Nissan’s Z car, known in Japan as the Fairlady Z, has graced public roads since 1969, and currently exists in its sixth generation as the Z34 370Z. It’s a two-door sports coupe with a torque-filled engine stuffed in the front pushing power to the rear wheels, exactly as it should be.

Nismo, Nissan’s performance tuning division, has busied itself with creating pumped-up versions of many vehicles in the brand’s lineup, and the results have been stellar. According to the company, the GT-R Nismo is sold out, the Juke Nismo accounts for 15 percent of total sales, and the 370Z Nismo Coupe ropes in 20 percent of sales.

Clearly, the factory is doing something right with these speed-demons. But one look at the current Nismo models reveals one glaring omission – a convertible.

Nissan is (potentially) seeking to rectify this with the 370Z Nismo Roadster concept. Making its world debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, this machine adds that characteristic Nismo excitement to the stock 370Z drop-top. While not yet confirmed for production, it appears just about ready to hit dealerships. But should it make the cut, what will it have to offer someone looking for the thrill of open-air motoring?

Updated 02/13/2015: We’ve added a series of images taken during the 370Z Nismo’s official debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Check the new images in the "Pictures" tab after the jump.

  • 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    350
  • Torque @ RPM:
    276
  • Displacement:
    3.7 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
    42500 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept Exterior
- image 616809

A good deal of effort went into modifying the body of the 370Z Roadster to help it look the part of a speed-infused sports car. Aerodynamically, Nismo added several pieces that draw inspiration from the mighty GT-R. These include a new front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper. Attached to the trunk lid, you’ll find a carbon-fiber spoiler specifically designed for the car. 

The front fascia now enjoys horizontal Hyper LED Daytime Running lights. The headlight bezels have been painted black, while a Nismo emblem and signature Nismo red-stripe accents add a nice touch. Moving to the vehicle’s flanks, we find additional red Nismo accents, as well as red side-view mirror covers.

The foldable cloth roof mirrors the unit found on the standard 370Z Roadster. An electrically-powered single action operation comes with automatic roof lock, a steel tonneau cover, and a fixed glass wind deflector. Fabric covers the inner liner design.

The final touches are 10-spoke, star-patterned, 19-inch Nismo wheels produced by Rays. Made of lightweight forged aluminum alloy, these have a superb custom finish. Wheel width measures 9.5-inches in the front and 10.5-inches in the rear.

Interior

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept Interior
- image 616669

With the top down, Nissan knew that the interior would receive as much attention as the exterior, and consequently added plenty of cabin alterations.

Peeking over the door line, we see fixed headrest bars which are wrapped in leather with red accents. The seats are from Recaro, and come bathed in black leather with red stitching and stain-repellent, off-white premium Ultrasuede inserts. These were designed specifically to resist heat buildup should you decide to park with the top down on a sunny day. Additional red stitching can be found throughout the cabin, while even more Nismo badging is sprinkled on top. An Alcantara-appointed, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel improves driver ergonomics.

The gauge cluster has received a red, Nismo-branded tachometer. For infotainment, the Nismo Roadster comes with Nissan’s Navigation system controlled via a 7-inch VGA touch-screen display. There’s also the RearView Monitor system and a premium Bose six-speaker sound system with dual subwoofers.

Drivetrain

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 616661

All those changes to the exterior and cabin are nice, but would hardly mean much if the drivetrain remained unaltered. Thankfully, Nismo would never think to create something so pedestrian.

The Nismo Roadster incorporates most of the performance upgrades found on the Nismo Coupe. This includes more power from the 3.7-liter DOHC V-6 engine. In stock form, this powerplant produces 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. However, with the addition of a Nismo H-configured exhaust system, muffler tuning, and a reflash of the engine control software, the Nismo Roadster now packs 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque.

Moving this grunt to the rear wheels is Nissan’s seven-speed automatic transmission with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM), Adaptive Shift Control, and manual shift mode through the paddles mounted to the three-spoke steering wheel. I would have liked to see the manual six-speed instead, but considering the majority of 370Z Roadster buyers select the slush-box option, it’s not surprising to see the automatic mated to the V-6.

Suspension is also updated, with a Nismo-branded strut tower brace stretched across the red engine cover under the hood. The four-wheel independent suspension has been tuned with reworked springs and beefier stabilizer bars. Nissan Sport Brakes peek out from the 19-inch Rays wheels, while a Viscous Limited-Slip Differential (VLSD) with a shorter final-drive ratio finds traction to afford quicker acceleration. Y-rated Bridgestone Potenza S0001 tires perform rubber duty, measuring in at 245/40 in the front and 285/35 in the back.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 3.7-liter V-6 engine
Output 350 HP
Torque 276 LB-FT

Price

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept Exterior
- image 616665

Because this is just a concept, no price has been announced. However, if the 370Z Nismo Roadster does make it to production, we should expect MSRP to fall somewhere around $50,000. That figure is based on the fact that a base 370Z Roadster with a seven-speed transmission is $41,820, while a Nismo upgrade to the 370Z Coupe costs about $10,000.

Competition

Scion FR-S Convertible

2014 Scion FR-S Convertible Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 440932

At this point, it’s far less likely we’ll see a FR-S Convertible than a Nismo Roadster, but hey, a guy can dream, can’t he? According to the car’s lead engineer, Tetsuya Tada, the FR-S/BRZ/GT 86 was designed to become a convertible from the outset. And it makes sense – this front-engine, RWD coupe has all the bones to be a great little sports convertible.

Under the hood, you’ll find a Subaru-derived, 2.0-liter flat-four engine making 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to sprint to 60 mph in about six and a half seconds, and reach a top speed just north of 140 mph.

However, the most exciting part of this car is the way it turns. Low weight and a sport-tuned suspension make this car infinitely flickable. A convertible model would probably have more bracing and a higher curb weight, but as anyone who has driven a Miata can attest, no roof does not necessarily equate to poor performance in the corners.

Porsche Boxster

2013 - 2015 Porsche Boxster High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 433861

In this price range, one of the heavyweights in convertible sports cars is the iconic Porsche Boxster. This entry-level vehicle from Stuttgart brandishes a mid-mounted flat-six engine with 2.7-liters of displacement and 265 horsepower. This makes for a run to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 164 mph.

The Boxster is the measuring stick when it comes to open-air performance for around $50K. The suspension refinement is legendary, offering incredible levels of grip, and handling characteristics that rival sports cars in the six-figure range. The interior is sumptuous and full of luxuries like leather upholstery, a 4.6-inch TFT color screen, and comfortable-yet-supportive performance seats. If Nissan decides to build the Nismo Roadster, this will be the car to beat.

Conclusion

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 616662

Overall, the Nismo Roadster is a fantastic package. There’s really nothing not to like about it – it looks great, the interior is well-appointed, and the performance has been beefed up. However, there is one very big problem – the price. Should this thing go into production and come out for $50,000, the company may struggle to move units. That’s a lot of money for a Nissan, and although it’s sure to draw the attention of anyone who dreams of GT-Rs while craving atmosphere in their drive, odds are Porsche won’t feel the hurt.

But if you don’t care about European brand recognition, then why not get the Nismo Roadster? It’ll be fast, fun, and different. Forget putting another Boxster on the road. This is the one for those who strive to be different.

  • Leave it
    • Price is a bit too premium for a Nissan
    • Will probably have a harsh ride
    • Just a concept


_Updated 02/13/2015: We’ve added a series of images taken during the Roadster’s official debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Check the new images in the "Pictures" tab.

Press Release

As the heart and soul of Nissan performance for both the track and on the street, NISMO continues to set the standard for straight-from-the-factory enthusiast vehicles. The lineup of NISMO production models for 2015 includes the GT-R NISMO, 370Z NISMO, JUKE NISMO and JUKE NISMO RS.

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 616660

Yet as the popularity of NISMO models continues to grow – the 2015 GT-R NISMO is sold out, the 370Z NISMO accounts for 20 percent of total sales and JUKE NISMO models for about 15 percent – one group of performance enthusiast remains left out: Open-air sports car lovers. Enter the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept, which makes its world debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The custom vehicle combines the long list of 370Z NISMO Coupe performance equipment with a modified 370Z Roadster body and interior.

"The idea of adding NISMO levels of look, feel and performance to a Nissan 370Z Roadster is one that we’ve been considering for a long time," said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. "The creation of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept brings that idea to life and lets us judge consumer reaction – which we predict is going to be outstanding."

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 616661

The Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept’s striking visual presence starts with the addition of its GT-R-inspired functional and fully integrated aerodynamic body pieces. In front, the deep front fascia with Hyper LED Daytime Running Lights, black headlight bezels, NISMO emblem and signature NISMO red stripe accents set the tone.

On the sides of the vehicle, the NISMO red accents and red sideview mirror covers continue the NISMO theme, adding a touch of flair to the dramatic top-down profile. In the middle of the vehicle, the fixed headrest bars are leather-wrapped with red accents. The rear is highlighted by a custom carbon-fiber rear spoiler created exclusively use on the 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept.

The convertible top itself, though it is expected to be rare that it is in the closed position, is a cloth power-folding roof with fabric inner liner design. It includes a single action top operation with automatic roof lock, steel tonneau cover and fixed glass wind deflector – just like every 2015 Nissan 370Z Roadster.

The dramatic exterior appearance is topped by an aggressive stance provided by the wide 19-inch NISMO super-lightweight forged aluminum-alloy wheels by RAYS (19x9.5-inch front, 19x10.5-inch rear), which receive a special custom finishing. Y-rated Bridgestone Potenza S001 245/40R19 front and 285/35R19 rear tires complete the package.

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 616662

"With as much attention as the exterior modifications are expected to attract, we knew the interior had to be just as special, especially since with the convertible top in the down position everything is in plain sight," said Loing. "It doesn’t disappoint."

The NISMO-styled interior is anchored by black Recaro® leather-appointed seats with red stitching and stain-repellent, off-white premium Ultrasuede® inserts – chosen to resist heat build-up when parked in open sunlight. The interior features custom red stitching with NISMO logo, an Alcantara®-appointed leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel and NISMO red tachometer.

The 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept’s suite of technology includes Nissan Navigation System with 7.0-inch VGA touch-sensitive display, RearView Monitor and Bose® Premium Audio System with six speakers and dual subwoofers to provide a clear soundtrack, even with the top down.

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept Exterior
- image 616663

Even more than racing-inspired aerodynamic bodies and driver-oriented cockpit-style interiors, at its core NISMO is all about performance. To that end, the 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept is conceived to incorporate most of the engine and suspension modifications (versus non-NISMO 370Z models) of the 370Z NISMO coupe. This includes its potent 350-horsepower 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL). The 370Z NISMO’s enhanced engine power and acceleration (versus non-NISMO 370Zs) is provided through use of an exclusive H-configured exhaust system design and muffler tuning, along with optimized ECM (Engine Control Module) calibration, to help create 18 horsepower more than a standard 370Z. Torque is rated at 276 lb-ft.

The 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept utilizes Nissan’s refined 7-speed automatic transmission with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM), Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode with paddle shifters. "The majority of 370Z Roadster buyers prefer the automatic transmission, which with Downshift Rev Matching and paddle shifters comes close to the performance of a 6-speed manual – so that’s how we specified the 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept," said Loing. "Matched with the NISMO-tuned engine, suspension and steering, it is a great combination, perfect for long open-top drives along the shoreline or mountain roads alike."

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept Exterior
- image 616664

The 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept adds a NISMO-branded strut tower brace under the hood, along with a red engine cover. The NISMO-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension includes special springs and stabilizer bars. Large Nissan Sport Brakes and a Viscous Limited-Slip Differential (VLSD) – with a shorter final drive ratio for better acceleration feel – are also included.

"While it is only a design study at this point, we think the 370Z NISMO Roaster Concept would be a tremendous addition to the long and distinguished history of Z® sports cars," said Loing. "There’s still nothing better than an open top and an open road ahead of you, especially when there’s a NISMO badge on the bumper."

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