The history of Nissan goes a long way back. The company was founded one day after Christmas in 1933, and production started with Datsun vehicles, which many people know as the small, older pickups that are sometimes found cruising around modern American cities. The company now has headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, where it runs its global vehicular empire under several brand names, including Infiniti and Nismo.
The company first produced vehicles in 1935, when the first Datsuns rolled off the assembly line, and since then, Nissan has become a mainstay in markets around the globe. Today, Nissan is one of the world’s most popular vehicle companies, offering a variety of sedans, sports cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Here, we’re going to take a look at the 15 fastest models the company has ever produced.
There are a number of models throughout the years that may deserve a spot on the list, including, but not limited to, the 200SX, the 240SX, Fuga Y51, the Pulsar, and most recently, the Juke-R. Many have not been included because official performance statistics are not available, or because the models were modified by third parties. Concepts and one-offs were also excluded. The rankings themselves were compiled using fastest acceleration speed from 0-60 miles per hour, with other factors taken into account, including top overall speed, horsepower, and torque.
Read on to see the 15 fastest Nissan vehicles of all time.
Starting our journey down the list of the fastest Nissan models, the 300ZX requires that we take a trip down memory lane. Going all the way back to 1990 to find some testing data is what it took, but with what we discovered, the 300ZX has found its way to the eighth spot. The 300ZX had a top speed of 143 miles per hour overall, along with acceleration from 0-60 in 6.7 seconds turned. In hindsight, the 300ZX is still a rather fierce road warrior, but has since been outshined by new Nissan models, as the company has continued to push the envelope.
14. Altima 3.5 SL
The Altima has climbed the ranks over the years to not only become one of the more popular sedans in the Nissan lineup, but also among American consumers overall. There’s good reason for it, too, as the Altima is not only spacious and comfortable, but fast and capable. The Altima 3.5 SL is in the upper echelon of Altima variants when it comes to performance, able to rocket from rest to 60 miles per hour in 6.2 seconds. A 270-horsepower V6 engine is behind the curtain, which also puts out 258 pound-feet of torque.
13. V35 Skyline 350GT
One of many extremely fast and versatile models from Nissan’s Skyline lineup, the V35 actually was released under a couple of different names: it was badged as an Infiniti G35 in North America and was met with great acclaim from sports car enthusiasts. Like several other models in the Nissan and Infiniti lineups, the V35 was built with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, although it was not turbocharged — its performance numbers are headlined by 272 horsepower, and a 0-60 sprint of 6.2 seconds.
12. Maxima 3.5 SV
You normally wouldn’t associate the title “Maxima” to apply to speed and performance, but in the case of the 3.5 SV model, it does. The Maxima 3.5 SV is more than just a sedan – it’s an impressive performance machine. This Maxima model can make the jump from 0-60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds, putting just on the periphery of the top five models on the list. It hits that time using the 290 horsepower delivered by the feisty, up-tuned 3.5-liter V6 engine, though it’s slightly smaller than the engines used in Nissan’s 370Z and GT-R.
Another entry in the Z-car line, the 350Z is a sleek and curvy sports coupe that proved Nissan is on the cutting edge of car design and aerodynamics. The 350Z rolled out of the factory equipped, like many others, with the staple 3.5-liter V6 engine that churned out 286 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This allowed for the 350Z to hit a top actual speed on the track of 150 miles per hour and a very quick 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds.
10. 350Z Nismo
The 350Z came in a fantastic base model, but it also was on the receiving end of the Nismo treatment from Nissan’s engineering team. The improvements the Nismo model was bestowed with allowed it to shave a small amount of time from its 0-60 time, dropping it down to 5.5 seconds from 5.8 with the base model. The 3.5-liter V6 engine remains the same from the traditional 350Z, but horsepower gets a small boost, and handling and precision has been improved.
9. 370Z Roadster
One of Nissan’s top sports cars, the 370Z comes in a variety of trims for performance enthusiasts of all kinds. The convertible model, appropriately dubbed the Roadster, holds a 3.7-liter V6 engine under the hood. What do you get in terms of stats out on the road? Three hundred and thirty-two horsepower to begin with, along with 270 pound-feet of torque. The Roadster actually came up a bit slower than the coupe in testing, sprinting from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. Although it might be a tad disappointing when it comes to performance, the 370Z Roadster still cracks the top five for fastest Nissan models ever.
8. 370Z Coupe
Outracing the 370Z Roadster version is the Coupe, which can accelerate from 0-60 in a scant 5.4 seconds. The Sport package is the variant that packs the most punch, delivering solid results from the 3.7-liter V6 engine, which provides a walloping 332 horsepower. There’s no denying the 370Z’s staying power on the sports car market, and with a price tag that comes in well below many others in its segment, the cost-to-performance ratio is quite high.
7. 370Z Nismo
Another Nismo variant, the 370Z received a specialty makeover that gives it an extra boost in performance. The results are a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds by Top Gear’s testing, and horsepower gets bumped up to around 340 from the standard 323. Like its brothers, this 370Z houses a 3.7-liter V6 engine, which also gives it a leg up in torque, by all accounts 275 pound-feet. While the Nismo moniker makes for a great marketing move, the level of performance above the standard model isn’t all that much. In fact, one trim of the traditional 370Z can still outrun the Nismo.
6. Skyline GT-R R33
The list now takes a turn back to the Skyline lineup, with the addition of the GT-R R33. This Skyline GT-R model could make a quick dash to 60 miles per hour, accomplishing the feat in 5 seconds flat. Production lasted between 1997 and 1999, making this one of Nissan’s rarer productions. Top speed was limited to 155 miles per hour, although it was capable of hitting faster speeds. The R33 is one a few entries in the Skyline GT-R series and had several offshoots of its own. Performance data wasn’t available for those models, putting the R33 just out of the top five of Nissan’s fastest.
5. Skyline GT-R R32
Turn the clock back to a time before the R33 hit the scene, and you get its precursor, the Skyline GT-R R32. The R32 was actually slightly quicker than the R33, racing to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds with the boost limiter removed. Like the R33, the R32 came in a variety of trims and modifications, which have scant available performance data. It was first introduced to the Japanese market in 1989 and was in production until its replacement in 1994. To this day, it remains one of the fastest cars Nissan has ever produced.
4. Skyline GT-R R34
Nearly at the pinnacle of the Skyline GT-R series is the R34, the final evolution of the R32 and R33. The R34 was rigged with a turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine, blasting out 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. Its dash to 60 miles per hour clocked in at 4.7 seconds, the same as the R32, but its overall top speed of 165 miles per hour gives it a leg up. Like its predecessors, the R34 had a number of variants. However, there’s one more Skyline model that could outperform it.
3. Nismo Skyline GT-R Z-Tune
The Nismo Skyline GT-R Z-Tune is the ultimate in high-tech and high-performance models from the Skyline range. In order to remain street legal in the U.S., engineers actually had to tone things down a bit. Street-capable versions were limited to 280-horsepower engines, while the unlimited Z-Tune variant could blast out 500 horsepower from a twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder engine. Its performance was blazingly fast, as well, with a top speed of 180 miles per hour, along with a fast sprint to 60 miles per hour of 4 seconds flat.
Ah, the fabled GT-R. This is Nissan’s fiercest and most formidable car. The official specs send a serious message, mainly that the GT-R was built for the track and that it won’t back down from anything. Nissan claims the GT-R’s top speed as 196 miles per hour, and it is one of the few official top speed statistics the company supplies for any of its vehicles. The car uses a 545 horsepower 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which allows for acceleration from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. It’s also available in two trims: standard and the Black Edition.
1. GT-R Nismo
The GT-R Nismo is the top of the line when it comes to Nissan performance vehicles. The company took its fastest car and suped it up a bit, coming out with a blisteringly fast monster of a car. While no official performance statistics are available from Nissan, Top Gear reports that the GT-R Nismo can accelerate from 0-60 in just 2.7 seconds (though that could prove conservative, even). That’s among the fastest in the world. The Nismo sees a boost in horsepower over the standard GT-R from 542 to 591, and torque has been ratcheted up from 465 to 481 pound-feet, all from the 3.8-liter V6 engine. This is the fastest vehicle Nissan has ever put on the road, and it looks like it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future.