2017 Nissan 370Z Coupe: Continuing ‘Z-Car’ excitement

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nissan created a unique automotive nickname, designation, “the Z-Car,” when it became a member of the street sports car fraternity in 1969 by launching the Datsun 240Z. Originally called the Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan, after Nissan/Datsun executives became enamored with the Broadway play, “My Fair Lady,” the vehicle that is currently known in Japan as the “Fairlady Z34,” was given an alpha-numeric name (240Z) in North America for better marketability.

That first “Z” was powered by a 2.4-liter engine (hence the “240” portion of the name) that offered 151hp. Over the next 48 years, the “Z” has been upgraded and upnamed to a “260Z” (with a 2.6-liter engine), “280Z” and “280ZX” (with a 2.8-liter engine, “300ZX” (with a 3.0-liter engine), the 350Z (with a 3.5-liter engine), and the current alpha-numeric, “370Z” (with a 3.7-liter 332-hp engine).

Now in the ninth year of its sixth generation The Nissan 370Z has remained essentially the same since 2009, a vibrant and dynamic sports car that combines an exciting sporty demeanor with explosive power and track-worthy handling. It is offered in a choice of six trim models and there are no option packages available as each trim is packed with extras. One new exterior color is available for 2017, Chicane Yellow.

The 2017 370Z Coupe's aerodynamic exterior design incorporates intentional styling cues from the original and now classic 240Z – including a short wheelbase, wide track, low center of gravity and fluid silhouette. Utilizing unibody corrosion-resistant high-strength steel with an aluminum hood, doors and trunk lid, the 370Z offers what Nissan calls a "dynamic motion" feel with a dramatic cantilevered roof and a "low visual gravity." The sleek silhouette is defined by its upswept quarter window design that is echoed by the dynamic upward curvature in the lower rocker panel and the sense of the taut sheet metal molding itself around the wheels and frame. Another distinctive feature of the bold exterior design is the headlight/taillight treatment, which features a fierce boomerang shape.

The 370Z Coupe's platform provides a refined foundation for the well-proportioned body, with a 100.4-inch wheelbase, 167.5-inch overall length, 72.6-inch width and 51.8-inch height, giving it a classic sports car look and feel, weighing in at 3338 lbs. for the manual transmission Touring version.

Once again the 370Z Coupe pays off its iconic style and full-feature cockpit with power from an aluminum, 332-hp, 270 lbs-ft of torque, 3.7-liter longitudenal V-6 engine. Mated to a standard 6-speed manual transmission with upshift indicator and multi-port electronic fuel injection, a 7-speed automatic transmission is also offered. The manual system I tested is rated at 18/city, 26/highway and 21/combined, (automatic gains 1mpg/city) and a week of mixed-use driving hit the mark at an average of 20.4mpg on Premium unleaded fuel.

Acceleration is smooth, attentive and predictable at all speeds, and my 370Z blazed through a zero-to-60mpg dash in 4.9 seconds, en route to a 13.7-second quarter-mile, though factory specs put it at 4.6 and 13.6.

The rear-wheel drive Coupe is responsive with a firm body, and is a ride to enjoy on the autocross, the interstate, in town and on country roads. The double wishbone aluminum front suspension, twin lube shocks and Independent multi-link aluminum suspension rear transmit road irregularities to the cabin, which gives the driver a solid feel for the road, but might be a bit rocky for street passengers used to pampering. Quick maneuvers are made effortlessly and with only minor understeer from power rack-and-pinion steering and there is very little yaw and virtually no wobble, even while attacking high-speed “S-curves”.

The driver-oriented cockpit continues the “Z” legacy of enhancing driving pleasure. The traditional 2-seat Coupe layout is built around a deeply scooped instrument panel with a full-length center console separating the driver and passenger's seat. The design focus incorporates an innovative, driver-centric "three-layer" design with information, operation and holding layers. The well-appointed and cozy cockpit provides 38.2 inches of headroom, 42.9 inches of legroom, 54.6 inches of hip room and 54.4 inches of shoulder room.

The seating position is high, and forward sight is excellent, though rear three-quarter blind spots make highway lane changes a challenge.

Safety items include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System Driver and front passenger air bags with dual-stage inflation, seat belt sensors and occupant classification sensor.

Pricing for the 2017 Nissan Z starts at $29,990 for the base 370Z Coupe, and reaches $45,490 for the 370Z NISMO ® Tech version. My test Z in Touring trim – fourth of the six trim offerings -- started at $37,970 and gained leather-appointed seats, Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System, RearView Monitor, a Bose® Premium Audio System, limited slip differential, 19-inch RAYS® forged wheels, Nissan sport brakes. SynchroRev Match®, Nissan Hard Drive Navigation, and HomeLink® Universal Transceiver over the base trim. The Touring trim comes with a 6-speed manual transmission – much more fun than the 7-speed automatic that would have cost an additional $1300. In Pearl White exterior paint for $395, matched with a Gray leather interior, my test Z added a cool aerodynamic rear decklid spoiler for $610, illuminated kick plates for $225, splash guards for $245, carpeted “Z” floor mats for $130, carpeted “Z” trunk mat for $100 and destination and handling charges of $885 for a final sticker-as-tested of $49,165.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby. Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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