At the unveiling of the new Nissan Z Nismo in Los Angeles on Monday evening, the crowd was buzzing about two things: why was it so unbelievably freaking hot in the event space? And, more importantly, why didn't Nissan fit the Z Nismo with a manual transmission?
For the first question, let's say climate change, not to mention a lack of air conditioning. As for the second, we sought the knowledge of Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the Nissan Z and GT-R – a man known throughout the halls of Nissan simply as 'Mr. GT-R'.
Tamura-san explained that Nissan explored the idea of a manual Z Nismo, but the problem was that it would've actually been slower than the base Z.
"To be honest, base car with two pedals [is] faster than Nismo with three pedals," Tamura-san said. "Base, 400hp; quicker than Nismo."
Obviously, off-the-line acceleration and hundredths-of-a-second-slower lap times can't compete with the quintessential driver involvement of six speeds and a stick with which to stir them. And, in fact, Tamura-san agreed.
"Time is not important," Tamura-san said. "But some people said Nismo must be quicker than base."
In any case, the Z’s 9spd automatic transmission has been beefed up for Nismo duty, and Tamura-san said the gearbox is much quicker to upshift and downshift. It's also worth noting that, despite having 420hp and 520Nm of torque – increases of 20hp and 45Nm over the base Z – the Nismo lugs around an extra 70kg of ballast.
We'll keep our fingers crossed that the better wheels and tires, stiffer chassis components, and extra power will make up for the manual's absence.
STORY Steven Ewing