2009 Nissan 370Z
Whenever Nissan releases a new Z, the car world goes a twitter as people make for a lot of great expectations. Call it what you will, “iconic,” “legendary” and “world-class”, terms that haunt the Z like a fevered dream. This Z has a long history behind it – complete with a racing pedigree and a simple but successful front-engine, rear-wheel drive formula. The 350Z had six-year production run that resurrected the name and brought the car back to the legions of faithful that followed it. But six years is a lifetime in the automotive world, and the same car that had wowed enthusiasts and critics alike when it debuted in 2002 was starting to look its age in 2008. Nissan knew the Z needed new bones, but could it improve on its tried and true formula while staying true to its roots? To do so, the new Z would need a rival – something that epitomized the term sports car in the minds of everyone of every age. It chose the Porsche Cayman S
. To have a chance, the car would need more power, better fuel economy, a trick transmission and an interior to match the luxe-German coupe. The 2009 Nissan 370Z not only meets those requirements, but it exceeds the expectations of everything a Z should be, at about half the price of the Porsche. Recessionary Chic has hit the sports car market!
What's to Like
The 370Z takes on all of the lackluster areas of the previous generation car. Where there once were flimsy, hard plastics and materials in the cockpit, we now get an up market and high-class interior. Horsepower is up to 332, thanks to a new 3.7-liter V-6 engine and the six-speed manual transmission with a Nissan first SynchroRev Match technology
makes anyone look like a heel-toe driving champ.
What's Not to Like
The base model doesn’t offer too much in the way of navigation or entertainment and really, how much would it be for two extra rear speakers standard? Nissan does offer a technology package to satisfy your tech tooth, complete with an impressive traffic-aware navigation system and on-board music storage, but you’ll have to pay for it.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Some cars are built to ferry you and your possessions from point A to point B, others to make you think you could have had a crack at being a professional racecar driver. The 370Z falls into the latter category. Nissan stripped some serious size and weight from the last iteration to maximize all 332 horsepower under the hood. Nissan was able to do this by building traditionally heavy body parts out of light-weight aluminum – doors, rear hatch and hood all get the weight-watchers treatment, helping to get the car’s curb weight down and weight balance to the magic 50/50 number. The Z is available with either a seven-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. We think the manual version, which sports an innovative feature that matches the engine’s revolutions to the next gear to make for smoother gear changes, is pretty darn cool. Also, thanks to multiple chassis braces and a reworked suspension, the 370Z’s handling characteristics are largely neutral. We also like that Nissan went smaller and more nimble with Z. With a 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase and a body that is close to three inches shorter, the Z is made to be thrown around like a ballroom dancer on a three-week steroid bender.
Engine and Drivetrain
Though the 370Z is an improvement on every level over its predecessor, this is really where the new car shines. Nissan bestowed a 3.7-liter version of its VQ V-6 on the new Z, complete with 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Behind the impressive engine, the 370Z sports either a seven-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Automakers have been putting rev-matching technology into double-clutch and automatic transmissions for a while now. Basically, when the driver goes to select a lower gear, the car's computer determines which rpm would best be suited to that gear choice and "blips" the throttle to get the engine there. Until now, if you wanted the same trick in a manual transmission car, you had to learn a technique known as "heel-toe" driving, where you tap the throttle with your right foot while braking to do essentially the same thing. No easy task, that. Nissan has gotten rid of the need for fancy footwork with its SynchroRev Match technology on their bulletproof six-speed manual transmission. The gearbox does all the heavy lifting, making you a faster and more efficient and, dare we say, cooler driver.
Key Technology Evaluation
In base trim, the 370Z doesn’t have much to brag about on the tech front, but with the optional technology package, that all changes. The 370Z can be speced with a GPS system that includes traffic alerts and a 9.3 gig hard drive for storing up to 2,900 songs. The stereo can also play tunes via a built-in CompactFlash reader.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The EPA hasn’t released any official numbers just yet, but Nissan says the new 3.7-liter V6 should return an extra 2 mpg. That means the 370Z should serve up 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway. While those numbers aren’t going to save the planet anytime soon, those statistics are more than respectable for a true sports car.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The 350Z suffered from a fairly disastrous interior, and that’s something the engineers at Nissan have remedied in the 370Z. Fine materials, great seats and a truly stylish dash are all welcome changes inside.
Outside, the 370Z gets a strong dose of classic styling. The long, sloping nose, arched fenders and notched sail window are all bits taken from previous Zs, while the slicked headlights, fanged front fascia and sculpted rear bumpers are all good-looking modern touches. Some may love the new design, others, not so much, but the new Z will get tongues wagging.
Market Segment and Pricing
The 2009 Nissan 370Z starts at $29,930, which puts it in league with other front engine, rear-wheel drive sports cars like the Honda S2000
at $34,795, the new 2010 Ford Mustang GT at $ $27,995 and the BMW 135i
at $35,600 and, dare we say, Porsche Cayman
at $49,400. Still, we have to say, for the price it’s hard to beat the performance of the Z.
What We Think
Nissan has managed to revamp and reboot the Z for a new generation, giving it a much-needed facelift and adding the brute force and well-honed finesse the Z needs to compete with cars costing nearly twice as much. The new 3.7-liter V-6 provides immediate thrust, reined in by serious brakes and a well-sorted suspension and chassis. The 370Z evolves a marque that was born with performance at its heart, and it does so without losing sight of what earned the car its following. We see this as an everyday driver that you can take to the track. The best of both worlds, in our book.