Well, what 'ave we here? A new Nissan 350Z, obviously - but this is no ordinary Zed. Without question, this is one of the most powerful in existence. While the rest of the go-fast scene debates over the best exhaust and intake specs, Melbourne's Nizpro workshop has scurried to the top of Zed tuning hill. Take a g-o-o-d look under the bonnet of this beast - there are twin turbochargers and the winning combination to punch out 396kW at the flywheel!
Owned by Neil X - who has had a stunning list of cars - there was a simple goal for the Zed from Day One. "I wanted something that would outperform pretty well anything you can buy off the showroom floor, including the turbo Porsches," he says. What made the challenge even more difficult was the requirement for it to remain everyday streetable and quiet. Oh, and it had it come in at less than AUD$100,000 all up. Nizpro was where everything came into fruition.
True to Nissan tradition, the 350Z's 3.5-litre VQ35DE engine is a tough bugger that's just beggin' for forced induction. Simon Gischus from Nizpro has a wealth of tuning experience with Nissans and suggests there's no reason why the new all-alloy VQ-series engine shouldn't be able to withstand considerable power. "And being 3.5-litre - compared to the previous 3.0-litre twin-turbo Zed and 2.6-litre GT-R - it has the ability to make broader torque," he says.
"Because we were the first in the country to do anything like this, the project was always going to be a bit of a drama - the 350Z is a lot more advanced than previous models," says Simon. "One of the biggest problems is finding space for the turbochargers, the manifolding, the intercooler piping and all the rest - it's just a nightmare."
Both Neil and Simon weren't keen on adding forced induction to the factory 10.3:1 compression ratio, so the first move was to remove the as-new engine. A set of dished forged pistons was slipped into the oh-so-slightly enlarged bores to provide a more appropriate 8.3:1 compression ratio. Knowing the massive increase in torque that was to come, the standard lightweight conrods were also replaced with forged H-beam jobs. The DOHC heads remain untouched aside from some uprated valve springs.
With the engine in the car, Nizpro set about finding space to fit all of the required turbocharger hardware. The turbos that were used had originally been intended for use on a 2JZ-GTE Toyota Supra - Neil also has one of those in his garage. "The turbos were custom made by Garrett to suit the Supra engine, but they're pretty much what we were after to turbo the Zed. They're the latest ball-bearing turbos, which look to be about the same size as a 200SX's T28," says Simon. "I get the feeling they're a tiny bit small in the exhaust side, but for an everyday roadie they're probably spot-on - it spools up really nice."
The exhaust manifolds are simply a case of what would fit. "The exhaust manifolds we made are a compromise - purely because they have to be. There just ain't the room down in there..." Interestingly, Nizpro had the manifolds cast so that the same design can be used for any future 350Z twin-turbo jobs. "If someone comes in and ask for a full 350Z turbo kit I'll re-use those manifolds," Simon says. But don't ask to buy those manifolds individually...
With boost pressure set to a maximum of 15 psi, the twin Garrett turbochargers blow into 2-inch mandrel pipes that merge into a single 3-inch pipe before entering the intercooler. The core used is an HKS Drag product, which Neil originally intended to fit to his Supra. Nizpro simply fabricated new end-tanks to suit the Nissan. The intake to the twin turbos comprises a pair of mandrel bent pipes connecting to a K&N pod filter positioned above the 'cooler.
The exhaust system is an interesting combination. You'll find twin 2½-inch stainless pipes off the back of the turbines flowing into a pair of 2½-inch cats before merging into a single 3-incher. The rear muffler is none other than the standard 350Z item - this keeps the car close to the factory noise output. All that bite and no bark...
The latest MoTeC M800 programmable ECU is in charge of fuel and ignition - in addition to controlling the factory electronic throttle, variable cam timing and traction control. The fuel system has had a lot of time spent on it as well. "The 350 Zed doesn't have a return-type fuel system, so we virtually had to start from scratch. We're using 650cc injectors with a bigger pump," explains Simon. Ignition is standard Nissan.
There's no reason to think the factory driveline is anything apart from typical Nissan tough - even the carbon fibre reinforced driveshaft appears plenty strong. The 6-speed manual 'box remains stock, though - understandably - the clutch has been significantly upgraded. "At this stage we've fitted the same clutch we used in our 200SX-R," says Simon, "but we might look at changing that soon."
Nizpro is one of the few workshops with both an in-house engine dyno and chassis dyno - and they made the most of it. The bulk of the mapping was performed on the engine dyno, where the boosted VQ cranked out 396kW at the flywheel running 15 psi and Shell Optimax. Oh, and peak torque was in excess of 700Nm - impressive stuff!
With the engine refitted in the car, the chassis dyno was used to make the necessary minor adjustments. "Fitting the exhaust with the standard muffler lost us a bit of power at the wheels," explains Simon. "On average, it makes about 300kW at the wheels on our DynoLogic chassis dyno." In comparison, a stock 350Z makes about 145kW at the wheels on the same dyno...
Neil doubts the Zed makes its quoted 206kW in factory form and categorises it as "a medium level sportscar." But now? "Well, I guess you could say it's absolutely dynamite," he laughs. With the grunt to pull mid-to-low 11s down the quarter (traction permitting) along with total drivability you can understand why Neil is so happy with the result. But things aren't quite finished... Yet to come are big brakes and adjustable Koni suspension. A RWD sportscar with 396kW can always do with a bit more traction, so the rear guards have also been modified to allow clearance for 19 x 11-inch rims wearing 305mm tyres! An enclosure for the pod filter (to reduce induction noise) and maybe some revision of the rear muffler is also on the cards.
Even though there's still a relatively small amount of work left to do, we reckon this genuine Nissan twin turbo badge adds the perfect finishing touch. Wouldn't it be nice if it came factory?