2017 Nissan 370Z Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 27, 2017

Buying tip

The Nismo model looks great and adds more performance, but should be driven first. Its suspension and styling has been toned down, but it's still

The 2017 Nissan 370Z has a classic sports-car shape, excellent sports-car handling, and a tuned Nismo track weapon in its lineup.

The 2017 Nissan 370Z is the descendant of what could be the most beloved car in Nissan history. Back when it was Datsun, the Z car gave the Japanese company its name in the U.S. Since then, it's evolved into a grippy, quick two-seater with an instantly recognizable outline.

It's well-known, but today's Z has just a few rivals in cars like the Audi TT, Ford Mustang, even the Porsche 718. Everyone recognizes a great sports car, even if they don't want to buy one.

The Z gets a 6.6 on our ratings scale, which is very good for such a focused car. It picks up in style and performance, but (predictably) falters in safety and overall comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Styling and performance

The latest Z car is one of the best. Its V-6 engine is set further back under the hood, which helps with weight and maneuverability, and its rear-wheel-drive configuration is a kick in the pants. The standard coupe and convertible has 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, while performance Nismo models get a bump up to 350 hp. All cars can be equipped with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters—both with SynchroRev matching downshifts.

From the outside, the car's classic shape is instantly recognizable, even if it has aged a bit. The roadster is a little more muscular with the top down; the Nismo edition has been tamed in the last few years.

The V-6 engine, which has been available in the coupe since the start, isn't as refined as some of the competitors and doesn't sound very sweet at full song. Thankfully, Nissan made standard (in all cars except the base coupe) active noise cancellation that quiets down some of the more unnerving vibrations.

Quality, safety, and features

The 2017 Nissan 370Z comes standard with safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction control—but not much else. The low-volume sports car hasn't been tested by either major U.S. safety rating agency, and likely won't be any time soon.

Like last year, the 370Z comes in many trims: base, Sport, Sport Tech, and Touring for the coupe; Touring and Touring Sport for the convertible; base and Tech for the Nismo. None of the trims can be customized from the factory beyond their base equipment. For 2017, the coupe and convertible can be ordered in a bright yellow, dubbed Chicane Yellow.

Over the course of this generation, Nissan's current 370Z has built on its long heritage, resulting in a thoroughly modern sports car with excellent driving dynamics and (mostly) excellent ride quality. The base car is available in either coupe or convertible form. The Nismo model is coupe-only and turns up the dial even more, for track-focused buyers and those who like the racecar look.

With the 7-speed automatic, the Z coupe scores EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. Roadster models take a slight hit due to their less-aerodynamic shape, rating 18/25/21 mpg with the auto.

Manual-transmission coupes rate 18/26/21 mpg, while three-pedal roadsters return 17/24/20 mpg.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Styling

The Z's iconic shape today will inspire cars tomorrow.

The 370Z's shape and proportions are instantly recognizable as fun, even if the iconic car has grown somewhat old. The 370Z looks better than the model it replaced (the 350Z) and in its most aggressive form, the Nismo is a fun look for the no-compromises track car.

We think the 370Z is an instant classic, and our rating of 8 reflects that: it's good, great, and will be iconic—from the outside. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All three share the same basic shape, although each has its own noticeable traits. The coupe combines a clear sports car shape with aggressive—but not overstated—details. The convertible shares much with the coupe, but gets a more muscular appearance with the power-operated top lowered. With the top up, the lines are still relatively sleek and sporty; there's none of the awkwardness of the previous-generation 350Z Roadster.

The Nismo edition dropped its bad-boy bits (beak and oversized spoiler) for a considerably sleeker exterior a couple years ago. It's not as easy to spot, but the red tinges everywhere help give it away. We say it needed to be dialed down.

The cabins of all 370Zs are rather similar, with simple but pleasing designs and a functional, purpose-oriented theme. Materials and styling are greatly upgraded from previous-generation Z cars, but the upper end of the Z's range is restricted in its plushness to leave space for Nissan's premium-brand coupe, the Infiniti Q60.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Performance

The standard coupe and convertible are good for daily commutes, but the hardcore Nismo is a track-day blast.

The 2017 Nissan 370Z comes with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine, regardless of trim. The engine is paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic in every model except the base convertible. Both transmissions are respectable, in our view.

The 370Z earns a 7 on our rating for a good engine and transmission, but a firm ride and indirect steering somewhat spoil it. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Engines in the coupe and convertible models make 332 horsepower, while Nismo versions boost that output to 350 hp. The engine comes from Nissan's well-known and well-worn VQ engine series, and while this one doesn't sound as nice as the previous 3.5-liter version, its reliability makes it desirable in the used market.

Both transmissions options are slick, although the manual is our pick for fun. The 6-speed manual has short, stiff throws between gears, and rev-matching makes heel-toe coordination unnecessary with well-timed throttle blips during downshifts. The automatic transmission has wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and has the same rev-matching downshifts, but it's less direct.

Overall, the 370Z is nimble and powerful, and its combination of strengths—especially at its price—is fairly well done. The dual nature of the 370Z has its compromises: it has a slightly dull steering feel and there's not much communication between road and wheel. Still, on the whole, the 370Z is rewarding and engaging to drive hard.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Comfort & Quality

The 370Z howls and growls, although some of it isn't very pleasant.

Not quite a grand touring car and not quite a sports car, the 2017 Nissan 370Z straddles a middle ground between the two.

The "Z" earns a 6 on our scale for good front seats for two passengers, but loses a little on overall comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The small coupe or convertible has comfortable seating for many body types, despite being fairly low-slung and snug. The four-way power adjustable seats are heated and cooled on upper trims, and have decent padding, however the Z's ride is still fairly stiff. Out of self-interest, drivers will seek the smoothest stretches of pavement by habit.

The Z's interior material quality still makes a convincing case for Nissan's near-premium positioning—especially on higher-trim models. The 370Z won't be confused as a German competitor anytime soon, but the leathers, upholstery, and switchgear feel durable and supple.

Roadster models get a power-retractable soft top that is quick to open and close. Unfortunately, the soft top lets in even more noise, and takes up some of the available trunk space when down. Many alternatives in the segment have a more secure, quiet-enhancing folding hard top roof. 

The Z has wide rear tires (245s on base and Touring; 275s on Nismo, Touring Sport, Sport, and Sport Tech) that make a ruckus in the cabin. It's not a performance trade-off either—without the wide rear shoes, the 370Z still has plenty of wind noise and howling from its V-6 when it's pushed to perform. Some engines we want to hear at full song, but the aging V-6 in the 370Z is less mellifluous and more mechanical. Thankfully, last year Nissan added a noise-canceling system that should cut through the noise, and it's standard on all models except base. Opt for the convertible and some of those noises are inescapable.

Despite the 370Z's noise and ride harshness, it's not all that unusual for performance vehicles. Those traits go hand in hand.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Safety

Nissan's 370Z doesn't have much crash data to draw many conclusions.

The 2017 Nissan 370Z hasn't yet been tested by any major U.S. safety agency and considering the coupe and convertible's relatively small sales, it's not likely to be rated anytime soon either.

We're withholding a rating until more official data becomes available. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The car includes standard safety features such as standard front and side airbags for both driver and passenger, active head restraints, and seatbelts with pre-tensioners.

Forward vision is generally very good, but the thick rear roof supports in coupe models (and the soft top in roadsters) obstruct the rear three-quarter view. A rearview camera is included on all models except the base version.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Features

The Z comes in plenty of trims, but don't expect many customization options.

The Nissan 370Z comes in a broad swath of trims and specifications—from coupe and convertible to high-performance Nismo editions—but don't ask for any customization options from the factory: each trim comes as-is.

It earns a 6 on our scale for decent base options, but its dearth of customizing options isn't thrilling—especially in a sports car. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Coupe models can be ordered in base, Touring, Sport, and Sport Tech trims. Roadsters come in base, Touring, and Touring Sport levels, and performance Nismo editions come in base and Tech models.

Base models are equipped with standard features such as Bluetooth connectivity, HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless ignition, and an AM/FM/CD stereo system with an auxiliary input.

Stepping up to the Touring trim adds heated and cooled, power-adjustable leather seats; Bose audio with eight speakers; 7.0-inch touchscreen; active noise cancellation (which was new last year); rearview camera; and suede panel inserts.

Moving up to the Sport and Sport Tech (Touring Sport for Roadster) models add slightly bigger brakes and red-painted calipers, lightweight aluminum 19-inch wheels, grippier Bridgestone Potenza tires, a limited-slip rear differential and SynchroRev matching for manual transmission models.

The Nismo couple was updated in 2015 with new LED running lights, Recaro seats, and a for the first time ever, an optional automatic transmission with downshift rev matching. A Nismo Tech trim adds Bluetooth connectivity, the 7.0-inch touchscreen, and Bose audio.

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2017 Nissan 370Z

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy isn't great, and won't get any better.

Nissan's Z isn't particularly frugal, even among performance cars in its class. The good news is that although the Nismo model has more power, it also returns the same mileage numbers as the standard coupe model.

We give it a 6 out of 10 for gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Paired with the 7-speed automatic, the 370Z returns 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. Drop-top versions dip slightly due to their inherent aerodynamic disadvantage; those cars are rated at 18/25/21 with the automatic.

If you choose to row your own (and you should) the manual is rated at 18/26/21 mpg, and three-pedal roadsters return 17/24/20 mpg.

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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 6
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