lb.-ft. (up 18 hp and eight lb.-ft.). The power increase comes from a freer-flowing exhaust system and reprogrammed engine management.

Rounding out the Nismo-specific kit is a specially tuned suspension with stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. A rear limited-slip differential comes standard.

The cabin gets grippy and supportive two-tone fabric seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), a leather wrapped wheel, automatic climate control, four-speaker audio with aux input (no USB) and cruise control. A stylistic nod to the original 240Z is a trio of dashtop gauges for temp, oil, battery and clock. The LED information readout to the left of the speedo mars an otherwise well done interior, looking like an incongruous afterthought.

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