2013 Nissan 370Z Review
By Carey Russ

Plus 240Z Comparisons and Thoughts and 2014 370Z Prices

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Nissan 370Z Coupe


DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2013 Nissan 370Z Touring Review

It's low, holds driver and passenger only (and snugly) plus maybe a couple of overnight bags, has heavy steering and indifferent rear visibility, and, if pushed hard, is anything but exemplary in fuel consumption. But is quite exemplary in performance and roadholding, and even more so considering the price.

None of which should come as a surprise to anyone, since the Nissan 370Z is the latest in a long, if interrupted, line of sports cars bearing the "Z" mark. Although Nissan, then sold here as Datsun, made 1600 and 2000cc sports roadsters that are now cult collectibles during the late 1960s, it was the 240Z of 1970 that helped make the company an important player in the U.S. market.

The 240Z, powered by a 151-horsepower 2.4-liter SOHC inline six, offered style and performance rivaling that of established, and more expensive, European brands for a very reasonable price. It was a hit, and well-kept or restored exampled are collectibles today. The second generation, debuted for 1979 and called the 280ZX, was a bit larger and more comfort-oriented, even more so in the 2+2 version, but did introduce a turbo option. The third generation, sold from 1984 through 1989 and now with a 3.0-liter V6, had dual personalities. Optioned correctly, the 300ZX could be a fine and fast grand touring sports car. Optioned otherwise, it could be a soft poseur for a mid-life crisis… The fourth-generation 300ZX from 1990 solved that dichotomy. Especially in 300-hp turbo form, it was a true Japanese supercar. But with a price to match, and changing market, it was discontinued here at the end of 1996.

But the original Z idea was too good to die. So model year 2003 saw its rebirth as the 350Z, and again Nissan had a winner on its hands. The 350Z was very much in the mold of the 240, updated for the day -- if not "no-frills" simple, it was also not the overly-complex and hence expensive beast which the last 300ZX became. The formula worked, and well. There was no 2+2 as that niche was taken by the related, more upscale, Infiniti G35 Coupe. There was a roadster for convertible lovers. For 2009 the sixth generation of Nissan's legend was unveiled, in the form of the 370Z.

Superficially looking like a restyle of the 350, just about everything in the 370 was changed. It was shorter, wider, and lower. And more powerful, with a 332-horsepower namesake 3.7-liter V6 replacing the 350's 306-hp 3.5. More extensive use of lightweight aluminum, in the suspension and for the hood, doors, and rear hatch, contributed to a weight decrease. Nissan was serious about keeping performance up and bloat down.

Changes to the 370Z since then have been minimal, with 2013 seeing its first freshening. Most notably, the front bumper fascia gets LED daytime running lights (DRLs), there are new wheel designs and exterior colors. As is usual for Nissan, trim levels are standard, more luxurious Touring, and the seriously sport-oriented NISMO (NISsan MOtorsports) version. My test car for the past week was a Touring Coupe with the Sport Package and Navigation package. As such, it was an excellent example of an affordable contemporary Grand Touring sports car. It had all of the luxury and technology amenities expected today -- but they could not mask the car's essential character and heritage. It liked to play, hard -- but could potter through traffic easily, although poor rear-quarter visibility did require careful attention to the mirrors. Hey, real sports coupes never did have good visibility. If you want unlimited visibility in a Z®, that's why there's a convertible. The coupe has performance and ability that rivals even the twin-turbo 300ZX, and at (adjusted for inflation) a lower price. And it'll cost you substantially more to improve on that, making the 370Z an excellent value for a high-performance sports car.

2014 update, since it's getting to be that time: No changes necessary, none made.

APPEARANCE: You're forgiven if Nissan's changes to the Z don't register. It's a fine design, and there is nothing to be gained by changing for change's sake. Vertical LED running lights in the lower front fascia and a red reflective patch at the rear between the exhausts are about it. The "RAYS" wheels of the sport package got plenty of compliments. But at heart, the 2013 (or 14) 370Z is the same sinewy, purposeful sports coupe it has always been, all muscle, no fat.

COMFORT: There's room for two -- but if you're large of girth, or not particularly flexible, this is not your car. You sit down and into close-fitting bolstered sports seats. Touring means leather bolsters and perforated faux-suede cushion and back, power-adjustable fore and aft, with driver's cushion height and tilt manually adjusted. As has been the standard since the 2003 reintroduction, the main instrument cluster is mounted on the steering column and tilts with it, manually. There is no reach adjustment to the leather-rimmed wheel. I found it to be at a near-perfect distance but taller drivers may vary. Instrumentation is complete, with the tach front and center, flanked by an information display and the speedometer. Auxiliary gauges are at the top of the center of the dash, a nod to the 240Z. Without the navigation system, there is a storage space in the center stack. With nav, that's taken up by the interactive touchscreen, which also doubles as the rearview monitor. Which is good as rear visibility, particular to the quarters, is pure sports coupe. Storage space is limited, but adequate for a long weekend for two if they can pack light. There is a small locking glove box, two open compartments behind the seats, and a bit of space in the doors. The main luggage area under the hatch has a cover. Under that is a space-saver spare tire.

SAFETY: The Nissan 370Z Coupe has dual-stage front, side-impact, and head-curtain airbags, active head restraints, Zone Body Construction with front and rear crumple zones and a strong safety cage around passengers for passive safety and strong four-wheel vented disc brakes (extra-large, with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers with the Sport Package) with antilock and brake assist and good handling characteristics with quick reflexes for active safety.

RIDE AND HANDLING: This is a real sports car, so roadholding and steering response take priority over ride comfort. Still, even with the Sport Package's larger-diameter wheels and lower-profile performance tires, and stiffer suspension calibration, it's not harsh. It is firm, and steering effort is higher than in a family sedan but appropriate for a car with the Z's reflexes and abilities. It makes driving a pleasure, with quick steering response and high limits of adhesion. Extensive use of lightweight aluminum for suspension components reduces unsprung weight, improving suspension response. Aluminum panels for the hood, doors, and hatch reduce overall weight. A short, stiff carbon-fiber driveshaft reduces rotating mass for quicker throttle response. Interior noise levels are low for the genre, with gear noise noticeable but not annoying at lower speeds. The engine is quiet until about 4000 rpm, and then makes happy engine music. The Sport Package's viscous limited-slip differential ensures that the engine's power gets to the ground and the car tracks straight and true under hard acceleration.

PERFORMANCE: The 370Z's namesake 3.7-liter twin-cam 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 features "Variable Valve Event and Lift Control", which continuously varies valve lift and cam phasing for optimum power output and efficiency, improving fuel economy and reducing emissions at all engine speeds. At low revs it's smooth, quiet, and docile. Short-shifting below 4000 rpm produces plenty of urge, and the six-speed manual's short-throw shifter makes shifting a pleasure. Stomp hard on the loud pedal and things happen very quickly -- 0-60 is right close to the magic five seconds. And the engine makes a fine six-cylinder howl. Downshifting with the SynchroRev Match® engaged is interesting at first, as it uses the engine management software to match revs in the manner that an accomplished driver can. It's a good way to learn to shift better -- practice until it doesn't engage, meaning that you have correctly matched revs.

Fuel economy is not a primary consideration in a sports car. EPA estimates are 18mpg city and 26 highway. I saw 15-16 around town and on backroads and 25 to 26 on the highway. Sixth gear is high enough that lower highway speeds, under 60mph or so, are best done in fifth.

CONCLUSIONS: The legend continues with the newest iteration of Nissan's 370Z. It offers the same combination of performance, style, and substance that made the 240Z a star over 40 years ago, with far more of everything for what is likely a very equivalent price.

SPECIFICATIONS
2013 Nissan 370Z Touring

Base Price			$ 37,820
Price As Tested			$ 43,905
Engine Type			DOHC 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 with
				 continuously-variable valve timing
				 and lift
Engine Size			3.7 liters / 226 cu. in.
Horsepower			332 @ 7000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			270 @ 5200 rpm
Transmission			6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length		100.4 in. / 167.2 in.
Curb Weight			3318 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		10.0
Fuel Capacity			19.0 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane premium unleaded gasoline
Tires				Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
				  F: 245/40R19 94W  R: 275/35R19 96W
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc, 4-piston calipers /
				 vented disc, 2-piston calipers
Suspension, front/rear		independent double wishbone /
				  independent multi-link
Drivetrain			front engine, rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		18 / 26 / 19
0 to 60 mph				est 5  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES

Sport Package -- includes: 19" RAYS® forged aluminum alloy wheels, P245/40R19 front and P275/35R19 rear tires, Nissan Sport brakes, front chin deflector and rear spoiler, viscous limited-slip differential, Euro-tuned sport shocks, SynchroRev Match® manual transmission $ 3,030

Nissan Navigation System -- includes: Hard-drive based navigation system, 7" color monitor, USB connection port for iPod® interface and other compatible devices, streaming audio via Bluetooth®, NavTraffic and NavWeather by Sirius/XM, rear-view monitor, single-CD player replaces CD changer, monitor replaces center stack storage, USB connection replaces audio input jack $ 2,250

Carpeted Floor Mats $ 125

Destination Charge $ 780

EXTRA: 240Z Vs. 370Z Comparison

No, I never owned one. I did have a room-mate once who had a 280Z. Close enough, and remarkably rapid for the late 70s. And far more comfortable and civilized than the Sunbeam Alpine I grew up with and learned the basics of auto maintenance and mechanics from.

Going through my ancient magazine collection, I found a test of a 240Z in the June, 1970 issue of Car & Driver. Price? $3,601 including a $76 dealer prep. Compare to $33,120 for the base 6M 2013 370Z. Allowing for inflation, probably close.

240Z: 151 bhp @ 5600 rpm, 146 lb-ft torque @ 4400, 4-speed gearbox, 2330 lbs for power:weight of 15.4. 0-60 in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 109 mph. Fuel economy, 19-21 mpg.

370Z: 332 bhp @ 7000 rpm, 279 lb-ft of torque @ 5200, 6-speed gearbox. At 3381 lbs, another 1000 lbs -- but with only 10 pounds for each horsepower a bit quicker and faster. As in 0-60 close to 5 seconds, topping out allegedly around 150.

Today's Z would have been exotic race car technology 40+ years ago. And of course the electronics that make it all work, with impossibly low emissions by 1970s standards, were not around then. Not to mention the metallurgy or tire technology!

In the mid-90s, when Nissan had a factory rebuild plan for old 240s, they brought one to an event I attended. Sometimes it's best not to look back -- after a day of driving new cars, the immaculately-restored Z felt old, slow, and rough. But still had character and great looks.

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2014 Nissan 370Z Prices
  • 370Z Coupe starting M.S.R.P.* reduced by $3,130 USD
  • 370Z NISMO and 370Z Roadster pricing unchanged
  • 370Z NISMO features new NISMO design theme with unique exterior and interior accents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. July 26, 2013; Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today announced U.S. pricing for 370Z Coupe, 370Z NISMO and 370Z Roadster, which are on sale now at Nissan dealers nationwide. The starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (M.S.R.P.) for the 370Z Coupe has been reduced $3,130 USD and $2,550 USD for the 370Z Coupe Touring grade.

The M.S.R.P. reductions on 370Z Coupe increase its competitiveness in the growing sports car marketplace. This spring, Nissan repositioned the price on seven core models with an aim to broaden the reach of customer consideration during online shopping and research. Prices for the revised 2014 370Z NISMO and 2014 370Z Roadster remain at 2013 model year levels.

The Nissan 370Z Coupe continues to offer extraordinary performance, design and an unmatched heritage as one of the most iconic sports cars in automotive history. There are no significant product enhancements for 2014. The 2014 370Z NISMO has been revised to follow the new NISMO design theme with distinctive new exterior and interior accents. Enhancements include new dark gray coloring for the front and rear fascias, lower side sills, side mirrors and NISMO rear spoiler, with each element (except side sills) featuring NISMO-style red pinstripe accents. Interior enhancements include the addition of a new steering wheel with Alcantara® appointments and red accents and a red NISMO tachometer. The 370Z NISMO continues to offer 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and brakes and 19-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels.

Like the 370 Coupe, the 2014 370Z Roadster offers unique design, performance and value – with the added exhilarating sensory experience of an advanced fully automatic convertible top. Complete details on all 2014 Z® models are available at nissannews.com.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices* (MSRP) for the 2014 Nissan 370Z Coupe include:

2014 370Z Coupe 6MT

$29,990 USD

2014 370Z Coupe 7AT

$31,290 USD

2014 370Z Coupe Touring 6MT

$35,270 USD

2014 370Z Coupe Touring 7AT

$36,570 USD

2014 370Z Coupe NISMO

$43,020 USD

Destination and Handling $790.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices* (MSRP) for the 2014 Nissan 370Z Roadster include: 

2014 370Z Roadster 7AT

$41,470 USD

2014 370Z Roadster Touring 6MT

$44,170 USD

2014 370Z Roadster Touring 7AT

$45,470 USD

Destination and Handling $790.

About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, and 2012 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com, or visit the Americas media sites NissanNews.com and InfinitiNews.com.

About Nissan
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 248,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4.8 million vehicles in 2011, generating revenue of 9.4 trillion yen ($118.95 billion US). With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of 64 models under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero-emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades, including the prestigious 2011-2012 Car of the Year Japan and 2011 World Car of the Year awards.

For more information on our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit our website at http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/.

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