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2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO Coupe Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

For a pulse-raging romp we strap into a newly revised 2014 370Z Nismo 2-door GT-style sports coupe from Nissan and let it rip over New Mexico 522, a convoluted strip of asphalt running north out of Taos over a red-dirt plateau dotted by sage and cedar.

Our test car is a fresh incarnation of the fabled Z-car of Nissan in a second-generation limited-production version from Nissan's Nismo performance division rigged with stiffer suspension settings, larger disc brakes, racing-inspired body styling -- and a power boost to Z's heady V6.

The iconic sports hatchback coupe from Nissan tracks back in a line from the original Datsun 240Z of 1970 to the 1996 twin-turbo 300ZX and a swift 350Z of 2003. Like the original 240Z, the 370Z Nismo, derived from the 2009 370Z, conforms to hatchback styling with a front-mounted powerplant, rear-wheel-drive orientation and over-the-top piston power.

It's a genuine GT sports coupe, muscular in shape but lethal in monochromatic treatment with two doors on flanks of a snug 2-seat cockpit.

And it looks so lean and mean, the exaggerated prow fixed with big boomerang-shaped HID (high intensity discharge) bi-functional xenon headlamps, fenders bulging to cover the oversized rubber rollers, a broad windshield cocked back at an extreme angle and the low roofline tapering past a hatchback window to the curt tail interrupted by an edgy spoiler wing and LED brake lights defining back corners in streaks of red.

The Nismo body treatment includes new dark gray coloring applied to front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and the Nismo-specific rear spoiler, followed by Nismo-style red pinstripe accents.

Functional aerodynamic body appliances added to the 2014 370Z Nismo include a protruding nose with canard design at each corner for improved downforce and an integrated chin spoiler, special side sills and rear bumper to control airflow beneath the coupe and the tail spoiler to increase downforce on the engine-driven rear wheels.

Of course, the 2014 370Z Nismo edition is lean and means -- the most powerful Z-car ever.

Nissan's V6 displaces 3.7 liters and carries dual cams on top with electronic NDIS (Nissan direct ignition system) and VVEL (variable valve event and lift control).

The 370Z Nismo edition produces 350 hp at 7400 rpm, with torque pumping up to 276 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.

By comparison, the 2014 370Z issues generate 332 hp at 7000 rpm plus 270 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm.

The 370Z models offer a choice in high-tech shifters.

Stock is a close-ratio 6-speed manual featuring SRM (synchronized downshift rev matching).

Optional is a 7-speed automatic with DRM (downshift rev matching) and adaptive shift control for quick driver-controlled shifting via standard paddle shifters or the console-posted shift lever.

But the Nismo Z supplies only the manual-6/SRM.

Nissan labels the Z-car platform as FM (Front Midship), which describes the engine's position on the chassis as front wheels move forward and the engine mounts so its center of gravity falls behind the front axles.

A sophisticated multi-link suspension at all four wheels employs aluminum-alloy components to trim the unsprung weight. Other weight-saving components include a carbon fiber composite radiator housing and aluminum for the front hood, rear hatch and both side doors.

The suspension's double wishbone design up front mounts on a diecast aluminum alloy cradle to reduce lateral bending of the front body structure, while the multi-link design in back has structural reinforcements and underbody V-bar to check rear lateral bending.

Wheels and tires upgrade to 19-inch RAYS 5-spoke forged light alloy Nismo-branded wheels capped by Bridgestone Potenza tires -- front 245/40R19 and rear 285/35R19.

For keen stopping power, the Nissan Sport Brakes package consists of ventilated discs (14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear rotors) with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminum calipers.

Z's cockpit sets two seats in a cozy space divided by the center console.

Nismo cabin enhancements include a new steering wheel with Alcantara wrap and red stitching, aluminum-trimmed pedals, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, power windows and door locks, automatic climate controls and a 4-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/AUX.

Nissan pares MSRP figures for the 2014 370Z coupe, down to $29,990 for the 370Z 6MT, but $43,020 for 370Z Nismo.

For more information on Nissan vehicles, click here.