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First Drive: 2014 Nissan 370Z (Manual)

Nissan 370Z

In the Automotive Industry, Sport Cars are much like the Fashion world, one season it’s trendy, modern, and fresh & then next season it’s found in the bargain bin at the discount store. Much goes the same for the 2014 Nissan 370Z.

After its debut in 2002, the Nissan 350Z was the hottest sports car to have. 5 years later or so Nissan upped the 350Z to the 370Z changing out the 3.5L V6 to a more engaging 3.7L V6 – opening up more horsepower which equaled more fun. But now, for 2014, the 370Z is starting to become sooo last season.

With a little bit of Botox enrichment, the 370Z, oddly still looks good for its age. Nissan did what they could to keep the 370Z looking with the times by adding LED daytime running lamps, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, and LED taillights. These minor updates keeps the 370Z looking sharp without losing too much of its original characteristics. Our tester came alluringly in a Gun Metallic paint and showing off the $3,030 Sport Package. This package enhances the overall exterior and mechanical with 19” Rays Forged Aluminum Wheels, rear mounted spoiler, Sport Brakes with red brake calipers, Tuned Sport Shocks, and a Viscous Limited Slip Differential.

The Sport Package truly does boost the 370Z overall stance and curb appeal. The 19” Rays Wheels are spectacular and even though the red brake calipers are a bit flashy – they add a contemporary sports car look. But wait till you see our glitzy orange interior…

While the interior design is starting become repetitive in some of Nissan’s/Infiniti’s fleet, we felt it dressed up the interior dynamics. As you sit in the driver seat there is a sensation of Nissan heritage and technology. The dials, gauges and the navigation software appear to be from 5 years ago. Save the $2,150 on the Navigation Package, they went completely unused – besides, some of the best roads are found without a map to guide you.

Our 370Z came with a very bold interior; orange leather and suede seats. This added some funkiness – which we liked. Sure, they might clash with your shirt, but they are very comfortable; though not very well plastered. They are also power adjustable with a heated seat feature for added coziness. The cabin is also attractively festooned with orange suede door inserts, a black leather center infotainment, and silver painted trimmings. For the size, interior space is decent – there’s room to move about and you won’t feel too claustrophobic.  There is limited storage space – not even a place for your sunglasses or cell phone – as for the trunk; well there really isn’t much of one.

The interior was fairly groovy, but there were other problems we couldn’t help but notice. The leather wrapped steering wheel felt odd. It had strange straightened points that made it uncomfortable to steer and the leather felt like rubber. The steering controls are oddly laid out and are difficult to navigate while on the move and the voice activation software really starts to show its age – there is a step by step with each command. And if you want to change lanes, don’t bother looking over your shoulder, you won’t see anything.

If you love to hear the sound of your own engine, then you’ll love exhaust notes the 370Z emits. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself at the stop light revving the motor. That signature rumble comes from a 3.7L V6. That V6 puts out 332 horsepower of energetic fun, and with 270lb-ft of torque, it takes a quick 5 seconds to 60 mph – if you can shift fast enough. Find a good road, with no photo radar, and you could achieve its top speed of 150 mph.

Our tester came properly with a 6-speed manual transmission and a rear-wheel drive chassis with a limited slip differential. When it comes to driving the 370Z, it’s immediately noted that this is not designed for the everyday driver. While we enjoy a good drive, especially with a manual, the clutch is a different story. Engaging and disengaging the clutch is stiff, which makes it hard on the knees. Even the gear changes have rough entry points. And, the steering is tight, which great for handling precision, but not very good at lower speed turning and parking.

The handling is responsive in the hard turns and the suspension affords low body roll. Leave the traction control on and the limited slip differential will keep the 370Z in line if you get too gas pedal happy. When you engaged ‘S-Mode’ it generates rev matching – that allows for quicker down shifting and a more vibrant driving style. If you find yourself on a downhill twisty road the sport brakes are will keep you from going off.

The more we drove the 370Z the more it felt of a touring car than a sports car… something you spend your weekends to get away in. The engine may produce a chunk of horsepower and make a good sound, but it doesn’t harvest that ‘excitement’ we were expecting. At low rpms, between 2,000 and 3,500 there is a sense of not using all the power; especially in 2nd gear. The torque really doesn’t kick in till about 4,000 rpms – we found ourselves flooring the throttle to get the rpm’s up. By the time it got to an enjoyable state, it was time to shift up without redlining to the 8,000 rpm’s.

The 370Z is not meant for the everyday commuter stuck in traffic on a Wednesday morning. But, for someone that prefers their dose of pain every day, you can take comfort in the smooth suspension, quiet cabin, and decent fuel economy. We averaged roughly 21 mpg combined on Premium Grade fuel and 300 miles to burn.

Now, don’t get us wrong… We liked the Nissan 370Z; sure its bit last season and it’s hard to drive, but with sports cars come sacrifices, right? Inside out, it still looks good for 2014; it’s comfortable and roomy-ish. It’s a great weekend car to take on a small road trips into the mountains; just don’t make it more than a day’s journey, your suitcase won’t fit in the trunk.

Price (As-Tested):
2014 Nissan 370Z Touring: $35,270
Destination: $790
Featured Options:
Carpeted Trunk Mat: $95
Carpeted Floor Mats: $125
Nissan Navigation System: $2,150
Sport Package: $3,030
Grand Total: $41,460

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