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2024 Nissan Z NISMO Shines on the Track, but Nowhere Else

2024 nissan z nismo
2024 Nissan Z NISMO: Think Tracks, Not RoadsMichael Simari - Car and Driver

From the July/August issue of Car and Driver.

It was big news when Nissan revealed the latest Z. After years of seemingly ignoring its iconic sports car, Nissan brought it back with a 400-hp twin-turbo V-6. The excitement didn't last, and the redesigned Z finished last in its first C/D comparison test. The "new" Z simply felt like a reskinned version of the old car but with a bit more power.

Enter the Z NISMO. A thorough redo by Nissan's performance division, the Z NISMO impressed us at our Lightning Lap competition at Virginia International Raceway. With 420 horses and 384 pound-feet of torque—gains of 20 and 34, respectively—as well as wider tires on forged wheels, stiffer anti-roll bars, larger front brakes, and bigger dampers with firmer springs, the NISMO felt in its element racing against the clock. Tracks usually expose weaknesses, but this one actually masked the NISMO's flaws.

2024 nissan z nismo
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

In the real world, where the streets aren't freshly steamrolled, the added stiffness becomes tiresome, and the tight body control that feels so nice at 1.02 g's shakes you silly in the NISMO's standard Recaro seats. The brakes that performed so well when pushed to their limit at VIR are grabby and inconsistent, making it impossible to come to a complete stop smoothly.

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Chassis shortcomings aside, the model-specific Sport+ drive mode and launch control for the automatic transmission deliver drama-free 3.9-second blasts to 60 mph and 12.4-second trips through the quarter-mile at 114 mph. Those numbers are within striking distance of the more powerful BMW M2 and Ford Mustang Dark Horse.

While BMW and Ford offer manuals, Nissan makes the NISMO only with a nine-speed automatic. And then there's the $66,890 price and the HVAC controls from the George W. Bush era. We're happy a vehicle like the NISMO exists, but it could be a better road car.

2024 nissan z nismo
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

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