- Dynamic styling
- Powerful, torquey V-6
- Synchro-Rev manual gearbox
- Paddle-shift automatic
- Good performance for the money
- Tire/road noise
- Drivetrain noise
- Lack of interior space
- Lack of storage space, even for a sports car
Performance per dollar, the 2012 Nissan 370Z is a bargain, and it's quick enough in absolute terms to reach toward the domain of much more expensive sports cars.
With more tech, power, and luxury than previous Nissan Z cars, the 2012 370Z is nonetheless lighter than its predecessor, the 350Z. It's also still a relatively focused sports car despite the gradual creep toward grand touring status.
Three versions of the 370Z are built, including the coupe, the roadster, and the NISMO. Both the coupe and the roadster share similar styling elements with the exception of the convertible's soft top. Muscular curves, modern edges, and arrow-shaped headlights are the core design elements. The NISMO model adds more aggressive aerodynamics, with fangy bumpers and a rear diffuser, plus NISMO badging. Inside, the 370Z is more refined, and quieter, than previous models, with better materials (though there's still a lot of exposed hard plastic) and comfortable, well-bolstered seats.
Powering the coupe and roadster is a 3.7-liter V-6 engine rated at 332 horsepower running up to a 7,500-rpm redline. Though not as torquey as the 350Z's engine, there's still plenty of oomph from low in the rev range. The NISMO gets a peakier version of the same engine, rated for 350 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and a six-speed manual with a unique Synchro-Rev match feature that automatically blips the throttle for perfectly synchronized downshifts.
With its relatively aggressive stock suspension tune, short wheelbase, and wide track, the 370Z is a potent performer, capable of neck-stretching grip and confident cornering. Steering is accurate, if not laden with feedback, and at high speeds, the 370Z does exhibit some tramlining. Nevertheless, it's a capable and exhilarating sports car, made all the more so in the more hardcore NISMO trim.
All of that sports car competence can translate into a ride that's too harsh for some, however, particularly when pressed into daily driver service over less-than-ideal roads. The cabin does its best to mitigate the discomfort, however, with comfortable adjustable seats, including available leather upholstery. Standard equipment includes power accessories, keyless entry/start, and cruise control. Optional upgrade packages bring navigation, Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic, and HID headlights among other improvements.
The 2012 370Z packs the usual array of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, stability control, and traction control. Front and side airbags are standard, with roof-mounted side curtain airbags on coupe models. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash tested the 2012 370Z.
2012 Nissan 370Z
The 2012 Nissan 370Z Roadster and NISMO offer alternate takes on the coupe's dramatic modern Z styling.
The exterior, unlike the 350Z, was designed from the start to work with convertible proportions, so the curvy flanks and folding soft-top, covered by a two-hump hard cover when down, fit like they ought to. The coupe has a somewhat short-tailed look, though both versions share the same wide stance and low-slung, aggressively sport demeanor.
A NISMO edition is also available, which as it does with performance, turns the styling up a notch. Unique wheels, plus front, side, and rear aerodynamic work give the NISMO 370Z an even more aggressive, track-ready look. Inside, the NISMO gets some special styling and badges. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it fits its mission.
In general the 370Z's interior is more sophisticated and refined than its predecessor's, while still adhering to familiar Z-car themes.
2012 Nissan 370Z
The 2012 Nissan 370Z Roadster and coupe are fast, fun, and still easy to live with. The NISMO version ups the performance ante, but at the cost of daily comfort.
Also carrying forward is the unique SynchroRev manual transmission (on Sport package models), which uses the computer to seamlessly blip the throttle and rev-match downshifts. The feature can be disabled to allow the driver to have full control, of course, but it's a handy feature that takes some of the potential for error out of high-performance driving. A seven-speed automatic is also available, with paddle-shifters and auto-blipping downshifts in manual mode. Though neither transmission is a shortcoming for sporty work, the six-speed manual wins out in our book for its high-tech gadgetry. Fuel economy isn't wondrous in either guise, at about 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Being shorter, lighter, and wider than before, the 370Z is quite sporty despite its 3,200-pound curb weight. Handling is confident and predictable, if biased toward understeer and prone to tramlining. Steering is a bit dull, with little feedback at the limit. The NISMO takes all of these characters up a degree in sharpness, but may be too harsh a daily driver for many.
2012 Nissan 370Z
Comfort & Quality
The 2012 Nissan 370Z is a step forward in quality and materials, but road and tire noise can be overwhelming.
Seating is comfortable and conforms to a wide range of body types, with power adjustability and ventilation on upscale models. Quality of materials and their fit and finish aren't luxury-level, but they're a tick above the Ford Mustang, which is perhaps the 370Z's most direct competitor on performance and price. Road noise can be high thanks to the large tires and minimal sound insulation, reaching nearly unacceptable levels on some surfaces.
The 370Z's soft-top convertible mechanism saves weight, complexity, and expense, but at the cost of some security and style--a tradeoff some competitors have taken in the other direction. Nissan's path does preserve more trunk space, however.
With relative newcomers to the sporty coupe segment like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe edging in with slightly better interior design and materials, and long-time stalwarts like the Ford Mustang GT gaining yet more power, the 370Z treads a delicate balance that may be due for an update soon.
2012 Nissan 370Z
While it hasn't been crash tested, the 2012 Nissan 370Z offers a strong standard safety equipment list.
Rearward visibility may be an issue for some, however, as the low seating position and chunky roof supports in the coupe can get in the way, but forward visibility is very good, and with the top down in the Roadster, it's excellent all around.
2012 Nissan 370Z
The 2012 Nissan 370Z's power-folding soft top is quick and effortless, and its audio system is a high point of the features list.
Base models include cruise control, power windows, and keyless entry/start as standard equipment. An optional navigation upgrade includes a 9.3-GB hard-drive-based music storage system and iPod interface. Dynamic audio and climate controls help keep things comfortable during top-down driving with the Roadster. The Roadster also comes standard with a power-folding soft top that opens and closes in about 20 seconds.
The Touring models add a Bose audio system, plus Bluetooth, satellite radio, ventilated power leather seats, lumbar support, and HID headlights. Adding the sport package to any trim brings a viscous limited-slip rear differential, 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum alloy wheels, upgraded high-performance tires, a body-color rear spoiler and a front chin spoiler.
Considering the 370Z's price range from the just-under-$30,000 mark for the base coupe and the low-$40,000 range for a well-equipped Roadster, it's a very competitive package of performance and features, even against the likes of more expensive vehicles like the Porsche Boxster. If you're a fan of really loading a car up with extras, however, you may be a bit disappointed by the 370Z's short list of available add-ons.