JUST when you think everything has to be frugal and green, along comes the 370Z, and wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER says it’s a proper muscle car to truly savour.
GETTING my hands on this car is something I’ve been looking forward to for many weeks now, but thanks to the credit crunch and press fleet cutbacks, I’ve had to be patient.
I remember driving the 350Z when it was launched six years ago, so I knew it would be good. Last week though, my patience was rewarded with the arrival of this stunning looking machine, and yes, it was definitely worth the wait. The new car is shorter than the last, and feels sharper to drive.
Throughout its 40-year life, the capacity of the Z’s six cylinder engine has been reflected in its name. The 240Z had a 2.4-litre engine and the 300ZX was a 3.0-litre, so it follows that the 370Z has a 3.7-litre engine under its bonnet.
There are three trim grades, Standard, GT Pack and GT Ultimate. The GT Pack gives you 19in forged RAYS alloys rims, with 275/35 R19 Bridgestone Potenza tyres on the rears. Its bright blue paintwork brightened up an otherwise dismal, cold winter’s day, and its huge 19in wheels, gleaming in the mid-day winter sun, made the car an impressive sight.
It’s coupe profile boasts large flared wheel arches fore and aft to cover the enormous Bridgestone tyres, while the long bonnet slopes down to the nose and its stylishly designed headlamp units which are home to the Bi-xenon projector style lights.
At the back, the rear lights are just as smart, but a press of the brake pedal illuminates a collection of bright red LEDs which are eyecatching for all the right reasons.
Dropping into the driving seat for the first time, you are met by an array of instruments which are focused towards the driver in true sportscar fashion, with three dials sitting on top of dashboard above the centre console.
In front of you are three larger dials, the dominant one in the middle being the rev counter with a gear indicator at the bottom of it, with the speedometer to its right and a unusual and unique slant on fuel and temperature gauges the left. Mounted in a smart aluminium trim, the fuel and temperature gauges consist of a row of LEDs, separated by a trip computer display in between them.
Back to the centre console and you find a multi-function display which is home to the sat nav, with its Birdview display, a six-disc in-dash CD stacking unit and the radio and heater controls.
Just ahead of the gear lever, is another little button which switches on the Synchro Rev Control for perfect manual shifts. The system blips the throttle as you downshift, effectively heel-and-toeing for the driver and smoothing out the gear changes.
The figure-hugging seats are comfortable, electrically adjustable and heated, but the fact the steering column can only be moved up and down and not in and out meant I had to have the driver’s seat closer to the pedals than I would have liked thanks to my long legs, but it wasn’t too much of a discomfort. I would have put up with a lot worse for some time behind the wheel of this car, I can assure you.
This monster of a machine is brought to life by the press of button on the dash. The powerful 3.7-litre, up from the 3.5 litres of the 350Z, burbles into life with a tone which sets the theme for the entire driving experience.
The 370Z isn’t a car for the faint of heart, something you begin to realise the second you press the clutch pedal for the first time. The pedal is heavy, about twice the weight you would find in most cars, but with all that power, it needs something substantial.
The 370Z is wasted pottering around town, although it will do so happily and without complaint, and will pull from below 30mph in sixth gear.
With all this pent up performance, it’s not the easiest car to drive smoothly at low speed. It has the feel of a competition machine – and the sound of one. Being a strict two-seater, the stones picked up by the large tyres rattle round the rear wheelarches as they are flung from the tyres, even at low speed. At higher speeds, the lack of rear seats and sound deadening materials mean there is plenty of road noise at cruising speeds, but it is getting up to cruising speeds which is the most fun, when all other noises are drowned out by the glorious sound of the engine on full song as it propels this true muscle car from rest to 62mph in a mere 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed (where allowed) of a limited 155mph.
All of the 331PS power output is transmitted through the rear wheels, which can cause some traction issues in the damp and slippery conditions we have to endure on our roads at this time of year, which aren’t the best for enjoying a car with this kind of power. Thankfully, it is equipped with a good traction control system which allows a tiny amount of slip before stepping in to control the power being applied to the rear wheels and limit the excesses of the driver’s right foot. A flashing warning light in front of the driver may be the only indication that something is happening, but pulling away with intent, on more than one occasion I was aware of the rear wheels tramping on a greasy surface in both first and second gears in a straight line, even with the traction control on.
The system can be turned off completely at the press of a button, but it was obvious from my time with the car that in these conditions, this wouldn’t be a good idea unless you had acres of space in which to play.
Apply the throttle gently and progressively though, and you are rewarded by a fabulous noise from the motor as the rev counter spins around the dial, before a flashing red light reminds you to change up before you hit the red line.
Nissan’s 370Z is a fabulous car for petrol heads everywhere and delivers a fantastic antedote for those who are numbed by the constant drive for economical and planet-hugging cars. And before the green lobby start jumping up and down, the 370Z does have another side to its character – drive it gently on a normal journey and you will be rewarded with an average fuel consumption of around 30mpg – I actually got 29mpg and could have done better had I really tried, but was enjoying myself too much.
If you love hardcore muscle cars with a tremendous sound track from the engine, they simply don’t get much better than this – unless you’re prepared to spend silly amounts of money.
So well done Nissan for continuing to build such cars, and long may you continue.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Nissan 370Z 3.7 V6 GT
370Z RANGE: From 3.7 V6 (£26,900) to 3.7 V6 GT Ultimate (£31,900).
ENGINE: 3696cc, 326PS six-cylinder engine, driving rear wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 249g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 155mph. 0-62mph in 5.3 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 18.6mpg.
Fuel tank: 72 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 19.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.