The Nissan 370Z is an icon. Name another sports car that was a sensation from the gate, nearly 50 years ago, and is still around in a shapely form that’s true to the spirited original. Plus, there is now a muscular roadster. Only the Porsche 911 can boast a deeper heritage. What’s more, today it’s uncommonly pure to performance, and not that expensive. It offers a lot of value in sports car performance.
The 2017 Nissan 370Z continues on that steadfast path of improving the car without changing its character. Its engine is mounted rearward to sharpen balance and handling. Its rear-wheel drive is a kick in the pants. There is a way-fun 6-speed manual gearbox, or paddleshifting 7-speed automatic, both transmissions with downshift blipping.
The 370Z features a strong V6 with its own deep heritage. This version is 3.7 liters and makes 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, while there’s a Nismo coupe version that makes 350 hp.
With the 7-speed automatic, the 370Z gets an EPA-estimated 21 miles per gallon Combined city and highway.
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.
It comes as a base model, Sport, Sport Tech, and Touring for the coupe; Touring and Touring Sport for the convertible; base and Tech for the Nismo. None of the trims can be customized from the factory, although dealer options can be added, for example an aero kit. For 2017, the coupe and convertible come in a new color, bright Chicane Yellow, though the 370Z is rarely a rolling chicane.
The cabin is simple, functional, and pleasing, designed to be purposeful. The materials and 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 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 ride quality. 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.
Both transmissions are slick and respectable. We like the 6-speed manual for its short, stiff throws between gears. 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.
We suggest a good long test drive in the 370Z, before you buy. If you like the engine and dynamics, buy it. There are no dealbreakers with this car except it might not grab you.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports by The Car Connection.