Profile: Who is Nismo?

Profile: Who is Nismo?

Nismo cars

As one of the most famous tuning divisions to come out of Japan, Nismo has brought us an entertaining mixture of motorsport and on-road greatness over the years.

Its history steeped in track action, it’s fair to say that Nismo is very much a performance-focused outfit.

Nismo’s road cars, meanwhile, have been an eclectic mix of Nissan models, with some obvious names entering the fray, as well some that you wouldn’t immediately think of.

What is Nismo?

Technically, Nismo stands for Nissan Motorsports International, and has been around as a company since 1984, though in April 2022, Nismo became a division of Nissan after merging with sister company Autech.

Nismo fits under the Nissan Motorsports & Customisation umbrella, focusing on the Japanese firm’s track car and performance road car exploits.

Nismo Logo

For the most part, it has been motorsports that Nismo has made its main priority, but, like many firms, wanted to exemplify its abilities on the road, too, with several Nissan models getting the Nismo treatment over the last few decades.

Notable Nismo road cars

GT-R Nismo

The most obvious of Nissan’s cars to be overhauled by Nismo was always going to be the GT-R – or Skyline, if you will – with ‘Godzilla’ primed for performance from the get-go.

Nismo has gotten its hands dirty with the GT-R on numerous occasions, but one of the most outstanding early efforts was based on Nissan’s mid-90s Le Mans entry for homologation purposes. However, only a single car was produced, and was registered in the UK, no less.

Nismo GT-R LM Road Car 1995

Dubbed the Nismo GT-R LM Road Car, the motorsport influences were clear, and the LM was very much in your face at any angle. Serving up around 300bhp, the LM was a touch more powerful than the regular GT-R of the time, but it was that aggressive bodykit that really made the LM stand out.

More recently, the main production run of GT-R Nismo cars has been steady since the introduction of the R35 generation, with the Nismo variant entering the market in 2014.

The GT-R Nismo gets a raft of upgrades that push engine power to just under 600bhp, while weight is dramatically reduced to create the most track-ready iteration of the GT-R possible, especially when upgrades such as limited slip differentials are added into the mix.

370Z Nismo

For something a touch more affordable, Nismo worked its magic on the 370Z, or the Fairlady Z as it’s more elegantly known as in Japan.

Following on from the 350Z that came before it, the 370Z Nismo emerged in 2009 with its 3.7-litre V6 upgraded through revised ECU settings and a new exhaust setup to produce 350bhp (up from 330bhp).

Nissan 370Z Nismo

Stiffer springs and stabiliser bars, meanwhile, ensured handling was improved over the regular 370Z.

Elsewhere, the 370Z Nismo received 19-inch RAYS forged aluminium-alloy wheels and a set of Nismo Sport Brakes to boot. 

Juke Nismo

Now we start to stray into more interesting territory when it comes to Nismo road cars.

The Nissan Juke is a quirky car to start with, so when Nismo decided it wanted to have a play with the compact SUV, many were more than a little surprised.

Possibly straying into the hot hatch domain, the Juke Nismo served up around 200bhp from its four-pot engine, while the later Juke Nismo RS variant added an extra 15bhp into the mix.

Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Visually, the Juke Nismo does give itself away with its aggressive stance and red accents to let you know it’s something a bit different than your typical family SUV.

Behind the scenes, the Juke Nismo received a few other modifications, including uprated suspension and steering. The Juke Nismo RS, meanwhile, had the benefit of Recaro front seats.

March Nismo

OK, so when we say ‘notable’ Nismo models, the March Nismo is possibly ‘notable’ just for being a bit weird.

While the models explored above feel at least a bit special, the March Nismo feels a bit odd, in truth.

Nissan March Nismo

In its most ‘potent’ form, the Nismo S, this not-so-upgraded March saw its power lift to a limp 114bhp.

Like the Juke, the March Nismo got an identifiable exterior, but unlike its SUV sibling, this little hatchback wasn’t necessarily the pocket rocket it might give the impression of.