Sport Divisions in the Spotlight – NISMO

As we're sure you know from our previous stories, sport divisions are often based on motorsport activities that allowed manufacturers to focus more on high-performance parts and models. In most cases, the sport divisions started as racing teams in various championships, some of them even achieving notable performances.

This is exactly the case with NISMO, the sport division belonging to Japanese manufacturer Nissan, a brand which can be traced back to 1984 when the parent company decided to merge two of its motorsport entities in order to form a unique branch particularly focused on sportscar racing. The two, Publication Division 3 – based in Oppama – and Car Testing Division – working at the Omori plant – joined forces and, although it indeed supported the aforementioned sector, it also got involved in the Japanese Formula Three.

Since then, NISMO was mostly dependent on every single move made by Nissan, and made almost the same steps as its parent company. For example, the Japanese manufacturer underwent a massive restructuring in the late '90s which coincided with NISMO's withdrawal from the United States market, in spite of a moderate success it recorded in the previous year. However, Nissan got back on its feet in a couple of years so NISMO returned in the US in 2002, with the sport division launching a bunch of new products especially addressed to this particular region.

Although it is often referred to as the performance department of Nissan, NISMO is responsible for both the production of complete cars and aftermarket elements for some models designed by the Japanese manufacturer. Thus you can purchase a wide array of components, including diffusers, suspension systems, spoilers and alloy wheels, all of them specifically supposed to improve the performance provided by the stock models.

The first car produced by NISMO saw daylight in 1988 and was based on the Saurus concept version showcased by the parent company at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. Especially designed for motorsport use, the roadster was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine which, thanks to its praised output figures, entered mass production one year later on the Micra Super Turbo.

The story continued and in 1989, Nissan decided to revive the Skyline GT-R, a model which was originally discontinued in 1973. Since we're talking about a high-performance model, NISMO brought its very own contribution to the development process of the car.

NISMO initially designed the new GT-R to feature a 2,350 cc straight-six turbocharged engine that could generate a maximum output of 313 horsepower and based on a rear-wheel drive system. However, due to a number of regulations in Group A Racing, the sport division decided to introduce an all-wheel drive drivetrain especially designed for this purpose. It also brought several other modifications, such as a larger displacement – 2,600 cc, as well as more weight – it was 100 kilos heavier compared with the original project.

The final model whatsoever reached production as R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R and featured the 2.6-liter engine that developed 276 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft of torque. Following a number of rules imposed by Group A, Nissan was asked to roll out a production series of the car that would also feature some of the parts initially supposed to be used in racing.

The production was handed over to NISMO, with the model marketed as Skyline GT-R NISMO. Launched on February 22, 1990, the GT-R NISMO comprised only 560 units, but boasted several aerodynamic
enhancements, just as required by the Group A homologation rules. The whole range was produced in a single color, namely Gunmental Grey.

And speaking of Nissan GT-R, the tuning arm of the Japanese manufacturer also upgraded the 2010 model year, bringing both an ECU and transmission upgrades. Specifically, a new transmission enhancement called Transmission Control Module allows for quicker downshifts and increase the electronically limited speed to 200 mph (321 km/hour). The ECU chip upgrade is especially supposed to increase maximum boost pressure by 0.1 bar or 1.5 PSI.

One of the latest projects NISMO got involved in is the 2009 Nissan 370Z which received its very high-performance flavor designed by the sport unit.

Just as you would expect, the stock model has been improved with numerous high-performance parts in both the exterior and the interior. Because of the fact that NISMO thinks that its own version of the Nissan 370Z is a very well equipped car, there are only three accessories available to consumers, as it follows: NISMO carpeted floor mats - $115, illuminated kick plates - $200 and carpeted trunk mat - $95.

Specifically, the NISMO 370Z is powered by a 3.7-liter DOHC V6 powerplant with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL). As for the performance figures, the engine generates a maximum power of 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. The unit is mated to a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission with standard SynchroRev Match.

Other enhancements include 4-wheel independent suspension with tuned springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars, 5-spoke 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels, Yokohama ADVAN Sport Y-rated high-performance tires, Nissan Sport Brakes and Viscous Limited-Slip Differential.

As for the interiors, the sporty version of the 370Z comes with NISMO logo seats with black and red fabric and red stitching, a NISMO tachometer, a smooth leather-wrapped steering wheel with red parallel stitching, a smooth leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum trimmed pedals, as well as with an unique plaque showing the serial and model year designation of the car.

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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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