2009 Nissan 370Z Long-Term Road Test

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Unintended Activation

October 07, 2009

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What you see here is the Enter button on the steering wheel of our 2009 Nissan 370. This up-down rocker button scrolls through menus on the dash-mounted screen and, most importantly, in conjunction with that out-of-focus button slightly below and slightly behind the Enter button, controls my iPod.

Normally I have the screen (not pictured) at the ready for when I'm bored with the current song. This means I only have to tap that little switch to advance/repeat. It works great 99% of the time. Trouble is, the Enter button is not flush, or better yet, below the face of, the steering wheel. So what happens is almost every time I turn the wheel more than 10-degrees and no matter how I do it, my palm trips the button and my song is changed.

I've put thousands of miles on the 2009 370Z and this is one of those little issues that I just can't find a good workaround for. The only thing I've ever had so many unintended button presses with was the silly mouse-thing on the Lexus 250h

If it were my car I'd cut it down about 1/2 an inch and call it a day.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Seat controls-the Good, the Bad...

October 07, 2009

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And the Ugly? Not with our long-term 370Z. Almost everything's good-looking, inside and out.

But the seat controls are both good and bad.

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Fillet of Simulated Suede

July 09, 2009

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I like this padded, simulated suede insert that Nissan has applied to each door panel of our 2009 370Z Touring. I'll rest my elbow here at traffic lights or while cruising in 6th on the highway. It's the kind of thoughtful touch that was lacking in the 350Z cockpit. It's also the kind of subtle touch that makes the 370Z seem more plausible as a daily driver.

I would like this insert even more, though, if I was the only one who drove our 370Z. See, I'm neat and tidy. Other editors on our staff? Not so much. And already the suede is showing some light wear right around the door pull.

Perhaps it would have been better not to continue the simulated suede around the handle. But I suspect that might not sit well with the Nissan designer who envisioned this fillet of suede as much as an art form as it is an armrest... notice it has the same ovoid shape as the door release assembly in the upper right.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,228 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Transformers

June 26, 2009

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Nissan has made a big effort to improve the apparent quality of the Z-car's interior, adding a lot more architectural elements, upgrading the quality of the upholstery and trim, increasing the number of features, and multiplying the number of storage areas.

The trouble is, there's just too much going on here for me. Instead of operational efficiency, what we have here is aggressive conceptual complexity. It's like watching Transformers from the front row.

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: What's the problem?

June 25, 2009

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It's true -- our long term Nissan 370Z sits near the bottom of the pile in terms of desirabilty here. It is frequently one of the last test cars chosen and more than once sat unloved at night 'til the next morning. It occupies the same metaphorical space as... the Smart?! What's the problem? These items, I believe:

1. The ride is hard
2. The interior is small
3. The clutch and shifter aren't the greatest
4. It seats only 2

I refute these issues with:

1. It's a sports car
2. It's a sports car
3. True (but both aren't as bad as our LT Audi S5)
4. It's a sports car

One must make certain sacrifices when owning a sports car, but the benefits outweigh these.
The 370Z possesses great, quick handling, excellent steering feel, and a decent powertrain. And although I'm not in love with the exhaust note, it's OK.

It's the only true sports car in our long term fleet. (I consider the GT-R a GT; the name is GT-R.)

The big problem for the most of the people here is the seating capacity. Most of our staffers have friends or family to accommodate, and a 2-seater won't cut it for them.

For me, it's really fun to drive, and becomes even more enjoyable when you push it hard. It's in the top 5 in fun-to-drive for our long term fleet. The sedans, even the Evos, don't compare.

I was even going to sign it out for this weekend. But I may have to cart some people around...

Oh, nevermind.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 8200 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Too Small Inside. Or Is It?

June 04, 2009

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Before this week I've only driven our long-term 2009 Nissan 370Z (or any 370Z) for short bursts. One night at the most. No drive longer than 30 or 40 minutes.

And my impression has been; great car but too cramped inside. Reminded me of the third generation Mazda RX-7. Loved driving it, but the feeling of claustrophobia was just too much.

Now I know better. I just spent the bulk of this week in our Z, three days, three nights and several hundred miles of driving. And my impression has changed.

The 370Z isn't too small inside. After a couple of days I acclimated to the Z's interior dimensions and sight lines. The feeling of being stuck in an elevator with a dozen folks washed away and I really began to enjoy the car.

Don't misunderstand, it still doesn't feel as large inside as the bigger 350Z, but it is not longer a deal breaker for me.

I also realized that the black interior of our test car must contribute to that cave feeling. I'll bet a 370Z with a lighter interior feels right from day one.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 7,306 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Not for Touring

May 26, 2009

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Had some business over the Memorial Day weekend with motorsport photographer Jesse Alexander at his studio up in Carpenteria and it turned out the 2009 Nissan 370Z was my ride of choice.

We looked over some pictures he'd taken of the very Mercedes-Benz 300 SL that won the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans. After its racing days were done, it was rebodied as a street car and Alexander drove it on the street in Europe as he drove to racing circuit to racing circuit, taking some now-famous pictures of racing.

Not a bad way to spend a morning, especially as we ate lunch down the street at Sly's. James Sly is pretty famous in his own right, a French-trained chef who cooked for a CART Indy-car team during the days of glamorous hospitality at the Indy 500 in the early 1990s. At the same time, he also wrote pretty insightful stuff as the technical editor of a small magazine devoted to European cars. Now his steakhouse in Carpenteria is where everybody in Santa Barbara who knows anything about cars comes to eat. Some of Jesse Alexander's most famous images hang on the walls.

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Seats Done Right

May 18, 2009

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Nissan has at least one thing figured out with the new 370Z -- the seats. Notice that their center sections are fabric -- synthetic suede, actually. I had a chance to drive our long-term car on a track last week and, despite the fact that the seats don't fit me perfectly (none do), I wasn't flopping all over and trying to hold myself in place. This is because the "leather" seats which come with the Touring Package actually have fabric on the seat bottom and backrest. On full-leather seats I would have struggled against physics.

Also, see that center bolster between where the driver's legs would be? That's a gimmick. Worse yest, it's a legacy gimmick from the last Z which does nothing. Nissan should do away with it. Otherwise, this is a good setup for hard driving with ample adjustability and good driver retention.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Stink Eye Blind Spot

May 12, 2009

Our Z has a friggin' huge sloping B pillar that makes backing out of a space really tough because the blind spot is massive. It makes me really nervous whenever I have to do it because I'm afraid I'll run over my neighbors cat or something.

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Well, over the weekend my fears were realized. No, a cat wasn't squashed, but when I was slowly backing out of a space at 7-11 a dude slapped the side of my car and gave me the finger through the passenger window. He was walking up to the store directly in my blind spot, I never saw him.

The next day I was backing out of a spot super slow, nervous I was going to get another finger of vengeance. My windows were down, leaning out when I could, looking through the windows, in my mirrors, just trying to get the best look around my car as possible. As my passenger side window cleared the rows, there stood a lady with a stroller giving me the stink eye.

%^$&#!!

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: How Do You Turn on the A/C?

May 04, 2009

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A couple of weeks ago when we had a bout of hot weather in L.A., I praised our 2009 Nissan 370Z's dark interior for miraculously remaining cool despite the car's being left outside during the hottest part of the day. I forgot to mention, however, that at first glance I couldn't find out how to turn on the A/C to further cool things down.

I mean, looking at the above picture (taken from my POV in the driver seat), can you find the air-conditioner button? Of course I'm only addressing those who aren't Nissan car owners.

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Keeping Cool on a Hot Day

April 21, 2009

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This weekend was a scorcher with temperatures in the mid to high 80s and that was just at 10 in the morning! So when I had gone out to brunch and parked our 2009 Nissan 370Z in the hot midday sun, I was dreading slipping back into its darkly swathed cabin.

Before I got in, I even opened both doors to get a nice cross breeze going and then sunk into the seat with a premature "Ow!" but there was no need. The faux suede was, as expected, comfortable but the leather on the sides was only just warm against my bare skin. The amazing part was the cabin itself was only warm as well as opposed to the searing heat that I had initially expected. And all that dark gray on the dash? I could actually rest my hand on it without suffering any burns.

Is this special technology? I know BMW has technology to keep its leather 20 degrees cooler than usual leather but I couldn't find any mention of something like this on the Nissan site. Another editor supposed it was the tinted glass that helped filter out the infrared light but whatever it was I was grateful.

And I also loved how quickly the air-conditioner cooled down the warm cabin. Really made the hot days bearable.

By the way, here's how we enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend: a leisurely cruise in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,374 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z: View From the Driver's Seat

April 14, 2009

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Sportscars usually get a bad rap for poor visibility. It's the price you pay for a car that looks cool, but the complaints pour in anyway.

The 370Z is not immune. It has a low seating position and a shallow greenhouse, but as you can see here visibility isn't all that bad. Rearward blind spots are the biggest issue here. A good adjustment of the mirrors is all it takes to cure that issue though.

There's not much you can do about the small rear window, other than be careful of course. I don't find it particularly troublesome personally. The Challenger suffers from the same problem and all it takes is a little extra caution when changing lanes and backing up. Seems like a small price to pay for a stylish design.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 4,883 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z: More Braces Than a Junior Prom

April 02, 2009

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I love the way our 2009 Nissan 370Z handles so crisply, yet its ride quality is still relatively supple. Credit is certainly due to the car's stiff body structure, which Nissan says allowed it to tune the suspension to be more compliant. Just about everywhere you look, our 370Z has bracing. Under the hood? There's a suspension tower brace that spans the engine bay width and connects to the firewall. Open a door and you'll see the thick beam behind the seats. Nissan wasn't messing around.

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Guess What? I Can't See You.

March 16, 2009

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Before spending the last thousand miles with our 2009 Nissan 370Z Touring, I'd thought that anyone who wanted parking sensors or a back-up camera on a sportscar had issues with spatial relations and parking in general. That might still be true, but I'll tell you this: After two weeks with our Z car, I'm still terrible at judging the rearward view.

This is exactly what I see when I'm belted into the driver seat and turn my head to look back. If there's someone in the passenger seat, that useless rear quarter window is blocked. In a crowded parking lot, my only strategy is to start backing up verrry slowly and hope that I see cross traffic before it's too late.

I actually haven't had any close calls in our 370Z, but if bumper sensors or a camera were optional on this car, I'd swallow my pride and order them.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 3,890 miles

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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring: Track Tested!

March 12, 2009

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By now you've all read our 2010 Ford Mustang Vs. 2009 Nissan 370Z comparison test. At the end of the day, the newly refreshed Mustang (a darn good car) put up a strong fight but ultimately fell to the sharper, more focused, better looking (yes, better looking)--but less functional Z car.

Before that test was ever conceived, we subjected our Long-Term 370Z to the usual set of performance tests.

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Seven Hours in the Driver Seat and I'm Still OK

March 12, 2009

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I had to drive to the distant suburbs of Phoenix today in our 2009 Nissan 370Z. The trip started out in the usual fashion -- I left late and felt rushed getting to a 6:30 p.m. dinner (made it in plenty of time, though). The navigation system didn't help matters by continually suggesting that I drive down to San Diego and use Interstate 8. See here, Nav Lady, I only use I-10 when I go to Phoenix. Finally, in Blythe, CA, she relented and we went on to Maricopa without incident.

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Small Touches Make It Survivable as a Daily Driver

March 09, 2009

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I put close to 400 miles on our 2009 Nissan 370Z Touring over the weekend. Although it started with a few turns on Glendora Mountain Road , the rest of it was nearly all freeway. After all that, I am in agreement with Ed that the Z is pretty amazing through corners but not the most livable daily driver in this price range.

Ride quality is pretty good in the 370Z, even with the forged 19-inch RAYS wheels and Bridgestone Potenza RE050As (P245/40R19s in front and P275/35R19s in the back), but road noise is high. On several occasions, I instinctively reached for the volume dial when my boyfriend started to say something, only to realize that I was trying to turn the car down rather than the stereo.

Similarly, the seats are well-shaped for my 5-foot-10 frame and proved comfortable for 2-hour stints. Yet, there's no question that the 370Z's smaller size (compared to the 350Z) affects the seating position. The dash is right up in your face, and with no telescoping steering wheel, there's no escape.

Still, there are a number of details on the 2009 370Z that helped me overlook its compromises. For one, its size. At 167.1 inches long, it's almost 3 inches shorter than the 350Z. It feels compact from behind the wheel and it fits in small street parking spots. (Please note that I would never park it like this overnight -- just for 30 minutes while at the farmers market.)

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2009 Nissan 370Z: Comfort Takes a Back Seat to Driver Involvement

March 06, 2009

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My first real seat time in a 370Z came several months ago when we did our initial road test. I loved it and said so in my second opinion. Now that I've had a little bit more time behind the wheel, however, I'm starting to realize that as a daily driver, the 370Z might not be my first choice.

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2009 Nissan 370Z: A Gauge Cluster Worth Copying

February 24, 2009

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So the trip computer in the new 370Z is a little funky and those auxiliary gauges on the dash can be hard to see sometimes, but would you look at that tachometer?

I mean, that's how a tach in a sportscar is done. Big, clear and right in the middle. It seems so easy, yet all too often designers try to get cute and start shoving it off to the side in the name of symmetry. Stop it already, just copy this setup and call it a day.

Just take a look at the dials from Jacob's post below. Not bad for a sedan, but how much better are the Z's?

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 1,763 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Nissan 370Z in VA is:

$132 per month*
* Explanation
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