Keep on doing what you're doing, Nissan.
When you think of performance in the Nissan lineup you immediately conjure up images of the GT-R. The Japanese brand’s halo supercar is definitely a mighty force in the world of high performance, but you shouldn’t overlook what Nismo is doing.
In the U.S. buyers can choose a Nismo-flavored Juke, 370Z, maybe a Sentra in the near future, and of course, a batsh*t crazy GT-R Nismo that gets to 60 in under 3.0 seconds. They’re all really capable, as I found out; driving the standard 2015 GT-R, the Juke Nismo (with a manual!), and the lovely new 370Z Nismo.
Horsepower: 215 0-60: 7.0S Price (as tested): $28,345 The lowliest of the three, the Juke Nismo does have one thing going for it — it looks fantastic. It gets some racing bits like carbon fiber and Nismo inspired graphics. Unfortunately, the lifted hatchback (that’s essentially what it was), looks better than it goes. You’re stuck with a 1.6-liter engine that feels underpowered, even though it’s churning out 215 horsepower. You’re getting front-wheel drive only if you insist on scooping up the manual (AWD in automatic only). And you’re left with some uncomfortable amounts of body roll in the corners. The good news, though, is that this car even exists in the first place. No one in their right mind would have thought to put go-fast parts on a small SUV. It’s bonkers and completely lovable.
Horsepower: 350 0-60: 4.9 seconds Price: $47,725 If you read my original review on the 370Z Nismo, you know how much I absolutely adore this car. Yes, even with the automatic. It feels tight and crisp. The driver's seat feels like a cockpit, more so than even the GT-R. Not to mention its handsome new catfish looks. This is the Nissan for real enthusiasts. Buy the manual, though.
Horsepower: 545 0-60: 3.0 seconds Price: $101,770 The big daddy GT-R gets slightly more powerful and slightly better looking for 2015. 545 horsepower comes from the twin-turbo six, at your fingertips is a six-speed dual clutch gearbox that shifts faster than you can blink, and all-wheel drive rockets you from 0-60 in about 3.0 seconds flat with launch control. For $100K, the GT-R remains the priciest in the lineup, but definitely not the priciest in its segment. Better yet, it remains one of the few supercars you really can drive every day. No, really, I made sure. Overall
So what did we learn today kids? Out of the three, the 370Z Nismo is surprisingly the vehicle of choice. It’s getting pricey as it gets better, but that pure performance and throaty engine are comparable to cars like the Porsche Cayman and Alfa 4C. But even better than the 370Z, these three cars — sporty in their nature — show Nissan’s continued push in the performance and enthusiast markets. A business model most automakers seem to be straying away from these days. At the end of the day, you’re looking at three cars with loads of personality, and two (370, GT-R) with some of the best performance in their respective segments. Keep on doing what you're doing, Nissan.