What is it?
A back-to-basics two-seat sports car with a normally aspirated engine up front developing substantial amounts of power to be deployed through the rear wheels alone, in time-honoured configuration. It’s available in both open and closed configurations, and rivals are quite thin on the ground: a Mercedes SLK or Audi TT is far too soft; a Porsche Boxster or Cayman is probably a smidgen too sophisticated, not to mention expensive.
If you’re looking for the motoring equivalent of Michelin-starred haute cuisine, you’re likely to be disappointed. The 370Z is the steak and chips of the sports car world – and not one jot the worse for that. The 323bhp V6 engine doesn’t sing to you, and the chassis won’t keep you informed of every nuance on the road. But if you enjoy the simple business of going fast and having fun, there’s business to be done here.
By keeping the formula as simple as possible, Nissan created what was perhaps the most easily enjoyed sports car on the market until Toyota took the concept and ran away with it in the form of the GT86. The engine offers strong torque, a meaty howl and performance a clear cut above that of even the fastest hatchbacks.
Likewise, the chassis brings strong grip to the party, but with enough agility to allow harmless little tail slides on a quiet open road. There’s no seminal motoring experience here, no automotive epiphany waiting for you, but you’ll be too busy enjoying yourself to notice.
Back in the real world of day-to-day commuting the 370Z makes less sense. The ride is pretty stiff (though the convertible does not suffer much as a consequence of losing the structural rigidity of its roof). But it is the fuel consumption that really hurts. Astonishingly, the coupé posts the same mpg figure as a 500bhp Bentley Continental V8, meaning you’ll have to pay £815 for its first tax disc. The convertible is even worse, inhabiting the highest VED band of all, which means a £1,030 disc.
You sit low in the 370Z, with arms outstretched. Simple dials communicate their information without fuss or theatre. The driving position is sound, the seats supportive and equipment levels comprehensive. Just don’t go looking to make style statements with this interior because it’s not interested. Nor is there much luggage room. The boot of the coupé is small, that of the convertible tiny.
What to look out for when buying a used Nissan 370Z
Fortunately, you can expect typical Nissan reliability and dependability – the 370Z should be a lot easier to own and run than many a more revered sports car. To date owners have reported only minor quibbles with the sat nav, the Bluetooth and the dealer-fit reversing sensors, and buyers seem to be coming back to Nissan after running the previous 350Z model, which is a good sign.
Some owners complain about poor fuel economy but that’s par for the course with such a muscular car. Some American owners have had engine-overheating problems but usually after track-day driving in the heat of southern California. Cars driven on the public roads in European temperatures should have no such problem unless there’s a cooling system leak.
In the UK the modern-day Z-car has not been the subject of a factory recall, and Nissan scores well in reliability and customer-satisfaction surveys – behind other Japanese brands but ahead of most other car makers.
The one to buy
Nissan 370Z coupé
- £29,975 (Correct at time of publication)
- 3696cc, V6
- 323bhp @ 7000rpm
- 267 lb ft @5200rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 5.3sec
- Top Speed:
- 26.7mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4250mm, W 1845mm, H 1315mm
Nissan 370Z rivals
- Aston Martin Vantage V8 (Check used Aston Martin Vantage V8 prices on driving.co.uk)
- Porsche Cayman (Check used Porsche Cayman prices on driving.co.uk)
- Audi TT (Check used Audi TT prices on driving.co.uk)