- Taut lines
- Torque and power of the 3.7-liter V-6
- Rev-matching manual gearbox
- Paddle-shift automatic
- Good performance value
- Tire/road noise
- Drivetrain noise
- Lack of interior space
- Lack of storage space, even for a sports car
A great performance car that starts just under $30,000, the 2011 Nissan 370Z comes close enough to Porsche performance to make you wonder.
Though it has adopted more technology and features than past Z cars, the 2010 Nissan 370Z remains a straightforward sports car. Whether you choose the coupe or Roadster, you get two seats, a modest cargo area, and a 3.7-liter, 332-horsepower engine. Both coupe and Roadster are available with either a seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual with Synchro-Rev matching, and a choice of several trim levels. A factory-tuned NISMO edition bumps output to 350 horsepower and tightens the suspension. Starting at a base price of around $30,000 for the coupe, prices can rise over $40,000 for the Roadster and even higher for the NISMO.
The 370Z coupe has been on the road for two years now, while the Roadster joined the lineup in 2010. Most of the styling is common between the two, and both are shorter and more curvaceous than the previous 350Z. A few cues borrowed from Nissan's GT-R supercar make it clear it's a serious sports car, including the angle of the roof-to-windshield junction. The arrow-shaped lights at each end share a style with the more conventional cars in Nissan's lineup. The overall proportions are short, wide, and low--in short, sporty. For the Roadster, the cloth top gets a two-hump hard cover when it's lowered. Inside, the 370Z's materials are a big step up from the 350Z, and generally on par with other cars of its class, while the design layout retains some of the Z's classic cues, presented in a modern metal-and-plastic theme.
Engine and transmission options remain unchanged for 2011, including the 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 332 horsepower. With a 7,500-rpm redline, the engine can be wound out, but still has plenty of available torque lower in the rev range. Official 0-60-mph times are pegged under 5 seconds for all models, though the 350-horsepower NISMO is a touch faster than the standard 370Z. The six-speed manual transmission offers a unique rev-matching downshift feature call Synchro-Rev, and the paddle-shift seven-speed automatic will blip the engine on downshifts in manual mode as well. The six-speed gearbox is smooth if somewhat heavy, and will be the enthusiast's first choice. The automatic is precise and capable, however, and shouldn't be overlooked by those wanting an easier commute. Fuel economy isn't great in the grand scheme, but it's acceptable for a sports car at about 18/26 mpg city/highway for the thirstiest models.
The shorter wheelbase, wider track, and retuned suspension of the 370Z Roadster proved more capable than its predecessor, and despite its rather hefty 3,200-plus-pounds of curb weight, it's able to keep pace with smaller, more delicate competitors. High speed driving finds the front tires tramlining somewhat, following grooves or irregularities in the road surface, requiring an attentive driver. Despite this quirk, the steering is confident and solid, if a bit short on feedback. The NISMO version sharpens all of the 370Z's qualities, but many will find it too stiff and focused for a daily driver.
Two seats are all you can get with the 370Z, and you'll have to make do with relatively little cargo space as well, though the 370Z does offer more cabin space than many sports cars. The standard seats are comfortable and adjustable to fit most body types, while the power seats of the Touring models get leather and ventilation as well. Quality, fit and finish aren't BMW- or Audi-level, but then, neither is the price. There are fewer rattles and better materials than the similarly-priced Ford Mustang, with overall interior finish and feel about on par with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Road noise can be high on some surfaces, and the tires can add to this to bring the roar to near unacceptable levels, even amongst sports cars.The 2011 370Z includes all the basic safety features you'd expect, including anti-lock brakes, stability control, and traction control. Standard airbags include front, side, and, on the coupe, roof-mounted side-curtain units. The 370Z hasn't been crash tested by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) yet, but the previous 350Z coupe and roadster scored mostly four-star ratings.
Both the coupe and Roadster are available in base or Touring trim, with an optional Sport package, available on either base or Touring coupes and the Touring Roadster, that adds larger 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, a viscous limited-slip differential, and front and rear aerodynamic/appearance elements. Standard equipment on all models includes cruise control, power windows, and Nissan's Intelligent Key keyless entry/start system. An optional navigation package adds a 9.3-GB Music Box Hard Drive and iPod interface. Roadsters feature a power-folding soft top that opens or closes in about 20 seconds, controlled by a button in the console or on the doors. The Roadster's standard specification includes Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic, power leather seats with ventilation, and HID headlights. TheCarConnection.com finds the navigation systems in the 370Z to be easy-to-use, and we especially like the dynamic audio and climate controls that adapt to top-down driving.