2012 Nissan 370Z Base Coupe (3.7L V6 6-speed Manual w/opt Sport Pkg)
Driven On 1/4/2012
The 370Z is almost in a category by itself. Sure, there are nicer, more expensive sports cars. And a couple of competitors have rear seats. But very few can match the 370Z's combination of power, handling and competitive pricing.
PerformanceThe Z does a pretty good job of going toe to toe with V8-powered muscle cars as well as lighter, more nimble sports cars. Along the way, it gives up a few degrees of refinement. For the most part, it's worth it.
Strong acceleration with a burly V6 soundtrack. The 370Z is a serious sports car with the credentials to match: Zero to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.
The brakes work fine in daily driving, and ultimate braking power is excellent. We have experienced a couple of anomalous braking events during our normal track testing protocol.
Steering is direct and precise, but weighty and could grow tiresome depending on your viewpoint. You'll definitely never forget you're steering a sports car.
Grip and stability of any 370Z will impress an enthusiast. The Sport package adds specific equipment to gain a little more. Track-ready NISMO is for hard-core drivers only.
With Nissan's advent of the manual transmission rev-match feature (defeatable for DIYers), drivability has improved. Still, the 370Z isn't the best road-trip car.
ComfortThe 370Z is a sports car; not a grand tourer. It's loud, confining and lacks cargo capacity. This is all fine if you're looking for a true sports car, but there are a few quieter, more comfortable touring cars with similar performance.
The seats are very comfortable and highly supportive (as most sport seats are), however the lack of a telescoping steering column might pose problems for tall drivers.
Despite its dedicated sports car mission, the 370Z offers a reasonably comfortable, well-damped ride. Selecting the Sport package can be tempting, but it adds harshness.
Part of the 370Z experience is the sound: Tires, engine and even the transmission generate large amounts of noise. If that's music to your ears, well, then enjoy.
InteriorThe Z's interior has made incremental improvements over the years in terms of material qualities and content. However, the car's structural design limits visibility and cargo capacity.
Controls are close at hand. The navigation system is reasonably intuitive and voice commands help. There are few oddball Z-specific controls/locations.
The vertical door handle is still an egregious design error and the seating position is low, so ingress/egress can be a challenge for some. It's a low-slung sports car.
Some will find the intimate cockpit too tight and confining due the high beltline and lack of a rear seat. The dark interior colors don't exactly serve to open things up.
The nature of the high-beltline, fastback body style generates typical coupelike blind spots. The optional rear-view camera helps immeasurably with parking.
Typical sports car compromises: small door pockets, glovebox and center bin. The hatchback opens to reveal a high lift-over height and only about 7 cu-ft of shallow volume.
Not available on the NISMO, the Roadster's soft top operates with one button in about 20 seconds. Trunk space is reduced from 7 to 4 cubic feet. Fixed wind deflector is standard.
ValueThere was a time when the Nissan Z represented a rare, reasonably priced, enthusiast's car. Since then, its features and cost have crept up while the competition has grown more diverse and fierce. But it remains a good value.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Nissan have been improving the Z's interior quality with each refresh. It's quite good now, with soft-touch materials and substantial switchgear. Paint quality is decent.
Standard and optional equipment have improved with only incremental price increases, but the jump to a higher-priced sports car tier with better equipment is a small one.
The 370Z does, indeed, offer a lot of bang for the buck plus an instantly recognizable and sexy body. Prices now stretch from $33K-$45K before options.
For a high-achieving sports car, 18 city/26 highway and 21 mpg combined is about what one should expect.
The basic warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles. The 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain warranty is shy of industry standards, but expected what with its anticipated hard use.
Nissan does not provide free scheduled maintenance, but does offer roadside assistance for 3 years/36,000 miles. Expect high depreciation and insurance costs.
Fun To DriveGiven the right stretch of road and a thirst for an aural as well as visceral experience, there are few cars that offer a similarly enthralling drive.
Because the feedback from the 370Z is delivered with a bucket instead of a tea spoon, the driving experience can be viewed as either good or bad. But never unforgettable.
This is definitely not a car lacking for personality. Whether you care for it is a matter of personal taste.