- The 370Z is an ageing platform that might be dropped, but we got a crack at the 2018 version.
- Last year, we drove the manual; this year, we drove the automatic.
- In Nismo performance trim, the car still satisfies.
At just over $US46,000, the 2017 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech we recently tested represents an incredible value for the money in sports cars.
You just have to get over how boringly excellent it is.
I wrote that last year when reviewing the 2017 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech, and after sampling a $US48,510-as-tested 2018 version of the car (You can thank an automatic transmission for the extra cost) I can say that my mind hasn’t changed one bit.
As I noted last October, “Z” cars have been around for decades. The very first 240Z, badged as a Datsun, hit the streets in the US in 1969. The whole Z-car idea – affordable, dependable performance in a 2 seater – seemed to have run its course with the 300ZX. Production was halted briefly in the late 1990s before Nissan revived it with the 350Z.
The 370Z Nismo Tech – the hottest version of the ride – is the latest and greatest. It might also be the endgame, as there are rumours that Nissan could be sending the Z’s to their final reward. That’s a shame, but even though the 2018 Z is a slight update on the 2017, it is true that this platform is fairly aged in automotive terms. That was the case last year when we checked out the six-speed manual, and it remained so this fall when we slipped behind the wheel of the seven-speed automatic.
The 370Z has basically been around for a decade, and it shows. Sometimes in a bad way, with its unreconstructed mid-2000s glowing orange-ness of instruments. But sometimes in a good way, such as when you lean into the marvellous 3.7-litre, 350-horsepower V6 and feel that sweet, naturally aspirated, all-motor power flowing to the back wheels.
Not much has changed in the new version
I tooled around New York and New Jersey for a few days in a Pearl White 370Z and – no surprise – I had a fine time. The car’s dinky, seven-inch touchscreen (surrounded by retro buttons and a funky knob) didn’t scream “Tech!”, and the two-seater had no advanced driver assist features whatsoever. But for some fans of throwback piloting, that’s all going to be perfectly cool.
The base 370Z is only about 30 grand, but mine was thoroughly Nismoed up. It had: a Nismo-tuned engine; a Nismo engine cover; Nismo-tuned exhaust; Nismo-tuned suspension; Nismo alloy wheels; a Nismo shifter knob; Nismo upholstery stitching; a Nismo tachometer; and Nismo aerodynamics.
You’d better like saying “Nismo” if you buy this puppy.
And as it turned out, I did enjoy saying Nismo.
“The Z car’s whole reason for being is to be easy on the wallet and fulfilling when you put the pedal down and dig into a corner – but it isn’t supposed to scare the bejeezus out of you or make you feel like you couldn’t snuggle up for a road trip,” I said of the 2017 car. For 2018, that remains the same, but in my time with the 370Z Nismo didn’t involve clutching or grabbing gears, and I’m old, so on balance, it was a more pleasant time. And the 0-60 mph time is still just a touch above 5 seconds, plenty quick.
My heart wants the stick, but my mind tells me the automatic is a wiser choice. And regardless, this 370Z has paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, so you can have your manual fun, minus the third pedal. The thing still rev-matches on downshifts, just like the stick, and that’s a useful feature.
It’s still a likeable car
I can’t really take myself seriously in a Z car, and I’m not one of those people who’s always had one and always will. But the machine is fun to drive, and I simply can’t argue with Nissan’s 3.7-litre V6, which in the face of an onslaught of turbo sixes and turbo fours is enchantingly retro. What a fantastic motor! The Z’s styling is actually sort of timeless, if overly youthful for anybody over 30, and despite the lack of a rear seat, the fastback hatch provides enough space to lug a surprising amount of stuff.
I still deeply like, rather than love, the car. But I like it a little bit more than I have in the past. If I were feeling a bit crazy and out-of-character, I might just go for it.
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