2012 370Z New Car Test Drive
The Nissan 370Z is a brilliant sports car with a strong performance-value ratio. The 2011 370Z comes in Coupe and Roadster versions, with styling that adheres to tradition and history.
The design of the 370Z Coupe is modern, driven by aerodynamics, but the sweeping rear quarter window harkens back to the 1970 Datsun 240Z, the car that started it all. The 370Z Coupe uses a hood, doors and hatch made of aluminum, lowering weight.
The 370Z Roadster with its cloth top has a natural shape and looks good in black. The power top is well-insulated with a good headliner, and it raises and lowers without a manual latch.
A racy 370Z Nismo coupe, a product of Nissan's NISMO performance division, boasts more horsepower, a stiffer suspension, bigger brakes and aerodynamic modifications.
The 3.7-liter engine loves to rev and produces a unique sound and, with variable valves and four camshafts, generates 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm, but much of its power is available at lower rpm. The Z accelerates from 0 to 60 in a quick 5.2 seconds.
Cornering is supremely tight, on a short 100-inch wheelbase, with the rotational pivot point in the chassis in its ideal position of balance, right under the driver's seat. The rigid chassis results in responsive handling, even on uneven pavement. It steers with precision and turns in decisively. It changes directions dynamically. And there are no worries about the brakes not bringing you down.
In manual mode, the optional 7-speed automatic shifts quickly. Drivers can use the paddles or lever. The shifts feel direct, like a manual transmission, thanks to what Nissan calls torque converter lock-up logic. With the 6-speed manual transmission, heel-and-toe downshifting easy. The clutch, gearbox and pedals work well together. A computer-controlled feature called SynchroRev Match will blip throttle for downshifts when you don't do it manually.
The interior is attractive and comfortable. The driver's seat is designed to keep the driver in place. The black fabric that comes standard looks and feels sporty while the optional perforated leather is beautiful. There's also a synthetic suede. The instrument panel moves with the adjustable steering column, while the steering wheel spokes are designed to provide a clear view. The gauges are big and clear, white on black with orange needles.
Cargo space is modest. The rear hatch provides easy access to 6.9 cubic feet of cargo space, far less than the 22 cubic feet in the Chevrolet Corvette. The Roadster's trunk has only 4.2 cubic feet of space, about enough for a couple of duffle bags.
Now in its sixth generation, the Z was last redesigned for the 2009 model year. The sixth-generation Roadster was launched for 2010.
The 2011 Nissan 370Z is offered in two body styles, coupe and roadster, and three models. The coupe comes in base ($31,200), Touring ($35,900) and Nismo ($39,190) models. The roadster is offered in base ($37,900) or Touring ($41,900). The 370Z comes with a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 332 horsepower, and a 6-speed manual transmission. The Nismo has a 350-horsepower version of the same engine. All models except the Nismo are offered with a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability ($1300).
The Z comes standard with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, height-adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button start, power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature, power mirrors, power door locks with auto-lock feature, center console, rear window defroster with timer, two 12-volt power outlets, dual overhead map lights, four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer, automatic bi-xenon headlights, theft-deterrent system, and P225/50WR18 front and P245/45WR18 rear tires on alloy wheels. The Roadster comes with a power convertible soft top.
The 370Z Touring adds heated four-way power Alcantara and leather-appointed sport seats with adjustable lumbar support; a Bose audio system with eight speakers (includes dual subwoofer), 6CD/MP3 changer, and XM satellite radio (XM subscription sold separately), Bluetooth hands-free phone system, HomeLink universal garage door opener, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Roadster adds ventilated seats while the Coupe gets a rear cargo cover.
The 370Z Nismo has several modifications to make it faster. It uses the 6-speed manual transmission with Nissan's SynchroRev Match feature, as well a viscous limited-slip differential, lightweight Rays forged aluminum wheels with P245/40YR19 front and P285/35YR19 rear tires, bigger brakes (14.0-inch front rotors, 13.8-inch rear), Nismo front strut brace, and firmer shocks, springs and stabilizer bars. The exterior gets a special nose with an integrated chin spoiler, side sills, a unique rear bumper, and a taller rear spoiler. Inside, there are Nismo logos on the seats, which feature black and red fabric with red stitching, a Nismo tachometer, red stitching on the steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, aluminum pedals and a serialized plaque of authenticity.
Options are limited. The Navigation package ($2,150) offers a GPS powered by a hard drive and featuring voice recognition and a touch-screen display, with real-time traffic information from XM NavTraffic, which requires a paid subscription. Also bundled in this option is a 9.3 Gig Music Box hard drive and interface system for iPods and other MP3 players. This package includes a rearview mirror back-up camera, also a stand-alone option for $785.
The Sport package for the Coupe ($3,030) and Convertible ($2,830) adds 19-inch forged lightweight aluminum-alloy Rays wheels fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance radials. Spoilers are fitted fore and aft which help to lower the coupe's drag coefficient from 0.29 to 0.28 (the aerodynamic package is also a stand-alone option for $650). Also included with the Sport package are Nissan Sport Brakes with 14-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rear rotors (versus 12.6/12.1-inch standard rotor sizes) with four-piston front and two-piston rear aluminum calipers. The chassis calibrations are otherwise the same as on the base car. The SynchroRev feature, which performs the downshifting blip for the driver, comes with this package.
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags plus front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags for torso protection. The coupe also has curtain side airbags for head protection. Active head restraints are fitted to both body styles, as is a tire-pressure monitor. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control.
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