By on June 20, 2011

Back in 2002, on a whim, my father bought the recently re-introduced Nissan 350Z for the simple reason that he loved the way the car looked. He then proceeded to rarely drive it because it was loud, rough, and generally lacking in refinement, and sold it after only a year and a half. I haven’t driven a Z since. Nissan has reportedly worked to smooth over the car’s rough edges, most notably with a redesign for the 2009 model year. So another look seemed in order.

The Z gained some curves with its redesign, rendering it prettier to some eyes, more bulbous to others, and still clearly a Z to all—but it seemed insufficiently changed to re-ignite the car’s sales. Then again, the segment is dormant. Among two-seaters, only the Chevrolet Corvette outsold the Z last year, and not by much (12,624 vs. 10,215). The third-place Miata trailed both by a sizable margin. The tested car’s $3,030 Sport Package includes a limited-slip differential, beautiful 19” RAYS forged alloy wheels, an understated rear spoiler, and a chin spoiler that gives the road noisy kisses when tempted by the slightest dip.

The Z’s interior was inarguably improved by the redesign, with a more upscale appearance and upgraded materials. The center stack, similar to that in the G37, is now upholstered in a very good imitation of leather. It’s so close at hand that the controls on the steering wheel are hardly necessary. But too many interior parts remain a silver-painted plastic that would appear much less out of place in a Versa than in a $40,000 sports car.


The instruments, a perennial Nissan aesthetic weakness, are especially hard on the eyes. Why the compulsion to put rectangular displays within round holes? And to employ orange lighting? Orange is also employed for the perforated leather on the seats and the faux suede on the doors, but it proved quite popular in these locations.

The Z’s driver seat is comfortable, but a little short on lateral support. The Infiniti G37’s power-adjustable bolsters would be welcome here. The view forward from the low seats includes a fair amount of hood.

The view rearward is nearly nonexistent, between the wide C-pillars and mail slot of a rear window. Even with a rearview camera backing out of parking spaces proves a dicey proposition.

The cargo area under the rear part of the hatch is barely tall enough to hold an upright gallon of milk, which can be counted on to slide around all the way home unless restrained by a cargo net (not provided with the tested car).

With the redesign, the 350Z received a bump in its engine’s displacement. At 3.7 liters, the VQ is now quite large for a six. Even without the benefit of direct injection, power output is now 332 horsepower at 7,000 rpm. Not the 400+ available in a Camaro or Mustang, but the Z, tipping the scales at just over 3,200 pounds, is considerably lighter than those cars. So the big six feels plenty muscular even well short of its redline. A NISMO variant adds 18 horses, a firmer suspension, and less subtle body kit, but these mods add to the cars strengths rather than addressing its weaknesses. The latter tend to be subjective—so your opinion of them may well vary. An exhaust that roars loudly at the slightest provocation drowns out any singing by the mechanical bits under the Z’s hood. Without much in the way of character, this roar suggests brute force rather than mechanical sophistication. Which, it turns out, fits the overall character of the car.

The 370Z’s manual transmission’s short-throw shifter and clutch require meaty inputs. Though the former feels satisfyingly solid and precise, smooth upshifts in casual driving require concentration. Yet smooth downshifts couldn’t be easier. Thanks to an innovative rev-matching feature, engine rpm automagically almost instantly increase by the appropriate amount. Unfortunately, the automatic bump in engine speed is accompanied by an immediate exponential increase in exhaust noise. Appropriate during spirited driving. But a bit of a shock until you get used to it, and less welcome when slowing for a stoplight, where you’ll feel the (quite possibly imagined) disapproving stares of everyone around you. The feature can be turned off, but a better solution would be a variable exhaust like those offered in the Corvette and some Porsches.

The 370Z’s steering similarly calls for meaty inputs. Partly as a result, the car continues to feel much larger and heavier than it actually is. Though the steering is quite quick, the Z doesn’t feel agile. Instead, clearly a real man’s car, it must be muscled through curves. This said, there’s less steady state understeer than in the past, and the car feels more balanced. Unless you get on the gas. Like the related Infiniti G37, the Z has a tendency to snap oversteer, especially when fitted with the limited-slip differential. In a quick-and-dirty fix, the stability control is programmed to intervene early with a heavy hand. A better fix would be rear suspension geometry that yields the sort of progressive power oversteer that makes GM’s rear-wheel-drive performance cars a joy to drive.

Road noise remains a Z weakness, with a hum and/or roar emanating from the rear tires on concrete road surfaces. Ride quality, on the other hand, is much improved over the 350Z early in its run. While the suspension is certainly firm, it takes the edge off road imperfections and no longer tortures the car’s occupants. Evenly spaced expansion joints at highway speeds can provoke rhythmic bouncing, but the amplitude is much less (and so much less likely to induce nausea) than before.

The highly-optioned tested 2011 370Z Touring lists for $42,775 after some recent price increases. Without the nav, illuminated door sills, and $580 in high-performance brake pads, (but with the Touring’s standard leather and BOSE audio) it would be $40,055. A similarly equipped 426-horsepower Camaro SS lists for about $3,500 less. Adjusting for feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool widens the gap to about $4,400. You’ll save even more with a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which is about $10,500 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $11,500 less afterwards.

And the related G37? About $2,800 more before the feature adjustment, but about $900 LESS afterwards. You’re not paying extra for the premium brand in this case—or even the rear seats. Looking to Germany, only Porsche still offers a two-seat hardtop sports car, and a similarly-equipped Cayman over $30,000 more. A BMW 135i lists for almost exactly the same price as the Z. After adjusting for feature differences, the BMW lists for about $2,500 less.

The Nissan 370Z is much nicer inside and much easier to live with than the 350Z my old man briefly owned. He’d drive this one more and hold onto it longer. But the Z’s still not easy to live with. On a track or an especially challenging road, the Z might prove a delight. On most public roads, though, the car continues to feel muscle-bound and out of its element. Either of Mazda’s sports cars feel much more agile, but are far less powerful. The Germans go about their business with much less noise and much more finesse, but none offer a two-seat coupe for a remotely similar price. Prefer a little more luxury and a lot less noise? Then the related Infiniti G37 Coupe could be the way to go. Or, if you’re willing to trade features and refinement for a lower price, Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe. If, on the other hand, you’ve been seeking the extroverted macho functionality-be-damned flavor of a Camaro, but in a more compact package, then the 370Z definitely delivers.

Nissan provided the test vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of car pricing and reliability data.

Photos courtesy Michael Karesh

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85 Comments on “Review: Nissan 370Z Touring...”


  • avatar
    michal1980

    350z? Or 370z?

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Everyone I know who has owned one of the 350Zs has offloaded it pretty quickly.

    Not easy to live with.

    12-18 months seems to be about the norm, then move onto something else.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      A neighbor’s kid got one and then moved on to drive a G8.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      I didn’t realize it was a pattern. I have a friend who bought a 350Z and dumped it about a year later.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        I used to see two while walking my dog. USED TO. They seemed to last about two years before the owners moved on to other cars. After test driving a 350Z and an RX8 on the same day back in 2004, I came to the conclusion that the 350Z was fun to drive in the short term but would not be fun to own in the long term. I ended up with a different car, but between the RX8 and the 350Z I would have taken the RX8 even without the $6k lower price. It looks like they did add some storage room under the hatch and slighlty improved the interior, but not that much of an improvement in either area to make me want to own one.

    • 0 avatar

      “Not easy to live with.”

      But apparently easy to die in.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/the-most-and-least-died-in-vehicles-of-2006-2009/

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      I bought an ’07 350Z new in July of 2007 and have a little over 72K miles of happy, totally trouble-free motoring.

      But then you don’t know me.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The 370Z in white looks remarkably like Marvin the Paranoid Android.

    BTW, if you must buy a Nissan 370Z, don’t take it to a track day. The brakes will go away all at once when the brake fluid boils.

    • 0 avatar

      You know this from C&D, or there have been other reports?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Z Meets Wall: We Investigate Why the NISMO Z’s Brakes Failed at Lightning Lap – Feature

        Search for an article by that title. Car and Driver investigated their problem, tested Nissan’s suggested fixes, and repeated the type of complete and sudden fade experienced at VIR. I haven’t seen other reports, but I go to a few track days a year and 370Zs are conspicuously absent. Every other two seater available other than the Audi R8, new Z4, SLK, SL, Smart Car, and Murcielago tends to show up. I’ve even seen a bunch of SLS-AMGs and a CR-Z. A sports car that starts at $31,500 and produces big numbers should be popular at the track, especially after a couple years on the market.

      • 0 avatar

        I am surprised you don’t see them at track days. This car isn’t well-suited to daily driving. If it’s also not suited for track use, then what?

        I read the C&D piece when it was firsts published. Their analysis seemed solid, but if true then there should be many other reports.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      I’ve seen a handful of 370Zs at track events. The owners seem to do fine with them as long as they’re equipped with the factory NISMO pads.

      I know there was a follow-up article done about the pads that indicated that they only helped a little bit, but the on-track environment is difficult to simulate.

    • 0 avatar
      johnxyz

      The other major mechanical issue with the 370Z’s is the engine running hot and subsequently shutting down (limp-mode). Nissan knows about the defect but does not include an oil cooler – which addresses the problem, apparently. Guys are having difficulties at track days due to engine overheating issues. Also happens just driving on the highway, too.

      This is well-documented in all the Z enthusiast forums. Does not bode well for long-term reliability. Anyone else have any info on this?

      Too bad because I really like the looks and concept of the 370Z. Scratched off the list (the fatality/mortality thing doesn’t help either.) Also like the RX-8 but also scratched based on poor gas mileage and iffy engine robustness. Maybe the replacement Genesis Coupe. Wish Hyundai would put in the turbo from the Sonata, though. All 3 are sports car bargains, especially now that dealers can’t give them away. Whats that leave – a Civic SI or an Accord Coupe? Geezzz…

    • 0 avatar
      thesal

      That might sound a little over the top…we’ve got a competitor running a 350Z at Ontario Time Attack who has spent about $80 on a set of brake ducts and he doesn’t know what brake fade means.

      Cleans up in our GT3 class, the car is quick even on street tires!

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    they forgot the front bumper.
    now i know why its drivers drive like they do – they are rushing to get the hell out of that interior.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    My thoughts while reading this article:

    * RAYS made those wheels? I know that aftermarket RAYS are quite pricey so one wonders what sort of volume discount Nissan got on these. The CSL-type wheels for my M3 are made by BBS and yet retail for only $1700 through a popular BMW dealer (compared to ~$5000 for branded BBS wheels).

    * Love me some orangey-brownish interiors including this Z, and the Cinnamon and Saddle interiors offered by BMW on various models. Cinnamon has proven to be quite popular on the used market but the take rate seems to be low on the new market. I wish more cars dabbled in this palette for their interiors.

    * Cargo nets are absolutely necessary for anyone daily driving any car that takes corners or onramps at speed. Single best value upgrade I have purchased for my M. No more cringing during turns while driving home from the grocery store.

    * Given this site’s and I believe Michael’s propensity for calling out automakers for making each successive generation of vehicles larger and heavier than the prior one, I’m surprised that he didn’t note that Nissan made this car lighter and smaller than the preceding 350z.

    * It’s trendy to hate on the Z/G’s exhaust note these days (whereas circa 2002, everyone raved about a performance car that actually sounded like it had some balls to back up the sheetmetal), but I still find it very entertaining and distinctive.

    * The rev-matching feature sounds awesome – kudos to Nissan for developing a significant feature that will only appeal to enthusiasts. Is the increased exhaust noise the normal increase in volume that accompanies higher revs or something much louder? I can’t tell if you’re calling out the rev-match system or the exhaust with critique. To expect the 370z to match Porsche and Vette type features seems like a bit of a stretch.

    * Can you really make an accurate comparison in ride quality with this 370z and a car you haven’t driven in 7+ years (your dad’s 350z)? I still don’t know how you keep all of the ride qualities, cabin impressions, NVH characteristics, etc. straight in your mind for all of the different cars you drive, Michael. Impressive.

    * Wow, those price comps to the G37 and 335i are surprising. Hard to see the value proposition of the 370z in that light.

    Being something of a Nissan fanboy after 12 years and counting of faithful service by my Pathfinder, I sometimes entertain thoughts of replacing my E46 M3 with a 350/370z. The notion, though possibly misguided, that I could just beat on the thing and drive it hard without fear of VANOS failure or subframe damage or some piece of Bosch electronics crapping out on me is certainly enticing. I would never do it, the M is just too good dynamically and aesthetically, but I do daydream about it.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point on the curb weight. If only the car felt as light as it is.

      The Sport Package does cost $3,030, and at least half of that goes for the wheels. They are real RAYS–the brand name is forged into the rims.

      The exhaust sounds louder when the computer is the one blipping the throttle. It probably isn’t actually louder once the engine is up to speed, but this occurs so quickly when the computer does it (vs. my right heel or the synchros) that the noise increase seems even larger than it actually is–because it’s a large change and nearly immediate, with no gradual increase.

      While Chevrolet and especially Porsche charge serious money for a variable exhaust, there’s no reason to think it should actually cost much, especially not if done in volume.

      I made a mistake on the BMW price comparison. I compared the 135i, and meant to type 135i, but somehow typed 335i instead. Fixed.

      Some cars stick in my memory better than others. The torturous ride of the 2003 350Z won’t be forgotten any time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        I prefer the fun of driving a light, tossable, mid-engine sports car (I also own an ’81 X1/9, in which I split my 102 mile roundtrip commute each week), but I am much amused to read some of these comments.

        Why, one would almost think a 305HP, comparatively lightweight, .98G on the skidpad, purchased for less than $30K haulin’ ass car was a boat anchor.

      • 0 avatar
        Morea

        comparatively lightweight

        X1/9, about 2000 lbs (depending on model year)
        370Z, 3200 lbs (as per this article)
        or 60% more (Granted the 370Z has about 4 times the horsepower so some weight gain is inevitable).

        Average weight of an American man about 175 lbs
        175 lbs x 1.6 = 280 lbs

        Hey, I’m gonna tell my wife I’m “comparatively lightweight”!

        (BTW, good on you making an X1/9 your daily driver. “If it’s not Italian it’s just transportation.”)

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        Hey, I’m gonna tell my wife I’m “comparatively lightweight”!

        LOL… yes, time – and the love of food – wounds all heels. 3200lbs… I’m thinking you won’t find many modern sports cars that weigh less… but could be wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Morea

        Agreed. Nothing lightweight beyond Lotus and the Mazdas (Miata and RX-8). Particularly, lightweight sedans/coupes are a thing of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      They made the 370Z smaller, but it still gained 22 lbs because we have a bureaucracy that added requirements as if 2002 cars were death traps.

      • 0 avatar

        @CJinSD
        They made the 370Z smaller, but it still gained 22 lbs because we have a bureaucracy that added requirements as if 2002 cars were death traps.

        Perhaps you didn’t know that the Nissan 350 topped the list of FATALITIES.

        http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/2011/06/17/2011-06-17_nissan_350z_named_deadliest_car_insurance_institute_for_highway_safety_suvs_earn.html

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        143 per million registered vehicle years. How do 350Z drivers find the fortitutude to get behind the wheel?

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        “143 per million registered vehicle years. How do 350Z drivers find the fortitutude to get behind the wheel?”

        You are a funny man, CJ! And the sissification of America continueszzzzz.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        You jest, but if you buy a 350Z and keep it, you’ll never live to be 7,000 years old. With all the deaths in bathtubs, I wonder how much longer people like that will remain hygenic. Should I have capitalized any of the words in the last sentence to draw attention to the perils of washing up, maybe thrown in some exclamation points and a scared smiley or two?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ in SD:

        Yeah, God forbid safety features should be added to a high-performance car…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        If you really think we need to keep stepping up minimum safety requirements, just stay in bed. Make safety features optional, or test cars and publish the results so cowards can buy the level of reassurance they want and the rest of us can drive better cars that waste less resources.

    • 0 avatar
      Fonzy

      Rays Engineering does make those wheels. They have been making the Nismo wheels for the previous generation Zs also. I got a staggard set of Volks (which is made by Rays) for my roadster Z. You are right, they are not cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Now forgive me my persistent BOF(Boring Old Fart)-ness – again, but for any enthusiast an automatic throttle blipping should be a travesty.

      For me it would be a nightmare, as I am initially taught and ever since been routinely driving with double-declutching and throttle blipping on down-shifts.
      Oh for some mechanical throttle bodies….

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      @GiddyHitch Before I bought my 08 350Z, I had compared it against a CPO E46 M3. Part of the appeal of the 350Z was it had much of the performance of the M3 but with the low probability of very severe problems (the MY06 350Z is an exception–it has oil consumption issues) like the sub-frame tearing on E46s. The cars will take an enormous amount of abuse. One of my friends has 85,000 very hard miles on his 04 from a combination of commuting and attending drift sessions. He’s still on the stock clutch and the worst that’s happened was a foggy headlight and a dead alternator.

      Regarding the noise from the rev feature, the drive by wire is responsive but it also never quite opens the throttle plate all the way, and it’s very noticeable below 2200rpm and above 5800 or so. The computer blip might open it more than the pedal, which would mean a louder noise.

  • avatar
    fozone

    This car makes me profoundly sad. Does Nissan keep any 240Zs at their design studio for the kids to study?

    I don’t want to go into old man/”get off my lawn” mode, but this car seems both ignorant of history and pointless.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Exactly like the Camaro. Pointless, and doesn’t look like a retro anything. And falls apart in one’s hands. The Camaro, that is. I’d still die for any Z. Especially the 1982 DATSUN Turbo ZX 2+2. (chills up spine)

      • 0 avatar
        vento97

        >I’d still die for any Z. Especially the 1982 DATSUN Turbo ZX 2+2. (chills up spine)

        As a former owner of a 1977 Datsun 280z (1st generation Z car) – I have one thing to say – You’re kidding, right?

        The ZX is a prime example of the wrong direction Datsun/Nissan took with the Z cars during their transformation from a sports car to a Grand Touring vehicle. Faster in a straight line perhaps, but it was heavier and bloated-looking – an antithesis of the clean lines and driving excitement of the original Z.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      To each his own, fozone, but this car’s design works for me.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The pricing information here seems misleading. The 370Z’s base price is $31,450. Equipment at that price is about what you get when you don’t add $9k in options to a BMW 3 series, but trying getting some of the other cars mentioned here down to that price. The price difference to a stripped Genesis V6 is less that $5k, not $10,500 as is written in the article. And the Genesis makes this car seem like a good idea. I’m no fan of Nissans, and the 370Z has a crucial functional defect for a sports car. Still, this article does’t seem to be properly researched and a 30% price difference can color impressions of the value considerably.

    • 0 avatar

      The research was fine. I quite clearly was not comparing stripped cars. The tested vehicle was not a stripped car. I did type “335i” when I meant to type “135i.”

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m missing the part where you specified that you started with a Touring model when there are two 370Zs available for less, as much as $5,500 less. You mentioned that you had the sport package. You didn’t mention that it was added to the Touring model that already has a heavy equipment load and price premium.

      • 0 avatar

        Good point on the “Touring,” I’ll add that into the article. I did mention that the car was “highly optioned,” and it’s hard to miss the leather upholstery in the photos.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      +1

      I have seen plenty base 370Z’s advertised for $29900, a friend just bought one and got a steal on it. These cars arent moving, and there appears to be a lot of wiggle room in the sticker. Nissan (and Honda) are notorious for building in a lot of room in the sticker to account for dreadful trade-in values, or allow inflated “down payments” to help the loan-to-value ratio. Plus some of the option packages are very pricey, and obviously profit builders for people who simply cannot live without leather, navigation, or a 1000-watt stereo, etc. Edmunds shows these cars are selling at very close to invoice.

      Even at full boat sticker, a Nismo 370Z is under $42k, Edmunds TMV is $39k. All I would want is a base 370z with the sport pack… $35k sticker, $33k Edmunds TMV. You cant even get a base 328i coupe for that money, and good luck actually finding one.

  • avatar

    By the way, bonus points for anyone who can identify the location in the exterior photos.

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    I’ve test-driven a few 350z-s with the intention to buy only to walk away unimpressed with the cars drive train and under-steering tendencies. I never found the powerband on the 350z very responsive – you give it gas and it does nothing. Very un-300hp sportscar ish. The under-steer was always terrible compared to a Mazda rx8 I’ve driven or the ’00 Mustang GT I owned. I thought I was being unfair to the car, but a few years ago I rented a 350z from Hertz for a drive up the Cali coast on Rt.1 and these thoughts were re-affirmed.

    How does the 370z compare?

    • 0 avatar

      The 370Z’s handling is much more balanced than the 350Z’s, but still not agile. Just about anything seems to understeer badly if you compare it to an RX-8.

      The powertrain is very responsive, but I don’t recall this being a problem earlier.

      • 0 avatar
        jfranci3

        True compared to an Rx8 or a Miata (even). I thought it wasn’t very sportscar like at all (I wouldn’t even put it in the same league as the Cobalts and Altimas I regularly rented).

        On the responsiveness, I think part of the blame went toward 87oct gas, but it’s not totally at fault. The power delivery wasn’t nearly as good as lesser powered cars or even the g35. The car would have been much better with a g35 tuning and 17 less hp. I guess I’ll have to drive a 370z to decide for myself on the power delivery.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    When the 370Z came out I didn’t care for it. The styling elements of the lights seemed a bit fiddly to me. Over time how ever it has grown on me. Perhaps it is from listening to the exhaust note, but my mind has changed on this car. I wouldn’t buy one, but I do like them now.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    I went through two 350Z’s and especially liked the 2007 car. The 370Z fixed a lot of issues, making the car smaller and lighter and improving the interior by a mile. I think they look pretty good, although I hate the fish mouth.

    I seriously considered a 370Z 40th anniversary car. Problem was the price, something around $40K.

    I got a 5.0 Mustang for $34,000 (similar feature levels as the 370Z, leather, etc) and it’s tons of fun to drive. Not as interesting a car as the Z, but it wins the value battle and in this economy, I think you’ll see pony cars getting the nod until Nissan can inject the Z again.

  • avatar

    Based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey, the 2009 370Z rarely requires a repair. Not enough participants for the 2010 or 2011 yet, but these are likely just as reliable.

    For the detail, and to help with the survey (with just about any car):

    http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

  • avatar
    carguy

    I was initially excited about this car but it fell way short of the hype. The cramped interior, poor visibility and relentless noise make this car a chore in daily traffic and on the track it requires optional NISMO oil coolers to avoid overheating.

    I can’t help but think that some guys in lab coats worked overtime to give this car the sort of impressive test numbers that look terrific in a car magazine comparo but for me they just never translated into enough driving pleasure to justify the practicality concessions made to obtain them.

    For $40K I would recommend a used Cayman S.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    A friend of mine bought a 350Z from his father in law, who hated it, he loved it, but got stupid one night coming home from his brother’s house and hit a tree. It was totalled, and he wasn’t even sore the next day. No, he wasn’t drunk, just going way too fast on a road known to have a lot of potholes and divots in it. He replaced it with an ’07 Vette. A lot more confortable, IMO, but he’s still thinking about a 370Z as his next car.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Nissan’s gauge’s are horrible, along with most of their interiors. I got into an Altima not long ago and thought for a minute that Pontiac was alive and well living under an assumed name in Tennessee.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I like the V35 G35 coupe better, especially in black. The headlights are particularly sexy IMO. The styling of its sequel is a disappointment.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    I remember a piece by LJK Setright in the CAR Magazine (“Look back In Anger” column) in the early 90-s, where he ranted about steering and other controls being made unnecessarily/artficially heavy – to imbue them with so called “sportiness”. He was mentioning his beloved Honda Prelude as an example of effortless – yet fluid and precise controls.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    How was the steering feedback? I remember test driving a G35 sedan and had an issue with it, or rather an issue with the lack of feedback.

    At any rate, I’m increasingly convinced that Nissan has a brilliant, narcoleptic designer. He comes up with astounding designs and concepts, then nods off. His manager comes in, takes the paper from under his head, wipes off the drool, draws a few quick lines and tosses in some cheaper parts to complete the concept and sends it off.

    I’ve owned two Nissans and have driven others, and no other cars in my experience have such a unique mix of brilliance and “what the hell?”

    • 0 avatar

      Not much feedback. There’s a lot of artificial heaviness going about. If you want light but communicative steering, get a Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        tbp0701

        Thanks. I’ve considered getting a Mazda, but they have serious rust issues where I live (NE Ohio snowbelt, roads can get salted nearly six months out of the year).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’ve had my RX-8 for going on 6 years in Michigan, and not only have I not had one mechanical issue, it gets around like champ on snow tires in even quite deep snow, and shows absolutely zero rust.

      • 0 avatar

        I learned this about Mazdas the hard way…

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        I don’t understand how word hasn’t gotten out to the masses about Mazda’s rust, yet. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of rust I see on Mazda3′s here in Montreal, and I’m not talking about just surface rust, either. And yet people keep on buying them. The old Protege did no better, and the 6 seems to rust quite a bit, too. I’ve yet to see rusty RX-8′s and Miatae, but that could well be because many of them are stored in the winter. My never-winter-driven ’99 Miata is just about immaculate, as were the 2 others that I looked at while shopping for it.

        Mazda needs to get its act together, though; I like the 3 very much, but there’s no way I’d ever buy a car I couldn’t trust to keep from rotting in the first 6 years.

  • avatar

    GREAT REVIEW MIKE.

    I always liked these cars, but, they are definitely not for me.

    Now that the 350z topped fatality lists this year, they are DEFINITELY NOT FOR ME…

    http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/2011/06/17/2011-06-17_nissan_350z_named_deadliest_car_insurance_institute_for_highway_safety_suvs_earn.html

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    As for the fatality report, I think we have to remember that the Z is a potent, RWD sports car for a price that many people can afford. Moreover, it’s being sold in a time when far fewer people have had to learn to drive without electronic interference or even experienced the dynamics of being pushed among by the rear wheels. If, for instance, a 25 year old who has always driven FWD compacts gets his first big paycheck and decides to get a 370Z, he’s going to have to realize he has a learning curve, hopefully before he decides to show off what it can do at a stoplight.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      This is a good point. I recently bought a Miata, and even with less than half the 370Z’s power, that thing surprises me by kicking the tail out here and there. Luckily, in the Miata it’s quite predictable and easy to catch, but there’s definitely still a learning curve, and requires me to work my corner speed up slowly and carefully. Judging from my brother’s 350Z, though, the electronics do seem to do a very good job of flattering the driver.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Great review, Michael.

    I tested this car and a sport-package 135i last year. A few thoughts from that:

    Z:

    Test car was an automatic Touring with sport package.

    Underlined twice in notes: FAST. Tied with the 135i for the quickest car of the day. Engine is tremendously ballsy from no revs to redline. Makes a lot of noise. Less rough than the Camaro, but doesn’t sound like it wants to go past 6K on the tach.

    Road and wind noise is noticeably higher than all other cars, even at sub-highway speeds. Doesn’t seem to have much sound-deadening material in the cabin or behind the engine.

    Excellent transmission. Responds very quickly to paddles, automatically blips downshifts.

    Excellent handling. Maybe ten percent stiffer than the BMWs, but very similar feel. Livable on decent roads despite sport options. Capable damping of harsher impacts. Tracks beautifully, lots of fun.

    Good interior. Quality not far from the Maxima. Tight tolerances, soft leather, red/orange ambiance. Similar to the GT-R, but with fewer buttons on the dash and less claustrophobic. Narrow seatback bolstering poked my shoulder blades, also like the GT-R. Doesn’t have lumbar support. Manual adjustments of front-to-rear tilt on all models.

    Rear visibility makes for guess-and-check parking. Salesman insists this improves with time. Enormous lateral brace behind the seats should impress passengers.

    Overall impression: A genuine sports car and a bargain. A daily-driver for the committed, a weekend toy for everyone else.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I’ve driven several model years of 350Zs, and own an MY08 myself. Between some friends and acquaintances, I’ve driven an early 03, 04, 06 and took a 370Z for a spin last year, courtesy of a friend who bought it over an Audi TTS.

    The cars improved noticeably over the years, especially after 06 when the interior was updated with better materials all around and the shocks retuned for a much better ride. Road noise is noticeable in all years. Interesting thing I noticed between early models and 04s, the door latches were revised so the door sounds better when closed.

    The 370Z fixed most of the things that bothered me about the 350Z. It feels lighter and more agile and the interior is far more practical. 350Zs didn’t have gloveboxes, just awkward little cubbies behind the seats.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I wish I would have gotten a chance to comment on this article earlier…

    I own a ’10 G37S 6MT and cross shopped the 370Z, among quite a few other cars. The 370Z is an awesome car, but I wouldn’t want to live with it daily. It rides harsh, it’s loud, obnoxious, and just brash all around. But it handled like a dream and I loved the way it drove. If it were $32k fully loaded OTD, I would have thought twice instead of going the 370GT, eh hem, G37 route.

    For what I paid OTD for my fully loaded G37S, I don’t regret having a nicer interior and overall better quality ride to live with on a daily basis.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I just do not like this car. As much as I liked the original ones, these are dopey looking. And whats with rear windows that are really sunroofs for the luggage compartment? What has happened to rear windows that you could actually SEE out of? I realize that it is a current design craze, but it seems to me that especially with a small car like this one, you would want to see out, as not to get crushed by practically everything else on the road. Its scary. Or perhaps, as seems to be the case with the likes of the caddy cts coupe, it is the huberis of the designers that you would of course not want to see out of your car, what with the interior being so beautiful and warranting your every driving moment.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    “Just about anything seems to understeer badly if you compare it to an RX-8.”

    Yup! Don’t ever drive one; it will reset your standards to the point that virtually every street “sports” car you drive afterwards feels lifeless by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      lastwgn

      You are so right. The other thing about the RX-8 is that, unlike any other street sports car, it has a usable rear seat and a usable trunk. You would not believe it looking at it, but it is an amazing feat of engineering. I have been using an RX-8 as a daily driver for over 9 months. Most important, through a winter and a spring basketball season taking kids to and from practice, the rear seat and rear doors have been amazing. Try using a Mustang for that. The rear seat is more or less useless, and trying to get back there requires significant gymnastics.

      • 0 avatar
        Buzz Killington

        No one believes me when I tell them that the rear seats in my RX8 are perfectly useable for anyone who doesn’t get paid to play offensive line for the Eagles. It’s the best combo of daily driver-autoxer/track day capability I can think of. Damn, now I need to go for a drive.

        But for all of its supposed faults, the 370 (unfortunately) gets around an autocross course just as well as, or better than, an RX8.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        No doubt, My wife and I are both 6′ tall and I can fit in the rear seat behind her in the drivers seat with little or no trouble. There is enough leg room and head room both. The back seat of a Mustang is useless for carrying anything other than grocery bags or inanimate objects. I’ve had the misfortune of riding in the backseat of my wife’s 95 Cobra Mustang a few times and it is nearly impossible. If it were for more than a 15 minute drive across town, it would be impossible. Based on the 2004 and 2010 Mustangs that we test drove, they haven’t changed the rear seat at all. I kinda’ have to disagree about the trunk space though. There is more than the 370Z offers under the hatch, so I guess it meets the definition of usable, lets just not get carried away.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’m looking to grab a used 350Z in a few months, I’d take Genesis or G35, but prefer hatchbacks. Count me down as one who think the new 370Z looks like it put on a few pounds, the older 350Z looks sleeker. I plan to over come the road noise with two 10″ subwoofers. I’m no punk kid, I’m 40 now so I guess this is my mid-life crisis car. I owned a Prelude Si and Eclipse GS-T, both sports cars, but clearly wrong wheel drive.

    The Z is about the only sports car that appeals to me. The Camaro is tank like, the Mustang too common – and neither come as hatchbacks like they did in the 80s. The RX-8 has engine troubles (eats oil and gas, lacks torque) so its off the list, which is shame since all reviews indicate its the best handling of the bunch.

    The funny thing about Z’s is the wax ‘em or track ‘em crowd, similar to ‘Vettes. Thus used examples are either low mileage garage queens or turbo charged beasts… there are very few “normal” Zs around. I still might wind up with a G35 or Genesis, depends on several factors but the rawness of the Z is drawing me in – its a true, pure sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      Buzz Killington

      “Engine troubles” – LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      The Mustang may be “common” but maybe there is a reason that Ford sells so many. Try one out before you write it off your list. The GT version is unsurprisingly powerful, but what is surprising is the improvements they have made to its handling. I will grant you that the RX8′s rotary engine is a gas hog, but the engine does not “eat oil”, at least not in the common meaning of that term. Oil is intentionally injected into the combustion chambers for lubrication; so, yes some oil is used – about one quart between oil changes – but it is not eating oil like say the engine in my wife’s 95 Mustang or the Audi that a cowrker has. And, if you can reprogram yourself to keep the RPMs up in the 4000 to 8000 range while driving an RX8 “spiritedly”, it can be quite rewarding. :-)

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The Z is a rude, crude, unrefined ‘Japanese Camaro’ still, even with all of its so called ‘updates.’

    I’ll take a Mazda RX-8, please, any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and keep the change.

    Yes, the one thing the Z does better is 0-60, but honestly, that’s so passe these days. A Toyota Avalon has a pretty respectable 0-60 time (and one that would have bested Zs of past years), but thrashing one up and down winding roads proves no fun.

    Ride in a Z and RX-8 back to back, on even a semi-winding road, and then get back to me on suspension, steering, clutch&shifter, aura of sound quality – and just about everything else that pertains to attributes that make a sports car sublime, and the Z won’t even come close.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      The RX-8 is okay, I guess, but 16mpg holds no appeal for me. And – although comparatively cheap to rebuild – count on doing that at around 100K miles.

      As for me, I have my wife’s Highlander if/when I need a back seat. I’ll continue enjoying the throaty sound of those 305 ponies, flawless handling, 25mpg and the beautifully sleek profile of my Daytona Blue ’07 Z.

  • avatar
    fttp

    “Perhaps you didn’t know that the Nissan 350 topped the list of FATALITIES.”

    Who cares about this? Its the dope behind the wheel that makes a car dangerous, not the car. Anytime you combine HP, rear drive, and a low price tag you’re gonna attract more poseurs and “bang for the buck” morons anyway. The Camaro held this trophy back in the 80s and 90s, now it’s the Z.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I briefly sold Nissans when the 350Z was new, why anyone would buy a 370Z instead of a low mileage late model Corvette is way beyond my automotive comprehension. Better handling, more power, way better styling (subjective of course), removable roof panel, I’d much rather spend $30-40K on the Vette. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • avatar

    @michal1980 370z all the way mate! faster, more refined. Although some people hate that


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