The sports coupe market has been one that’s evolved over the years, with a few new players coming and going, and with some models being reinvented to keep up with the times. The 2018 Nissan 370Z Touring Sport Coupe is a model that has been weathering the test of time – the first year of this body style bowed in the previous decade, having been around since 2009. Since then, the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang went through two generations, the Toyota 86 (née Scion FR-S) and Subaru BRZ have joined the game, and the Hyundai Genesis coupe has come and gone gently into the night. Through all of this, the 370Z’s exterior styling manages to stay sharp and fresh, and outdated isn’t exactly a good word to describe it. Would the rest of the car stack up?
Finished in a ticket-me shade that Nissan calls Passion Red, the Touring Sport Coupe trim was the second from the top for the 370Z, and bested only by the NISMO version (reviewed here). Price at $44,298, it’s a good bit more expensive than the $29,998 entry-level model, but includes things like snazzy 19-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels, Bose Audio, navigation, automatic rev matching for manual-transmission equipped cars, bigger brakes, and a viscous type limited slip differential. The only options are an available seven-speed automatic transmission, which adds $1,500 to the total, and the test car’s Passion red ended up costing $750 extra. Expect prices to fluctuate by a few hundred dollars depending on colour choices.
Since the mid-1990s, the Nissan VQ-series V6 has been serving faithfully in various products, from family sedans to sport utility vehicles. Formally known as the VQ37VHR, the 3.7-litre V6 in the 370Z is one of the spiciest VQs in the lineup, pumping out 332 horsepower at 7,000RPM and 270 lb-ft of torque at 5,200RPM. With such a split in the power and torque ratings, suspicions that the 370Z is more of a revver are confirmed almost immediately when behind the wheel. While the displacement and cylinder count make it very responsive and fun to drive around town, sweeping the tachometer past 5,000RPM results in the classic VQ singsong and a euphoric pull to a 7,500RPM redline. The top end is where this engine feels most at home, and it’s a place where few can compete in terms of likability and flair.
The six-speed manual transmission in the Touring Sport Coupe is also a fairly nice piece of kit. The clutch is well-weighted and provides a good amount of feedback, and does well in both civil and spirited driving. With S-Mode enabled, both upshifts and downshifts are perfectly rev matched, which makes every driver look like a hero when it comes to shifting in daily driving and most performance driving situations. Actual heroic drivers may find themselves outperforming the auto rev match functions when driving at full bore. The shifter is well-weighted and features positive engagement and minimal slop, but the knob did feel a bit chintzy and poorly put together – this is easily remedied in the aftermarket.
With the older technology powertrain – a great performer but without any modern direct injection or turbochargers – fuel economy isn’t the greatest, although it can be assumed that most buyers aren’t buying the 370Z for savings at the pumps. It’s rated for 13.3L/100KM in the city and 9.3L/100KM on the highway, and the observed figure over a week split those numbers, at 10.5L/100KM with a bias toward highway use. Fuel capacity is 71.9 litres, and premium fuel is required.
When it comes to putting the sport in sports car, the Nissan 370Z is a choice that manages to deliver fairly well. Since it’s been around for so long, it still has old-school hydraulic power steering. While the assist is overboosted at low speeds, it firms up nicely when pushed, and provides more road feedback than today’s average electric power assist setup. The double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension give the 370Z surefootedness in the corners, without making the ride quality too harsh. It’s a great basis for a daily driver, weekend road tripper, and summer track beast all at the same time.
The relatively short 2,550 millimetre (100.4 inch) wheelbase is a good bit stubbier than that of the Ford Mustang (reviewed here) or Chevy Camaro, and is actually 20 millimetres (0.8 inch) shorter than the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86. Interestingly enough, while it looks a good bit larger than the Toyobaru twins, both cars are within an inch of each other in terms of length. These dimensions keep handling response quick and dynamic, and getting the car to rotate in tight sections is easy as pie.
As fun as the 370Z is in the twisties, a few items could stand for improvement. During power application out of a corner, the limited slip differential helps with traction, but the viscous design is more susceptible to overheating and isn’t ideal for track use. Racers may want to look at upgrading to a Torsen or clutch-pack based limited slip diff. A curb weight of 1,556 kilograms (3,431 pounds) is definitely on the porkier side considering the size of the car – shedding a couple hundred pounds would go a long way to even further help driving dynamics.
Inside, there’s room for two occupants with a dashboard layout that’s reminiscent of the late 2000s. The infotainment and navigation isn’t up to par with the latest and greatest products, and there’s not even a suggestion of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Bluetooth integration was buggy and often required reconnecting phones in order to work properly. That said, the seats are comfortable and there’s power adjustment on the leather buckets. There’s no option for more heavily bolstered Recaro seats – that’s reserved for the NISMO trim – but the Touring Sport Coupe is more suited for daily use. Material selection features plenty of grey plastic, but fit and finish is well done, at least.
All told, the 2018 Nissan 370Z Touring Sport Coupe is an oldie, but a goodie. Even though it’s been around since the 2009 model year, it remains a competitive option against more modern and newer releases. Nowadays, a common complaint is the numbness and disengagement of new cars, and the 370Z is pretty much the last bastion of the way things were. It’s best served in the Sport Coupe trim, which retails for only $33,998 – $10,300 less than the Sport Touring. It still gets goodies like the 19-inch RAYS wheels, auto rev matching, big brakes, and limited slip differential. It skips out on things like navigation and heated leather seats, which are a small price to pay for such a large cost savings. With a new Infiniti Q60 coupe (reviewed here) released for the 2017 model year, it stands to reason that a new Z-car on the same platform is in the works. If it’s at least as good as the outgoing car, it’ll be a real winner.