by: Mike Ginsca,
The Nissan 370Z has been around since the dinosaur age. Well not exactly but in automotive terms, it’s been around without any major changes for a really long time. It’s been almost a decade since the 370Z replaced the 350Z and in that time it’s seen a minor facelift and a few minor features added but overall it’s still the same car. So does it still have what it takes to compete against the latest turbo and technologically advanced rivals?
Engine – Unlike its competition which has embraced modern technologies like turbocharging and direct injection, the 370Z still uses a naturally aspirated V6 engine. This Nismo trimmed 370Z produces 350hp and 276 lb-ft of torque; up from the standard 332hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The amount of power that this engine produces is good and because it’s naturally aspirated, the engine is very responsive. However it has a couple of problems. The torque figure is on a low side and it comes at the top of the rpm range which means constantly revving the engine. The other problem that this engine has is that it’s having to haul around a body that tips the scales at approximately 1,500 kg. That’s a lot of weight for a 2 seater sports car.
Transmission – This being a more traditional sports car, a 6-speed manual is the only transmission available with the Nismo 370Z. This also being a traditional sports car, it’s not the smoothest and best feeling transmission on the market. Upshifting between gears can be notchy and it takes some effort to get the shifter into gear. A plus though is Nissan’s SynchroRev Match feature which automatically blips the engine on downshifts for smoother engagements. It works perfectly well and more vehicles should have it. And yes, it can be turned off if you don’t like it.
Braking – 4 piston front and 2 piston rear calipers stop the hefty body with authority. Pedal feel is firm even after repeated use and the wide tires on the front provide a lot of grip. Sometimes a bit more than the ABS could deal with as I did notice a bit of tire lockup once in a while under hard braking mid-way through a corner. During daily driving the brakes are a tad on the sensitive side as the littlest pedal movement easily stops the 370Z.
Handling – This is one of the few sports cars that still utilizes a hydraulic steering rack. What that means is a better feeling response from the steering wheel as to what the front tires are doing. All of its competitors have gone to an electro-assisted steering rack which is precise but it doesn’t offer the same level of feedback to the driver. In terms of outright cornering grip, it has plenty due to those wider tires and the weight of the body pushing down on them. At the limits the car induces understeer but you’ll be going very fast to reach those limits because there’s so much grip.
Ride Comfort – The suspension in the 370Z Nismo is too stiff for daily comfort. Every road imperfection can be felt through the steering wheel and your bum. The Nismo trim however gets these fabulous red Recaro bucket seats that provide a good amount of lateral support and just enough cushioning, but even so, the suspension is too stiff. The driver and a passenger have plenty of head and leg room but a telescopic steering wheel would have been a nice feature to have. Also trunk space is a joke. The Jaguar F-Type P300 has more trunk space than the Nissan 370Z … and the Jaguar is a convertible.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The Nismo 370Z gets a different exhaust from the standard 370Z but even so, it’s too quiet for a sports car. What’s worse is that the engine and exhaust note get overshadowed by road, wind, and tire noises. This car is one of the worst insulated vehicles on the market right now. The sticky tires pick up the littlest of pebbles on the road and fling them against the inner fenders which translate the sound into the cabin. At speeds above 60 km/h, the howl from the tires is the predominant noise that you hear.
That is unless one of the trim pieces start buzzing and squeaking which is what happened with this demo vehicle. At highway speeds in top gear, the vibrations from the engine made a trim piece on the dashboard constantly buzz. What’s more, the lack of insulation also allows driveline noises to intrude from the rear differential area.
Interior Design – The interior of the 370Z is fairly well laid out but it does show its age. There’s a big tachometer right in front of the driver and the auxiliary gauges at the top of the dashboard are angled towards the driver, as they should be in a sports car. However controlling the infotainment system can be a struggle and the graphics really show the age of the car. The steering wheel is covered in suede around the 9 and 3 positions with leather covering the rest. The Recaro bucket seats though are the highlight of the interior.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – As mentioned earlier, the infotainment is not the greatest to look at and use. It does have navigation and satellite radio which work just fine but controlling it can be frustrating. The brilliant SynchroRev match feature is basically the most advanced feature on this car because you don’t get a lot of stuff for your money. No heated seats, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, no 360 cameras, no lane keeping aid, no forward collision alert, no blind spot sensors… strangely though you get 2 backup cameras. One is projected on the main infotainment screen and the same image is also projected in the rearview mirror in the center. Weird.
Exterior Design – The Nissan 370Z Nismo retains the same overall shape of its 350Z predecessor. Long hood, short overhangs, and wide stance. The stance is accented by the fender flares that come with the Nismo trim along with the different front and rear bumpers. A trunk spoiler and Nismo exclusive wheels finish off the exterior styling. Overall it looks as how a sports car should look. Stylish enough to stand out but not completely scream for attention like a green Lamborghini.
For a $48,498 CAD car, it’s hard to justify spending that kind of cash on such an old car. Yes it is fast around corners and you get a good amount of power from a naturally aspirated engine. But for less money you can have a V8 powered Chevrolet Camaro with more features, more power and the Camaro feels lighter on its feet. There’s also the Ford Mustang GT and even the Mazda MX-5 offers more fun for less with more features. Realistically though, if you like the looks of the 370Z and still want the V6 engine with a manual transmission, save yourself $14,000 and go for the Touring Sport trim 370Z.
Thank you to Nissan Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Nissan.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.