When I found out that Top Speed would be getting a 2010 Nissan 370Z in our test fleet I was excited to say the least. I have been a Nissan fan since I found out about drifting and an owner for the last five years. You could say that I love Nissans. So although I had dreams of clutch kicking the new 332 HP VQ in the Z car, and run up and down the 6 speed gearbox, taking full advantage of the new Syncro RevMatch transmission that is said to be able to replace the need for heal-toe while down shifting. I am proud to say that the updated Z car is the first car I’ve ever gotten to take on the Top Speed Test Track. Unfortunately, being a first timer I could only muster up the courage to stand on the throttle at corner exit. I can confirm that the Nissan 370Z has no problem stepping the back end out.
The original Z car, the 240Z made back in 1969 gave birth to the term sports car here in the U.S. The foreign car’s good looks, excellent handling and affordable price made it an instant classic. However, as time went on and emissions became stricter over the next decade, the L24 found under the forward opening hood in the Datsun Z had grown into a fuel injected 2.8 Liter straight 6 making the same 150 HP that it did back when hippies roamed San Francisco, real hippies people.
1979-1983 Nissan 280ZX
In 1978 the flowing bodied 280Z turned into a squared off 280ZX, the X added great things like turbochargers, but brought with it a pronounced notch at the apex of the hatch, disturbing the classic smooth silhouette of the original S30. When Nissan reintroduced the Z in 2003, the 350Z featured a similarly fluid profile. Fortunately when Nissan decided to update the Z33 platform with a 3.7 Liter V6 and more aggressive bodywork they had to make no compromises and the engineers left nothing on the drafting table. The 370Z can sprint to 60 MPH in 5 seconds flat and can run through the quarter mile in a solid 13.5 seconds. Even more impressive is that it looks amazing doing it.
So as I was crossing the causeway on a sunny South Florida afternoon I opened the throttles of the VQ37HR six pot to find out if the 370Z’s exhaust note is as distinctive as the 350Z’s (Murano, G35, FX, M…) memorable tone. To my surprise the car pulled hard from 2000 RPM in 3rd gear. As I swept past 5500 RPM I felt something that reminded me of a car that would compete with Nissan’s super car, the GT-R. The black leather shift knob was sending a signal straight from the nerves on palm to the electrodes in my brain. The sensation is overwhelming. This unique combination of noise, vibration and harshness is a catalyst for adrenaline rushes. The way the shifter dancing in my hand at the upper end of the revband reminded me of driving a Dodge Viper.
When you turn onto a highway on-ramp you can feel the new Z car’s 3200 pound curb weight just like you know you have a lot of car around you in the SRT-10. There is a definite similarity to the way it feels to sit behind the wheel of a 370Z and the V10 powered Viper.
The only challenge with driving the 370 is getting used to the clutch. It wasn’t soft like most Japanese cars and it wasn’t as stiff as what they make in Germany, the clutch in the new Z car is like stepping on a bubble, delicate to balance. It wasn’t smooth or linear, but after a week of getting used to it becomes a pleasure to drive.
When you approach the Nissan 370Z from the front, your eyes either go to the new Nissan style hook eye headlights or its fanglike front bumper opening. That is a good thing because either way you are distracted from the car’s puckered up fish face front end. Where the 350Z Rev-up had a bulge in the aluminum hood the 370Z has an indention. By the way the doors and hatch are both made out of the lightweight metal. The impression continues onto the roof creating a difficult to photograph double-bubble shape when seen from head on. I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of the unique door handles on the 350Z when it first came out, a feature that made me partial to the Infiniti G35, but on the 2010 car I’m too busy staring at the arches.
The 370Z is 1.3 inches wider than the Nissan it replaces and despite the fact that it is 2.7 inches shorter, the more rounded body makes it look like a bigger car, much like the way an S14 looks bigger than an S13. From the front fenders to the rear arches housing the 19 inch staggered rims and a pair of 275 width tires in the back, the 370Z is fatter and beefier than the 350Z. This is a wide-bodied machine. The updated Z car is a much sportier design, one that evokes emotions of speed.
The body also has a few neat features, like a button under the hatch that allows the key holder to lock and unlock the car. I am partial to black ABS plastic lips. They are effective at channeling air away from the car’s underbody and are also very forgiving when it comes to parking ramps and curb stones, and because they are black, you won’t even notice the scrapes. However, I have to admit that one of my favorite features were the Brembo 4 piston brake calipers.
Once inside the 370Z’s cockpit you are forced to become a fan of circles, because that is all that you will be looking at. Besides the round gauges, there are also quite a few round, brushed aluminum trim pieces. Right in front of the driver is a 3-pod set-up with an oversized tachometer, right in the middle where it should be showing off the cars 7500 RPM red line. The large dial also features a shift light as well as a gear and sport mode indicator. To the right is a 180 MPH speedometer and on the left is a funky looking LED based coolant temperature and fuel level gauge. The two lines of multicolored lights frame the multifunction LCD display, this little screen allows you to adjust the shift light and monitor you fuel mileage or whatever other technical information you would want to know while driving. The only drawback to the bright red dials is that they reflect off the windshield at night and can be a bit distracting.
In a throwback to the original Z, there are three small accessory gauges in the middle of the dash, all pointed towards the driver. They show the oil temperature, battery voltage and what time it is. The leather wrapped steering wheel is a comfortable piece from Nissan’s parts bin. Our car featured a large storage space where the Navigation would have gone, big enough to store a portable GPS and then some. It is nice to see that the shift boot is made from leather, but the plastic e-brake treatment leaves something to be desired.
The seats are supportive and grippy. The combination of alcantara and big leather bolsters makes for some of the most comfortable factory racing buckets on the market. The armrest is soft and comfortable and matches the suede door panels perfectly. If you turn around the large metal bar where the kids should be reminds you that this is a no compromises sports car. However, in a very unsports car like manner, the Nissan engineers snuck in a cup holder in down by the driver’s feet.
My favorite feature in the interior was the round metal “Sport” button at the base of the shifter. When pressed the 370Z tightened up and moved a little quicker, it makes the 370Z come alive. The car becomes even more fun to drive, despite the fact that I’m sure it gets a little more thirsty.
Why To Buy
The 2010 Nissan 370Z is the perfect car for the Viper enthusiast on a budget. Just like the original Z car, the 370 delivers great performance for the price, wrapped up in a pretty package. If you don’t mind the road noise, somewhat harsh suspension and uncompromised sports car layout in exchange for a daily grin on your face, the Nissan 370Z is for you.
Why Not To Buy
If you are looking for speed on budget, the Z may be out of your price range. Despite being and amazing bargain, $30,000 is out of most car buyer’s price ranges, especially for a strict two-seater. For closer to $20,000 you can purchase a Hyundai Genesis Coupe or Ford Mustang and although both offer rear wheel drive fun, neither offers the same level of sports car feel as the Nissan. If you are looking for eye popping performance, you may want to save up for a GT-R instead.
Top Speed Final Verdict
Unfortunately as is true for all speed machines, there is no such thing as enough. I would like to see what would happen if Nissan strapped a pair of turbos to the 370Z to create a modern day ZX. But then the Z runs the risk of going the way as the 300ZX TT did back in 1996. The car was great, but packed with so much performance and technology, that it became too expensive for consumers to afford.
The 370Z is a great car for $30,000; but Nissan, what can you do for Scion prices? Give me a sports car with rear wheel drive for around $20,000. With the current economic situations people want a more affordable Z car, maybe something like the venerable 180SX, a car that Nissan continued to produce alongside its successor, the S14 Silvia.
The Nissan 370Z offers great performance and is a blast to drive. The styling is aggressive without being ostentatious. The 2009 Nissan 370Z is a vehicle that I would gladly trade the keys to my 240SX for.