ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: The 370Z Nismo is not the GT-R. Both have well-defined roles -- one is a sports car, the other a supercar -- and each car plays its respective role well. But both have that same Nissan feel to them: extremely competent performance without much passion. Like the GT-R, the 370Z rightfully inspires respect among those in the know; the Nismo version, more so.
It’s one thing for a car to inspire respect, though, and another thing to inspire lust. This is not a Jaguar F-Type; there’s none of that gleeful crackling on downshifts or sultry looks. You probably won’t get compliments from other drivers and passers-by (if anything, they’ll see that rear wing and think you’re some sort of tuner freak). It doesn’t goad you into doing stupid things at high speeds.
Oh, you may still do stupid things at high speeds (for your own sake, we recommend you do them on a track), but you will feel cool and calculating when you do them. The V6 doesn’t scream like a banshee, but keep a steady foot on the well-weighted throttle -- all of the pedals are well-weighted, especially the springy clutch -- and it’ll build and build into an even roar backed by a mechanical whine that I suspect comes from the gearbox. I like it.
The proportions of the 370Z are just about right, but the lack of definition in the front and rear fascias leave it looking a little blobby. I’m the last guy to call for extra swoops and redundant vents and ducts, but…
The looks do grow on you. Even with that goofball spoiler on the back, though, this car simply isn’t very visually arresting. The new version adds a little more interest, I think.
I guess I should mention the blip-shift auto rev-match thing. It’s a novelty that makes you feel like a more heroic driver than you really are. If that’s philosophically challenging to you, just turn it off.
I really appreciated the 370Z Nismo and enjoyed my time in it. And I think appreciation is the right word for how I feel about this car. I’ve always had a soft spot for the old Z-cars, and if I didn’t have to worry much about the realities of daily-driving an old car (or the lack of air conditioning) I’d take a 240Z over this in a heartbeat.
Still, to the right sort of person -- one who wants solidity and buttoned-down performance without a whole lot of drama -- I don’t think $46,000 is an incredible amount to pay for this car.
The interior of the 2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo is rather sporty.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: In his defense, road test editor Jon Wong didn’t know Detroit was about to get inundated by historic flooding when he assigned me the Nismo 370Z… at least I don’t think he did (that would have been a total dick move). But as the water kept rising, the 370Z kept doing its thing, never once losing its composure, its grip or any of its sheetmetal. I don’t want to imply I put myself or the car in any dangerous situations, but in my experience rear-drive sports cars with fat rubber, several hundred horsepower and manual transmissions have proven to be hairy monsoon-mobiles. Not so this 370Z -- it crashed through water-filled potholes and navigated pop-up fjords as well as most of the crossovers I’ve driven recently.
Once the streets dried, the 370Z came into its element, proving that it's still a formidable sports car. The steering does a solid Scion FR-S impression, while the brakes are good enough to require some recalibration of the driver’s foot. There’s no shortage of low-end power, but the Z really likes to play between 3,000-6,000 rpm; there’s a unique combination of old-school mechanical NVH from the engine and gearbox blended with very modern damping and body stiffness that's totally addictive.
Nissan has carved quite a bit of usable space out of the Z’s modest proportions, and your 6-foot-plus author had plenty of room to get comfortable. Package shelves behind the seats offer semi-hidden storage, while the cargo area can stash a couple weekend bags. Equipment levels are more Spartan, though: Granted, the Nismo is a performance model, but no bun warmers, USB input, navigation or anything else found on the average Kia Rio is a little tough to swallow on a $46,000 car, but there’s the Tech model for those who need that stuff.
With so many new cars delivering exactly what you expect, it’s fun to get surprised every now and then. I expected the 370Z Nismo to feel dated and -- considering the number of 400+ hp cars on the market today -- kind of slow with “only” 350 hp. It’s neither of those things. Like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, also at the end of its current lifecycle, the 370Z offers a wonderfully direct, mechanical driving experience that's missing on some of the uber-powered high-dollar sports cars of today. It’s a great car; I hope Nissan doesn’t filter out the fun in the next-generation Z.
ASSOCIATE TECHINCAL EDITOR BRAD CONSTANT: I've always liked Nissan's Z ever since I laid eyes on a 1969 Nissan Fairlady Z as a kid. My liking holds firm with the latest generation, which is a fun, ...
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This car has lost a lot of its lustre with me; I used to be a big fan of the 350Z and 370Z and its ilk, but now they seem a little raw and unrefined.
This Nismo example has a very springy clutch pedal, and it doesn’t catch until way up in the pedal stroke. That makes for some clunky launches and jerky shifts. The shift lever is also a little notchy -- you really have to yank on it to get it in gear fast.
On the other hand, steering and reaction time are on point. The Nismo goes exactly where you point it, and though there isn’t a ton of road feel in the wheel, it’s still very sharp. I always like when they mark the 12 o’clock position with a notch, I imagine being in a full-speed drift, with the red mark whipping by my field of vision. It’s a little skinnier than my Mustang’s or a BMW, but that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.
The V6 offers up plenty of power in this car, but it comes on pretty weak, until about 3,500 rpm, then it gets fast and loud and starts to vibrate. The pedals and shifter vibrate hard when you’re on the gas; I think the floorboards do, too. It’s also very loud in the cabin. Boy, I used to like the sound of this car, but I don’t anymore, and I don’t know why. The tires are also massive, making induced wheelspin more difficult than I’d like. Throw some pizza cutters on there; it would be way more fun.
This Z is sprung extremely tightly as well. I’d say it’s an 8 on the scale, with the Mini Cooper Coupe being a 10, and a Rolls-Royce being a 1. Surely, this car would lay down some fast times on the racetrack, it’s just a little punishing on the streets.
Inside, the Nismo does a good job with red and black and silver, making the cabin look sporty. I like the seats both in shape and material. Nice and supportive, but also pretty soft on the rear. The radio looked a little dated with the orange LEDs, but everything works, which is much more important.
I don’t like how my elbow fell in between the parking brake and armrest when shifting; I think one or the other needs to be moved. Visibility is also near zero with the rear cross bar, tiny windows and rear glass. That glass is also blocked out by the spoiler so this is kind of a hit-the-gas-and-don’t-worry-what’s-behind car.
I hate to bring it back to the Mustang, but this car seems way overpriced at $46K. My 425-hp ponycar was $30K, after a few discounts. Even if you could get this to $40K, I’d still have a hard time. No back seat, zero utility. But I suppose it’s the tuner-est of tuner cars from the factory, and there are still a good set of buyers for that type of thing. The one thing no one can deny is that it looks badass, in shape, proportion and color.
Options: Bose package including Bose audio system with eight speaker, two subwoofers, in-dash six-disc CD changer, Sirius XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, HomeLink universal transceiver, auto-dimming rearview mirror ($1,350); in-mirror rearview monitor including compass and HomeLink, universal garage door opener ($790); illuminated kick plates ($200); Nismo carpeted floor mats ($125); carpeted trunk mat ($95)
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