Driven: 2013 Nissan Fairlady 370Z

Sports cars, those special small, agile, and powerful machines that redefine the very purpose of owning a car. Why do we love them so much? Desire to go faster than the other guy was there since the beginning of the motor age.  That desire spawned a whole new range of cars that connected man with the machine for one simple purpose: making a statement, a statement that you are better than the pack, you can go faster, louder, in style, and therefore it is the ultimate luxury - desirable by everyone, but reachable by few.

The trend has been changing recently as you can now go very fast, loud, but in ultimate comfort while hauling your family in the back seat and your dog behind.  Real sports cars now need to fight for their purpose, and one way to this is to make them affordable. Nissan 370z is the definition of it.

This car has been on sale for about 5 years and is going to be replaced soon by a more economical, smaller, lighter Fairlady, but before that happens I got the opportunity to explore the one and only Japanese muscle car of current generation.

The Fairlady Z is no luxury coupe, it's a true sports car, with striking forms, long bonnet, and very innovative design features. 

The back follows the trend set by Z33 in 2002 with curvy design almost resembling a fastback.

This particular 370z is a base model, which came in beautiful "Premium Sunfire Orange" metallic paint, and frankly, I wouldn't have this car in any other color. Just look at it.

The extra aggressive stance was also accomplished by extending Fairlady's width by 33mm to 1845mm, which also enhances the car's handling characteristics. Since 2012, Nissan released the 370z with the vertical LED daytime running lights, that give this car an extra sense of presence.

Here we have the latest 2013 model that came with redesigned 18 inch alloy wheels. The wheelbase is only 2550 mm, which make this car extremely maneuverable and predictable. With only 4240 mm in length, there aren't a lot of overhangs, which seem to be a common among Japanese car makers.

The car also uses a large diameter exhaust pipes which are very well heard from the inside.  A down shift at higher RPM's is accompanied by a whoosh sound as the car aggressively blips the throttle for that perfect rev match, which is executed by a 7 speed AT with manual paddle shifters, or 6 Speed MT with auto rev match function.  This model had the automatic which was a bit slow at times, especially when getting from 3rd to 2nd.

The car is packed with little details and nice touches such as this side winker masqueraded under the Z logo.

This model came with standard redesigned aluminum alloys wrapped in 225/44/18 front and 245/40/18 rear tires. Up close it may look like the offset is a bit conservative, as is the ride height.  The optional 245/40/19 front and massive 275/35/19 rear tires with sport tuned suspension improve this, and I think are a must if you decide to acquire a 370z.  That being said, the car is a lot more tail happy on the thinner tires, so keep these stock ones if you want to be a hooligan.

These features and the beautiful form of the car indubitably make the car stand out, which is rare among Japanese cars.  It is beautiful to look at from any angle and it has the effect of going fast while standing still.

Of course standing still isn't what this car is all about.  The 3.7 high revving V6 power plant is here to put the money where the mouth is and to turn the show into a go.  Impressive 330 horse power is available at 7000, to which it gets very quickly, thanks to impressive 365Nm of torque at 5200 RPM, with 90% of it available from 1000 onwards.  It is a very impressive engine, that puts a Porsche Cayman price range into "why would I bother" category. 

It is extremely well put together car, and it is a pleasure to drive it on mountain roads, around town and on highways.  The feedback through the steering wheel is superb as it tells you exactly what the car is doing and what kind of surface you are driving on.

For its class it's also very practical and can serve as a daily driver if only 2 people or less are are inside.  With fairly large storage space in the back it can make those shopping runs a lot more fun.  Suddenly that remote outlet mall is worth going to.

The biggest let down of this car is the interior.  For such a price tag, you would expect a bit of luxury feel on the inside, but while being spacious and comfortable the interior is just full of  shortcuts. Central console, steering wheel spokes, door panels, back panels, everything is made of hard plastic. Even the aluminum accent parts are fake and are made of painted plastic.
Dash is also pseudo-leather plastic, while leather used on elbow rest is very rough and hard.  There is a bit of leather around the central screen, and it has a nice grippy steering wheel, but overall it feels like being inside a shampoo bottle.  Moreover, base model fabric seats are nothing to write home about and steering wheel depth cannot be adjusted, so unless the driver's build is what Nissan had in mind, your seating position is going to be poor.  

Then there is the sound. While the roar of the engine at low to mid range is very sweet and exhaust note is clearly heard, things get a bit rough and uneventful at higher RPM, and that's a shame because frankly, who would would want a sports car that doesn't scream like a maniac every time the pedal is on the floor? There is also awful tire noise that leaks into the cabin and makes long journeys less pleasant. 

So where does Nissan 370z fit in? It's hard to judge as there is no obvious competitor.  In terms of performance for money it laughs at Porsche Cayman and while priced similarly to American muscle cars it feels like a proper sports car.  But in today's world just being a sports car is not enough, people want luxury and comfort, they want two personalities, and that's that's something that 370z is unable to offer, it only has one, but very very good one.

Nissan Fairlady 370Z is available from Nissan starting at 3675000 yen for the base MT model.  Prices go all the way up to 5323500 yen for the awesome AT Nismo Version

Cost of Ownership:
The car is reliable, but the 3.7 litter engine is thirsty regardless of your driving habits.  Tires are huge and very expensive to replace.  This engine also puts you in same tax category as E92 M3.
It's a 2 seater sports car, which is not made to be practical, but it does have its unexpected surprises like lots of storage pockets and large amount of space in the back.
Cabin Comfort
While ergonomic, cabin is very noisy and materials are horrible.
Nissan couldn't have designed a better looking car.  It will be sad to see it being replaced as it has so much character, so much soul that owning this car is like having a friend.  Will it stand the test of time as well as Z32 did? We will have to see.
Fun Factor
This car is a lot of fun, it has plenty of performance, but a little spark, at the very top of the RPM range missing.  It lacks purity and insanity of the German rivals. Maybe it just needs to be tuned.  Just a tiny bit. 

Thank you for reading everyone.  Please don't forget to comment, share and follow.




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