Zed-heads were all excited about the Z NISMO until it came out and it was confirmed that the only transmission option would be an automatic. That understandably caused dismay among enthusiasts, and made it the first Z in NISMO history that wasn’t definitively more desirable than its non-NISMO version. We spoke to some Nissan representatives to try to understand why this was the case.
According to our source, there was an internal debate about whether to offer the manual transmission in the Z NISMO. However, even with the extra power and torque a three-pedal Z NISMO would have been slower in acceleration than a standard Performance trim with the 9-speed auto. Ultimately, the automatic camp won out because it simply couldn’t abide a NISMO model that was slower than its non-NISMO counterpart.
The Z NISMO generates 420 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. But that’s apparently not enough to give a stick shift NISMO an acceleration advantage over an automatic Z that’s down 20 horses and 34 lb-ft. Car and Driver tested standard Zs with both transmissions on 91-octane fuel and found the following results:
- Nissan Z 6MT: 0-60 in 4.3 seconds; ¼-mile in 13.0 seconds @ 111 mph
- Nissan Z 9AT: 0-60 in 4.5 seconds; ¼-mile in 12.7 seconds @ 115 mph
A separate test with different atmospheric conditions on 93-octane fuel yielded this:
- Nissan Z 6MT: 0-60 in 4.1 seconds; ¼-mile in 12.6 seconds @ 115 mph
That means an automatic Z on 93 octane might even break the 4.0-second barrier. On top of that, Nissan reduced the Z NISMO automatic’s shift times by nearly 50 percent by adding sturdier clutch plates and remapping the transmission software. No one outside of Nissan has gotten their hands on a Z NISMO for testing yet, but it’s almost certainly going to return more impressive numbers.
As a sidebar, pricing on Z NISMO has been announced in Japan and it’s ¥9,200,400, or about $65,000. US pricing isn’t always a direct yen-to-dollar conversion, so the amount isn’t definitive but it at least gives a ballpark range.
Paul Hawson, Nissan North America’s Director of Advanced Product Planning and owner of a tuned R32 GT-R, added that NISMO customers are more track-focused. Because they’re more interested in outright speed, that also helped push the Z NISMO in an automatic-only direction. However, he also noted that Nissan is open to feedback and if enough people ask for it, they will consider a manual transmission option.
There you have it, straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth. It all comes down to the numbers. Remember, the GR Supra initially came with an automatic only as well, but Toyota added a manual in 2022 after an internet uproar. So if you want a stick shift Z NISMO, you know what to do.