It\'s not perfect, but slashed pricing means the Nissan 370Z sports car offers renewed bang for your buck.
There’s nothing subtle about the latest Nissan 370Z – it's loud, brash and a fully-fledged member of the Fast and Furious set.
This is a proper old-school - and, because this generation has been out since 2009, old - front-engined rear-wheel-drive sports car with pumped-up guards and a pedigree that harks back to its famous Zed car ancestor of 1969, the 240Z.
Nissan recently wiped almost $13,000 off the price tag, too, coinciding with a slight facelift that includes the addition of vertical LED daytime lights. The 370Z range is now priced from $56,930 (plus on-road costs) for the coupe manual and $59,930 for the auto.
Meanwhile, the 370Z Roaster has also benefited from a $10,960 price reduction, and now cost from $65,930.
Its closest rival in terms of rear-drive architecture and performance credentials is the 3.0-litre BMW M135i, which costs $64,900.
Audi’s contender is the TT 2.0-litre TSFI, but it’s priced considerably higher, from $75,050 for the front-wheel-drive version and $77,650 for the all-wheel drive Quattro.
Both the BMW and Audi employ turbocharging to derive additional power from their smaller engines, whereas the Nissan 370Z relies on its bigger, but non-turbo 3.7-litre V6 for good old-fashioned tyre-frying fun.
And there’s plenty of that on hand with 245kW/363Nm on tap at 7000rpm and 5200rpm respectively - good enough to send the Zed from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 5.3 seconds (5.6 sec for the auto).
By comparison, the BMW makes 235kW and a stomping 450Nm through a standard eight-speed auto – enough to propel it from 0-100km/h in five seconds flat, while the Audi develops a lesser 147kW/280Nm and needs six seconds.
The only proviso with the 370Z is that you’ll need Popeye-sized forearms to make light work of the extra meaty shift action.
Shifting up from first to second is particularly tiresome despite the short throw, but if you can balance the revs and clutch pedal, second gear starts to offer some relief.
Hit the Sport button though, and it automatically engages the Zed’s party trick - dubbed Synchro Rev Match. Forget about the need to heel-and toe to blip the revs on a downshift ... that's old-school.
Regardless of whether you go from third to second or even second to first in bumper-to-bumper gridlock – simply depress the clutch in the usual way, shift and release the clutch and the on-board computer automatically matches the revs for a silky-smooth jerk-free shift.
This feature alone will make you feel like a professional race driver. It works flawlessly with every single downshift, no matter how quick you are with the shift lever. There’s also a digital gear indicator that we found handy when you’re really pushing.
Give the 370Z a boot full and the viscous limited-slip differential helps get the power down without any messing about, but acceleration isn’t what we’d call blistering. It’s certainly urgent, but it’s typically linear all the way to its 7500rpm red line – where the Nissan’s best work is done.
Sadly, one of the Zed’s greatest disappointments is the complete lack of an inspiring engine note – something that has never been addressed by engineers throughout the Z’s lineage.
More bicep work is required to manage the Z’s heavy steering, which is also numb and surprisingly uncommunicative for a pure bred sports car.
There’s lots of grip at both ends from the beefy 19-inch Bridgestone Potenzas (245/40 up front and 275/35s down back), which seem to perform better, the harder you push.
Lift up the rear hatch and you’ll immediately notice the heavy bracing. It’s the same story under the bonnet and the effects are immediately felt under rapid changes of direction where there’s plenty of lateral grip and minimal body flex, even under heavy loads.
Plenty of torsional stiffness too, so body roll is well checked allowing the car to perform admirably in those tight, twisty bits.
But the electronic stability control clamps down on progress, getting particularly flustered and panicked over bumpy roads where the Z's body control is less than impressive. It's far too eager to assist before any real slip occurs and frankly, is a bit of party-pooper.
Another downside to the stiffness is a less than comfortable ride. There’s a lack of compliance in the suspension, meaning even small bumps can be punishing at low speeds.
Push on and the double wishbones up front and multilink set up at the rear seem better able to deal with the back road moguls, though it still doesn’t feel as planted or settled, as the 135i.
Tipping the scales at 1496 kilograms, the 370Z is also heaviest amongst its rivals by at least 66 kilos. It still performs admirably, but the extra heft robs it of that agile feeling you get in rival models.
All that extra weight coupled with a larger, naturally aspirated powertrain means the Z isn’t all that fuel-efficient, either.
Nissan claims an official 10.5L/100km for the manual (tested), though during our week-long test of the car we achieved no better than 12.9L/100km.
The Z also transmits plenty of road noise into the cabin, so you’ll need to dial up the Bose audio if it’s to be heard over that, and the course engine note.
There are no such failings when it comes to the Zed’s stopping power. The four-pot Brembos up front are bulletproof, wiping off speed at a staggering rate, and with minimal front-end dive. There's no fade to speak of either.
Despite the fact that the most recent update brought no changes to the outside, the Nissan 370Z is still a head-turner. The 19-inch Ray’s forged alloy wheels alone look sensational and it still looks fast standing still. A recent facelift also includes vertical LED daytime driving lights.
Inside, it’s a bit of mixed bag.
The low-slung front buckets have the driver sitting deep in the car (not unlike a Porsche 911) while the heavy bolstering and faux-suede seat inserts prevent any unwanted sliding in the more enthusiastic moments.
Unfortunately, the steering wheel (tactile as it is) only offers tilt adjustment that may see taller drivers struggle to find that perfect position. Though at least the entire instrument cluster moves with the wheel allowing for unobstructed visibility in that regard.
The whole facia from top to bottom is soft touch, though it still looks cheap, as does the retrofit-style joint fuel and trip metre gauge.
But there’s no shortage of luxury kit on board the 370Z. Highlights include heated and power seats, seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and rear-view camera, automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and music streaming and keyless entry and start.
From a practicality standpoint, the Z is certainly compromised, not least by that serious looking rear bracing.
We managed to squeeze in a couple of six-foot three-inch surfboards and a couple of soft bags, though mountain bikes are definitely out.
It's not perfect, but the Nissan 370Z still ticks plenty of boxes.
Although it is getting old, and lacks the sophistication of comparably priced European hot-hatches and sports coupes, or Japanese all-wheel-drive sedans, it's still fast, looks the business, handles well and comes with plenty of useful kit.