2010 Nissan 370Z TouringPosted on June 30th, 2010
Affordable sports car with iconic styling
By Nina Russin
There’s a synesthetic relationship between the Nissan 370Z I’m driving and Sonny Rollins, playing on the radio. While a person can learn to appreciate jazz as an art form, loving the music is intuitive.
The 370Z is, in a similar sense, its own animal. Nissan enthusiasts love the Z for its timeless design and contemporary performance. Despite its exotic appearance, the Z remains one of the most affordable and versatile sports cars on the market. Relocating the rear strut on the current model has made the cargo area even larger and more practical for buyers with active lifestyles.
Beyond this, there’s an aura about the Z: an internal logic that makes the coupe different than any other sports car. Both its design and performance are distinctly Nissan, with one foot planted on the road and the other on the track. Features such as the rev-matching manual transmission and formula-style shift paddles make the Z as much of a driver’s car as competitors that are significantly more expensive.
Nissan unveiled the current model for 2009: 2010 models are essentially identical, with a couple of new convenience features and a new exterior color. All grades now get heated mirrors and a micro-filter to reduce allergens inside the cabin. Nissan revised the available navigation package and added black cherry to the list of exterior finishes.
The 370Z coupe comes in two grades: the base enthusiast and upscale touring models. The touring version has a MSRP of $36,130, not including a $720 destination charge. Floor mats and illuminated kick plates on the test car add another $315, bringing the price as tested to $37,165.
The mouse that roars
Those readers born after the Cold War probably don’t remember “The Mouse That Roared,” a satire starring Peter Sellers. Sellers was one of the few comedians who could transform slapstick into cinematic art. My mother, who was an avowed hater of slapstick, would rather eat dirt than miss a Peter Sellers movie.
The 370Z has a similar effect on people. A few minutes behind the wheel transforms the casual driver into a performance enthusiast. Nissan’s 332-horsepower V-6 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission combine exceptional power with finesse and fuel economy.
The current model is slightly shorter and wider than the one it replaced. Front-to-rear weight balance is 54/46, making the car extremely stable on challenging roads.
Engineers minimized weight in the body structure by using aluminum for the door panels and hood. Reconfiguring structural reinforcements enhanced torsional rigidity by 30 percent compared to the previous model.
Standard eighteen-inch alloy wheels create a large, stable footprint, while large, vented disk brakes on all four wheels provide firm, linear stopping power.
Test drive in eastern Arizona
While the 370Z offers competent performance around town, one needs to find a challenging two-lane road to truly appreciate its ride and handling. I headed east out of Phoenix to one of my favorite rural roads, and put the shift lever in the manual position to see what the coupe would do.
The paddle shifters provide firm, precise shifting. I have to admit that I prefer the manual gearbox, simply because I like using a clutch pedal. But I was impressed by the seven-speed transmission’s response. The downshift rev matching feature blips the throttle in manual mode to smooth out the transitions between gears.
The coupe felt glued to the pavement as it traversed pitchy hills and decreasing radius turns. The speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering provides excellent response. The Z’s 32.8-foot turning radius makes it possible to do U-turns virtually anywhere.
The four-wheel independent suspension provides a firm but compliant ride: if there is any roll or dive, it’s imperceptible.
Visibility around the car, with the exception of the rear corners, is quite good. The thick C-pillars create large blind spots to the back. Over-the-shoulder visibility is sufficient to monitor several lanes of traffic on either side of the vehicle. Standard bi-xenon headlamps enhance visibility at night by providing beams that are longer and brighter than halogen.
The 370Z exterior melds contemporary lines with styling cues from the car’s forty-year history. The profile maintains the bullet shape the car is known for. Vertical door handles are a nice accent against the horizontal belt and roof lines.
Up front, large, arrow-shaped headlamps frame the black grille. The tail lamps have a similar shape. Dual exhausts pipes peak out the back, and create a pleasant roar during hard acceleration.
The car’s interior revolves around the driver, as a true sports car should. I found the eight-way adjustable power seat comfortable for drives several hours in duration. Redundant audio controls on the steering wheel are intuitive to use, minimizing driver distraction. The shift paddles are easy to reach, even with small hands.
Designers kept the center stack clean and uncluttered, with a covered bin in place of a touch-screen for cars that don’t get the optional navigation system. I love the three-gauge cluster at the top: a carry-over from former models. The analogue engine temperature and battery charge indicators come in handy at the height of a hot Phoenix summer.
Gauges are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. The same is true for the fuel and ambient temperature indicator to the left of the gauge cluster.
The standard audio system includes an AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio and an auxiliary jack. Bluetooth interface is standard on the touring model. Two twelve-volt outlets recharge portable electronic devices on the go.
A small shelf in back of the passenger seat is handy for stashing a purse or briefcase. The rear strut skims the perimeter of the cargo area rather than dissecting it. While the 370Z won’t hold a bicycle or set of skis, I had no problems loading luggage or a week’s worth of groceries into the back.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock braking, traction and vehicle dynamic control.
The 2010 370Z is on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Likes: An affordably-priced sports car with timeless styling and serious performance.
Dislikes: Large blind spots in the rear corners, due to the thick rear pillars.
Model: 370Z Touring
Base price: $36,130
As tested: $37,165
Horsepower: 332 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/26 mpg city/highway
Comments: Nissan recommends the use of premium fuel.
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