The Nissan 370Z sports car is a 47-year-old icon that has re-invented itself a few times over the years, some times better than others. Given the pace its competitors move, it might be due for another such re-invention, but for 2018 brings just a couple of new touches: headlamps, wheels, and rear bumper.
For 2018, a 370Z Heritage Edition comes with yellow accents inside, and a choice of yellow or black outside. It’s a low-cost package, only as a base Coupe, without a touchscreen, rearview camera, or active noise cancellation.
The 370Z Roadster is probably the best top-down performer at its price point.
What the 370Z offers is uncommonly pure performance that’s affordable. It’s true to the spirit of the original 240Z. Its engine is mounted ahead of the driver but rearward to sharpen balance and handling via weight distribution.
Its rear-wheel drive is a kick in the pants. There’s a tight and fun 6-speed manual gearbox, or paddleshifting 7-speed automatic, both transmissions with rev-matched downshift blipping (except in the base coupe).
The engine is a strong V6 with its own deep heritage. This version is 3.7 liters and makes 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a higher-performance NISMO coupe version that makes 350 horsepower.
With the 7-speed automatic, the 370Z gets an EPA-estimated 21 miles per gallon Combined city and highway.
The 2018 Nissan 370Z Coupe ($29,990) comes standard with 6-speed manual gearbox, 18-inch wheels.
The Heritage Edition ($30,780) comes in black or yellow with yellow-accented interior.
Sport ($37,070) includes viscous limited-slip rear differential, sport brakes, 19-inch wheels, SynchroRev Match, Bose audio. Sport Tech gets navigation and rearview camera. Touring gets leather
370Z Roadster ($41,820) features power convertible top, and comes in Touring and Touring Sport versions.
NISMO ($45,690) features 350-hp engine and NISMO-tuned suspension.
Safety features include front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control, but not much else. There are also active head restraints and pre-tension seatbelts.
The coupe looks a bit dated but still racy. It’s for driving, not looking at. The Heritage Edition with stripes looks like it’s ready for a day at the race track. It looks muscular but not overstated, and, now, classic.
The roadster looks muscular with the power top down, while still looking sleek and sporty with the top up. The coupe, roadster and Nismo share lines. The Nismo has different trim, but it’s not like many sports cars, where the high-performance model gets wings and flares.
The cabin is simple, functional, and pleasing, designed to be purposeful. The materials are premium, one step shy of luxury. The leathers, upholstery and switches feel durable and supple. But you won’t confuse the cabin for a Mercedes SL.
The four-way power seats are low and snug, with decent padding that’s comfortable for many body types. Still, the fairly stiff ride will get you. The seats are heated and cooled on upper models.
The power convertible top is quick to use, but it lets wind noise into the cabin when it’s up, and takes up trunk space (as they all do) when it’s down. It’s the nature of a soft top.
The standard wide tires are loud in the cabin. So is the engine, even with the noise-canceling system that’s standard on all models except base. Some engines we want to hear at full song, but the aging V6 in the 370Z is less mellifluous than it used to be.
Forward visibility is good but rearward three-quarters not so good, on account of thick pillars in the coupe and roadster. That worrisome blind spot, looking over your shoulder when pulling onto the highway at an angle, can’t be helped. However a rearview camera is standard on all models except base.
The 370Z offers excellent driving dynamics and mostly excellent but still very firm ride. It’s nimble as well as powerful, well done. However it has a slightly dull steering feel and there’s not much communication between road and wheel. It’s still rewarding and engaging to drive hard.
The 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 isn’t as refined as some rivals and doesn’t sound sweet at full song, but there are exhaust systems to improve that. It’s Nissan’s well-worn VQ engine series, more reliable than the previous 3.5-liter but also more mechanical sounding.
Both transmissions are slick and respectable. We like the 6-speed manual for its short, stiff throws between gears. It’s almost heroic. Rev-matching downshifting eliminates heel-and-toe, and unlike heel-and-toe gets the throttle blip right every time. The paddleshifting automatic also does the blip, and with an automatic it’s all good because it doesn’t take away anything, from the driver.
The NISMO is a fabulous turn-key track day car. One proof of the 370Z’s impeccable dynamics and engineering is how easily it takes to the track, and will run hard laps all day long, without being affected by understeer, oversteer, or fading brakes.
If you want your sports car to feel like one, you can’t miss with the 370Z. We vote for the great 6-speed manual transmission and the convertible, to keep it pure. The 3.7-liter is strong, with solid racing heritage; and an aftermarket exhaust system can make it sound sweet. The profile doesn’t turn heads, but if you know why you bought the car, you won’t care.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports.