Nismo Has An Impressive History, But What Has Nissan's Performance Division Done Lately?


With just three US models, we don't think Nismo's full potential is being realized.

Back in 1984 Nissan decided to merge its two motorsports divisions that were founded in the 1960s, Publication Division 3 and Special Car Testing Division. These two badly named entities became Nismo. It built its first car, the Saurus, in 1988. The following year, Nismo helped develop the Skyline GT-R and the rest is history. Obviously Nismo has an important role in Nissan's history, making performance parts and performance versions of Nissan cars.

But what has Nismo been up to lately? In the United States there are just three Nissan models offered in Nismo trim. The Juke, 370Z and GT-R are the only available Nismo models and none of them are truly groundbreaking. The Nismo GT-R makes the most sense, but why did Nissan let its performance brand tune a small crossover? The 370Z Nismo is also pretty impressive, but the current 370Z is showing its age and needs to be replaced. We like the fact that Nissan's performance division is pretty exclusive, but we feel that the division is not being used correctly. The GT-R and 370Z are both a good start, but we will wait to see if both cars spawn Nismo versions when the respective next generations of each roll around.

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The Juke Nismo is actually not such a bad car, but there are other models that would benefit so much more from a Nismo version. The new Maxima is a prime example. Nissan has long called the Maxima a "four-door-sports-car" despite it not offering a manual in over a decade. Nissan has said that it would consider giving the Maxima the Nismo treatment, but we don't put much faith in this promise being carried out. This is the same company that promised us a production Infiniti Eau Rouge and didn't deliver. We may be asking for too much to see some more Nismo models, but it could bring younger enthusiasts to a brand that, save for the GT-R, seems kind of boring at the moment.