By David Colman
Hypes: Arrive and Drive Racer
Gripes: Fuel Level Gauge Unpredictable, No Rear Wiper
Nissan’s marquee sports car gets better every year. The improvements for 2013 are relatively minor, but enticing nonetheless. A revised front fascia houses new daytime running lights, and if you order the Sports Package ($3,030), the RAYS forged wheels differ in appearance from earlier versions with thinner spokes revealing newly painted red brake calipers. These ultra light 19 inch diameter RAYS replace the standard issue cast 18 inch alloys. The gunmetal finished RAYS measure 9.5 inches wide in front and 10.5 inches wide in back (versus 8 and 9 inch width for the 18 inch wheels). Our Sports Package equipped 370Z mounted Bridgestone’s best all-around performance tire, the RE050A, with front rubber measuring 245/40/R19 and rears 275/35/R19. Nissan has also modified the valving of its Sports Package shocks for a “Euro-tuned” firmer, more controlled ride. The package also includes a Viscous Limited Slip Differential, so the as selivered Z is ideally configured for fast street driving, or track day competition.
The 3.7 liter V-6 in the Z is a hot rod motor thanks to micro-finishing techniques used to polish the crankshaft and camshafts. With variable valve timing and lift, the rev-happy motor makes 332hp and 270lb.-ft. of torque. Connected to a precisely gated 6-speed manual transmission, with rev-matching on downshifts, the Z is the most sporting 2 seater you can buy for the money. It corners flawlessly, with the fat Bridgestones urging you to up your apex speed. It sprints from corner to corner with the breathless stamina of a distance runner. The 370Z merits serious consideration if you like to drive fast because it carries out your orders with military efficiency.
Although the Z is available in both coupe and convertible form, the coupe is the better performer of the two because it is not only lighter, but torsionally stiffer as well. Under the hood sits a monumental 3-point front strut tower brace, tying the upper shock absorber mounting points to the dash structure. But the coupe does bring a few problems of its own, such as occluded rear vision, and lack of a rear window wiper. In either model, interior storage is limited. The Z’s “Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition” eases starting but leaves you with nowhere to park your keyfob. There’s but one drink binnacle between the front seats, the glovebox is just big enough to accommodate the owner’s manual, and the door pockets are shallow and untrustworthy.
But the jet cockpit ergonomics compensate for these limited shortcomings. A trio of angled gauges atop the dash crown, mimicing those of the first 240Z, inform you of water temp, battery charge and time of day. A 9,000rpm tachometer swings freely to redline in front of your nose, while the adjacent speedometer reads to 180mph. The fat, perforated leather steering wheel responds with vernier precision to the most minute adjustments. It is also fitted with handy tabs for scanning your SiriusXM presets without having to reach for the radio’s faceplate.
With a base price of just $37,820, the 2013 Z is fully capable of chasing down Porsche’s entry level Boxster, which costs $12,000 more than the Nissan. Even when equipped with the Sports Package and Navigation System ($2,150), the 370Z still posts an affordable bottom line of $43,905. If you’re a nascent racer, or a driver who just enjoys a swift and responsive ride, you can’t do better than the latest 370Z.
2013 Nissan 370Z Touring
- Engine: 3.7 liter DOHC V-6 with VVEL
- Horsepower: 332hp
- Torque: 270lb.-ft.
- Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/26 MPG Highway
- Price as Tested: $43,905
- Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars