When you get the chance to drive a McLaren (or three) for a day you have a mind-blowing experience and then jump back into your car to head home. When you get the chance to drive a more affordable sports car for over a week the heart racing experience sticks with you, it becomes addictive. So, here are some thoughts on living with the hot blooded Nissan 370Z.
Just like meeting a lady at a bar, the first thing you notice is the looks. The Nissan 370Z is a sexy little beast. The sharp headlights begin the length of the deep bonnet which hits a sharp incline for the windscreen followed by a perfect sweep, like an upside down Nike swoosh to the rear taillights. The Nissan 370Z sits wide and low, the large wheels stand out and give the coupe a distinct look. The vertical door handles will lead you into the cockpit which presents an interior that looks dated, because it is.
The 370Z was released back in 2009 and has only had minor updates since. The steering wheel is equipped with controls to manage cruise control and audio settings, push any of these buttons off-centre though and you’ll accidentally beep the horn, it’s odd. Keen to put a bag in the small boot? You can’t open it from any button or lever inside the car, naturally you’ll find the boot release just above the rear number plate though, makes sense obviously. Hit the push-button start though and you’ll quickly forget about any aesthetic or functional shortfalls.
The 370Z houses a 245kW V6 engine tied to a 7 speed automatic gearbox. When you’re strapped into the pilot seat you have the RPM in the centre and speedo to the right. Paddles mounted to the steering rack are tall and awaiting your command. The car rumbles while it waits. The noise in the cabin is bliss, the low tech stereo is on mute to fully appreciate the car breathing on a mixture of premium unleaded and oxygen. Once you’re ready to get moving the driving experience begins. Reversing out of the driveway is difficult with low visibility from the rear window, this is helped with the addition of a rear camera though. Point the car in the right direction though and you learn very quickly why people buy these cars.
The large, naturally aspirated V6 gets up and goes immediately. Peak power isn’t achieved until 7000 RPM so the 370Z is not afraid to scream and sprint. While in a straight line this car is certainly quick, it’s not just a quarter mile wonder, it can turn better than most. The 370Z feels wonderful through the bends, in corners and through sweeping turns, it’s rather planted but like riding a wild horse, it’ll kick if pushed too hard. The 370Z has traction control but hit the accelerator hard enough and those tyres will squeal like a newborn. Turn traction control off and you’re at risk of not driving straight much at all.
The problem with living with this car for my usual seven day routine is that five of those days is driving to work and home again. In a car that wants to run on the open road unrestricted, it is frustrated in traffic. It’ll crawl along in traffic slurping your fuel without the fun, like an alcoholic at a bar who drinks but doesn’t dance, the 370Z feels locked in a cage of emotion. Our average fuel consumption over a full week came in at 11.8L/100km, that hurts the hip pocket! It’s at these long commutes however that you turn to the in-car entertainment and as mentioned before it’s lacking, the car feels boring.
It tells me immediately, this car is a sports car, a true sports car. It is built for a purpose, it isn’t meant to be luxurious, it isn’t meant to be equipped with every infotainment gizmo seen in other cars. It has seats, a gas pedal, a heart of gold and is equipped to take you through mountains and across the plains providing an amazing driving experience. A driving experience that won’t cost anything near the price of a McLaren but will still provide smiles for miles and miles.