Not Quite Awesome Enough - 2009 Nissan 370Z Long-Term Road Test

2009 Nissan 370Z Long-Term Road Test

2009 Nissan 370Z: Not Quite Awesome Enough

April 07, 2009


Our 2009 Nissan 370Z has satellite radio, and when I'm driving I'll occasionally listen to radio Faction's afternoon DJ, Jason Ellis. Jason has this ongoing theme where callers recount their feats of awesomeness and he then judges them on whether or not they are admitted into a nirvana-like "awesome world."

I mention this because our Nissan 370Z would be an excellent candidate for Brent's Sports Car Awesome World. It's got tidy dimensions, great handling, a quality interior, impressive as-tested numbers and, to my eyes at least, a good-looking exterior. But there's one thing that's going to hold it back from gaining entry.

The not-so-awesome thing: the V6 engine. Now, this is a capable engine that's surprisingly torquey and tractable. And there's certainly nothing wrong with having 332 hp on tap nor a 0-60-mph time in the low 5-second range. But this latest 3.7-liter version makes the 370Z a Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz -- it has no heart.

370Z_eng.JPG The V6's coarseness and vibration at anything past 5,000 rpm are just plain bad. Really, when you're hard on it, that last 1,500 rpm to redline is not enjoyable all. (And this is the part that's supposed to be the most exhilarating for a small-displacement sports car!) Meanwhile, there's no aural passion whatsoever. Sadlier described as sounding like a bear -- err, OK, maybe. The engine note is OK when you fire it up but then it's all downhill from there. There's this distracting engine whine at lower rpm and none of the characteristic 350Z exhaust warble heard from either inside or outside the car.

I wish I had video for you, but I don't. But I found this video clip on YouTube of a 370Z with an aftermarket exhaust. There might be hope for disgruntled 370Z owners.

As it stands, though, the larger V6 is the one thing I think Nissan flubbed. Make the new Z's engine exciting to rev and listen to, and the car gets into Brent's Sports Car Awesome World.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,532 miles

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