Don't consider the NISSAN 370Z
a less-expensive alternative to the Audi Tt
or Bmw Z4
. Sure, like them, it's a roadster in the traditional sense, with two doors and a retractable roof. But the Z takes "traditional" further. It's coarse and it's loud. It's old-school sports car material. Purists only, please.
Over the year of its stay, our long-term Z proved itself a rough and somewhat impractical car that the lot of us really enjoyed driving. Complaints? Plenty. The styling, though a massive improvement over the NISSAN 350 Z
Roadster, was described by one editor as "if a catfish and a cow had climbed into the same telepod." The interior constantly reminded us how ineffective fabric is as sound-deadening material. The 3.7-liter engine offered the smoothness and grace of a Freightliner. And don't even bother checking over your shoulder with the roof up -- there is no rearward visibility.
Yet, a pattern emerged in our logbook. The comments started with complaints, then transitioned to another block of text prefaced with the word "but." "But the NISSAN 370Z
tries and I appreciate it for that." "But I really like this car."
In time, we gained respect for our Z. It's modeled like a classical sports car, one that doesn't make compromises for driveability. Its coarseness and roughness somehow end up making you feel good. The drivetrain shudders and vibrates under power, and if your clutch engagement is slightly off, the whole car shakes disapprovingly. But get it right and land that nicely sized leather-wrapped shift knob home, and you get a satisfying ka-chunk. Then, once you forget the truck sound, you find the engine delivers its power robustly. Although the torque peaks at a high 5200 rpm, its curve feels exceptionally broad.
Other cars will be faster -- a comparably equipped Mustang GT comes to mind -- but the Z is nevertheless a capable car, stopping from 60 mph in 108 feet, reaching 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, and generating 0.96 average lateral g on our skidpad. Helping in no small part is the must-have $2800 Sport Package, which added 19-inch wheels, summer tires, and a limited-slip differential.