This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Jun 16, 2009
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John Grafman
By John Grafman
The whole economic downturn is really just a smile turned upside down. Sure, sure, we can't afford all the good, high-ticket cars we used to, but now we have new fields to plunder. So, forget those brands like Bentley and Ferrari, and welcome to the new frontier. Ignoring rarified brands, or even the premium euro nameplates has never been easier. With the introduction of the 370Z the game is taking a new path. One can now actually get into maximum trouble on the weekly allowance provided by unemployment insurance benefits. If gas prices don't go to the moon we might have the "Summer of George" that we have always dreamed about.
This Nissan does share the profile and design cues of many other curvaceous, and high-priced sports cars. The hard edge styling of the prior model that this is patterned off of gives way to a sleeker body. Yet, this is still unmistakably a Z. In an effort to be fair and balanced it is safe to say that this Z is about 85 percent of what we hold near and dear to our petrol filled hearts. So let's get all the cards on the table right from the start. The 370Z is really amazing, but it has two ugly warts that still need to be burned off of what would otherwise be a prom queen. In brief, the base model suffers from an interior that feels like a Wal-Mart special. Yes, this is a base interior, and the point is well taken, but for 30K the car deserves nicer material. And while on that subject, what's with the lack of decent padding on surfaces like the armrests. While I'm in favor of recycling, using spent sponges for padding just doesn't work. And that cheapo plastic rocker kick plate welcoming you every time you open the door is not really in keeping with the purported quality level of this vehicle. Another curveball is the placement of a 12-volt accessory plug-in near the foot well of the passenger. This really makes no sense at all, unless the driver has arms of rubber, this is just awkward.
Second deadly sin: Poor outward visibility. The rear pillar is more than a little obstructive when making lane changes. Then there's the side mirror, which in conjunction with the wide A pillar, creates an obstacle while cornering. I would expect the tallest of drivers would have the least amount of trouble, as they won't need to bob and weave as much to see around the mirror/pillar combo. While I'm all in favor of rearward visibility, this shouldn't be at the expense of seeing where the road ahead lies. So, given the lack of outward visibility and downscale interior, why should I or anyone else appreciate this Z? Well, you won't often need to concern yourself with needing to see anyone pulling alongside the 370, as most cars can't keep up with the 332 horsepower. About the only cars one has to be concerned about sharing the road with are those with a light bar on top with a mission, "To protect and serve".
The 370Z is perfect for those that have to give up their Aston Martin, yet love the driving experience that cars of that ilk provide. With the optional sport package the Z car handles far better than one would reasonably expect. The package includes such niceties as a viscous limited slip differential, Nissan sport brakes, the new SyncroRev Match manual transmission, 19" Rays forged wheels, and ultra fat rubber consisting of 245/40/19 at the nose and 275/35/19 at the tail end. All of this is done without sacrificing ride quality. Even space in the rear has been made more accommodating by moving the bar across the rear struts from where it resided in the 350Z to just aft of the front seats.
The big news when it comes to performance is the stick shift that gives drivers the shaft. Employing the new SyncroRev Match on down shifts allows anyone to shift like a pro. I love it and hate it at the same time. I am plenty able to match revs myself with some degree of competence, but this gearbox puts me to shame. This feature is so good that even though it is possible to disengage the system, I never wanted to. However, like most modern wonders this does have a flaw. In coming to a stop and popping the gear out of second the car instinctively revs the engine to downshift into first. But if the car isn't put into gear, the engine will continue to over-rev. A small issue, but a nuisance all the same. The 370 is a sports car, and shouldn't be confused with a sporty car. While it is equipped with creature comforts, and pleasing standard features like illuminated steering wheel controls and Bi-xenon headlights, the Z is geared for driving performance in all aspects. The key to a real sports car is the power to weight ratio. Nissan worked hard and succeeded in bringing down the curb weight while gaining added horsepower. Some 250 pounds have been shed to allow for new requirements that added some of those pounds back on. Folded into the package are an aluminum block and head configuration with Sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection, and 4 valves per cylinder featuring Continuously Variable Valve Event and Lift Control System (VVEL). All of this is good for a maximum of 7,500 rpm. The engine refinement results in smooth, instantaneous power flow with numbers that are normally associated with a turbo. But what really sets the 370Z apart is how well the engine, suspension, steering and brakes work together. This is a car that beckons to be driven fast. And that is the soul of the Z. The initial car that Datsun brought to these shores was affordable fun in step with the domestic competition at that time. Decades later this Nissan is still true to it's origins.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT Fast fun for a reasonable price, if one can look past the shortcomings. Find out more at www.nissanusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Nissan 370Z Price: Base $29,930, as tested $34,055 Engine type: 3.7 - liter, DOHC, V6 Block / head composition Aluminum / Aluminum, 4-valves per cylinder; Continuously Variable Valve Event and Lift Control System (VVEL) EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/26 Horsepower: 332 @ 7,000 rpm Torque: 270 lb.-ft @ 5,200 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed Maunal, Option - SynchroRev Match (SRM), Viscous Limited-Slip Differential Suspension: Front: Double wishbone aluminum suspension, High vacuum diecast aluminum alloy, Subframe construction, Stabilizer bar, Shock absorbers Rear: Independent multi-link aluminum suspension, Subframe construction, Stabilizer bar, Shock absorbers Wheels and tires: Front: Standard: 18 x 8 aluminum alloy, Yokohama Advan 225/50/18 Rear: 18 x 9 aluminum alloy, Yokohama Advan 245/45/18 Brakes: Front: Vented discs 12.6" x 1.10" Rear: Vented discs 12.13" x 0.63" Electronic Brake force Distribution(EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Brake control Power-assisted (vacuum), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Overall length: 167.2 Overall width: 72.8 Overall height: 51.9 Curb weight: 3,232 Manual, 3,269 Automatic