DAWN OF THE ZED - Nissan 370Z
Independent Car Review - overall score 73/100
Despite its macho persona, June Neary was sad to see the back of Nissan's 370Z.
Will It Suit Me?
Although I love sports cars, I usually go for sporting hatches and convertibles. The more powerful sports models seem a little profligate when you can get more bang for your buck from more manageable models. The Nissan 370Z seemed a little old, school, a little hairy-chested, if you will, for my tastes and to hear the rest of my colleagues banging on about its balanced rear wheel drive handling and powerful six-cylinder engine only confirmed my fears. Despite appreciating its sleek styling, I felt that the 370Z might be a bit macho for its own good.
Practicality isn't a big 370Z plus point, especially when compared to coupe rivals like the Audi TT. The 370Z is a two-seater only but at least there's a shelf behind the front seats that provides additional storage. The old 350Z model had a strut brace across its parcel shelf that tended to get in the way when storing bulky items but that's gone in this 370Z model, made redundant by stiffening work elsewhere, and Nissan has also added a lockable glovebox for increased security.
Behind the Wheel
The fascia and interior design is adventurous and both the ergonomics and the quality of the materials are acceptable for the price. That said, the ambience in the cockpit isn't up with the BMWs and Audis of this world. Nevertheless, it's a great place to be with bizarre internal and external door pulls, an instrument cluster that moves with the steering wheel when you adjust it for height and some slickly finished leather work that puts many more expensive cars to shame. The cabin is resolutely sporting with a clock to record your best lap times as well as a switch that can disable the ESP stability control if you really want to get lairy with the car's handling.
Although as you would expect, it never approaches the almost sickening accelerative punch of Nissan's £85,000 GTR supercar, the 370Z's engine nevertheless has the ability to punt that pretty profile up the road with considerable verve. Think rest to 62mph in 5.3 seconds and 155mph. That's quick thinking. In reality, the 370Z rarely feels that fast, the broad spread of torque and the supple ride making indecent figures on the speedometer feel remarkably easy.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the 370Z is its two gearboxes. Buyers get the option of a close ratio six-speed manual set-up or a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The manual 'box is the first in the world to feature a Synchro Rev Control function that, in the manner of a deftly executed heel and toe downchange, actually matches the engine speed to that of the next gear. In effect, it blips the throttle so that the next ratio can be engaged in a smoother manner.
Value For Money
The price is almost as aggressive as the styling. You'll likely pay between £30,000 and £40,000 for your 370Z Coupe. True, at those prices, it's not an outright bargain but with 328bhp under its bonnet (or 344bhp in the top Nismo model), it makes 310PS worth of Audi TTS (over £40,000) appear an exercise in wilful ostentation. In terms of bhp per pound, the 370Z looks extremely good value.
Could I Live With One?
My neighbours may not have appreciated the 370Z's exhaust and engine note when I fired it up in the morning but there are few more satisfying ways of alleviating the boredom of the daily commute. Taking the long route becomes irresistible in the Nissan and it never failed to put a smile on my face when I caught sight of it sitting outside the office. It's a real feel-good car and if I had another car with a little more space to act as a workhorse, the 370Z would suit me just fine. For many customers however, the added day-to-day practicality of close rivals may well see the 370Z struck from their shortlists. They don't know what they're missing out on.