PRO’s: Great chassis, interior and handling characteristics.
CON’s: High clutch pedal engagement, buzzy engine, road noise.
FINAL THOUGHT: A true drivers car that retains all the values and fun that made the original Datsun 240Z such a great car over 40 years ago.
It seems that in recent years the motoring public has forgotten that Nissan makes another sports car aside from the GT-R. It’s one that steeped with more than 40 years of history and truth be told, it’s the car that put Nissan (then Datsun) on the map here in the United States. The Nissan “Z” car, now in it’s sixth generation, has always been a competent sports car. During the 1970′s it changed the way America thought about Japanese performance machines. Cars from the 1980′s brought fourth machines that highlighted the cars technology. In the 1990′s we were introduced to some real performance by the way of twin-turbo’s and then during the early part of the new millennium, Nissan went back to its roots by developing a new Z car for a new generation of fans. This is a 2013 Nissan 370Z Touring that’s been equipped with just about every bell and whistle in Nissan’s arsenal and although it’s not perfect, it is one helluva fun car to flog around.
Since the GT-R came out back in 2007 the Z has taken somewhat of a back seat. I mean let’s face it, in every comparison test out there the GT-R will trounce its older brother. Flat out performance however isn’t what the 370Z is all about. It’s a car that takes you back to the basics of driving by rewarding its owner with a well designed, engaging and well tuned sports car that puts a smile on your face every time you hit your favorite back road.
Because the 370Z is a drivers car that’s what I’m going to focus on here. However just to be fair I’ll give you a quick synopsis of its features. It’s got navigation, Bluetooth phone, climate control, satellite radio, leather covered power seats with manual adjustments, power windows and suede inserts in the door panels. The car is well built with nice materials and everything functions exactly as it should and works very well together. Whalla! Those are the quickie bits, now onto the driving.
I was actually quite excited to get behind the wheel of this new “Z”. You see for me, the Z car is somewhat of a nostalgic machine as I used to own a 1984 300ZX, with T-tops (why don’t they bring those back?), a 5-speed manual and a little chip that made the car say things like, “You’re door is ajar”. It was a funky little thing with a 160hp 3.0-liter V6 that topped out at 124 mph and went 0-60 mph in about 8-seconds.
Even though 28 years had passed I couldn’t help but feel like I was greeting an old friend as I climbed into the cockpit. Now I will say this, for someone my size (6’4″, 240 lbs.) this new 370Z is a bit cramped, however not so much that it took away from the driving experience.
Powered by Nissan’s tried and true 3.7-liter V6, the 370Z pumps out 332 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 270 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm. It’s a great little lump of an engine, but it does get quite buzzy at high revs. Once you get over that leaf blower exhaust note though you’ll realize that the 370Z does in fact cook along at a pretty good clip. 0-60 mph comes up in a hair under 5-seconds with the 1,320 racing by in about 13.5 seconds.
My press car came equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission that shifted well, albiet the clutch not engaging until the very top of the pedal. One fantastic piece of tech that Nissan employs is the use of a SynchroRev Match system which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts. For guys with massive feet like myself, this was a very welcome addition and one that made driving this new Z much more engaging.
Taking the Z up through my favorite back roads was a very rewarding experience. The chassis is extremely well balanced, which helps to offer up lots of neutral grip. Unlike the GT-R, this 370Z comes void of any real drivers aids. Sure there is traction and stability control, but aside from that this is a real drivers car. Go in hard to a corner, stab the brakes and cut the wheel and the rear rotates nicely. Get on the gas, bring the revs to 6,000 rpms, bang your shifts and presto! Fun, fun, fun for days.
Where the GT-R rewards a less experienced driver, the 370Z makes the less experienced driver better. Feedback through the steering wheel is direct and precise and truly communicates whats going on under the tires below. Only when pushed very hard did the Z warn me that I may be getting in over my head. It didn’t correct me mind you (like the GT-R), but it told me what I was doing wrong, a feature that sometimes overshadowed by electronics in today’s newer sports cars.
That’s what a real sports car is supposed to do though right? It’s supposed to help you raise your game, enhance your skills behind the wheel, and keep you as the driver engaged when you’re rolling at higher speeds. During this review I didn’t get into all the electronic bells and whistles. Nor did I speak about how comfy the seats were or the fact that it gets 26 mpg on the highway. What I tried to focus on was the fact that this is a well built sports car that reminds the driver about what spirited driving is supposed to be about – fun.
*2013 Nissan 370Z Touring: $43,905.00