Living With A Sports Car – Nissan 350Z Part VII



Refresher: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI

One month, officially. Hard to believe it’s only been a month with the new silver-skinned beast that resides in front of my house. It’s hard to believe because I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t driving it every day. 

I’ve learned a lot about the car in the last month. So much that I could go on and on, ad nauseum. But since my drawn-out ranting doesn’t make for much in the way of reading, I’ve decided to go with a good, ol’ fashioned Top 5 List of Things The 350Z Has Taught Me:

1. Fuel economy is just as important as fuel grade required. Fuel economy is usually a consideration in the purchase of a new vehicle, but the grade of fuel required is also very important. Premium gas in Edmonton, Alberta currently costs about $1.10/L. For the Americans reading this, that’s about USD$ 3.84/gallon. Or approximately 50% more than Americans are currently paying. 

2. How you drive is more important that what you drive. It’s true. After my revelation in Part VI of this series, I actually started hypermiling my 350Z. The result? About 9L/100km. Vastly, immensely better than what I was achieving before. Still don’t believe me? Here’s Jeremy Clarkson to prove my point.

3. The 350Z is a Japanese muscle car. Ok, maybe you could call it a Grand Tourer, but it only seats two people, whereas a good GT should be 2+2, even if the back seats are more futile than my attempts to do chin-ups. Usually though, when you think “muscle car”, you think of a Mustang, a Camaro, or a Challenger. Nissan thought of the Z, then built it. The 350Z is a great all-’rounder, and probably too broadly-talented to be considered a true sports car. This past weekend, I found that it was brilliant on a small highway roadtrip to Pigeon Lake. The luggage space is excellent, the sound system applaudable, and the fuel economy is downright respectable when cruising in 6th. Heck, even the ride is, dare I say it, decent. Around town, over Edmonton’s miserable road network, the ride is fairly atrocious. Not so on the highways. 

Another reason why I have chosen the “muscle car” reference is the performance aspect of the 350Z. In a straight line, the sound bellowing from the twin exhausts is menacing and the horizon hurtles towards the driver with perfectly appropriate zest. In the corners though, the Z is anything but a dance partner. The steering doesn’t quite have the feel and feedback necessary to really attack curves and bends. Instead, the steering just has weight – but steering weight alone isn’t enough to replace feel. Also, the weight of the car really manifests itself in these twisty situations. At a listed 3320 lbs, before adding 200lbs of, the Z isn’t the lightest around. Understeer is prevalent towards the limits of tire grip and there’s even a hint more body roll than I would have expected.

But none of this will stop me from ripping up Groat Road and, with windows down, listening to the VQ howls bouncing back and forth off the concrete barriers. 

4. A sports car can be practical too. One of the reasons I went for the 350Z was the large hatch at the back, or “hatchback”, if you will. Golf clubs fit easily, bags, sports gear, and miscellaneous knick-knacks do too. Thank goodness for the cargo net though. Having stuff roll around right behind my head isn’t ideal, especially when items make their way from the back to the front. This actually happened to me with a box of Mini Wheats. 

5. Sports cars are a luxury. This might sound obvious, self-evident even, but the 350Z has made me realize how lucky I am. Not only can I live with a 2-seater because I don’t have kids to shuttle around, but I can also afford a sports car and afford to have another car for the winter. Driving around town, watching regular people drive regular sedans and SUVs, this became increasingly apparent to me. There are plenty of people out there who could afford the price of entry and the price of maintenance and up-keep, but the cost of compromise is not affordable to many. What can I say?It’s good to be young. 

Until next time…