Hotter Nissan Z Nismo on the way – or is it?


Photos of a camouflaged Nissan Z testing in the US has sparked speculation a hotter Nismo version might be in development – but hardcore fans aren’t so sure.

Alex Misoyannis

A camouflaged prototype of a Nissan Z sports car has been spied testing in the US – but fans remain divided on whether it shows a range of upcoming dealer accessories, or our first look at a flagship Nismo variant.

The prototype also features the black 19-inch alloy wheels and red-accented Recaro sport bucket seats from the previous-generation 370Z Nismo, plus new silver brake calipers – leading some online to speculate this could be a prototype for an upcoming flagship Z variant, wearing the Nismo (Nissan Motorsport) badge.

However, Zed-car fans have been quick to point out the prototype’s front end is not new, but rather appears to be the restyled fascia of the Z Customised Proto concept revealed in Japan in January (below, in orange).

That concept also featured bolt-on wheel-arch flares, a larger rear spoiler and a new sports exhaust systems – items which appear a perfect fit for a dealer-installed accessories catalogue for the standard Z (below, in yellow), rather than the upgrades needed to create a Nismo.

Nissan Australia would not be drawn on the prototype shown in these images, telling Drive in a statement: “We can’t comment on product speculation.”

While this test car may not be a Nismo, the door has been left open for one, with US Nissan executives hinting to media the new Z’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine can support more power.

“Let’s just say we know that customer, and we try to address that customer’s needs,” Paul Hawson, director of advanced product planning and strategy at Nissan, told US website The Drive in April.

“It can handle more. [There are] people that want to keep it stock forever – you know some of those people, I have friends like that – and then there are other people that are more like me, that are tuning crazy,” said Hawson.

The new coupe’s 3.0-litre ‘VR30DDTT’ twin-turbo V6 has never developed more than 298kW and 475Nm in any vehicle, however it is – officially – related to the GT-R supercar’s 3.8-litre ‘VR38DETT’ V6, which offers up to 441kW – albeit with a different block, and different internal components.

The previous-generation 370Z Nismo extracted 8kW/8Nm more from the base car’s engine – then a 3.7-litre naturally-aspirated V6 – and upgraded suspension, brakes, wheels, tyres and the car’s aerodynamics package.

Nismo versions of the prior Nissan 350Z and 370Z arrived between nine months and five years into each car’s life cycle – so if a Nissan Z Nismo is in development, expect to hear more in the coming years.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex Misoyannis LinkIcon