by Adam Lynton
Now in its 11th year of production, the Nissan 370Z hasn't changed that much from the model that replaced the 350Z in 2009. The sixth-generation car has seen the unfortunate steady decline in sales of not only the Z series but sports cars as a whole, not helped by the car's aging infrastructure. That being said, this two-seater sports car still has a little gas left in the tank and some old-school charm with which to woo those who don't like the digital age. With a six-speed manual transmission available and a naturally aspirated V6 engine capable of producing 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, the 370Z is still a powerhouse in its segment, capable of going from 0-60 mph in five seconds and giving buyers their rear-wheel-driven thrills. However, with a pretty hefty starting price of around $30,000 and fewer features than rivals like the Ford Mustang GT, the Nissan 370Z Coupe is more than beginning to feel its age.
The 2019 model 370Z hasn't changed much from last year. An auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera now feature as standard across the line-up. A few of the trims have been restructured and consolidated, with the Touring and Sport Tech trims now becoming one fully-equipped Sport Touring model, but no truly new features have been added. The new Heritage Edition package adds similarly skin-deep changes with black external mirrors and yellow interior trim.
The 370Z Coupe has a sturdy design, one evolved from the 350Z and true to Nissan's current design language. Key to the design is the signature L-shaped head and taillights, xenon units up front with LED items behind, while the cab-back design hints at its RWD nature. The base coupe model comes with 18-inch aluminum wheels, while the Sports trims upgrade the wheels to RAYS lightweight 19-inch and offer packages for various front and rear spoilers. Dual tailpipes finish off an overall aggressive design.
Being a performance-focused sports car, the 370Z doesn't boast a particularly sizable profile, being only 51.8 inches high, 72.6 inches wide and 167.5 inches long. However, with a wheelbase of 100.4 inches and a ground clearance of 4.96 inches, it's low and square, all in an effort to aid handling performance. The bulky curb weight of 3,327 pounds is heavy for the segment, showing the 370Z's age compared to newer rivals like the Audi TT Coupe which weighs in at a modest 3,194 lbs.
While the base model of the Nissan 370Z Coupe may not offer an abundance of features, it does come in a variety of six colors to customize the look to suit your taste - one fewer than the 2018 color palette. Paint options comprise Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Deep Blue Pearl, and Magnetic Black Metallic. Passion Red and Pearl White are also available as premium paint packages and cost $695 and $395 extra, respectively. Additionally, Passion Red, Deep Blue Pearl, and Magnetic Black are all available with bespoke exterior graphics with the Heritage Edition package. Last year's striking Chicane Yellow is no longer available.
With a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 engine rated at 332 hp, the 370Z Coupe is capable of achieving the 0-60 mph milestone in five seconds, which is slower than rivals like the Audi TT and upcoming 2020 Toyota Supra. But Nissan deserves praise, retaining a naturally aspirated V6 in an era where downsizing and turbocharging are the order of the day. With a top speed limited to 155 mph, the 370Z matches rivals like the Ford Mustang, while pursuing that from a standstill will see the 370Z reach the quarter-mile mark in an impressive 13.6 seconds.
The 370Z is only available in a rear-wheel-drive configuration, with buyers able to choose between a six-speed manual transmission and seven-speed automatic, the manual being yet another aspect for which Nissan should be lauded. Rivals tend to stick with automatic transmissions, but some also offer all-wheel-drive, as is the case with the Audi TT.
Built on Nissan's VQ series of aluminum DOHC engines, the V6 engine powering the 2019 Nissan 370Z is a powerful, but aging piece of engineering. Capable of producing 332 hp and 270 lb-ft, the engine displaces 3.7 liters, but retains a six-cylinder configuration when many are downsizing and adding boost. The engine is peppy down low, and there's ample torque for town driving, but it's not particularly worth pursuing the upper echelons of the rev range as the V6 sounds coarse and strained at higher rpm. Engine speeds exceeding 3,000 rpm also cause the shifter and clutch to vibrate uncomfortably on manual models. This makes the 370Z feel old, as modern cars are vastly more refined.
The six-speed manual gearbox is designed to make the driving experience feel more inclusive and responsive, while the optional seven-speed automatic transmission allows a more relaxed driving experience. But the manual is stiff to operate, old-school in its nature. The auto isn't much better, despite refinements in recent years, and it's sluggish and unresponsive, although the rev-matching function does aid smoothness when downshifting. Due to its tightly spaced ratios, the 370Z seldom has to downshift when passing on the highway.
As a sports car and not a supercar, there's still a modicum of daily drivability expected from the 370Z. In general, it feels capable ambling about town at regular speeds, and it's easy to drive in traffic, particularly with the automatic gearbox equipped. However, when pursuing highway speeds or canyon-carving jaunts, the cracks begin to show.
The engine's coarseness at high speeds makes one reluctant to push for performance, while the gearbox whine, substantial tire noise, and lack of sound deadening all make for an unbearable cacophony in the cabin, particularly over rough tarmac. Fortunately, the suspension manages to absorb most road abrasions, so the noise is all you have to contend with, although ride quality still errs on the firmer side of the spectrum.
Handling is much the same: Okay up to a point, but disappointing beyond. The tires are partially to blame, being grippy at casual speeds, but somewhat losing the plot when you pursue corners aggressively. The lack of a limited-slip differential in this guise doesn't help matters much, and managing throttle inputs, balancing the weighty steering, and dabbing the brakes to maintain balance are left entirely up to the driver. Some might find the level of involvement pleasurable, in an old-school kind of way but, to most, the 370Z is just infuriatingly dated and incapable.
The brakes tell of the 370Z's age, too, grabby when cold and lacking outright potency when warm. They're ample, but not excellent, and isn't driving a sports car all about excellence?
The Nissan 370Z Coupe features an impressively large fuel tank for its segment, coming in at 19 gallons in capacity. However, this is not to help it go further on a tank than its rivals, but rather to break even with them as it is rather gluttonous with its fuel. With city/highway/combined fuel economy estimates of 17/26/20 mpg on the manual setup and a marginally better 19/26/22 mpg on the automatic, the 370Z can achieve approximately 380- or 418 miles on a tank, respectively. This means it breaks almost even on its range with the Ford Mustang, which has a more modest 15.5-gallon tank.
Although basic in design, the interior of the 370Z is well-built. However, it offers little in the way of comfort, even for a performance-focused vehicle. The seats on the base model feature cloth upholstery and limited comfort options. While the control layout for the driver is logical and easy to reach, the lack of lumbar support on the non-Sport trims does little to help with comfort. The steering wheel is not reach-adjustable, but it is possible to achieve a somewhat comfortable driving arrangement by carefully maneuvering the seat. Luckily there is ample seating space to work with, a blessing not common in the sports car segment. The cabin has limited features and any form of high-tech infotainment interface is limited to the highest trim levels.
With only two low-slung seats, ingress and egress of the 370Z is on par with other coupes in the segment. The cloth seats themselves are not particularly comfortable, especially with the lack of thigh and lumbar support. They're manually adjustable as standard, with the Sport Touring trim adding four-way power-adjustability on its improved leather seat. Visibility is not a priority in sports cars, so it is naturally lacking in the 370Z Coupe, but the driving position does little to help in this regard, failing to cater to taller than average drivers. This is despite the rather spacious 38.2 in of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom which does cater to those on the taller side. Shoulder room is a little more limited at 54.5 inches, meaning you may bump elbows with your passenger from time to time.
The base 370Z Coupe and Sport models come equipped with woven cloth upholstery, available in black as standard with optional black and yellow cloth available on the Heritage Edition Coupe. Premium comfort is limited to the uppermost trim level, with the Sport Touring trim offering black leather upholstery. Regardless of trim, a leather-bound steering wheel is present, and soft-touch paneling can be found on the doors and dash. But hard plastics are present – yet another sign of the 370Z's age. Heritage Edition models, in addition to bespoke upholstery, also feature yellow contrast stitching throughout the cabin, with yellow panels on the steering wheel, shift lever, and center console.
While sports cars are not known for their ample cargo capacity, the Nissan 370Z Coupe falls particularly short in this regard. The trunk may seem spacious at first glance, but this is deceptive due to the intrusion of the suspension and the sloping rear hatch. With a mere 6.9 cubic feet of very shallow space on offer, even a single grocery bag is likely to get a bit rumpled in transit, but a couple of small duffle bags will squeeze in.
There are a few nooks around the cabin in the form of door pockets, storage bins, and seatback pockets, but none can store anything but the smallest of items. The cup-holders will likely be the most useful places to store an item or two but aren't large enough to accommodate all modern smartphones. The 370Z was designed to go fast, not to do grocery shopping.
The base 370Z Coupe is rather light on features, with most of these being limited to upper trim levels. Keyless entry and ignition are standard, as are cruise control, a backup camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, air conditioning, and climate control. But for a car with such large blind spots, it is a pity that blind-spot monitoring is not offered. The Sport Touring trim adds heated and power-adjustable seats. Also included in the Sport trims is the SynchroRev match system, which automatically matches engine revs as the vehicle downshifts. The 370Z only provides a single USB port.
Infotainment is one of the 370Z's biggest weak points, with the base model offering no infotainment interface. What it does offer is an AM/FM radio, CD and MP3 player, auxiliary audio input, and a six-speaker sound system. Bluetooth connectivity is offered but it's limited to phone calls only. The Sport trim upgrades the sound system to an eight-speaker Bose system while the Sport Touring further adds satellite radio and navigation, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment interface and allows for audio streaming from Bluetooth devices. None of the trims offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The Nissan 370Z has not been subject to any significant number of complaints since the 2010 model. Since then, complaints have decreased year on year, with no notable complaints being lodged against the 2019 model. There was one minor recall of the 2018 model for defective airbags, which affected a mere 22 cars. The warranties for this model cover a variety of factors but do not stand out from competitors. The full warranty is valid for 36,000 miles/36 months, while the powertrain warranty is valid for 60,000 miles/60 months. There is no maintenance warranty, but there is roadside assistance for 36,000 miles/36 months.
Being a low volume luxury sports vehicle, the 370Z has not received NHTSA or IIHS ratings. However, it has not received any particular safety or reliability complaints. It has been noted that the vehicle could benefit from a blind-spot monitoring system.
The Nissan 370Z Coupe has most of the basic safety features one would expect in a sports car. These include brake assist, electronic brake distribution, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. There are a total of six airbags in the cabin (dual front, front side and side curtain), seatbelt pretensioners, and an anti-whiplash system. The vehicle lacks most basic driver assistance features, which is typical for sports vehicles that prioritize driver control and engagement. However, there is a reverse camera, as has become standard on all new vehicles in the US.
While the Nissan 370Z Coupe is still an engaging vehicle, it lacks many of the features and luxuries that are becoming more commonplace in the segment. For this reason, it falls behind most competitors. Many may overlook the lack of features for an engaging drive, but the truth is that competitors are managing to achieve comparable or better performance at equal or less cost. The 370Z just doesn't seem like a logical purchase anymore.
The labored, unrefined powertrain and sub-par handling are the main nails in the coffin of the 370Z, but the truth is that there aren't many areas where the latest Z car isn't feeling more than a decade old. The chassis, once involving, is now just old and incapable of running with the modern competition, and while rivals are few at present, with the arrival of long-time Z rival, the Toyota Supra next year, things look woeful for the 370Z.
The Nissan 370Z Coupe is not a bad vehicle, but it is most definitely not the best car in its segment nor the best investment. The dated driving experience feels nostalgic, like a step back in time, which may appeal to some sports car buyers, but not those looking for something a bit more contemporary.
The base Nissan 370Z Coupe is the cheapest model with an MSRP of $30,090. This is exclusive of tax, licensing, registration, incentives, and a destination charge of $895. The 370Z Coupe Sport has an MSRP of $33,820 while the 370Z Coupe Sport Touring's MSRP starts at $38,190. Equipping an automatic gearbox to any of these trims adds $1,300 - $1,400 to the asking price, trim dependant.
The 2019 Nissan 370Z Coupe comes in three trim levels: Coupe, Coupe Sport, and Coupe Sport Touring. All trims come standard with a 3.7-liter V6 engine and six-speed manual transmission, while a seven-speed automatic is optional.
The Coupe is the base model with minimalist features. These include 18-inch aluminum wheels, keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control and a six-speaker stereo.
The Coupe Sport improves on both performance and comfort by adding 19-inch wheels, viscous limited-slip differential, rev-matching, and a Bose audio system. This trim also includes larger brakes.
The Coupe Sport Touring is the premium trim and offers the most specs and luxuries. It comes equipped with a seven-inch infotainment interface, heated leather seats, satellite radio and navigation, Homelink, and Bluetooth audio streaming.
The 370Z Coupe does not offer much in the way of additional packages. There is the Aerodynamics Package, which adds spoilers on the front and back of the vehicle to improve its sporty aesthetic. It costs an additional $695 and is available on all trims. The Heritage Edition package may be one of the most appealing, comprising black exterior mirror covers, gloss decals along the body and yellow interior trim, priced at $790 and only available on the base trim.
The base 370Z Coupe is quite sparse on features and has some notable failings in performance. Since sports cars cater primarily to performance-minded individuals, the Sport trim is definitely the best choice, especially if you opt for the six-speed manual to optimize the driving experience. With better infotainment and tech features as well as the inclusion of a limited-slip differential and larger wheels and tires, the Sport trim sits head and shoulders above base Coupe. The improved powertrain, brakes, and lightweight wheels further offer better handling and the SynchroRev Match system is a nice add-on should you opt for an automatic. While the Sport Touring offers even more comfort and luxury features, the significant price hike doesn't seem worth the investment.
It may seem like an exorbitant comparison, but both aging sports cars have different high points to offer prospective buyers. With a starting MSRP of $101,865, the GT-R is certainly in a very different price bracket, and its supercar-smashing performance places it almost in a league of its own. Powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6, it generates nearly double the power of the 370Z with 600 hp, and manages to put it down easily with permanent all-wheel-drive compared to the 370Z's RWD setup. It's vastly quicker and eats racetracks for breakfast, but is nowhere near as wieldy as the little Z car is, with the 370Z providing accessible power and, most importantly, a manual gearbox through which to row your own gears. The four seats of the GT-R mean it could be used practically, but the reality is that this won't sway your decision. Ultimately, you need to decide what you want – accessible enjoyment or supercar-bating capabilities? For most, the accessible performance makes the 370Z the obvious choice, while a more affordable price tag makes that an easier reality to achieve.
In terms of affordable sports cars, the Ford Mustang is a top contender, handily surpassing the Nissan 370Z in most aspects. Its turbo inline-four engine is more powerful, producing 310 hp and, combined with its excellent handling, one would be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable and exciting driving experience. The quality interior is more spacious, even offering rear seats. However, these seats are naturally a bit cramped and can only be accessed from the two front doors. While the Mustang features smart device integration and hands-free communication as standard, climate control and rear-parking assistance have to be added to the base package. The pros certainly outweigh the cons, though, and the modest starting price of $26,395 MSRP paired with much better fuel economy than the 370Z makes the decision that much easier. Get the Mustang, it's simply the better sports car here.
If you're looking at buying a small, naturally aspirated sports coupe, the Subaru BRZ is bound to be on your shortlist, and with good reason – it's a phenomenal sports car. While its 2.0-liter Boxer engine is 132 hp less powerful than the 370Z's V6, it's some $5,000 cheaper than the Nissan. It weighs a lot less, too, being nearly 600 lbs lighter, meaning performance is closer than you might think. The 370Z is ultimately quicker by about a second to 60 mph but, on the go, the BRZ feels just as lively, even if it lacks the V6 soundtrack. The BRZ is keener to chase the redline, however, and it's also keener through corners, where the lighter body and more refined suspension setup enables drivers to push up to and beyond the limits with greater confidence and control. It's a testament to how much things have evolved in a decade, as the BRZ feels better to drive despite the power deficit. Not only is it easier and more fun to drive, but it's also more practical, with rear seats and an abundance of modern technology. The thought of a big V6 might be enticing, but the BRZ is the better buy here and at a lower price.