CarAndDriver – 2009 Nissan Z370 Comparison Tests

in Z370

“…In our February road test, we called the new Z“possibly the best sports car on the planet” for the money.

As you see, this shootout validated that statement, albeit by a narrow editor subjective preference (Fun to Drive, Gotta Have It) for the Z over the BMW. But the real litmus test was how the Z stacked up against the Mazda RX-8—our two-time champ—in terms of sports-car virtues. The contrast was striking.

The RX-8 is all about finesse. The 370Z is all about power. Both cars are agile, but the RX-8’s agility is that of the tightrope artist; the Z car moves like an NFL strong safety. Its steering, though accurate, is heavier, and its responses, though quick, have a more deliberate feel.

The Z car’s Bridgestones, the same rubber as on the BMW and the RX-8, delivered eyeball-stretching grip—0.98 g on the skidpad, where it hung on like a bat in a wind tunnel. Super Glue adhesion and major-league brakes added up to sports-car braking—157 feet from 70, identical to the RX-8.

Power. Check. The new Z’s 3.7-liter V-6 whomps up 332 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 5200. It lacks the low-rev grunt that makes the BMW quick off the mark, but power is abundant once everything’s spinning over five grand, and the six-speed manual is beautifully matched to the engine’s output traits. It’s a gratifying device to operate, too, particularly with the SynchroRev Match feature, part of the optional Sport package ($3000), which also includes front and rear spoilers, nifty 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, upgraded brakes, and a limited-slip diff.

Our test car was so equipped, and if we were buying a new Z, we’d check that box in a flash. The diff gives the Z bulldog bite exiting corners, and the rev-matching feature delivers unerring downshifts. You can shut it off and heel-and-toe for yourself—the pedals are well placed for this—but we’ll bet you’ll be seduced by this piece of technology in short order. Resistance is futile.

The Z’s logbook noted reservations. The glass in the back hatch, for example, looks vast, but its angle reduces the driver’s rear view to a narrow horizontal cleft, and there are substantial blind spots in the rear quarters. The steering wheel adjusts only for rake, not reach, mystifying in a car so thoughtfully engineered. And even thoughNissan has improved the Z’s noise, vibration, and harshness, there’s still tire boom on some surfaces, and the engine still emits a sense of thrash at higher rpm….”

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