2014 Nissan 370Z TouringPosted on March 25th, 2014
Sports car stays true to its roots
By Nina Russin
When Nissan introduced the 240Z to the US market in 1969, the idea was to offer driving enthusiasts a serious yet affordable sports car. Although the 240Z’s 150-horsepower engine might not sound like much by today’s standards, it provided ample power for the lightweight chassis. Paired with a four-speed manual transmission, the original Z accelerated from zero-to-sixty in about eight seconds, and cost the buyer about $3,500.
Over the past forty years, the Z has evolved into a much faster and frankly more expensive car. But compared to its German competitors, the $35,000 Z is still a bargain. And it’s also that serious, with a 332-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox. A rev-blipping feature enhances the driving skills of whoever might be behind the wheel. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is in the five-second range.
After a major refresh for the 2013 model year, the 2014 model remains basically unchanged with the exception of the NISMO. The coupe’s fastback profile harkens back to that of the iconic 240.
Convenience features on the upscale Touring grade tested include keyless entry and start, xenon headlamps, satellite radio, automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated seats, aluminum pedals and heated exterior mirrors.
A sport package on the test car adds nineteen-inch forged aluminum wheels and low profile tires, bigger brakes, sport shocks and a rear spoiler. The optional navigation package includes a seven-inch color monitor with rearview camera, USB port with iPod interface, Bluetooth streaming audio, real-time traffic and weather updates.
Final MSRP including the $790 destination charge is $41,460.
Test drive in Arizona
My test drive of the 370Z included surface streets and highways in Chandler and Tempe, Arizona as well as sections of the Beeline Highway and Bush Highway east of town.
The 370Z is, like the letter that inspired the series, slightly exotic and very satisfying. The letter, Z, dates back to the Greek alphabet in which it was the sixth letter. It later became the 26th letter of the Latin alphabet. In mathematics, the letter connotes a set of integers, in Physics, the amount of resistance in an electrical current. In mythology, the Greek god Zeus is the king of Mt Olympus: the mightiest and also craftiest of the panoply.
And the 370Z is certainly King of the road: fast and powerful. While it might not be the most practical choice for an everyday driver, the Z can certainly function that way. There’s enough room in the hatch for groceries and luggage, and plenty of storage space around the front seats. I was happy to see bottle holders in the doors for those of us who live in warm climates.
Visibility around the perimeter is somewhat limited by the car’s very thick rear pillars, but the side mirrors do a decent job of eliminating blind spots. I had no problems monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes. I would highly recommend the rearview monitor. Without that, it would be very difficult to see approaching cross traffic in parking lots.
The V6 engine likes to rev high. I found the sweet spot to be about 4000 rpm. However there’s plenty of power at 2500 rpm, so the driver can drive for fuel economy without worrying about the car feeling anemic. Peak torque is 270 foot-pounds: plenty to get the coupe off the line in a hurry.
The six-speed manual transmission shifts crisply, and there is plenty of range within the gears for daily driving. I found the throttle-blipping feature especially appealing on the Bush Highway, where I was able to take some corners a little more aggressively.
The suspension on the test car is on the stiff side: not a problem here in Arizona where the roads are smooth. Those living in areas where rough and pothole-filled roads are the norm might want to stick with the standard shocks.
A double wishbone setup in front utilizes aluminum components to minimize weight, improving the rear-wheel drive car’s front-to-rear weight balance. The coupe has a multi-link suspension setup in the rear.
Steering response is excellent. I had no problems maneuvering through traffic: something this town sees plenty of during baseball spring training season. On the other hand, steering feel is pleasantly heavy at speed.
Braking is firm without being dicey and quite linear.
The test car interior is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, with copper colored seat inserts that hold the driver and passenger in place. Bolsters on the seats are supportive without being uncomfortable.
Anyone familiar with Z cars will recognize the three gauges displaying oil temperature, system voltage and a digital clock at the top of the center stack.
I found both the color display in the center stack and digital gauge cluster easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions, including bright sunlight.
The Nissan 370Z comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
The 2014 370Z coupe is on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Like: A true sports car that can live in the everyday world and go to the track on the weekend. Beautiful styling inside and out.
Dislike: Option packages add significant cost to the base model. The rearview monitor is part of an expensive option package and cannot be ordered as a stand-alone feature.
Model: 370Z Touring
Base price: $35,270
As tested: $41,460
Horsepower: 332 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: About 5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway
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