Nissan is aggressively growing its line of aftermarket and factory NISMO parts for its full line of cars, adding the Juke now and the GT-R late in the year the existing 370Z NISMO.
While frankly we can’t see any point whatsoever in promoting the Juke, we’ve driven the NISMO Z and it’s a very well crafted and balanced track-oriented machine. That we can appreciate. And while there aren’t any published specs of the upcoming NISMO GT-R yet, we’re sure that it will be even more finely tuned than the already excellent GT-R.
What we’d like to see next in North America is the line of NISMO parts that is offered in Japan. Major engine and suspension parts are offered, for a range of current and classic Nissans going back many years.
Nissan press release follows:
VIDEO REPORT: The World is a Race Track for Nissan’s Expanding NISMO Line
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 2, 2013) – Nissan’s Motorsports brand, NISMO, is growing and changing beyond the racetrack.
To show off what’s new, Nissan staged a special NISMO event for media at the Nashville Superspeedway. It was an event to provide a glimpse into what is new, and what is coming next.
On site were both the 2013 and 2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO, the JUKE-R, the 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO, and the 2014 GT-R Track Edition.
As part of the performance line, these cars sport uniform, race-inspired exterior and interior styling. And, enthusiasts will find new features designed specifically for the driver.
“We think the track is a perfect place to showcase NISMO because NISMO is Nissan Motorsports. It’s the racing, the motor sports heritage that has inspired cars like the new JUKE NISMO, and it’s about bringing that excitement from the track to the street,” said Carl Phillips, chief marketing manager, NISMO and Nissan sports car marketing – Nissan North America.
The first new Nissan production vehicle to get the NISMO treatment, the Juke NISMO, is already on sale in Europe and Japan and launches in the United States in the spring. The 370Z NISMO is now in its second generation in the U.S., with a revised 2014 370Z NISMO set for sale this summer.
Nissan is promising a rapid pace of introduction of even more NISMO models – at least one model every year during the Nissan Power88 period, encompassing the breadth of the Nissan model range. This of course includes the flagship of Nissan’s performance and technology efforts, the Nissan GT-R.
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Yes, those are 370Z wheels on an S197 Mustang! A matched set front/rear, same as the Z they came off of. And the offset is very nearly perfect.
With the 2013 model of the 370Z on dealers lots for just two months, Nissan has announced the 2014 370Z Nismo model. The only changes are colors.
This suggests that the 370Z as we know it will continue thru 2014. With the current G sharing the 370Z platform, and the Q50 replacement for the G built on the same platform, this and past model replacement history would suggest that the next Z will debut in 2015. And with recent discussions of plans for a sub-Z sports coupe, this suggest that the next Z will again be built on the same platform as the current Z. But only time will tell, it’s too early yet and no spy pictures have been seen of test mules (as were seen before the 370Z debuted).
Nissan Press Release follows:
2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo Debuts at Chicago Auto Show
- 2014 model previewed at the Chicago Auto Show
- Features new exterior color with dark grey accents and red stripes
- Continues to offer 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and brakes and 19-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels
- Joins new JUKE NISMO in Nissan showrooms this summer
CHICAGO – In conjunction with the U.S. debut of the new 2013 Nissan JUKE NISMO – and the ongoing expansion of the NISMO brand worldwide – Nissan is giving attendees at the Chicago Auto Show a preview of the 2014 370Z NISMO. Set to go on sale at Nissan dealers nationwide this summer, the 370Z NISMO follows the new NISMO design theme with distinctive new exterior and interior accents.
Pierre Loing, Vice President, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan Americas said: “The 370Z NISMO, since its introduction as part of the original Nissan 350Z lineup, has embodied the spirit of NISMO – race-proven engineering that is attainable. With the enhancements for the 2014 model year and the addition of the new JUKE NISMO, we’re unifying the look and feel of these distinctive NISMO models and paving the way for additional NISMO vehicles to follow.”
With the current 370Z NISMO setting the bar as a tuner-Z® enthusiast’s dream straight from the factory and fully warranted – offering 350 horsepower, racing-inspired exterior and interior styling, a specially tuned suspension and unique super-lightweight forged alloy wheels – the enhancements for 2014 are designed to up the car’s already strong visual impact. On the exterior, new dark gray coloring is added to the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and NISMO rear spoiler, with each element (except side sills) featuring NISMO-style red pinstripe accents. In addition, Solid Red replaces the previous Magma Red as one of four 370Z NISMO exterior color choices. Interior enhancements include the addition of a new steering wheel with Alcantara appointments and red accents, and a red NISMO tachometer.
The 370Z NISMO’s outstanding performance is anchored by an advanced Nissan FM (Front Midship) platform, refined 4-wheel independent suspension and 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL) rated at 350 hp @ 7,400 rpm and 276 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm. The VVEL system helps optimize intake valve open/close movements, allowing the needed air to be sent promptly to the combustion chamber at the precisely optimized time. 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.
Just one transmission is offered, a close-ratio 6-speed manual with Nissan’s SynchroRev Match® synchronized downshift rev matching system. The SynchroRev Match® function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the speed of the next gear position, essentially “blipping” the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts. This not only allows the driver to focus more on braking and steering, it improves the smoothness of gear shifts by reducing the typical “shock” when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter for drivers who prefer to shift on their own.
The 370Z NISMO also features a tight, rigid body structure with a strut tower bar brace and a pair of performance dampers, which quickly and efficiently react to help control body vibrations from road input via the tires, contributing to the 370Z NISMO’s outstanding handling and performance feel. The 370Z NISMO’s double-wishbone front/4-link rear suspension design suspension is specially tuned for exceptional handling, including higher spring and stabilizer bar rates and increased roll stiffness and front and rear damping factors (compared to non-NISMO models).
The 2014 370Z NISMO rides on unique 5-spoke Nissan-branded 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels (19×9.5-inch front, 19×10.5-inch rear) with a Gun Metallic finish. The wheels are mounted with Bridgestone Potenza S001 Y-rated high-performance tires (245/40ZR19 front, 285/35ZR19 rear). Braking is provided by NISMO Sport Brakes with large diameter 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented rotors with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminum calipers.
The braking system includes a variable ratio brake pedal, high-rigidity brake hoses, R35 Special II fluid and red-finish calipers.
Along with the new color treatments, the 2014 370Z NISMO exterior includes an extended front nose design and a fully integrated chin spoiler – providing a sense of dynamic movement while enhancing airflow and downforce for enhanced aerodynamic performance. The 370Z NISMO is 6.2 inches longer than the standard 370Z Coupe. Special side sills and a unique rear bumper help control airflow under the vehicle, while the functional rear spoiler increases downforce. Four exterior colors are offered: Pearl White, Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic and Solid Red.
Inside, the 370Z NISMO’s driver-centric interior includes NISMO logo seats with black and red fabric and red stitching, a NISMO tachometer, steering wheel with Alcantara wrap and red parallel stitching, smooth leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum-trimmed pedals. A special serialized plaque of authenticity, located on the vertical panel above the floor-mounted console, is matched to each 370Z NISMO identifying its unique serial and model year designation.
The sporty woven cloth seats feature standard 8-way driver’s/4-way passenger manual adjustments and adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints. Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature, power door locks with auto-lock feature and automatic climate control. An AM/FM/CD/AUX 4-speaker audio system is standard. Also available is a Bose® Package featuring an in-dash 6CD changer, two additional speakers (six total), two subwoofers, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, auto-dimming inside mirror and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver. There are no other options offered.
Said Loing: “The great thing about the 370Z NISMO, like the JUKE NISMO, is that there is solid functionality behind every element – race-inspired but ready for the street – and with pure NISMO style.”
Along with the 370Z NISMO, the Nissan 370Z is available in 370Z Coupe and 370Z Roadster models.
# # #
As part of a coordinated set of technology announcements on the 17th of October, Nissan announced a next-generation steering system and provided the first image and video of it. It will be on sale within quote “a year in an Infiniti”… which interestingly matches the likely delivery date of the next Infiniti G. Widely circulated spy pictures have shown a prototype G sedan of approximately the same size as the current G, although with an M-type front grill and rear tail lights (including a similar double hood over the instruments inside). A sport model has even been seen, wearing the same Akebono brakes as the current sport models. A coupe and performance models will follow after the initial introduction.
Setting aside the technology questions for a moment, could this announcement be a clue as to the upcoming new Infiniti G? And also to future users of the updated FM platform underneath the new G? Currently, the M, EX, FX, and Nissan Z share this same platform. If we assume that the next Z will again use the same platform, then this technology is also a possibility for it (although it may be too expensive for a Z). Any Z speculation is just that at this early point: a Z is likely 2 years away from the introduction of the G.
The image shows an aluminum front crossmember, aluminum L-shape lower control arm, and big sport brakes with fat tires. This would be consistent with a G. Our conclusion: the image shows the system in the new G. The video further supports that conclusion with Infiniti G-type wheels and current G steering wheel with Infiniti logo in a 4-door sedan outline.
Then there is the technology itself to consider… the implications for performance enthusiasts are fascinating. The potential here is for immediate (capital letters and exclamation point) steering response. The video also shows how compensation for road surface irregularities and side winds (and probably road crown) will be provided. “Feel” can be built in to electronic steering systems, as manufacturers such as Ford and Porsche have done so well in current products. Finally, there is the question of failover, which is provided for by three redundant computers and a clutch which in an emergency can mechanically link the steering to the steering rack, presumably as the car is brought to an immediate halt.
Nissan Press Release follows:
Nissan Pioneers First-Ever*1 Independent Control Steering Technology; To Be On Sale Within a Year
- Delivers responsive performance by controlling tire and steering angles inputs independently-
YOKOHAMA, Japan (October 17, 2012) – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled the world’s first steering technology that allows independent control of a vehicle’s tire angle and steering inputs. This next-generation steering technology was developed by Nissan.
A conventional steering system directs tire movements by transmitting steering inputs to the tires via a mechanical link. Nissan’s next-generation steering technology reads the driver’s intentions from steering inputs and controls the vehicle’s tire movements via electronic signals. This transmits the driver’s intentions to the wheels even faster than a mechanical system and increases the direct driving performance feel by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver.
The system controls and insulates the vehicle from unnecessary road-generated disturbances to deliver only the necessary performance feel to the driver. For example, even on a road surface with minor ridges or furrows, the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel tightly and make detailed adjustments, so traveling on the intended path becomes easier. Accompanying this next-generation steering technology, Nissan has also developed a camera-based straight-line stability system to further enhance on-center driving capability. This system is a world-first*2 technology that improves vehicle stability by making small input angle adjustments so the vehicle will accurately trace and continue as planned in the lane it is traveling. If the vehicle direction changes due to road surface or crosswinds, the system acts to minimize the effect of these conditions resulting in reduced steering input from the driver.
Using a camera mounted above the vehicle’s rearview mirror, the system analyzes the road ahead, recognizes the lane direction, detects changes in the vehicle’s direction, and transmits this information to multiple electronic control units as electronic signals. If a discrepancy occurs, the system acts to reduce the discrepancy by controlling the opposing force to the tire angle. By reducing the frequency of detailed steering input adjustments, which are a cause of fatigue on long drives, the driver’s workload is greatly reduced.
This next-generation steering technology’s high reliability is achieved by multiple ECUs. In the event a single ECU malfunctions, another ECU will instantly take control, and in extreme circumstances such as the power supply being disrupted, the backup clutch will act to connect the steering wheel and wheels mechanically, ensuring continued safe travel.
This technology will be equipped on select Infiniti models on sale within one year to provide “Driving as Intended” and “Driving with Peace of Mind” for owners.
*1: World-first development of an independent control steering technology that controls tire and steering angles inputs independently.
*2: World-first development of an accurate tracing technology that enables a driver to continue driving as planned in the lane with small steering angle adjustments (depending on road conditions).
We recently visited a Nissan dealership to look over a GT-R tensioner for our supercharged G. We’d hoped for a stronger part but found it was identical. We then walked thru the dealership where we encountered a 2013 370Z and got a bad case of sticker shock. Their fully loaded 2013 touring model with navigation – but not leather – was well over 42,000 US dollars! Very sharp, with a white exterior and gray interior… but we had to wonder if this price is competitive in this marketplace. Unfortunately, we don’t believe it is. And then there is the Nismo Z, starting at 43,020. You can buy a track-prepared Camaro or Boss Mustang for that same price.
That said, we appreciate the modern suspension and light weight of the Z, and have enjoyed driving many of them in ways not possible with the much larger and heavier ponycars. The Z is a true sports car, and not a sports coupe like the Camaro and Mustang. And the criteria is not just the seating configuration – it’s the overall weight, the CG, and the fr/rr weight balance. The Z is a true sports car on all counts.
But this has us thinking again about the next Z - likely due in two years. What is the target market that the new Z will be designed for? What is the right pricing for that market? What chassis (and therefore inherent costs) will it be built on? If it were to continue on the current path, the price/performance will again not be competitive with the new generation V-6 Mustang and Camaros coming in 2014.5 and 2016, nor the base model turbo 4s which could have curb weights just over 3200 pounds. And it won’t come close to those cars with their entry-level V-8s.
Or should the Z go down the same path as the Toyota 86? Based on the updated Infiniti G (Nissan FM) chassis, and featuring a supercharged or turbocharged version (because it would be too heavy otherwise) of the upcoming Nissan/Mercedes 2.5 liter engine, would it be competitive in that market? Could that be priced in the, say, 28,000 range as configured?
These are all questions that the Nissan product planners have undoubtedly been struggling with. It will be interesting to see the results of their studies.
Nissan Press Release follows:
Nissan Announces U.S. Pricing for 2013 370Z Coupe, 370Z Roadster and NISMO 370Z
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today announced U.S. pricing for 370Z Coupe, 370Z Roadster and NISMO 370Z, which are on sale now at Nissan dealers nationwide. The iconic Nissan Z・ continues to offer legendary performance in a stunning package.
Enhancements for the new model year include a refreshed front fascia with vertical LED daytime running lights (except NISMO 370Z), a new 18-inch wheel design for 370Z Coupe and two exciting new colors – Magma Red and Midnight Blue. Sport Package-equipped models offer a new 19-inch wheel design, red-color brake calipers and Euro-tuned shock absorbers. The NISMO 370Z receives dark-finish 19-inch wheels, revised brake system components and an available Bose® Premium Audio Package.
Pricing and model details for the 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe, 370Z Roadster and NISMO 370Z follow.
2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe The 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe and 370Z Coupe Touring are available with a standard 332-horsepower 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine and choice of 6-speed manual transmission with an available SynchroRev Match® synchronized Downshift Rev Matching system or a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, paddle shifters and Downshift Rev Matching. Available technology features include an advanced Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth・ Hands-free Phone System and standard Nissan Intelligent Key®.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices* (MSRP) for the 2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe include:
|370Z Coupe 6MT||$33,120 USD|
|370Z Coupe 7AT||$34,420 USD|
|370Z Coupe Touring 6MT||$37,820 USD|
|370Z Coupe Touring 7AT||$39,120 USD|
2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster The Nissan 370Z Roadster once again offers an unmatched balance of dynamic performance, sculptured styling, innovative technology and exceptional value – along with the exhilaration of pure open-air motoring.
The Z・ Roadster shares its engine, transmissions, suspension, platform and most major components with the popular hardtop model. The list of cutting edge technology includes the standard 332-horsepower 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control (VVEL), choice of 7-speed automatic transmission or close-ratio 6-speed manual with available SynchroRev Match® (370Z Touring only), refined 4-wheel independent suspension, 4-wheel vented disc brakes (with available Nissan Sport Brakes) and lightweight yet rigid body structure.
The 370Z Roadster’s roof was designed to provide a sleek silhouette matching the Z・’s stunning styling with the top up or down, while offering an easy, single-action open-close operation. The top also provides an enjoyable top-down experience with reduced wind turbulence and all-climate driver/passenger comfort.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices* (MSRP) for the 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster include:
|370Z Roadster 7AT||$41,470 USD|
|370Z Roadster Touring 6MT||$44,170 USD|
|370Z Roadster Touring 7AT||$45,470 USD|
2013 Nissan NISMO 370Z The dynamic Nissan NISMO 370Z once again caps off the 370Z lineup – offering 350 horsepower, racing-inspired exterior and interior styling, a specially tuned suspension and unique super-lightweight forged alloy wheels.
Enhancements for 2013 include a new premium Gun Metallic wheel color, new red finish caliper color, high-rigidity brake hoses, and use of R35 Special II brake fluid. A new Bose® Premium Audio Package with six speakers, in-dash 6CD changer, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, auto-dimming inside mirror, and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver is also added for 2013. One new exterior color is also offered, Magma Red.
The NISMO 370Z’s 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine is matched with an exclusive H-configured exhaust system design, muffler tuning and optimized ECM (Engine Computer Module) control. Only one transmission is available, a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission with standard SynchroRev Match®, which allows rev-matched heel-toe-like downshifting.
The NISMO 370Z also features a refined NISMO-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension with special springs and stabilizer bars, NISMO-branded strut tower brace for enhanced body rigidity and a pair of performance dampers to manage road-input vibrations.
Unique 5-spoke 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels are mounted with Yokohama ADVAN Sport Y-rated high performance tires. Nissan Sport Brakes and a Viscous Limited-Slip Differential (VLSD) are also standard on the NISMO 370Z.
The 2013 NISMO 370Z offers a number of functional and fully integrated aerodynamic body pieces, including an extended front nose, integrated chin spoiler, special side sills, a unique rear bumper and functional rear spoiler. The interior includes NISMO logo seats with black and red fabric and red stitching, and aluminum trimmed pedals. A serialized plaque of authenticity is matched to each NISMO Z®, identifying its unique serial and model year designation.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price* (MSRP) for the 2013 Nissan NISMO 370Z is:
|370Z Coupe NISMO 6MT||$43,020 USD|
Jay Leno recently visited the Nissan design studio in Japan, where he met with Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura and found designers hard at work styling the next Z. The Z is clearly in the design phase where hundreds of drawings will be made and then final styling elements will be selected. That probably puts the timeframe of the debut out 2-3 years… depending on which platform will be used. If it will again be shared with the upcoming new G, then sooner. Otherwise later.
Looking over all the drawings and video below, and knowing how the process works, we note that the basic proportions are all nearly identical – so it’s clear that the chassis underneath and the resulting hard points have in general been determined. And it’s clear that a return to the proportions and styling cues of the original 240Z is the plan!
Our hope: the proportions of the original Z, and a rear side window that is actually functional. We don’t like sitting inside the “cave” of our current Z, unable to see to the sides or the back.
Now lets look at the concept drawings and videos:
This old news now, but we want to save it for posterity. Nissan conducted online polling of fans via Facebook to determine what parts would make the ultimate 370Z buildup. A variety of parts were voted on and the project car was built by Nissan. This is the world’s first crowd-sourced 370Z. And Nissan documented the build for us across three videos before unveiling the car at the annual ZDayZ convention on May 18, 2012.
As we all know, there is a new Z on the way… perhaps 2 years off. And given changing priorities and regulations it may or may not use the same V-6 engine as the current Z… or perhaps not a 6 cylinder engine at all. Only time will tell. But in either case, the current Z will be no more. Fans will, however, be modifying them for years to come. And kits like the Stillen supercharger, or the Greddy twin-turbo setup used here, will continue in popularity for many years to come.
Enjoy the videos… and consider whether you want to modify your own Z before this model is replaced. In our own case, we personally went with the big brother of the Z, a G37S, with a Stillen supercharger and suspension. The G has the same engine, chassis, and suspension – just a much greater degree of stealth.
Whichever your choice, enjoy!
The second generation Datsun Z, known internally as the S130 and built at the Shatai factory in Hiratsuka, ran from 1978 to 1983. The basic chassis was slightly updated from the first generation, with an improved drag coefficient and considerably reduced lift contributing to much better stability at high-speed. Later in the model run, a long wheelbase design was offered in order to add vestigial rear seats.
The single overhead cam inline six cylinder engine was basically unchanged from the 1st-gen 280Z, with SAE net horsepower ratings from 135 (8.3 compression) to 145 (8.8 compression) depending on the model year during the lifespan of this generation. In 1981, Datsun added a turbocharged version of this same engine offering 180HP. Domestic Japanese buyers could only buy a 2 liter version of the turbocharged engine due to local regulatory conditions. Because the existing 5-speed transmission was considered to be too weak for the 2.8 liter turbo engine, an American 5-speed (the Borg-Warner T-5) was specified. The turbocharged model also brought an improved suspension which was then made standard on naturally aspirated models in 1982.
Despite the technical improvements, the focus for the redesign followed the times: adding luxury in every way possible. Air conditioning, leather, a digital dashboard and T-tops were all options added for this purpose. Special models during the lifetime of the 2nd-gen included a 10th anniversary edition with the then-popular black and gold combination (or the flamboyant gold with lower-half black). And this black and gold beauty example at is what we chanced upon at the September 2012 Cars and Coffee show in Austin, Texas:
If you haven’t been to a Cars and Coffee event (now held in many cities worldwide), you are missing out on the best informal car show you’ll find. In our local show in Austin Texas, Z enthusiasts are a very strong presence, and many models from the original to the latest Zs are well represented. The local Capitol Z of Texas club represents classic Z and Datsun owners, as well as Nissan and Infiniti enthusiasts.
We have a considerable number of books in our personal library covering everything from the original to the current Z. Here are a few of our recommendations for your consideration:
Automobile magazine has pulled off the second of two comparison tests we have been hoping to see against the new Toyota 86/ Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S. The first would be against the Honda S2000 - out of production, but the nearest spiritual competitor to the new car. And the second test, against the original two-seat Japanese sports car: the original 240Z.
Thanks to Automobile magazine for the Scion FR-S versus Datsun 240Z comparison! We know who is going to lose from a purely dynamics standpoint, after all the 240Z dates back to 1971. But the statement the original Z made about driving dynamics is timeless, and even with responses slowed by age, the 240Z still shows what made it so popular originally.
The driving comparison was run on back roads around the Nashville, Tennessee area – a part of the country we know well. And this speaks directly to the primary use we’d make of a FR-S or BRZ, if we were to buy one ourselves (and, BTW, it’d be a BRZ). But then we’ve already got an S2000 which is extremely well suited to enjoying the back roads of Central Texas – our home state.
Enjoy the article… but also consider this: we know the next Nissan Z will be lighter, sportier, and probably 4-cylinered powered. Will it therefore be a competitor to the FR-S/BRZ/86? Will history repeat itself? We’ll know in about 2 years… during which time the FR-S may offer both a convertible model as well as well as a factory unnaturally-aspirated performance engine option.
According to an article in Automotive News last week, Infiniti is preparing to move all current production out of Japan. This raises several questions for driving enthusiasts. First, read the original article here:
“You won’t have to wait a long time before we make a decision about the new base for sourcing of Infiniti,” Ghosn told a group of reporters Wednesday during the New York auto show. “If you follow our logic, we should make the cars where we sell them.”
A move to North America would result in lower prices in this market, as well as a more highly profitable stream of exports to other markets including Europe and likely China.
However, big questions arise. First, what about the 370Z (branded as Fairlady Z in Japan)? It’s built on the same “FM” platform as several Infiniti models (G, M, FX). Does this mean that it will also be assembled in North America, or will it move to a different platform entirely when it’s replacement cycle comes up in another 2-3 years? How does this fit in with recent discussion of a “BRZ-type” replacement for the Silvia (240SX)? And where would the chassis for that product come from, and might it be shared with a new Z on an all-new non-FM platform? Where then would that be built? Would the it compete with the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, and another version of it with a 6 cylinder engine be sold as a “Z”?
The article also has a slightly inaccurate quote from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. He is quoted in the article that “Infiniti is not sold in Japan”. This is not exactly true: the Infiniti G35/25 is very simply a rebadged Nissan Skyline GT370/GT250 in Japan. Same exact car, different badge in the same grill and different labeling. Built in left-and right-hand drive configurations for different world markets. Same difference for the Infiniti M series – it’s actually a Nissan Fuga. And the EX, as well as the FX. Even the mighty GT-R is itself derived from the FM platform and before the current iteration used to share the Skyline name. So the future of all of these products are part of this question. And all are coming up for a redesign in the next 2-3 years, so the time is right to start asking.
So if the FM platform is leaving Japan, where does that leave our favorite products for North America, and where does it leave the Japanese home market?
Furthermore, if these products were to be built solely in China, would the North American market accept that? In our opinion, a strong and absolute ”NO“! However, given fluctuating currency and the distances involved, multiple production sites would seem likely and Ghosn seemed to confirm that with this quote: “We’re seeing what the Germans are doing,” he said. “The Germans are diversifying their base and they are producing practically everywhere”.
In closely related news, Carscoop has some spy pictures of an Infiniti mule for the next generation G. While they didn’t venture to say what changes they felt the mule represents, we’ll say it. It’s a G with the current bodyshell, but that has been updated to an M underneath. Note the wider track and M shifter and tacked-on instrument cluster. Running M electronics would require an M instrument cluster. Since the current M is a “version 1.1″ of the current G platform with a wider track and very slightly updated rear suspension (close enough that the M37H hybrid drivetrain was originally previewed to the press in a V36 G35 body), it would make sense to start with an M. But for testing purposes. Looking closely, we can see things like the front brakes in the same exact position as the current G/M, so that might suggest the platform is the same or just a “.1″ release. In the rear, however, there is a transverse muffler instead of the 2 stock mufflers. This would be a change… and architecturally would bring the sedan into the same architecture as the current G37 coupe and the Z.
And as our readers are also likely aware, there is a degree of cooperation taking place with new partner Mercedes. It was never previously announced for the rear wheel drive platforms… only a “B” platform product. Does the existence of the mule G at a Mercedes testing platform indicate that a platform or engine will be shared?” It’s too early to tell. We can see a shared platform… but not an engine family. It’s too important from a marketing and brand standpoint for each brand to have their own engine in their own products. Adding to this is the recent trademark filing by Infiniti of “G35H”, “G30t”, and “G22d”. This all makes sense, since the M37H mechanics are easily transferred back to the G, a small diesel engine is needed for Europe (smaller than the current 3 liter Europe-only diesel), and a “G30t” would be a 3 liter turbo V-6. The Nissan VQ engine already comes in displacements ranging from 2 liters to 4 – so a 3 liter V-6 with a single (and hopefully twin) turbo makes sense. Call it a “Nissan EcoBoost” – which would be a very good thing. Or a downsized “GT-R engine..! We also know that a supercharged 2.5 liter inline 4 is under development and this could provide an entry-level engine for the G series… and the Z.
So now we are in the waiting period… just as we have been before with the last G and Z. In terms of the timing, consider this: we first saw a full engineering prototype of the North American 2009 370Z in July 2008. And an engineering mule built from a shortened and widened 350Z two years before production. Taking past history as a guide, that would indicate that a new G will be introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2013, and will go on sale that fall as a 2014. Put a new Z (if indeed FM-based) on the calendar for one year later.
Our concern? The current G (and Z) is becoming aged and out-of-date. We had a slight update for 2010, then simply color changes for 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile BMW is moving quickly ahead and Infiniti sales as a whole are slowing. In our opinion, Infiniti needs a new G and it needs it now.
It’s also possible that the Skyline will be replaced with a non-FM based platform. Leaving Infiniti on exclusive platforms, free to come to Japan at last, and moving upmarket to more directly correspond to the completion (BMW 3, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes C). Skyline would then become more practical (very likely in energy-conscious Japan) with a range of engines underneath the current 2.5 and 3.7 liter V-6 engines (neither of which are particularly fuel-efficient). The Skyline brand has a rich history going back to 1957 and is one of the top Nissan brands of all time. It will certainly continue, but in what form?
: GOING WAY OUT ON A LIMB
So let’s go out, way out, on a limb and make a prediction, ’cause it’s fun. Based solely on our read of the market (and without any insider information) and what we (as a current G owner) would like to see:
- 2013 Nissan Maxima: last model year, then cancelled. Thru neglect and lack of differentiation has lost it’s brand value
- 2013 Infiniti EX35: last model year, then cancelled. EX has not been a market success.
- 2014 Infiniti G: Evolved FM platform (see below). Depending on worldwide market requirements (but engineered for all): 2.2 liter diesel (all-new engine), 300 HP 2.5 liter supercharged inline 4 (all-new engine), 370 HP 3.5 liter hybrid V-6 (existing engine, with addition of direct injection and updated batteries), 380 HP direct-injected 3 liter twin-turbo V-6 (update of existing engine family). Engine availability varies by market. 6-speed manual (existing, to be replaced in 2017 with new 7-speed) and 8-speed automatic (update of current 7-speed). Both rear wheel drive and all wheel drive. Size just slightly wider than current model. 4-door sedan and coupe. Popular “S” model continues to be offered. Premiers slightly updated (and fully common across all usage). Continues to be offered in Rear and AWD forms. Overall weight reduced 150 pounds due to extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminum.
- 2014 Nissan Skyline (worldwide market, JDM, North America, China, Europe): slightly lengthened worldwide Altima platform with every possible luxury. Supercharged 300 HP 2.5 liter inline 4 standard. Makes use of a common platform, but positions it appropriately against the Altima - which has moved up-market for 2012. New Nissan Murano and Infiniti JX (sharing same platform) to follow 2 years later. Replaces the Maxima in the North American market. The famous Skyline brand will now be available worldwide!
- 2014 GT-R: carryover with minor suspension tuning updates.
- 2014 Nissan Fuga. Cancelled. “Fuga” has no brand value, hence car will be replaced with the 2015 Infiniti M.
- 2015 Nissan Z: Re-branded as simply “Z”, offering the 300 HP supercharged 4 as standard and the 380 HP 3 liter turbocharged V-6 in the track model. Nismo returns as a track-ready suspension and option-delete offering with 400 HP via enhanced 2-mode exhaust system (where NVH is not as great a concern). V-6 model drops 100 pounds, 4 cylinder drops a further 85.
- 2015 GT-R and Infiniti “Essence“: sharing the new worldwide FM platform, in AWD form, offering a 580-HP twin-turbo 3.8 liter V-6, with direct injection and an updated hybrid drivetrain with 9 forward gears. Reducing weight is the priority of this new generation, although the drivetrain is an evolution of the current GT-R and M hybrid parts. Benefits significantly from the updated lighter-weight FM platform, but uses several exclusive carbon fiber body parts (hood, front fenders, doors, roof, hatch) to reduce weight even further (-300 from current car) to more than offset the weight of the battery pack at the expense of increased production cost. Mitigates costs by using an off-the-shelf Getrag 9-speed automatic, shared with 2015 M, making extensive use of electronics and offering multiple algorithms (including manual shift), and mounted conventionally behind the engine rather than as a transaxle. Thus the chassis is also conventional FM rather than a heavily modified (and heavier in weight) FM+ as in the current GT-R. Priorities: get the weight down, commonality underneath.
- 2015 Infiniti M: up-sized evolution of 2014 G, 3 liter diesel, 3.5 liter hybrid V-6, and 380-HP 3 liter turbo V-6 (differing from the G in the use of the GT-R 9-speed transmission). Drops V-8 engine. The ultimate luxury flagship of Infiniti, with a particular focus on electronics for entertainment and drivers aids.
- 2015 FX30: replacing the EX35 with a fastback coupe modeled on the 2014 Infiniti G sedan. Analogous to the G as the Audi S7 is to the Audi A6. Offered solely with the 400 HP direct-injected 3 liter twin-turbo V-6. Drops V-8 engine. “S” model provides suspension and appearance options only, same engine. Moves towards ultra-luxury and sportiness, rather than as the current crossover CUV. The FX was technically never an SUV, and this upmarket move results in better competition against Audi and BMW. And S. Vettel would be better served!
FM platform update summary:
- Platform evolution and 100% commonality across all users (Z, G, M, FX, GT-R, Essence) allows for better cost effectiveness of parts such as otherwise very-expense alloy forgings. Continues to be aluminum-intensive for all possible parts, including crossmembers. Optimization and gram-analysis reduces weight and increases strength where possible.
- Engineered for drivetrain commonality, although all drivetrains will not be offered in all markets. Single platform supports rear- or all-wheel drive, hybrid battery pack in rear trunk area, hybrid automatic transmission.
- 100% front suspension commonality across rear- and all-wheel drive models (versus current FM platform, where components such as uprights vary across different models).
- 100% rear suspension commonality across rear- and all-wheel drive models, with and without rear steering. Coilover rear eliminates heavy rear lower control arm (replaced with steel), cleans up packaging, and is a nod towards more extreme GT-R requirements.
- Consistent ride height and tire heights across all FM variants. 18, 19, and 20″ wheels offered. Widths depend on usage.
- Elimination of “tall” CUV FX suspension, as FX becomes a “fastback G”.
- 2.5 liter inline 4 DOHC, direct-injection, VVEL, supercharged. Jointly designed with Mercedes, built for both in Mexico starting in 2014. Exclusive to Infiniti and Nissan Z. Technological competitive example: 2015 Ford 2.3 Ecoboost: 300 HP and at least 32 MPG in a 3500 pound Mustang.
- 3 liter V-6 DOHC, direct-injection, VVEL, twin turbocharged. 380 HP (126 HP/liter. Somewhat less per liter than the current GT-R engine). Exclusive to Infiniti and Nissan Z. Built in North America starting in 2014. Better overall mileage than the current naturally aspirated 3.7 liter engine, far-better part-throttle and off-boost mileage, and far better NVH. Higher torque than 3.7 also allows use of numerically lower gearing. Coupled with 8-speed automatic (wide gear spread), an update to engine controls, and lower weights, mileage will improve 15%.
- 3.5 liter V-6 DOHC, direct-injection, VVEL, hybrid electric. 370 HP. Exclusive to Infiniti. Production moved to North America for 2014.
- 3.7 liter V-6 DOHC: cancelled.
- 3.8 liter V-6 DOHC: exclusive to GT-R and Essence. Updated with direct injection and addition of hybrid components from the G/M35h. Getrag 9-speed for improved mileage and acceleration.
- 5 and 5.6 liter V-8 DOHC: both cancelled.
: COMING BACK IN OFF THE LIMB
That was fun, but only time will truly tell. We’re right at the point where further spy pictures should be appearing. Look for them, and watch the news for any announcements of new production plants outside of Japan (as well as for news of Japan production plants closing).
Reference: review the current Japanese domestic market FM-based products: