2009 Nissan 370Z: Priorities, Guys, Priorities!
July 06, 2009
In a characteristically pithy 18 words, our sage Senior Automotive Editor had summed up everything that's seriously wrong with the 2009 Nissan 370Z.
All this car needed was for someone with clout to swoop in during product testing and say, "Hey! Priorities, guys, priorities! This is a sports car, so why doesn't it sound like one? And it's all well and good that the interior is nicer than a G37's, but why does it have more road noise than an '87 Pathfinder?!"
If Nissan takes care of these two issues, I want one. Because after 800 miles in the Z this weekend, I've realized that I'm on board with pretty much everything else.
Note the qualifying phrase "pretty much." The Z does have a few other foibles that are worth mentioning. To wit: the Bose stereo is unimpressive with a CD and downright awful with an iPod, the shifter grinds too easily on quick 1-2 upshifts and 3-2 downshifts, and while I still say the Z's suspension is supple by sports-car standards, the short wheelbase and minimal suspension travel conspired to beat me up a bit over the 5 Freeway's rapid-fire expansion joints -- so I can understand why there have been some complaints about the ride.
But the rest of this car is so good, so thoughtfully designed and expertly executed, that I don't really care.
Steering: wired-to-your-brain responsive at all speeds, yet confident and composed on the highway.
Body motions: tightly controlled, but with just enough roll that you can feel the car take a reassuring set as it rockets out of corners.
Engine: awesome V8-like tractability at low rpm. Reminds me a lot of the e46 M3's similarly powerful inline-6, actually, except with some extra bottom end and a little less high-rpm kick (or maybe it's just that the Bimmer sounds a whole lot better up there).
Interior : this deserves its own post, but in a nutshell, the attention to detail in the Z's cabin is simply remarkable for a sports car at this price point, from the stitching running through the center stack and console to the soft-touch dash, signature knee-pads and suede-like padded armrests.
Styling: I still don't dig the jagged headlights and the gaping maw, but this is hands-down one of the most interestingly styled cars on the road.
Moral of the 370Z's first year of production? Fix the engine note and Dynamat the hell out of the floor and wheel wells, and all that "budget Cayman S" noise will start to make a lot of sense.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 9,155 miles