Great looks, sensational handling, astonishing value for money
Hard ride can be irritating around town, the fat B-pillar makes rear-sideward vision challenging
Z Marks the Spot
With the 370Z Nissan’s unique sports car celebrates its fortieth birthday. Arguably no other specialty model has been marketed for so long without departing in any significant or lasting way from the spirit of the original. You can trace a fairly straight line from the 1969 240Z to this car.
What You Get
Is there any other car on this market that combines beauty, performance, luxury, handling and brand value to the same degree as the 370Z? No. The 370Z is to its sports coupe rivals what the 240Z was to its contemporaries 40 years ago – cheaper, slicker, faster, more agile and better looking.
Under The Hood
Maximum power is 247 kW and peak torque is 365 Nm. The six-speed manual gearbox features the unique SynchroRev Control, claimed to match engine rpm more quickly than a professional driver blipping the throttle during gearchanges. As for the automatic option, this is a seven-speed unit, manually selectable either by using the transmission shifter or the large, stylish silver paddles on either side of the steering wheel. The left paddle is for downchanging, the right for upshifts. Even just leaving the selector in ‘D’, this gearbox reveals its sporting calibration with crisp upshifts and immediate kickdown response. The 3.7-litre V6 emits a gloriously sporting sound which is an indelible element of the Z-car character. Official fuel economy figures have improved from the 350Z’s 11.6 litres per 100 km to 10.4.
You sit in a body-hugging bucket seat which locates you much more confidently than its counterpart of 1969. But when you look past the handsome array of gauges, including a trio set into the top of the dash in the centre of the car, and down that long bonnet, the 370Z asserts itself as the latest in a long line of classic grand touring coupes.
Nissan has clearly taken press criticism of the 350Z to heart as this new car has a bespoke feel to it. The very attractive leather and alcantara combination of the trim is matched by extremely high quality plastics.
Exterior & Styling
There is a strong visual continuity from 350Z to 370Z and yet the newer car has a more athletic and purposeful appearance, as if the metal skin were stretched tighter over the underlying muscle.
Check out those huge haunches which give the latest Z the air of a runner ready to break the 100 metre world record. Great care has been paid to the appearance of the head lights, tail lights and even the stylish Z-shaped side indicators where the Z lights up orange. Even without Nissan badges, we would instinctively recognize this as a Z-car.
On The Road
Handling was a 350Z strong point, but the new car feels palpably sharper. The steering is absolutely sharp with immediate responses and a pleasingly meaty weight to it. I have to report that I can think of no car that delivers better steering feel than the 370Z, which is reminiscent of a Porsche 911 in the intensity of its communication, so that the driver is always aware of the front wheels’ trajectory. It is true that some prospective customers might find this steering a little too heavy, but keen drivers will love it.
The wheelbase is 100 mm shorter than the 350Z’s which locates the driver closer to the wide rear wheels. It is a car you drive by the seat of your pants, as it were. The seats are also 10 mm closer to the road.
In specification, the 370Z parallels the old 350 Z Track variant, meaning sportier suspension calibration and beefier brakes. Pedal feel is good with great progression and the stopping power feels. The 370Z uses dedicated Yokohama Advans rubber in 225/50 sixe up front and 245/45 on the driven rear wheels.
While the 350Z loved the road, the 370Z feels married to it. What you see (and hear) is what you get.
Being a dedicated two-seater limits the market to some extent. The Murphy’s Law of sports cars is that a third person usually wants to come along for the ride.
The 370Z lives up to its long heritage and is a thoroughbred two-seater closed sports cars, which merits comparison with much dearer Europeans such as the Audi TT 3.2 Quattro ($91,296 and automatic only).
The 370Z was benchmarked against the Porsche Cayman, pricing of which starts from around $120K. The closest competitor is the four-cylinder, front-wheel drive version of the Audi TT but both the ‘four’ and the ‘front’ count against it for performance coupe enthusiasts. BMW’s excellent 335i coupe has the Z’s measure in some respects but commands a much higher price in six-speed manual form. Some buyers might look at the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but their style and appeal is of a different type.