Nis­san 370Z Coupé

The Z rep­re­sents a by­gone au­to­mo­tive era. That doesn’t mean it's with­out its charms, how­ever

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

LArge-ca­pac­ity, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gines; man­ual trans­mis­sions; hy­draulic power steer­ing. They all have one thing in com­mon: a spot on the en­dan­gered-species list. The mo­tor­car is chang­ing and, as en­gines are down­sized and tur­bocharged, then cou­pled with au­to­matic trans­mis­sions be­fore be­ing paired with hy­brid sys­tems on their jour­ney to be­com­ing fully elec­tric, we thought it the per­fect time to re­assess an au­to­mo­tive anachro­nism, the Nis­san 370Z.

The Z-car is a Ja­panese icon and its roots can be traced back to the 1969 240Z. That per­fectly pro­por­tioned coupé with its long bon­net and mus­cu­lar haunches struck a chord with the pub­lic and some chris­tened it the Ja­panese E-type. Six gen­er­a­tions later, in 2009, the 370Z was launched lo­cally and has stayed true to the orig­i­nal con­cept while adding more per­for­mance and street pres­ence. We tested an au­to­matic ver­sion in the July 2009 is­sue of CAR and heaped praise on it. Here’s just one such ex­am­ple of the pur­ple prose: “In every sinew a mus­cle car, of­fer­ing all the right in­gre­di­ents for a ride on the wild side.”

Nearly nine years later, Nis­san has seen t to tweak the 370Z, adding metal-ef­fect door han­dles, a black-painted rear dif­fuser, tinted lamp lenses and a new set of 19-inch Rays Engi­neer­ing al­loy wheels.

Inside, not much has changed. You’ll still nd a fa­cia fes­tooned with but­tons, a clunky in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and no reach ad­just­ment on the steer­ing col­umn (al­though most could nd a good driv­ing po­si­tion). In­stead, fo­cus on the trio of Z-car gauges on the dash (show­ing time, bat­tery volt­age and en­gine oil tem­per­a­ture) and the large cen­tral rev counter with a 7 500 r/min red­line, and it’s ob­vi­ous pot­ter­ing about is not the 370Z’s rai­son d'être.

De­press the slightly stiff left

pedal (con­nected to the new Exedy semi-rac­ing clutch plate), se­lect rst gear via the meaty shift ac­tion of the six-speed man­ual gear­box, in­crease the revs and drop the clutch. De­pend­ing on whether the driver has switched off the trac­tion con­trol (via a quick-touch but­ton), the Z will ei­ther scam­per off the line with the elec­tronic nan­nies on full alert, or paint black Bridge­stone 11s on the road. A shift to sec­ond pauses the ac­tion for a mo­ment as the Z’s nose dives, where­after the hooli­gan­ism con­tin­ues and the smile on the driver’s faces broad­ens… On our test strip, the Nis­san needed a more mea­sured ap­proach than that to post a 0-100 km/h time of 5,91 sec­onds, just about good enough to see off those pesky FWD hot hatches.

Un­der the bon­net beats the same 3,7-litre V6 mounted far back in the bay. It fea­tures vari­able valve tim­ing and lift, but was never – and still isn’t – the smoothest or most free-revving V6. Say­ing that, the in­duc­tion noise is ad­dic­tive and mo­ti­vates the driver to keep their foot planted on the ac­cel­er­a­tor for longer.

Driv­ing the Nis­san as in­tended sends the fuel con­sump­tion rock­et­ing sky­wards from the al­ready hefty 13,3 L/100 km we achieved on our stan­dard (se­date) fuel run and the 72-litre tank needs lling on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Brak­ing per­for­mance, how­ever, is deeply im­pres­sive even by supercar stan­dards and the Z recorded an av­er­age of 2,71 dur­ing our pun­ish­ing 10-stop brak­ing rou­tine from 100 km/h.

Dy­nam­i­cally, it still feels com­pet­i­tive. The ride is cos­set­ing over bro­ken sur­faces and af­fords the Z a rounded char­ac­ter for daily use. A mass of 1 536 kg (mea­sured on our scales fully fu­elled) means that it is more suited to flow­ing bends than sharp cor­ners any­way. Turn-in sharply off the power and the Z un­der­steers. How­ever, turn in on the power and eas­ily ac­cessed over­steer is on the menu (with the lim­it­ed­slip dif­fer­en­tial play­ing along). At the slip point, though, it takes skill to bal­ance the chas­sis (fea­tur­ing front and rear strut braces) and get the most from the grip of­fered by the four Poten­zas. For op­ti­mal track work, the car would ide­ally need stiffer springs and dampers, plus a re­duc­tion in mass.

TEST SUMMARY

Most CAR staffers were sur­prised by how charm­ing the 370Z still is, but also how com­pet­i­tive it has re­mained in cer­tain cru­cial as­pects. That said, oc­cu­py­ing such a small niche in the mar­ket, it may con­tinue to strug­gle per­suad­ing buy­ers to choose it over more mod­ern com­pe­ti­tion. Thank­fully, at R661 900, the 370Z of­fers good value con­sid­er­ing the gen­er­ous stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion on of­fer (in­clud­ing satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, for ex­am­ple). We say take the plunge, opt for the slick man­ual trans­mis­sion and its bril­liant revmatch­ing fea­ture, and you may find your life be­com­ing a lot more ex­cit­ing. Just avoid M240i driv­ers at the lights…

clock­wise from top right The fa­cia is ori­en­tated to the driver and fea­tures a clas­si­cally styled rev counter placed cen­trally; lim­ited lug­gage space ow­ing to the shal­low­ness of the boot is fur­ther com­pro­mised by the pres­ence of a strut brace; clas­sic Z-car lines are still pleas­ing to the eye nearly nine years af­ter the 370Z’s orig­i­nal launch.

from top Smokey 11s are al­ways an op­tion with the Z's trac­tion-con­trol sys­tem switched off; good driv­ing po­si­tion, de­spite a lack of reach ad­just­ment for the wheel; while build qual­ity feels rock-solid.

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