There are various sport coupes that are better performers, that are less expensive, that are better equipped, and that are far easier with which to live. The hardcore 370Z NISMO is for serious enthusiasts only.
PerformanceTrying to go toe-to-toe with V8-powered muscle cars as well as lighter, more nimble sports cars means giving up a few degrees of refinement.
Strong acceleration with a V6 soundtrack to match, the 370Z NISMO gets a bump over the stock 370 and produces 350 horsepower. Zero to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.
Brakes are good in daily driving, ultimate braking power/capacity is excellent.
Steering is direct and precise, but weighty and could grow tiresome. You'll never forget you're steering a sports car.
Grip and stability of any 370Z will impress an enthusiast. This track-ready NISMO is for hard-core drivers only.
With Nissan's advent of the manual transmission rev-match feature (defeatable for DIYers), driveability has improved. Still, the 370Z is often ponderous and not a road-trip car.
ComfortThe 370Z NISMO is a sports car; not a grand tourer. It's a bit loud, confining and lacks cargo capacity. This is fine if you're a hardcore sports car geek, but there are quieter, more comfortable touring cars, some with similar performance.
Seats are very comfortable and highly supportive (as most sport seats are), however the lack of telescoping steering column might pose problems for tall drivers.
Despite its dedicated sports car mission, the 370Z offers a reasonably comfortable, well damped ride. Sport package makes it harsher; the NISMO is nearly intolerable for daily use.
Part of the 370Z experience is the sound: Tires, engine, and even the transmission generate nearly unacceptable 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 structure and design still limit its visibility and cargo capacity.
Controls are close-at-hand, but there are a few oddball Z-specific controls. Driver-focused cabin is well developed for a driver's car.
The vertical exterior door handle is still a design error and the seating position is low, so ingress/egress can be a challenge for some.
Some will find the intimate cockpit too tight and confining due to dark colors, high belt line and no rear seat.
The nature of the high-beltline, fastback body style generates typical coupe-like blind spots. Optional rear-view camera helps immeasurably with parking.
Typical sports car compromises: small door pockets, glove box, and center bin. The hatchback opens to reveal a high lift-over height and only about 7 cubic feet 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 more fierce.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Nissan has been steadily improving the Z's interior quality with each refresh. It's quite good now, with soft-touch materials and substantial switch gear.
Standard and optional equipment has 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. The 370Z starts in the low $30Ks, while this NISMO starts at $43,810.
For a high-achieving sports car, 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined is about what one should expect.
The basic warranty (3 yr/36K mi) also covers roadside assistance. The Powertrain warranty (5 yr/60K mi) is shy of industry standards, but expected from its anticipated use.
Nissan does not provide free scheduled maintenance, but does offer roadside assistance during the basic warranty period. Expect high depreciation and high 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 teaspoon, the driving experience can be unforgettable in either a good or a bad way.
One thing you can never say about the 370Z is that it lacks personality. Whether you care for it is a matter of taste.