February 12, 2006 Nissan Motorsports International began life as Nissan’s motorsport arm two decades ago when the company’s Z-cars were experiencing remarkable success in racing, and creating a burgeoning aftermarket industry in their own right. In the high-tech cult of vehicle modification which grew inside Japan, Nissan Motorsports International (NISMO) parts became recognised as the finest in factory-tuned performance components for Nissan street cars giving the name legendary status. NISMO entered the U.S. market in 2003 with a select number of performance-enhancing components for the Nissan Sentra SE-R and the 350Z and has since expanded its offerings to the Frontier, Xterra and Altima models. So successful has the move been that Nissan is now rolling out the NISMO brand globally, as evidenced by the stunning NISMO 350Z sports coupe presented at this week’s Melbourne International Motor Show. The “concept car” was created entirely from parts available over the counter at the dealer network.
NISMO components outside Japan cover three areas – NISMO “S-tune” and “R-tune” and NISMO apparel and lifestyle items.
S-tune components are engineered for enthusiasts that drive their Nissan vehicles on the street. These parts are backed by Nissan’s Parts and Accessory Warranty. The list of S-tune components includes a stainless steel cat-back exhaust system, lightweight forged alloy wheels, cast alloy wheels, shift knobs, sway bars, shock and spring kits, floor mats and license plate frames.
NISMO R-tune parts are intended for the hard-core enthusiast or weekend racer. The goal with R-tune components is maximum performance. Since street civility is compromised for performance, R-tune parts are intended for off-highway use only. R-tune parts include headers, camshafts, cold-air intakes, brake pads, lightweight flywheels, power steering oil cooler kits, clutch discs and clutch covers, limited-slip differentials, front strut tower bars, lower tie bars, rear stabilizer bars and bushing kits.
The idea behind the showing of the car in Melbourne this week was to highlight the depth and breadth of the range of parts available for the Nissan 350Z. When Nissan Australia’s managing director, Shinya Hannya, unveiled the vehicle at the Melbourne International Motor Show, he said, “the NISMO 350Z is a serious performance vehicle with great driving dynamics and drop dead good looks,” concluding his speech with “all parts and accessories used to develop the NISMO 350Z are available through the national Nissan dealer network.”
Interestingly, the press kit revealed that NISMO designed and developed the Aero Kit for the 350Z in conjunction with Polyphony Digital, the producer of the computer game ‘GRAN TURISMO’. Not only does it look the part, the Aero Kit increases the forces on the front and rear of the car to provide more grip at the front and added traction at the rear.
The standard front bumper is replaced by a deeper model with a low-lip spoiler colour-coded to the vehicle. An additional louvre in the bumper grille gives the NISMO 350Z an even wider and meaner look, while side skirts rectify irregular air stream around the tyres at high speeds. Their function is linked to the rear under-skirt, and along with the front lip spoiler, give the impression that the 350Z is literally glued to the road. But all of this wouldn’t be complete without the high mounted rear spoiler that sits on top of the tailgate below the rear window.
Enhanced engineering To enhance driveability and on-road dynamics, the NISMO 350Z has gained NISMO’s S-tune suspension with front and rear stabiliser kit, front and rear shock absorbers and springs.
The NISMO Weldina sports exhaust system fitted to the vehicle gives it a spine tingling note from the 10.7 cm wide, twin oval tailpipes.
To further improve handling and driveability, the NISMO 350Z also receives a high performance clutch and limited-slip differential.
Five spoke lightweight alloy wheels, 19" x 8.5J at the front and 19" x 9.5J at the rear are matched with 245/35ZR19 and 275/35ZR19 Bridgestone Potenza S-03 tyres.
Inside, the NISMO theme continues, with signature kick plates, floormats, gauges and a titanium gear knob adding to the Z’s cabin appeal. A pair of NISMO sports seats, even more hip-hugging than the originals, ensure the driver and passenger are well catered for.
The official Japanese NISMO web site is unfortunately only available in Japanese but a quick look around indicates a thriving marketplace, indeed culture, in Japan, where performance parts for the 350Z can be purchased over the counter to create roadgoing 350 bhp works-replica versions of the company’s official carbon-fiber 350Z-based race cars (pictured).