In 2009, Nissan launched the current 370Z to replace what was one of the marque’s most compelling and attainable driver’s cars, the superb 350Z.
I first drove the latter model in roadster form and the coupe version in 2008, when it received some cosmetic updates. I was smitten by its classic shape, sonorous atmospheric V6 and robust six-speed manual gearbox.
When the 370Z launched, I was not particularly taken aback by its design nor its shortened wheelbase. Nonetheless, the model was here and it had to take the fight directly to the likes of the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK.
The 370Z was still fun to drive, but the automatic gearbox took away the involvement and I recommend the manual variant if you enjoy driving.
Eight years later and I am behind the wheel of the new, updated 370Z. Not much has changed, at least as far as the cabin is concerned.
Externally, though, the model receives new 19-inch wheels, darkened front and rear light clusters and a lick of metallic paint that resembles a red candy apple. Under the bonnet still lies the 3.7l V6 engine pushing out 245kW at 7,000r/min and 363Nm at 5,200r/min, all of which is channelled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Nosing the vehicle onto the road, a few things become apparent — the game has moved on significantly since the model was launched eight years ago. The steering column needs reach adjustment as the tilt-only adjustment means finding an optimum driving position is futile for the most part.
Then there is the lack of refinement, with the vehicle sounding particularly tinny when driving over less-than-smooth tarmac with tyre roar in particular permeating through the cabin.
However, all those anomalies are almost forgotten as soon as you grab the vehicle by the scruff of the neck. The engine might lag behind the latest raft of turbocharged models, but its raucous, old-school V6 note is most welcome.
Meanwhile, the hydraulic steering communicates where the wheels are pointing. Handling, too, is superb and the Z offers prodigious grip levels when hurled into corners.
There are other, quicker offerings in the segment, but none has the old-school charm of the 370Z. Many of the vehicles in this segment have become anodyne over the years and while the Z may not be the first port of call for coupe buyers, it still rewards the keen driver.
Just do yourself a favour and get the manual — you’ll thank me later.