In the world of import sport cars, or as some would call it sport compact cars, many enthusiasts can say that they have seen many models that would cater to their lifestyle come and go from various automakers. We have seen makes like the Toyota Supra come and evolve into a force not to be trifled with on and off the tracks. The same can be said for the earlier versions of the Mazda RX7 and the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4. The problem with all of these Japanese powerhouses, who ran strong and were very popular in their prime, was that they started fading away leaving the sports compact consumer in wait for the next best thing.
Such was the case with the Nissan 300zx twin turbo. For the Nissan freaks, this car had it all: V6 twin turbocharged VG30 engine, limited slip differential, Bose sound system, big brakes, and styling that was true to the heritage of the original Z car. Then suddenly in 1996 Nissan announces that the 300ZX would not come back becoming yet another casualty of great Japanese sports cars we would never see again.
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In the years that followed rumors of the Z’s comeback would be spoken on message boards everywhere. Then, in 2001, a photo of what was to be the next Z car started circulating the net stirring up all kinds of rumors. Subsequently, in August of 2002, Nissan introduced the market to its latest version of the Z with the Nissan 350Z. The crowds went wild! Who could blame them; the Z car was back!
Since then the 350Z has continued to evolve. The path has led to the 370Z which was introduced in 2009 with all of its different trims including the 370Z Roadster . As sport compact enthusiasts, we could not be happier.
The new 370Z has definitely undergone many changes on the exterior, as well as the interior. My first observation was the interior of the car: It was completely redesigned. There was plenty of legroom without having to recline the seat much even though it was a roadster and looked cramped from the outside.
Just like the previous Zs, the gauge cluster moves up and down with the steering column, however, the steering still can’t telescope in and out. The Z’s new fuel gauge really stands out. I really liked the LED fuel level indicator on the cluster. The rest of the instrument display distribution created a more aggressive yet sophisticated look to the Z’s interior.
The new Z’s two seats are slightly different in shapes. The driver’s seat is contoured to allow free arm movement and good support while the passenger seat is designed to help the passenger brace for the ride ahead. Storage has also been improved with a larger glove box and a trunk that can easily fit a golf bag. The 350Z’s sound system is equipped with a Bose stereo, six speakers, two subwoofers, an in-dash six-CD/MP3 changer and satellite radio as well as a Bluetooth feature that is easily controlled through the steering wheel.
Next comes the convertible top. I’m not really a fan of convertibles, but this car won me over. I can sum the convertible top in one word: Awesome. Once the top is down, it turns into a completely different monster with a different style. I even got sunburned without knowing. My only reservation was the noise the car made while the mechanism was in operation.
The Z’s new 3.7 liter V6 produces 332 hp which adds another 26 hp over the previous model. Furthermore, because this version of the Z is slightly smaller, it also weighs less than the old Z. A special mention goes to the 6-speed manual transmission’s rev-matching feature included with the Sport Package. Basically, when you downshift, the engine automatically revs to match that gear. The end result is a smooth shift with no jerk. This feature would help any driver avoid a loss of control if you were driving in and out of turns. For those who feel the need to be a bit more conservative, the 370Z is also available with a 7-speed automatic; a nice upgrade from last year’s model which was equipped with 5-speed to allow better power delivery and fuel economy.
So how did it perform on gas mileage? Not bad at all. The 370Z gets 19 MPG city and 22MPG highway and that was with the Touring package, which came with some really good looking 19 inch RAYS, forged wheels, stiffer springs, limited-slip rear differential, bigger brakes, and front and rear spoilers. All this makes the Z quite a head turner. Overall the ride was a bit stiff, but you quickly get past it because you are too busy driving it to the fullest without getting into trouble.
To sum up, if you want a 2-seater sports car the Nissan 370Z deserves your serious consideration! The Japanese sports car never left, it simply took a little break to come back stronger and better. And it delivered. The 370Z truly is a driver’s car. It takes you where you want to go when you want it to go through control. This car demands your full attention when you are at the wheel plus you are rewarded with an exciting driving experience that makes any trip (even the daily commute) fun. When the top goes down you feel like you are driving a totally different car which is an added incentive to this vehicle. The styling and performance factor are there and the 370Z Roadster proves that the Z’s heritage, started almost 40 years ago, is alive and well.