2011 NISSAN 370Z REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Sports coupe
Fuel Economy (claimed): 11.2 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 13.8 l/100km
A reversing camera, cargo blind, new mirrors and USB/iPod connectivity are now standard on the Nissan 370Z Coupe.
Doesn’t sound like much of a change does it? Then again, in a car that’s as potent, lively and enjoyable as the 370Z, we’d argue that barely anything needed changing.
Quality: Stitched leather, soft dash plastics and high-quality switchgear all have a premium feel to them, and the interior styling is both focused and functional. No complaints here.
Comfort: Both (electrically adjustable) front seats give excellent lateral support thanks to their deep bolsters, but also feel much too short under the thigh.
The steering column adjusts for tilt and the instrument binnacle also moves with it (a handy feature that improves visibility of the instruments), however it unfortunately doesn’t adjust for reach.
On the upside, the tall belt-line and letterbox-like view through the windscreen give the sensation that you’re almost sitting on the floorpan. By default, you find yourself in a race-driver posture at the wheel.
The view out the back window gives you few clues about what’s behind you and the thick B-pillars make head-checks utterly pointless.
Thankfully though, the new wide-angle wing mirrors and standard-fit reversing camera of the 2011 370Z mean reverse parking is no longer an exercise fraught with danger.
Equipment: Standard features of the 2011 Nissan 370Z include power-adjustable seats, cruise control, climate control, seat heaters, a reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation, an eight-speaker Bose stereo system with 9.3GB hard-disk storage and USB/AUX inputs, a trip-computer, dusk-sensing bi-xenon headlamps and keyless entry/ignition.
Storage: The Z’s boot area is shallow, thanks to the space-saver spare and Bose subwoofer that reside beneath the floor.
It’s enough for a couple of small (and slim) suitcases though, and retracting the now-standard cargo blind frees up a touch more space for luggage.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Thanks to Nissan’s clever VVEL valve timing and lift system, the 370Z’s 3.7 litre V6 enjoys a wide torque band and impressive low-RPM tractability.
Throttle response is superb too, with only moderate prods of the floor-hinged throttle required to make the Zed squat down on its haunches and lunge forward.
Peak torque of 363Nm arrives at 5200rpm, and 245kW of power is on tap at 7000rpm. The Zed’s engine will eagerly rev to 7500rpm, but there’s little point stretching it that far.
Instead, shifting at 7000rpm drops the revs for the next ratio right into the meat of the torque curve.
Speaking of gearshifts, the 370Z’s standard manual transmission is brilliant. A clearly-defined gate, chunky throw and six well-spaced ratios are all great features in their own right, but its best feature by far is SychroRev Match.
By automatically blipping the throttle on gearchanges, SynchroRev Match eliminates drivetrain shock during enthusiastic driving and negates the need to heel-toe on downshifts. The result is smooth gearchanges - both up and down through the gate - every time.
Purists who prefer to match their own revs will be happy to know the system can be switched off.
Refinement: The interior might be luxuriously appointed, but tyre, wind and engine noise are in abundance - just like past Nissan Z cars.
The engine note is a beautiful bass howl at full throttle, but can sound a little harsh and metallic when at high revs.
Suspension: The 370Z’s suspension is supple, and provides excellent grip without compromising comfort.
It’s still firm, yes, but not unyielding like other performance cars; such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and BMW 135i. Lumpy tarmac doesn’t faze the 370Z, and the car’s long wheel travel means it maintains good traction on rough roads.
The short wheelbase however can make it a bit finnicky under power, with the rear wheels easily provoked into a slide by applying throttle mid-corner.
The stability control system allows a smidgin of slip before jumping in (and dialing back power), but in our opinion the power cut is too severe and not as progressive as some RWD European cars.
The steering ratio is quick though, and it’s a delight to thread the 370Z along a twisting mountain road.
Braking: Big Akebono brakes (four pistons up front, two at the rear) make light work of stopping the 370Z, delivering fade-free performance and a strong, authoritative pedal feel.
ANCAP rating: Not rated
Safety features: Stability control and traction control (both switchable), ABS, EBD, brake assist, anti-whiplash headrests, pretensioning seatbelts and front, side and curtain airbags are all standard on the 370Z.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Service costs: Service costs may vary from dealership to dealership, check before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW 135i ($75,000) - Not only is its sticker price higher than the 370Z’s, but optioning up the 135i to the Nissan’s level is an expensive exercise.
Its 3.0 litre turbocharged inline six produces less power (225kW) than the Z, but more torque (400Nm). It’s also more practical than the Z, with usable back seats and proper boot. (see 1 Series reviews)
Lotus Elise ($69,990) - The Elise’s 100kW 1.6 litre four-cylinder pales in comparison to the 370Z’s mighty V6, but the low-slung Elise’s 876kg kerb weight makes it a nimbler car.
It’s pretty sparsely equipped though, and tiny cabin dimensions mean it’s best suited to being a track-day toy. (see Lotus reviews)
Mazda MX-5 Coupe Sports ($49,805) - Mazda’s perennial MX-5 possesses one of the most neutral (and agile) chassis around, and, like the Lotus, it uses its light weight (1167kg) to its advantage.
It’s small though, and not any more practical than the 370Z. Its brakes could also use an upgrade, as they can fade under heavy use. (see MX-5 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With only two driven wheels the 370Z may not be the fastest point-to-point performance car for the money, but its classic RWD handling traits and old-school approach to noise suppression (ie: there is none) give it immense appeal.
The 370Z is one of the finest sports cars out there.
You won’t find another RWD coupe capable of matching it for speed, comfort or value, and the addition of even more mod-cons for the 2011 model year just makes it an even better package.
If you want visceral thrills in a compact RWD sports car, it’s hard to go past the Nissan 370Z.