Full 2014 Nissan 370Z Review
What's New for 2014
The Z stands pat for 2014 except for the super-sporty Nismo coupe, which receives mild cosmetic enhancements inside and out, including a new steering wheel.
Nissan's 2014 370Z two-seater continues to deliver impressive performance for the money. It's astoundingly capable, hyper-responsive and just plain fast. Throw in the Z's head-turning styling, high-quality interior and appealing collection of features, and you've got all the elements of a great sports car. Right?
Well, not quite. A great sports car should also have a jewel of an engine, and here the Z falters a bit. Although the 3.7-liter V6 is both explosively quick and remarkably flexible, its coarseness at high rpm makes it a less-than-ideal companion in spirited driving. The harder you push it, the crankier the big V6 gets, and that seems backward in a car that's all about going fast.
Is it a deal-breaker? For some people, perhaps. While it's hard to find direct rivals to the 370Z these days, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins probably come closest. Their four-cylinder power is pretty meager compared to the Z's muscular V6, but they do offer similarly entertaining rear-drive handling for thousands less. We'd also suggest checking out the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Ford Mustang GT. They can't match the Z's sharp handling, but their thundering V8 engines deliver the motivational character that the Z sorely lacks.
Within the population of relatively affordable sport coupes and convertibles, these competitors also promise superior practicality, as they offer rear seats (albeit tiny ones), fractionally better cargo space and greater comfort in city and highway driving. But if you're looking for comprehensive two-seat sports car performance in this price range, there's still nothing like the 2014 Nissan 370Z.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The two-seat 2014 Nissan 370Z sports car is available as a hatchback coupe or soft-top convertible (Roadster). There are three trim levels: base, Touring and coupe-only Nismo.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, summer performance tires, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Roadster trades the coupe's fixed roof for a power-operated soft top.
The Touring trim adds heated power seats, leather/faux-suede upholstery, a rear cargo cover (coupe only), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. The Roadster also gets heated and ventilated seats.
Both trims can be equipped with the Sport package, which adds a limited-slip differential, 19-inch forged alloy wheels, upgraded brakes and suspension dampers, the SynchroRev Match manual transmission with automatic rev-matching, a rear spoiler and a front chin spoiler.
The Touring's Navigation package adds a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio connectivity, a rearview camera and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Nismo coupe gets a more powerful version of the V6 along with the same or upgraded versions of the Sport package items. Aesthetic tweaks include unique front and rear fascias that add more than 6 inches to the car's length, a prominent rear wing and special Nismo interior trim details. Otherwise, the Nismo is equipped similarly to the base 370Z, though the optional Bose package adds the Touring's Bose sound system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and auto-dimming mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
Except for the Nismo, every 2014 Nissan 370Z is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and if you opt for the Touring model, you get SynchroRev Match, which automatically blips the throttle during downshifts to deliver smoother, quicker shifts. A seven-speed automatic with shift paddles is optional, and it comes with a rev-matching program of its own.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 370Z coupe with the Sport package and manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, while the heavier Roadster did it in 5.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the coupe is 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/26 mpg highway) with the manual; the automatic checks in at 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway). The Roadster's fuel economy is slightly worse at 20 combined (17 city/25 highway) with the manual and 21 combined with the automatic.
The 370Z Nismo model has a specially tuned version of the same V6 engine that produces 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed manual with SynchroRev Match is the only transmission offered. We've tested a couple Nismos. The better-performing test car of the two offered no improvement in 0-60 mph acceleration over the standard 370Z, while another, perhaps due to the tricky nature of launching the Z in a track environment, was actually slower at 5.4 seconds. The EPA has not separately evaluated the Nismo's fuel economy.
Every 2014 Nissan 370Z comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control and side airbags. The coupe gets side curtain airbags, while the Roadster's side airbags extend upward for head protection. A rearview camera is available via the Navigation package offered on Touring models.
In Edmunds brake testing, a coupe with the Sport package's upgraded brakes and 19-inch summer performance tires stopped from 60 mph in an outstanding 101 feet, while a Roadster with the Sport package took only 5 more feet to stop. In contrast, however, the most recent 370Z Nismo we tested posted a much longer distance of 126 feet: very poor for this class of car on summer tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Nissan 370Z's interior features an attractive design highlighted by the classic Z-car three-gauge cluster atop the dashboard. The materials are surprisingly upscale, with plentiful soft-touch surfaces and metallic finishes that wouldn't look out of place in an Infiniti. The Z's seats are comfortable and supportive whether you have the standard manual or optional power adjustments. Despite the lack of telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel, the driving position is close to ideal, in part because the primary gauges tilt in concert with the wheel. One downside to the car's styling is that the thick rear roof pillars and small windows make for limited visibility out the back and an overall ambience that some people might find confining.
The Roadster's power top is a bit pokey by current standards, requiring about 20 seconds to go down, but we like that it folds itself neatly under a color-matched hard tonneau cover at the end. As in most sports cars, luggage space is scarce, with just 6.9 cubic feet of storage under the coupe's hatchback and a paltry 4.2 cubic feet in the convertible's trunk.
The 2014 Nissan 370Z drives as if it can't wait to get to the racetrack. The steering, though heavy in feel, is precise, with none of the numbness and delayed reaction time that characterize many modern systems. The standard sport-tuned suspension delivers excellent handling and a surprisingly tolerable ride, while the Sport package's firmer suspension and bigger wheels offer sharper handling at the expense of comfort. The Nismo Z is even stiffer, and we don't think the marginal lap-time reduction is worth it. Regardless of how the 370Z is equipped, we've noticed it suffers from intrusive road noise, which severely limits its appeal as a road-trip car.
Although the V6's lack of refinement is a bummer, its eager acceleration in practically every gear makes it feel more like a V8. Both transmissions are quite likable, but if you drive stick, you've got to try the SynchroRev Match system. It'll make you feel like a professional racer with every perfectly rev-matched downshift.