£29,495 - £39,995 Price range
As with the BMW the 370Z is rear-wheel-drive for sporty handling characteristics, but the Nissan’s heavy controls make it a harder car to live with every day, even if they make it feel like something of a mini muscle car to drive.
The power on offer isn’t far off a large capacity American engine either, and pound-for-pound the Nissan is one of the cheapest ways to go very quickly. Even the entry-level model has 328hp and can get from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds, while the Nismo version is quicker still and ideal if you plan to test your skills on the odd track day.
Handling wise, the 370Z is a blunt instrument rather than a precision tool. The heavy steering and gearbox mean it has to be manhandled to get the best from it and the steering lacks the delicate feel of the GT86 or Cayman, but on the bright side the Nissan will powerslide with gusto (all models have a limited-slip differential) and sounds pretty good doing it.
It shows its age most on the inside, where plastic quality really lets the side down and limited adjustment for the steering wheel means not everyone will be able to get a comfortable driving position. Its low-slung shape and cocoon-like cabin does help it feel every inch a sports car – just not a very modern one.
Basic models have the bare essentials in terms of equipment – climate control, Bi-Xenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers – but the GT version is worth going for simply because it adds sat-nav and a suede leather interior.
The interior is an area where the 370Z shows its age especially when compared to the Audi TT. Plastic quality isn’t great, but if anything it’s the design that really shows that the 370Z’s coasting into its twilight years. Its mashup of different shapes means the Nissan lack the cohesive quality the TT has in abundance, and although there are nice touches – such as the sporty dials sprouting from the top of the dash – they’re not in the same league as the TT, which has beautifully crafted turbine-style air vents and the option to specify a digital dashboard.
Nissan 370Z passenger space
The interior is a real drivers’ affair thanks to a low-slung, legs-and-arms-stretched-out driving position. Getting comfy is easy in some respects – adjust the wheel and the instrument binnacle moves with it, but sadly it doesn’t move for reach and taller drivers might find the footwells a little shallow. The seats are, however, supportive especially if you buy the Nismo model, but you do only get two.
Nissan 370Z boot space
The Nissan’s boot would be bigger were it not restricted by a strut brace that joins the rear suspension turrets together to increase chassis stiffness. As it stands, its 235 litre boot is smaller than a Volkswagen Up’s and even less practical thanks to its awkward shape and the tall load lip you have to lift things over.
The 370Z’s aged design serves as an accurate precursor to how it drives. While some cars shrink around you, the Nissan does the opposite – it feels large, heavy and at times unwieldy.
That’s not to say it’s a bad car, but anyone expecting GT86-like nimbleness should stick to the Toyota. Instead the 370Z masquerades as a sporty steamroller, hammering bumps into submission rather than moving with the road.
Although it doesn’t suffer from major body lean, the car’s weight means it is easy to get it out of shape with a little help from some lateral momentum. That being said, Nissan has setup the car’s traction and stability control systems to allow for a fair amount of slide before they feel the need to check your efforts.
Fast A-roads are where the 370Z feels most at home. There the steering’s slight lack of accuracy matters less and its meaty feel makes the car seem planted, and bends easy to judge.
Faster roads also allow you to ring the neck of the 3.7-litre V6 engine that rewards your efforts with a decent engine note, particularly when the car automatically blips the throttle for you as you shift down through the gears.
The 370Z uses a 3.7-litre V6 engine with 328hp (344hp in the Nismo version) and 268lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph dash takes just 5.3 seconds and you’ll won’t have to count to thirteen before you hit 100mph. Top speed is 155mph and CO2 emissions a hefty 248g/km. Fuel economy is one of the car’s bugbears – 27mpg will make your wallet cry mercy these days, and don’t expect to get that figure if you’re having fun…
Performance is great though, with pretty brutal acceleration off the line. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, and both receive praise – the manual has a mechanical feel and ‘Synchro Rev Control’, which blips the throttle for perfectly rev-matched downchanges, without the need for fancy footwork, while the auto is appropriately responsive.
An automatic isn't the... well, automatic choice in a hairy-chested sports car like the 370Z, but it gets surprisingly good reviews.
Testers don't much like the noise the V6 engine produces - it's "thrashy" at high revs and noisy everywhere else - but the tiptronic auto 'box makes a good case for itself, both more economical and plenty of fun to use. While several testers would still choose the manual for ultimate control, one notes that the 370Z's auto gearbox isn't "wishy-washy" like many autos, and adds to the car's character.
The Nissan 370Z's 3.7-litre V6 engine isn't short of power, at 323hp - but it isn't a perfect engine. There's plenty of torque on offer, one review describing it as "brutal", and there's a real old-school muscle car feel to it. The clutch and gearbox on this manual version are "meaty", and satisfying to use - if not the slickest on the market.
No, the main issue is the way the V6 sounds - virtually every review says it's loud, thrashy and not much pleasure to listen to. With no satisfying growl, the engine's lack of refinement and poor fuel consumption can't easily be forgiven either.
It's the best 370Z, no doubt - a little faster and better looking, with sharper handling. But testers say you barely feel the performance increase (a mere 0.1 seconds has been shaved from the 0-62mph time), and "a gruff noise drowns out the exhaust note, even with those wider pipes". Stick with the standard 370Z.
The Zed is another one of those low-volume sports cars that is exempt from being crashed in the name of science, so we must exercise best guesses only.
Coming from the Nissan stable, we’d be surprised if the same levels of engineering prowess that go into giving the Qashqai, Juke and Leaf five star safety ratings didn’t go into the 155mph 370Z. At the very least it comes with six airbags, stability control, vehicle dynamic control, active head restraints and a very, very large set of brakes – enough to satisfy EuroNCAP’s safety assist category, enhance the occupant safety category and keep you from having a crash in the first place…
A recent price drop has made the 370Z a seriously tempting proposition once more. Starting at just £27,015, it’s £4,500 more than the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins, both of which are well over 100hp down on the Nissan. For the performance on offer, the 370Z is unequivocally good value. Unless you opt for the NISMO, that is. While critics love the looks, they don’t love the £37,015 entry price for very little extra performance. It’s still cheaper than a Porsche Cayman, but doesn’t justify its premium over the standard car.
Given its price relative to the performance on offer the basic 370Z isn’t badly equipped, but kit such as air-conditioning, electric windows and electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors are starting to count as bare essentials these days.
Nissan 370 GT
A better bet is the GT model. It comes with cruise control, a suede leather interior, rear wash-wipe, and sat-nav that will not only make the car easier to live with, but also more sellable when the time comes. It also looks sportier on account of its 19-inch Rays alloy wheels.
Nissan 370Z Nismo
Nismo is an abbreviation for Nissan Motorsport, so there’s no prizes for guessing that this is the most focussed model in the range and offers a boost in performance (up from 328hp to 344hp), but it’s relatively insignificant leaving us wondering whether it is really worth the money. Decide it is, though, and you also get a fairly aggressive body kit, lightweight 19-inch Rays alloy wheels, and body hugging Recaro sports seats.
If you want some old-school fun – an increasingly rare thing in modern vehicles – the 370Z could be the car for you. Its performance still impresses several years on, and it remains competitively priced. It’s a long way from perfect though. The car’s refinement issues and buzzy exhaust note grate on some testers even more now than they did at the car’s launch.
TheToyota GT86 may be less powerful, but they demand far fewer compromises as everyday cars and could be the better overall choice. Until you pull up next to a 370Z at the lights, that is…