2009 Nissan 370Z Review – Z be nimble, Z be quick…

Friday June 12th, 2009 at 7:66 AM
Posted by: hollyrrr

2009 Nissan 370Z
>> Review by Holly Roberts. | >> Photographs by Derek Mau

Pros:

  • Stiff, sports-car suspension
  • Blazing acceleration
  • Seriously comfortable seats
  • Excellent handling ability
  • Simple, clean interior (not a lot of bells and whistles)

Cons:

  • Stiff, sports-car suspension (seemed to have been tuned for the track, because it barely budged)
  • Blind spots that you could miss a bus in
  • Not much more room inside for anything but an extra passenger, a purse and a briefcase in the back

Ruling: Z can spin doughnuts around a candlestick!  Heck, who needs a candlestick, let’s DRIVE!!!!


Introduction:
The Nissan 370Z is all new for 2009. Almost every piece and component of the 370Z has been re-designed by Nissan.  I read a review stating:  “this is the fastest production Z ever built.” Amen to that. The car (especially the rear) is definitely chopped over the older versions, has wider-flared fenders, a shorter wheelbase, a lot less room inside than the earlier versions from the 90′s, but it now has sportier lines and is one sharp car! Most of all, it is a blast to drive (it knocks the socks off of the 4th generation version that I owned)!!! I haven’t driven a Z (or even ridden in one) since I had my 1993 300ZX, and this new version did not disappoint.

Fuel Economy:

Advertised: 18 in the city, and 26 highway (22 combined)

Actual: 22.3 mpg, and I drove this car HARD (hard for me, that is…). When I was behaving myself and driving along long expanses of freeway, the mileage was inching up to 23+ mpg.

2009 Nissan 370Z

Driving Impressions:
This car was simply amazing. Impressive acceleration. Seriously tight turning radius (oh, I miss that!!!).  Feels like you could do a 360-degree turn in a single lane of a 2-lane road. Serious sports-car ride (you could feel every thump in the road), but let’s be real – this ain’t no luxury car… I thought the mileage was really decent (considering how I was driving) given the horsepower. With a V6 engine, 332 horsepower – I still got mileage in the low 20′s. Respectable.

Build:
Not a squeak, rattle or anything else to indicate poor construction. The hood was heavy and closed solidly (the engine is pretty compact, leading me to believe it would be hard to work on yourself). The rear hatch also closed solidly, although the first few times with it, I was rather timid and it didn’t fully latch. Once I figured out that I wasn’t going to break it, it latched every time. The doors were solid, without feeling overly heavy. All of the interior storage doors (glove box, center console) were constructed solidly. Interior and exterior door handles were easy to grasp, well-placed and well-built.

I really appreciate the fact that this trim line was simple. No power seats. No sun roof. No navigation system. To me, all of that stuff breaks and ends up costing more money. I think the car is put together extremely well, with just the simple necessities for pure driving bliss – nothing more.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics:

The good:
Where do I start?

The instrument panel is simple, and customizable. I set the information display to monitor my mileage, which helped me to keep me in check. Easy to see, easy to read, and simple, yet effective.

I really like the push-button ignition controls and proximity keys. Nice to not have to insert a key into the ignition, unless you really want to.

Having not sat in the passenger’s seat, I can’t say much about it. But I can definitively say that I was able to adjust the driver’s seat, comfortably, in about 45 seconds. Even being *that* low to the ground, and with the über-stiff suspension, I was really quite comfortable. The seats had just the right amount of padding and just the right support, in all the right places. At least for me. I never felt in danger of sliding out of the seat when driving aggressively. Unfortunately, not having long enough legs, I never noticed the knee pad on the center console (for “sporty driving”) till I read about it. Even then, my legs were just a bit too short to use it effectively.

Other stuff: the one-touch auto up and auto down windows work very well. The cruise control was easy to understand and easy to set. LOVE the speed-sensitive automatic door locks. There’s a nice little package shelf behind the passenger seat.  Perfect for my purse, and then I didn’t have to worry about knocking it over and spilling the contents if I’d left it on the floor. Definitely not a lot of fancy features, but the ones that are included are well thought-out and very handy to have.

Everything in the interior area of the vehicle blended and matched perfectly. The black interior color was nicely offset with the silver metallic trim.

The bad:
The only really bad thing, and it does not apply to me: If you are tall, 6’3″ or above: you won’t be able to ride in, or drive this car. It’s really intended for those under 6 feet. The seats will only slide so far back, and then it’s all about how flexible you are, and how long you’re comfortable being folded up in your seat!

The ugly:
The blind spots. If you look up “blind spot” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of the view out of this car. Backing up was scary. I nearly backed into 3 full-sized cars (not to mention pedestrians) in the grocery store parking lot. And it wasn’t for not looking! I simply could not see them! Trying to look over your left shoulder is useless. The  rear “windows” are sort of a joke. I think the exterior rear-view mirror areas are actually larger. What it forces you to do (and I’m sure some people are better at this than others), is to keep track of and remember where every single vehicle is located in your proximity at all times. Once I started keeping track, it was a non-issue.  But I had to be on high-alert 100% of the time.

Performance:
I’m really fortunate that I didn’t get a ticket. It was nearly impossible not to go 70+ mph, and I saw 85 mph more times than I’m willing to admit. EGAD. The 332 HP, 3.7 Liter DOHC V6 engine, with Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) really makes the 370Z get up and move. Downshifting quickly decelerates the car or sets you up for a nice acceleration around traffic, an obstacle, whatever might be in your path. The car was effortless to shift and the clutch was not too tight, not too loose – just right.  Even when the engine was spun up, the engine didn’t feel or sound like it was whining too loudly.

I feel that this is one car which will appeal to the person wanting a true sports car, but who doesn’t want to pay $50+k for it.  My favorite passenger, who used to drive a Porsche (and whom races street motorcycles), was suitably impressed with its acceleration and torque. I was beside myself, either giggling or with an ear-to-ear grin every single time I used the go-pedal.

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