I’ve never driven the standard Z and having read some pretty negative reviews, I had very low expectations of the Nismo. Surely a 20-hp bump and a few suspension tweaks couldn’t be transformative, right? Well, it seems that maybe they are. This thing was a riot on track. Despite some inherent problems—chiefly its weight and the 9-speed automatic gearbox—the Nismo felt like a proper sports car whilst retaining that brawny old-school Z character that’s timelessly appealing.
Welcome to our PCOTY track notes. These are the stream-of-consciousness scrawlings from our resident hot shoe, editor-at-large Jethro Bovingdon, following his hot-lap sessions in each contender.
It scores immediately with a great driving position and superb seats, quickly backed up with positive steering response and a sense of taut control from the fixed-rate dampers. The Dunlop tires (similar to those fitted to the GT-R) deserve a special mention as they provide masses of grip and traction and fine progression at the limit. The Nismo isn’t a wild drift car by preference, but it can slide beautifully. More importantly, when setting a time, the Z has a really friendly feel—sharp but tolerant of little mistakes and very easy to manipulate at the limit. The traction control system is also very good.
Eventually, the weight starts to tell, of course. But the Nismo feels fast, secure, and extremely indulgent. I would have put my house on it being faster than the BMW M2… but strangely, all the good vibes didn’t quite translate into a mega lap time. Even so, a really enjoyable car. With a manual, it might be slower but it could be even more fun. The engine could do with a bit more sparkle, too.
Come on, Nissan. You know it makes sense.
About PCOTY hot laps:
Our lap times are simple. They are meant to inform us about how these cars perform on track, not to chase an elusive or ‘ultimate’ time that would require multiple sessions in each car. The laps were set after just a few sighting laps and no prior experience on the circuit. Unless a car didn’t get a fair shake, we did one out lap, three hot laps, and a cool-down. Whilst all the cars could go quicker, the times are representative. The delta between the cars would be consistent even with many more laps and sets of tires to burn through.
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