Bargain of the year
I had to wait the better part of three months to get my turn in Nissan’s new 370Z; and its excited disciples weren’t joking. It is a fantastic sports car, and it just gained another fan.
The new model was penned with more aggression, its (Bi-Xenon) headlights and rear light clusters appear to have been attacked with a scythe. 370Z’s attractive lines are underlined by its low swooping roof-line and fat hips, which hide striking 19-inch wheels.
The interior wasn’t spared either and produces a modern-looking steering wheel (with sound, ‘phone and cruise control buttons), a brilliant 6-CD / mp3 BOSE sound system, and the usual crowd like power steering, electric windows / mirrors, climate control, 6 airbags, etc.
The cabin is clad in a good mixture of black plastic and leather, with a huge storage binnacle in the center of the dashboard. Three pointy binnacles sit atop the dash, angled towards the driver, revealing a digital clock and dials for voltage and oil temperature.
You’ll quickly feel comfy in the electrically adjustable and heated sports seats, and the steering wheel moves up and down in unison with the main instrument binnacle’s three dials. That is a very good concept, Nissan. The oversized rev-counter with its gear position display takes center stage, flanked by a 280km/h speedometer and a digital water temperature / fuel level / information dial.
So what’s it like to drive? Place the key in a slot, press the clutch and press the proverbial knoppie. The big six wakes up with a metallic whir but calms to a wonderfully deep 6-cylinder burble. It sings a subdued V6 song at low revs and is often outdone by the excellent sound system or the rumble from the road and/or tyres.
The suspension setup is offensively hard, much like the movement of gear lever and steering wheel. Last-named reacts to even the slightest movements with crisp precision, and the gearbox will help any driver to build a bit of muscle.
No really, this isn’t a very relaxing mode of transport; the Z-car seeks a guy or girl who wants to physically work on their experience behind the wheel. If you like, the 370Z can also cruise around town, but I felt like I was piloting a wheeled rock separator and my left hand started hurting.
Luckily you can change to the higher gears and let the Nissan 3.7 V6 and its 363Nm do their thing. This will also improve your fuel consumption; the on-board computer accused me of an average of 13.5L/100km.
Mister 370Z is rather thirsty, but that depends entirely on your interaction with the accelerator. Oh yes, and the gearbox’s fantastic “SyncroRev Match” system! Switch this helping hand on, and the 370Z will come to your aid when you change down gears.
As soon as you choose a lower gear, the engine revs shoot up to the perfect number for the chosen gear, and you can release the clutch. It not only feels impressive, it looks and sounds the part, to! Thus I assure you that the 370Z will transform most drivers into involuntary speed daemons.
Should one of these sleek sports cars come shooting past you, do not blame it on the helpless driver. The 370Z is built for speed; it won’t tolerate slow or soft commands very much, and is packed with technology (and 245kW or 333hp) that’s just waiting for you to plant your right foot in the carpet.
Its performance is outstanding, the keen V6 pulls vehemently at any revs, but the most impressive feature is full-bore acceleration through the first few gears. The 3.7 litre’s bark morphs into a deep growl, all the way to 7 500rpm with a flickering red light for the last 500.
Nissan 370Z drivers and passengers will suddenly appreciate the rock-hard suspension when the car picks up speed; it’s still quite hard and slightly nervous, but the traction- and stability-control will eventually step in to save the braver ones among us.
You can feel the engine’s drone and vibrations through the steering wheel, gear lever and seats, and the stubborn gearbox suddenly starts cooperating; which are all trademarks of a pure sports-car. One passenger disembarked after our journey and unsuccessfully searched the engine bay for turbo-chargers.
Other notable attributes of the 370Z are its big turning radius, low nose, long doors, minuscule boot, a spare wheel that’s been exchanged for a ridiculously large BOSE subwoofer, bad ¾ visibility, and the fact that most owners won’t be bothered in the least about these things.
Nissan’s 370Z will cost you N$499 000, and I think it’s worth every little cent, if you’re looking for a pure sports coupé. Here is a (limited) 250km/h car with an eager and angry V6 powerplant, intelligent 6-speed gearbox, almost 50/50 weight distribution, a limited-slip differential, excellent equipment levels, a 3 year 100 000km warranty, and a 3 year 90 000km service plan. It’s the bargain of the year.