Nissan 370Z, Driven!


The freshened 370Z has been spied on, talked about, photographed and now… driven.  This second-generation design is wider and shorter, and curiously, has a shorter wheelbase too.  This adds a little “nimbleness” to the car, however, seriously detracts from whatever ride quality the 350Z had to begin with, which admittedly, wasn’t much.  

I’m definitely not a fan of the new looks, and I’m not too sure others will be either.  The car is too tall, too short, too pudgy.  It seems to be trying to be 911-like, but also tries to integrate cues from (really) big brother GT-R.  I find it interesting that Nissan still feels the need to imitate, when you see the GT-R plastering the pages of every magazine with titles like “GT-R Clobbers 911 Turbo Around Track.”  

The interior was quite a weak point in the 350Z, and while it has been updated here, there are still some issues.  The overall style is better, a mishmash of the 350Z and the G37.  The test car was optioned up with the burnt-orange seats, GPS and all the gizmos, so it looked decent, but the Fisher-Price plastics could use an upgrade.

The majority of the changes are actually under the skin, and this is where the car redeems itself.  The structure has been heavily strengthened with more than 200 pounds of additional weight, and this is offset by using aluminum where possible, such as the doors, leaving the new Z only 33 pounds heavier.  The new 3.7 L V6 is the one from the G37, as you may have surmised, and with 332 hp and additional torque, the difference can indeed be felt.  The car has the option of a 7-speed automatic, but really, in this car, that’s just a poseur option.  The real jewel is the new 6-speed with SynchroRev Match.  This is the first application of such a technology, and what it does is perfectly match revs for you with each and every downshift.  It’s great for whether you’re on a track and want to concentrate on following the perfect line, or whether you’re just out for an enthusiastic drive; the system will dial in just the right amount of throttle at the right time for a seamless downshift.  New Akebonos bring race brake quality to the Z, completing a very well rounded set of technical upgrades.

Nissan has gotten really serious about its Porsche-ification of the Z, and with the uber-solid structure, enhanced handling, floor-mounted accelerator and enhanced power, it really does feel like a model from our pal Ferdinand Porsche’s company.  If there were ever any doubts about the 350Z not being a true sports car in any way, the 370Z dispels those notions with a 4.9-second 0-96 km/h time and a whopping 0.97 g performance on the skidpad.  The 370Z performs better in every single test, be it 60-80 km/h acceleration times, slalom speeds or braking.  

Complaints are few with this new Z, but the ones that exist are mostly carried over from the previous model.  An even harsher ride, more road noise and less visibility provide the classic sports car compromises, along with weird styling and a slightly smaller interior in need of plastic surgery.  However, more so than ever, the purity of the sporting nature in this car makes it all worth it.