The Truth About Cars » nismo The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 29 Jun 2014 16:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » nismo Nismo Ring GT-R: Not So Fast Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:01:21 +0000 skyline

If you have an Internet connection and an interest in automobiles, you’ve no doubt heard about the 7:08 ‘Ring time claimed for the new Nismo GT-R. Nissan’s in the middle of putting on a trackday/party for compliant media in Japan right now for the purpose of celebrating said time, but one of the journalists who attended turned out to not be quite as compliant as the company might wish.

The Pistonheads folks asked for details on the modifications to the ‘Ring-time GT-R over and above the standard Nismo GT-R. They were told that

The Time Attack car, as Nissan refers to it, car had bigger spoilers for more downforce, different dampers and brake pads, bucket seats that contributed to a significant 50kg weight saving and a new ECU map. Together those modifications could count for several seconds around the ‘ring, but perhaps even more significantly the car used to set the time had been tuned specifically for the Nordschleife, as NISMO’s engineers confess.

Let’s start off by giving Nissan some props: I don’t see the words “roll cage” anywhere in the list of mods. A good cage, along with a seam weld, massively improves grip and handling, which is why you almost always see some sort of cage in the General Motors ‘Ring videos. Nor should a change in brake pads be counted against Nissan, as it’s almost impossible to make a brake pad for large fixed calipers that is both useful on-track and not completely misery-inducing during the daily drive. (Pagid Orange pads are some of the most famous offenders among the Porsche trackday crowd, being absolutely brilliant at operating temperature but shockingly loud and obnoxious in a restaurant drive-through.)

The rest of the stuff probably matters, in this order: The 110-lb weight loss isn’t much in the context of a GT-R but it’s worth a few seconds. The additional aero must have been nice, but the ‘Ring is one of those tracks where having big wings for cornering speed just kills you when it’s time to go fast down the long straights. I’ve long suspected that a Viper ACR with a drag-reduction system in the rear wing a la Chaparral or modern F1 would be a seven-minute-flat car. The custom damping is hugely helpful and it’s one of the reasons that Continental Challenge cars are so much faster than NASA PT racers to the same spec.

Now for the big one: ECU tune. One of the most important parts of the NISMO GT-R package is the larger turbochargers. A competent ECU tune with larger turbochargers can easily yield over eight hundred horsepower, even with stock engine internals. If you happen to own the engine factory, you can push even harder and pop a couple of blocks in the process if you need to.

Does any of this matter? Not really — but it should remind everyone involved that the so-called ‘Ring record isn’t a real record, it isn’t set under controlled conditions, and when all the dust settles it’s little more than a marketing exercise. You already know that, so we’ll call it a day and keep this article short enough that you should have been able to read it in well under seven minutes and eight seconds.

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Los Angeles 2013: Nissan Juke NISMO RS Gains More Power Thu, 21 Nov 2013 05:15:25 +0000 Nissan Juke NISMO RS 02

Though the Juke is marketed as a fun-to-drive vehicle for members of Generation Why, Nissan knows it could do better to make the crossover a performance monster, too. Enter the Juke NISMO RS.

The RS brings to the table 215 horsepower out front from its 1.6-liter turbo-4 through a manual, or 211 through a CVT, with all-wheel drive available on the latter The suspension and steering have been tuned for better handling, with larger discs up front and vented ones in the back to bring the bug-eyed sprite to a halt. A revised exhaust and ECU also do their best to make the RS all that it was meant to be.

Inside, Recaro seats in red leather and black suede wait to hug you while the optional satnav — the only option available to both CVT and manual models — will help take you from one hipster hangout to the next.

Nissan expect the Juke NISMO RS to arrive in showrooms in early 2014.

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Los Angeles 2013: Nissan Sentra NISMO Thu, 21 Nov 2013 05:14:16 +0000 Nissan Sentra NISMO 01

Nissan’s NISMO division unveiled a couple of their creations at the 2013 LA Auto Show. The Sentra NISMO Concept is what happens when a seemingly pedestrian commuter car is turned into a 240-horsepower beast, and that’s only the beginning.

Under the hood is a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine — a direct-injection, bored-out demon heart taken from the Juke NISMO RS, no less — that pushes said horses through the front gate with 240 lb-ft of torque to match. The power is delivered through a six-speed manual heavily muscled up to handle it all. Recaro seats, wide fender flares, and other assorted NISMO goodies, as well as 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin’s Super Sport performance tires, round out the total package.

Alas, this is just a performance study for the in-house tuning division, but perhaps if one were to wish hard enough, a NISMO Sentra could come in the future.

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Review: 2013 Juke Nismo (Video) Fri, 14 Jun 2013 23:24:30 +0000 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Let’s get one thing sorted. The picture above is not, I repeat not, the wasabi-snorting-485-horsepower-3.7-second-to-60 Juke that Nissan has been teasing. Instead, this is the Nismo treated Juke we saw at the Chicago Auto Show in February. If you’re disappointed, or if the unusual confluence of shapes that is the Juke has made you throw up a little in your mouth, don’t click past the jump. We warned you.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Calling the Juke’s styling “not everyone’s cup of tea” (as one person I met put it) or even “polarizing” hardly begins to describe what’s going on here. My week with Nissan’s smallest crossover in America was filled with awkward stares, gaping mouths and looks of revulsion. But that’s not the whole story. For every 10 people that wanted to run the Juke out-of-town like villagers wielding pitchforks, there were two or three that thought it was fantastic looking. No, cross that, they wanted to bear the Juke’s children. That’s how far they went. This makes the Juke the most polarizing car design I have seen. Yes, I’m including the unholy Aztec and Rendezvous. However you feel about the Juke’s design, you have to admit it took some brass balls to design it, produce it, and then keep selling it.

Let’s toss in another photo:

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Exterior

Our own Sajeev Mehta performed one of his excellent “Vellum Venom” critiques of the Juke in March, so be sure you check that out. My personal reaction is mixed. I appreciate the overall dimensions of the Juke as most crossovers on the road are ridiculously over-sized, but I think that the design team got just a bit carried away. Especially with the front end. I don’t mind the round headlamps, the round proboscis doesn’t bother me at all, but those turn signal pods that rise from the hood reminded me of a frog. Frogs are tasty, but I don’t find them cute. Making them stand out even more is the fact that they can be seen inside by the driver and front passenger. That said, I appreciate polarizing designs because of the passion they inspire. If you’re one of those people who want to interbreed with a Juke, more power to you. One thing is for sure, you get an enormous heaping of style for Nismo’s $22,990 starting price.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Because the base Juke wears a starting MSRP of $18,990, my expectations were low. If you keep your expectations at a similarly realistic level, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. For $22,990 the Nismo version adds heavily bolstered Alcantara sport seats, a leather and Alcantara wrapped steering wheel, center arm rest, red tachometer, plenty of Nismo badges and red-stitching galore. Unfortunately, the standard hard plastic dashboard and the world’s least attractive headliner remain. Seriously, this has to be the same material the trunk liner in a Versa is crafted from, how much would it have cost for something out of the Altima? On the flip side, you have to keep reminding yourself that 27-large is as expensive as any Juke gets and the Nismo tops out at $26,460 with navigation, the CVT and AWD. That’s well below the average new car transaction price in America.

The Alcantara thrones are some of the most attractive (and best bolstered) seats you can find for under $30,000, but they still ride on the same 6-way manual driver’s and 4-way passenger’s seat frames as the regular Juke. This means the range of motion is limited and lumbar support is non-existent. Still, one must have perspective and you’ll find the same situation in most cars this price. I was disappointed to find that the Juke’s steering wheel doesn’t telescope making it hard for me to find an idea driving position.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Thanks to the  hatchback-like profile, the rear seats offer more room than you’d think by looking at the outside with enough head and legroom for a quartet of adult men. More surprising, those four guy’s bags will fit in the Juke’s surprisingly large and deep trunk. The reason for that large cargo area (with more under the load floor) is the Juke’s fairly tall profile and low ride height which allows for a deep (if strangely shaped) cargo hold. (Check out the video to see under the load floor.)

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Nismoing your Juke doesn’t improve the way your tunes sound, you get the same base AM/FM/XM/CD/iPod/USB head unit as the base Juke, with the same six unbranded speakers. For $1,150 you can add what Nissan used to call their “low-cost navigation unit” bundled with a Rockford Fosgate speaker system and 8-inch subwoofer. I was a bit skeptical about this combination, but the tuning of the RF system was surprisingly well-balanced for a factory up-sell. The big draw for me is the nav unit.

The nav system by itself seems to go for about $750 in other Nissan models and is one of the best navs on the market in my opinion. It’s not that it offers a huge feature set or slick graphics, what appeals to me is the low-cost and simple, straight-forward interface. The system has the basics covered from XM traffic and fuel prices to on-screen USB/iDevice integration and Bluetooth speakerphone integration. The one strange omission from the system is Bluetooth audio streaming which isn’t supported.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Interior, Shifter, 6-Speed Manual, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain & Drive

Despite being the antithesis of square, the Cube and the Juke ride on the same Nissan Versa underpinnings. Thankfully the underpinnings are all they share. Instead of the wheezy 1.8L mill, Nissan cooked up an all-new 1.6L direct-injection four-cylinder for the Juke (they have since jammed it in foreign market Versas as well). The small engine is good for a [comparatively] large 197 horsepower (9 more than the regular Juke) and 184 lb-ft from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm (7 more). That’s a reasonable amount of power for something that could be seen as an upgrade from a loaded Sentra SR.

The Juke may be a funny looking creature with some cheap plastics inside, but even in base form it has road manners that impress. To create the Nismo, Nissan bumped up the tires to 224/45R18, stiffened the springs by 10%, tweaked the dampers, fiddled with the steering and bumped the final drive ratio. They then made the 6-speed manual transmission the standard cog-swapper rather than the CVT (standard in the regular Juke), added red mirror caps and called it a day.

2013 Nissan Juke Nismo Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

A trick that is sometimes used to make the sporty version of a car more dynamic on the road is to swap out the electric power steering for a traditional hydraulic unit. When I first hit the curves in the Juke I assumed Nissan had employed this trick. Much to my surprise, Nissan didn’t do that. Instead they tweaked the EPAS (Electric Power Assist Steering) system for improved feedback and a different level of assist. The result is impressive but made me ask: why don’t all EPAS equipped Nissans feel like this? In truth, the feel is still lacking compared to the “good old days,” but the steering is notably more direct and linear with just a hint of feedback from the wide front rubber. This is as good as it gets with EPAS.

Before the Juke arrived I had spent a week in the 2013 BMW X6M (our reviews are obviously out of order). Having the Nismo and an X6M back to back may sound like a real let down, but there’s another side. Obviously the Juke doesn’t handle or accelerate like an M, but there is something of the personality that struck me. No, I’m not just talking about the X6 being similarly polarizing in the style department, I’m talking on the road personality. They are similarly “eager.”  In this way, the Juke reminded me of a small dog that thinks it’s a big dog. It even has a chihuahua’s eyes. Is that good or bad? Good seeing as the Juke costs about 1/4th the price. I managed a 7.45 second 0-60 dash in the 6-speed manual model, let’s just say the X6M didn’t get there in 1/4th the time.

It gets a bit more complicated. You see, the Juke is two kinds of animal. If you get the 6-speed manual transmission you get plenty of torque steer, slick shifts and a more engaging ride. (And for some reason torque steer makes me smile when it’s on a small-scale like this.) If you get the AWD Nismo, you’re stuck with Nissan’s CVT. I’m no CVT hater but even I have to admit the CVT dulls the Juke’s personality. On the flip side, the torque vectoring AWD system makes the CVT/AWD Nismo the faster car on the track by a reasonable margin. If you have an oddly shaped place in your heart for Nissan’s over-styled crossover, you have a difficult decision on your hands. Either way the Juke is destined to be one of the rarer vehicles on American roads and I get the impression that’s just how lovers and haters of the Juke like it.


Hit it or Quit it?

Hit it

  • The best handling chihuahua on the road.
  • Nissan’s torque vectoring AWD system is a hoot and a half.

Quit it

  • Saying the Juke’s looks aren’t for everyone is being polite.
  • What’s up with that headliner anyway?


Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.8 Seconds

0-60: 7.45 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.8 Seconds @ 90.5 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 27.8 MPG over 589 miles

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TTAC Brings You The NISMO Pictures Jalopnik Misses So Badly Tue, 26 Feb 2013 22:39:47 +0000

BMW has its M-series, Mercedes has its AMG, Audi has its R. Now, Nissan has its NISMO. Like most in-house speed shops, NISMO has its roots in a factory racing department. “NISMO is the first true performance brand of Japan’s major makers,” as Nissan’s marketing chief Simon Sproule tells me at NISMO’s new headquarters in Tsurumi, near Yokohama, today. “The others are only playing around.”

Today, Jalopnik decried that “there were no photos or promises” at the opening of the NISMO HQ. Not true, as I should find out this morning (yesterday at Jalopnik.) There were lots of promises. More cars will be “given the NISMO treatment,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. And here are lots of photos.

For the new NISMO HQ, “we have come back where we should be,” as Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani put it today. The Tsurumi plant is Nissan’s historic site. Built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay (and strategically placed next to the Kirin Brewery), this is where Nissan took its first steps as a company in 1933. Iconic cars like the Nissan 510 Bluebird, and the Nissan S30, sold in Japan as the Fairlady Z and elsewhere as the Datsun 240Z, were built here.

Tsurumi also was “the heart of our engineering after World War 2 before it moved to our tech center in Atsugi,” Miyatani explained on his tour down memory lane. Today, Tsurumi is the home of Nissan’s powertrain engineering and prototype development, the perfect neighborhood for Nissan’s speed shop.

NISMO “began nearly half a century ago, when a group of Nissan engineers put a performance engine into a regular production car, and the Skyline GT2000 was born,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. For 20 years, the child was nameless.

In 1984, “Nissan Motorsports” was abbreviated into “NISMO,” typical for an optimization-obsessed Japan, where Family Mart is abbreviated to “Famima,” Starbucks turns into “Staba”, even the hamburger chain “First Kitchen” isn’t safe, and turns into, well, “Fakin.”

Like its abbreviated name, NISMO remained a Japanese cult thing, only to show up abroad on Nissan’s race cars and the odd video games. Now, NISMO wants to open “the next chapter, the true globalization on NISMO,” as Ghosn promised.

First to hit the global roads is the NISMO Juke, already on sale in Japan and Europe and coming to the U.S. in March after a launch in Chicago.

Next in line, Ghosn promised, is a NISMO Fairlady, which thankfully is called a more manly 370Z elsewhere.

And of course, “in the next 12 months, you will see the Nissan GT-R NISMO,” Ghosn promised. See? Lots of promises.

Two raised eyebrows. The secret pre-arranged signal: “Bertel, why don’t you sneak past the guards and in the back while I finish that boring speech, tu comprends? This will also keep you from shooting more embarrassing pictures.”

Go it. In the back, they were already building the NISMO GT3.

Well, they were fitting big Brembos to something.

Here is where they test the GT-R engines on a dyno that doubles as a GrantuNISMO game.

Engines can be tested on a simulated race course.

Data for the dyno come from racecourses like these. Fed back into the car, the work helps win serious races – even if it’s only by a very thin hair. The guys at the dyno even help Dan Slloan’s team to hone the high art of the horrible pun: Reignmaker, a classic.


This gentleman builds the super-secret NISMO GT-R throttle linkage, or whatever that may be.

This is a super-secret GT-R. Its super-secret paint-job confuses any camera. My hands (see table) did not shake. It just looks that way.

Oh, and NISMO will enter an all-electric car into the 2014 Le Mans race, filling the “Garage 56” slot that was taken by the Nissan’s DeltaWing last year. This year, it will be a GreenGT hydrogen car.

As I sneak past the guards again, Carlos Ghosn finishes his speech, promising that at the 2014 Le Mans, Nissan’s Garage 56 entry will be battery-operated. All I can find out today from an unusually chatty Nissan executive is that it will be based on the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC.

As Carlos Ghosn departs stage left, I remember that I had sat in a Nissan Leaf Nismo RC two years ago already, and if you jump to that story, you will see its specs on a PowerPoint.

Dear Jalopnik: More pictures can be provided on request. Tsurumi is only 360 yen ($4, a bargain in Japan) and 30 minutes away from me. Literally wall-to-wall pictures can be had, as long as one gets one’s derriere over there.

On the way out, Carlos Ghosn even gave me his autograph. Good salesman he is, he put it on the race car on the wall. “Want the autograph, buy the car! Ou revoir!”

Any questions? All are answered by a far more attractive and certainly better qualified reporter.

01- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 02- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 03- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 04- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 05- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 06- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 07- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 08- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 09- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 10- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 11- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 12- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 13- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 14- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 15- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 16- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 17- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 18- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 19- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt 20- Nissan NISMO HQ - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Building the GT-R NISMO GT3 - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt GT-R confuse - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt GT3 - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 36
New: TTAC Works For Jalopnik. (Big Announcement On Monday. Or Tuesday) Sun, 24 Feb 2013 18:18:11 +0000

Invitation here

Jalopnik is making a big do about “NISSAN’S NISMO IS PLANNING A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT ON MONDAY.” And the Jalops wonder: “What could it be?” It might be the start of a large multinational co-operative project between Jalopnik and TTAC. Or not.

All I know is that Nismo will show off its new headquarters in Shin-Koyasu, near Yokohama. Which happens to be in the same complex where the GT-R’s engine is being built. Which reminds me that I still have to write up THAT story. With Carlos Ghosn being there, it stands to reason that more than a redone building will be announced. All I heard is that Nissan may be slowly turning NISMO into a standalone performance brand. And no, the GT-R powered Juke won’t be there. Or so I heard.

Jalopnik asks whether NISMO will “announce they’re going to make bicycles instead of cars. Or ridiculously fast motorized scooters for old people. Or little GT-R shaped drones for the military. Any guesses?”

I guess, the simplest way to find out is to go there. With Shin-Koyasu a 30 minute hop from where I am at the moment, I will be there on Tuesday at 10am. Interested in some pool coverage, Jalopnik? The worst that can happen is that I get another good series of Carlos Ghosn waving his arms.

PS: What’s with Monday and Tuesday? Jalopnik found out that when it’s Tuesday in Japan,  it’s ”Monday for us Americans.” Amazing, no?

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Chicago Auto Show: 2014 Nissan Nismo Thu, 07 Feb 2013 17:37:18 +0000  

 Nissan’s motorsports division doesn’t think it has enough brand awareness in America. To counter this perception, Nissan tossed out a few NISMO (NISsan MOtorsports) models at the Chicago Auto Show. First up we have the Juke NISMO which is Nissan’s oddly shaped small crossover vehicle. The NISMO treatment makes the Juke look even more conspicuous on American roads with shapes and styles never before seen on a production vehicle. Whatever you do, don’t look up Juke in the Urban Dictionary while at work.

Thankfully the NISMO package isn’t just a styling exercise, Nissan also tosses in some cabin upgrades, faux-suede trim and a power boost. The same 1.6L engine is found under the funky hood but now cranks out 197HP and 184 lb-ft of torque. The CVT and 5-speed manual remain the only transmission options and of course AWD can be had for a price. While this is a far cry from the fire-breathing Juke R, it may help you escape the hoards of villagers with pitchforks.

Far more attractive is the Nissan 370Z NISMO gets extensive braking, suspension and styling tweaks in addition to a 350HP version of Nissan’s 3.7L V6 engine. Nissan promises improved downforce and even more fun out on the track. That should just about compensate for the extra 6.2 inches in length the NISMO Z brings to your garage. (Thank the re-tweaked front end for that.)

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Nissan’s Electric Racer: Where Is The Race? Mon, 27 Jun 2011 16:35:25 +0000

“And it goes like [human excrement],” said a freshly minted Nissan spokesperson who requested anonymity on account of him having been on the job for only two weeks. The “it” was Nissan’s latest racecar. It needed a special announcement, because it entered the hall with utmost stealth. None of the usual straight pipe roar.  The Nissan Nismo racer is silent power.

The unheard-of racecar’s full name is “Nissan Leaf Nismo RC”. It is based on a Leaf. Currently, only four of the car exist.

“Even you can drive it,” said the Japanese project director who shall remain nameless, to a female executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. “Because it has no transmission, hahaha!”

Then she hit him.

It is a racer in search of a race. As much as I tried to needle the project director (who was rubbing his arm) about an EV race series, he kept grinning and said he had never heard of a race.  Come on, Tesla against the Leaf Nismo, wouldn’t that be a hoot?

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