‘PURE SPORTS CAR FUN AND EXCITEMENT’
The 2010 Nissan 370Z is pure sports car fun and excitement. It comes with bold sports car looks, plenty of power, glued to the road handling capability, and a cockpit befitting its excellent specs. It has it all at a reasonable price. I tested the 370Z with the Sport package and was very impressed with its power and performance. All new in model year 2009, the 2010 version of the 370Z continues to win over sports car minded consumers throughout the world.
The 2010 370Z’s dynamic styling offers dual benefits-a very aggressive appearance and a light, highly rigid structure for enhanced performance. Compared to the previous generation Z the wheelbase is 4in. shorter by moving the rear wheels forward in the 2nd. generation FM platform, the overall length is reduced by 2.7in. and at the same time the overall width has been increased by 1.3in. giving the new 370Z its improved aggressive stance.
The Z features aluminum door panels, along with an all-aluminum hood. At the same time the body structure was extensively revised for this generation design, improving front body torsion rigidity by 30%, a new front suspension cradle to reduce body lateral bending, a new 3-piece strut tower brace to improve steering precision and reaction time, a new rear structural reinforcement behind the seats to further increase rigidity, and an underbody ‘V-bar’ to help reduce rear lateral bending. Other enhancements include the use of a carbon fiber composite radiator housing and strengthening the rear fender and hatch areas.
The rear torsion rigidity is improved by up to 22% and rear vertical bending rigidity is improved by up to 30%. The result is enhanced overall solidity and handling capability. Even with all of the body strengthening measures the overall body-in white is lighter than the previous body-in-white. The when driving straight-ahead at speed, or when challenging steep curving roads, the new Z feels like you are inside a tight bass drum.
The 370Z taut exterior design incorporates intentional 240Z styling cues, a sleek aero-dynamic shape, a ‘dynamic motion’ feel with a dramatic cantilevered roof and a ‘low visual gravity’. The coefficient of drag is 0.30 (0.29 with the Sport Package). The 370Z also maintains the last generation’s zero front lift and zero rear lift when equipped with the rear spoiler, thanks to extensive aerodynamics efforts-including the ‘inverse area’ front bumper design which smoothes the flow of air to the sides of the car, while the rear design maximizes the control of air flow from the roof to the rear hatch. In addition, the front overhang was extended 1.2in. and more than 200 rear quarter panel patterns were made and wind tunnel tested to counter the negative aerodynamic effects of shortening the wheelbase.
One of the most distinctive features of the bold exterior design is the headlight/taillight treatment, which features a fierce ‘boomerang’ shape. High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-functional xenon headlights with auto on/off feature are standard.
The hood’s deep character lines continue over the steeply raked windshield into the cantilevered roof design. The intense broad-shouldered rear shape is highlighted by the integration of the boomerang taillights, wide, flared fenders and 4in. wide polished aluminum dual exhaust tips.
The 370Z’s sleek silhouette is defined by its upswept quarter window design that is echoed by the dynamic upward curvature in the lower rocker panel and the sense of the taut sheet metal molding itself around the wheels and frame. Attention to detail and functionality is evident throughout the exterior design, including the addition of a flashing (repeater lamp) side marker lamp/emblem, and the 370Z’s unique flush, vertical aluminum door handles. Performance body pieces are available with the optional Sport Package that my 370Z came with that includes a front chin spoiler and rear spoiler. From any angle, the new 370Z looks mean, aggressive, and ready to pounce!
Inside is also pure sports car cues enhancing the driving pleasure no matter the road or traffic conditions. The traditional 2-seat layout is built around a deeply scooped instrument panel with a full-length center console separating the cockpit and passenger seat. In the rear is an open cargo area with enhanced storage and accessibility. The design focus incorporates a ‘layer concept’ with an information layer, an operation layer and a holding layer.
The information layer provides enhanced visibility with easy access to all key data. The gauge cluster is once again attached to the steering column, so you don’t have to choose between the perfect steering wheel position of the tilt column and visibility of the gauges. The larger upper steering wheel opening in front of the gauges is designed to provide a good view of the readouts. Gauge size was increased over the previous generation design, including a 15% increase in the tachometer, and the gauge angle was adjusted for improved readability. The canted, auxiliary dash mounted instrument cluster retains the traditional 3-pod cluster with oil temperature, voltmeter and clock, while the 180mph speedometer, and 9,000rpm centered tachometer include an ‘initial sweep’ function, coming alive when you push the start button and light up the Z’s powerful engine.
The operation layer includes the steering wheel, shifter and switchgear. The steering wheel is a sporty, ‘oval’ 3-spoke design, which offers baseball-style stitching and large thumb grips and palm rest areas for improved feel on long drives. The surface of the leather-wrapped wheel is ‘shaved’ to provide a more kidney-like shape to fitter fit in the hand. The shifter was also redesigned with the manual transmission shifter padded in different areas to improve the accuracy of diagonal shifts and to feel softer in the hand for forward and backward motions. Both the steering wheel and shifter feel perfect during use.
The holding layer includes the seats, knee pads and door trim support. The driver’s seat is uniquely different from the passenger’s seat, with lower seat cushion cut-outs on the sides where the thighs rest-allowing you to push on the pedals without the seat fighting them. The seat also features an improved frame that helps it to better hold you in place during hard cornering which you will hunt for given the extreme handling ability that I will talk about later.
Both you and your passenger sit in seats that are structured with an anti-slip material in the main seating surface. The sporty woven cloth seats feature standard 8-way driver’s/4-way passenger manual adjustments, with heated 4-way power-adjustable leather-appointed seats optional. Adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints are standard.
The door armrests have been designed to provide extra support when cornering and the kneepads are better integrated to help you maintain the proper position while cornering.
In addition, the optional aluminum-trimmed pedals utilize rubber insert material to improve grip. The accelerator pedal is floor-mounted (versus hanging) to provide better contact with the foot, less effort to operate and easier pedal-to-pedal foot/heel movement. The brake pedal is a variable ratio design with enhanced rigidity and easy operation.
Interior packaging is also enhanced from the previous generation; including the removal of the rear strut brace that is replaced with a less intrusive structural bar reinforcement, and by adding new ‘shelf’ area behind the seats, creating an ideal area for storing items. A retractable hatch cover is also optional to increase security.
Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start/Stop, power windows with one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto-lock, a center console box with a new non-intrusive cover design, automatic climate control, rear window defogger with timer, two-12-volt power plugs, dual map lamps, light glove box and cargo area, three cupholders, intermittent wipers/washer, cruise-control with steering wheel-mounted controls, dual, lighted vanity mirrors, thick cut-pile carpeting with signature Z floor mats, aluminum door sill plates with lighted ‘Z’ logo, and an AM-FM-CD-AUX 4-speaker audio system with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls. Options not mentioned above include a 6-CD Bose audio system with 8-speakers including dual subwoofers, and MP3/WMA playback, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth and Homelink Universal transceiver. Also available is the enhanced Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with 7in. VGA touch-sensitive display, 9.3GB HDD Music Box, USB connectivity and iPod connection, XM NavTraffic with Real-Time Traffic Information and XM NavWeather, automatic phonebook download and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Many aspects of a sports car’s performance come down to the simple formulation of its power-to-weight ratio. The 370Z represents a major achievement on both sides of the equation versus the previous generation 350Z-with a net weight reduction of 95lbs., and a power increase of 25 horsepower. In addition, the center of gravity was lowered through the use of a lower engine position (-0.6in.) and lower driver hip point (-0.4in.) Rotating mass was reduced with a short carbon fiber composite driveshaft. These new changes increase acceleration and handling capability.
All 2010 370Z coupes utilize the fourth generation of Nissan’s award-winning VQ-series V6 engine. This potent 3.7 VQ37VHR aluminum alloy, DOHC engine with VVEL (variable valve event and lift) is rated at 332hp at 7,000rpm and 270lb.ft. of torque at 5,200rpm. Key to the enhanced performance is the VVEL system, which is able to optimize intake valve open/close movements, allowing the needed air to be sent quickly to the combustion chamber at the precisely optimized time. Since the VVEL system can adjust to open the valves slightly, it improves fuel efficiency by reducing camshaft friction and fuel waste. It also provides cleaner emissions by allowing for quicker warm-up of the catalyst and by stabilizing combustion when the engine is cool. This high-revving engine is a marvel of simple yet high-technology design and pushes the 370Z out to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.1sec.
The engine is backed by a choice of two advanced transmissions, both designed to improve your performance behind the wheel. The close ratio 6-speed manual includes an available synchronized downshift rev matching system that is fun and easy to use. It allows you to experience professional-like gear shift performance. The SynchroRev Match function automatically controls and adjusts engine speed when shifting to the exact speed of the next gear position, essentially ‘blipping’ the throttle to smooth out any up/down shifts. This not only allows you to focus more on braking and steering, it also improves vehicle balance and smoothness by reducing the typical ‘shock’ when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated by pushing the ‘Sport’ button next to the sifter for those drivers who prefer less vehicle intervention. When shut off you can use the higher or lower gears to go up to redline to speed up or slow down as you wish.
This system is standard as part of the optional Sport Package that I tested. It is useful when you want a smoother shifting pattern and ride with no bucking. When disengaged and in Sport mode, an S appears in the right center of the speedometer.
Overall shift feeling has also been improved with reduced vibration and noise, accomplished through improved lubrication, and a modification to the lever angle of the short-throw shifter. Putting the power down on the pavement is a standard, strong limited slip differential on the Sport Package model that I tested.
The 370Z’s 7-speed automatic with Downshift Rev Matching (DRM and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) is designed to offer quick, manual-like shifting when operated in manual mode with a target time of 0.5sec. between shifts. Drivers can use the standard paddle shifters or the shift lever. With optimized torque converter lock-up logic, the new 7-speed automatic feels more direct, like a manual transmission. The 7-speed’s wide gear ratios offer improved fuel efficiency (versus the previous 5-speed), while the Adaptive Shift Control is designed to adjust to each driver’s driving style. Fuel economy is rated at 18mpg/city and 26mpg for both transmissions.
While the new 370Z’s engine is sufficient and the shifting fun and simple, the real exciting part of owning and driving the car is it’s spectacular 4-wheel independent suspension. Wow! Response to my slightest steering wheel input is instantaneous, just like behind the wheel of a racecar, straight-ahead comfort is like riding on glass, and when you corner it feels like you have hit a brick wall. The well designed, comfortable sport bucket seats are cut deeply to keep you in place and that is also the reason Nissan put knee pads on either side of the center console and supports on the door trim.
Cornering the new 370Z is awesome, exciting and fun. Getting you adrenaline pumping is quick as you attack curving roads easily. Turn off the standard Vehicle Stability Control system by pushing a dash-mounted button and the rear slides out the get the optimum push coming out of a hard corner. The car feels so neutral and well balanced it seems like you are riding on rails. No vibrations, no harshness as you put the 370Z through it paces. The new wider front and rear track gives the car more of a nimble feeling when getting around slower moving city traffic.
This world-class handling ability is the result of Nissan’s upgraded suspension that reduces weight, improves strength and improves camber change and lateral displacement.
The double-wishbone front suspension replaces the lower multi-link setup of the previous 350Z and uses lighter forged aluminum arms and a lightweight rigid aluminum-alloy cradle, along with a lighter stabilizer bar with a 35% improved lever ratio. The four-link rear suspension is also stiffer and lighter, with the rear cradle entirely integrated into a single part (no welding). ‘High response’ twin-tube shock absorbers are utilized on each corner, with ride comfort improved through reduced shock friction. With front and rear suspension cradles there is absolutely no noise, vibration or harshness during your long or short drives, on solid or broken pavement. Like I said earlier, it is tighter than a drum.
The new 370Z Sport Package model rides on large 19X8in. front and 19X9in. rear Ray’s lightweight forged aluminum custom wheels that are wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza REO50A 245/40ZR19in. front, and 275/35ZR19in. rear tires.
Pinpoint accuracy guiding the 370Z around slowing moving traffic, straight-ahead and through the turns are easily accomplished via the vehicle-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack & pinion design steering system that provides improved, quicker response. Unwanted steering kickback and vibrations are reduced through the use of a solenoid valve that acts like a damper when there is a harsh impact load. On-center feel is excellent and feel for the road is superb.
The new 370Z Sport stops as fast as it accelerates thanks to the standard 4-wheel vented disc brake system that includes ABS, BA and EBD. The optional sport package includes Nissan Sport Brakes with 14in. front and 13.8in. rear rotors clamped with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminum calipers with Nissan logo. The optional NISMO Performance Brake Pads further enhanced my stopping power. This set of brakes really enabled me to hit a corner faster than I would normally since it grabbed so well and cleanly.
The Nissan 370Z’s long list of standard safety features includes the Nissan Advanced Airbag system with dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seatbelt and occupant classification sensors, front-seat-mounted side impact airbags, roof-mounted side-impact airbags, seatbelts with pretentioners and load limiters, active head restraints, Zone Body Construction with front/rear crumple zones, Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer system and a Tire Pressure Monitoring system.
The new 370Z coupe with the Sport Package really covers all the bases compared to any other world-class, two seat sports car. It is easy and fun to drive and can really get your heard pumping when you want to take it to the edge of its capabilities.
The base price for the coupe is $29,990.00 and my Sport Package was listed at $34,605.00 including destination charges. Test drive one and you’ll agree.
Price: Base $29,990 As-Tested $34,605
Type: Compact Coupe
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Two Seaters
Length: 167.2 in.
Width: 72.6 in.
Height: 51.8 in.
Wheel Base: 100.4 in.
Curb Weight: 3232 lbs.
Gross Weight: 3968 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 54.6 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.4 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.9 in.
Luggage Capacity: 6.9 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 7 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 2
Number of Cylinders: 6
Engine Size: 3.7 liters
Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 332 hp
Max Horsepower: 7000 rpm
Torque: 270 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 5200 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 32.8 ft.
0-60mph: 5.1 seconds
Fuel Tank Capacity: 19 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 18 mpg / 26 mpg / 21 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 342 mi. / 494 mi. / 399 mi.