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2009 Nissan 370Z Touring Review & Test Drive

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Nissan Z enthusiasts are really going to enjoy the all-new 370Z model with more cutting-edge styling, more power, more performance and an interior that is more refined and loaded with the latest creature comforts and safety systems.

In its first full redesign of the iconic Nissan Z since its re-introduction as a 2003 model, nearly every piece and component has been rethought or redesigned-shorter wheelbase, greater use of lightweight body materials, new engine with more horsepower and improved fuel economy, a new 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters, a world’s first synchronized downshift rev matching system for the 6-speed manual transmission, new high quality driver-centered interior and new available technology features.

2009nissan370bheadonactionleft01smallThe 2009 370Z’s dynamic new styling offers dual benefits-a more aggressive appearance and a lighter, tighter structure for enhanced performance. The new Z’s wheelbase is nearly four inches shorter than the previous generation and is accomplished by moving the rear wheels forward in the 2nd generation FM platform, while overall length is reduced by 2.7 inches. At the same time, the overall width has been increased by 1.3 inches, the rear track by 2.2 inches and overall height reduced by 0.3 inches, giving the 370Z a much more aggressive stance.

The more compact exterior dimensions and expanded use of lightweight materials help reduce weight. For the first time, the Z features aluminum door panels, along with an aluminum hood and an aluminum hatch. At the same time, the body structure was extensively revised, improving front body torsional rigidity by 30%; a new front suspension cradle to reduce front body lateral bending; new rear structural reinforcements; 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 of the rear fender and hatch areas.

2009nissan370beautysidelowangletwo01smallRear body torsional 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, it feels so tight. Even with all of the new body strengthening, the new Z is lighter than the last model.

Along with its new structure and stance, the 370Z has a tout new skin-one that looks completely new, yet completely Z. The exterior design incorporates intentional 240Z styling cues, a sleek aerodynamic shape, a ‘dynamic motion’ feel with a dramatic cantilevered roof (with Nissan GT-R styling cues) and a low visual gravity.

The coefficient of drag is 0.30 (0.29 with the Sport package), the same as the previous model. The new Z also maintains the previous model’s zero front lift and zero rear lift when equipped with the optional rear spoiler, thanks to extensive aerodynamic efforts-including an ‘inverse area’ front bumper design which smoothes the flow of air to the sides of the vehicle, while the rear design maximizes the control of air flow from the roof to the rear hatch. In addition, the front overhang was extended 1.2 inches and more than 200 rear quarter panel patterns were made and wind tunnel tested to counter the negative aerodynamic effects of shortening the wheelbase (versus the 350Z). The 370Z incorporates all of the signature Z elements-the long nose, canopy cockpit, muscular fenders, and vertical door handles.

2009nissan370bheadonactionup01smallOne of the most distinctive features of the bold new exterior design is the headlight/taillight treatment, which feature a fierce ‘boomerang’, or scalpel head shape.

High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-functional xenon headlights with auto on/off feature come standard.

The hood’s deep character lines continue over the steeply raked windshield into the new, cantilevered roof design. The intense broad-shouldered rear shape is highlighted by the integration of the taillights and the wide, flared rear fenders. Two 4in. polished stainless steel exhaust tips warn drivers behind you that you mean business when challenged.

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 styling, including the addition of a flashing (repeater lamp) side marker lamp/emblem. The Sport package comes with the front chin spoiler and rear spoiler. The new stunning design is right on the mark as many enthusiasts stopped me to take a closer look at the car when I was parked. Just looking at the new Z brings a smile to your lips.

2009nissan370zfrontseats01smallThe interior only broadens that smile as it continues the Z tradition of enhancing the driving pleasure no matter the road or traffic conditions offer. As an everyday sports car, every aspect of the interior needs to address two needs-support and enhanced driver performance during spirited driving times and it must offer high levels of comfort and utility for normal commuting and around-town activities.

The traditional 2-seat layout is built around a deeply scooped instrument panel with a full-length center console separating the driver and passenger’s seat. In the rear is an open cargo area with enhanced storage and accessibility from two deep open storage trays, and a cargo cover for enhanced security.

The design focus incorporates a ‘layer concept’, with an information layer, an operation layer, and a holding layer.

2009nissan370zauxiliarygauges01small_edited-1The information layer provides enhanced visibility with easy access to al key date. The gauges are once again attached to the steering column so you don’t have to choose between the perfect steering wheel position and visibility of the gauges. All of the main gauges are completely redesigned and larger. Gone is the electro-luminescent cluster in favor of a blacked-out with white numerals, 180mph speedometer, the same for the centered 9,000rpm tachometer that is 15% larger than last year, wears a hood for better visibility, and gauge angle has been adjusted for more viewing. Also charged is the left side gauge for engine 2009nissan370zinstrumentcluster01smalltemperature and fuel. You now see an aluminum bar graph showing both readouts easily. LED warning lamps are surrounding the new cluster to warn of system failure. The upper steering wheel opening in front of the gauges was also enlarged to provide a better view of the readouts. Still beautifully mounted on the center of the dashboard shelf and canted toward you are larger, auxiliary gauges for oil temperature, voltmeter and clock. This new configuration only makes the sports car driving experience more enjoyable and fun.

When you turn the dash mounted ignition button both red needles come alive and cycle, furthering the excitement level as you heart starting quickening.

2009nissan370zcockpit01smallThe operation layer includes the steering wheel, shifter and switchgear. The steering wheel is an all-new ‘oval’ 3-spoke design, which offers baseball-style stitching, improved 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 better fit in your hand. It did feel perfect, straight-ahead, or when cornering. Buttons for the audio system and cruise-control are located on the wheel. All other buttons, dials and levers are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.

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 the driver 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 cornering. It also offers a 0.4 inch lower hip point than the previous Z driver’s set.

2009nissan370zdoortrim01smallBoth the driver and passenger’s seat 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 standard with the 370Z Touring model. Adjustable front seat Active Head Restraints are also 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. My loaded Z Touring model came with orange Persimmon synthetic suede and leather seats, 8-way adjustable for the driver and 4-way powered for the passenger. These new armrests matched the color of the seats to bring in more harmony with color besides the black, soft-touch material of the dashboard, plus a special touch of black leather with white stitching on the center stack top and bottom. A circular aluminum bezel surrounds the gated automatic or manual transmission shifter.

In addition, the available aluminum pedal pads utilize a new rubber insert material to improve grip and the accelerator pedal and brake pedal are completely new. The accelerator pedal I snow floor-mounted to provide better contact with the foot, less effort to operate and easier pedal-to-pedal foot/heel movement. The new brake pedal is a new variable ratio design with enhanced rigidity and easier operation. This brings sport car driving up to a higher level in the 370Z.

Interior space is also enhanced from before by removing the larger rear strut tower brace and replacing it with less intrusive structural reinforcements, and by adding a new ‘shelf’ area behind the seats, creating an ideal area for storing personal items. A retractable cover is standard on the 370Z Touring model. A locking glove compartment has been added. I am 6 foot 3 inches and had to be careful to hit my head on the top of the door frame but once inside I had plenty of leg, head and elbow room for a comfortable and controlled driving experience.

Standard interior comfort and convenience features include Nissan’s Intelligent Key with Push Button Start/Stop, power windows with one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto-lock feature, a center console box with a new non-intrusive cover design, automatic climate control, rear window defroster with timer, two 12-volt power plugs, four cupholders (two in the door, two in the center console), dual overhead map lamps, and a AM-FM-CD/AUX 4-speaker audio system with illuminated steering wheel-mounted controls. The 370Z Touring model adds standard 4-way power adjustable heated synthetic suede and leather-appointed sport seats with adjustable lumbar support, 6-CD Bose audio system with eight speakers (include dual subwoofers) and MP3/WMA playback, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, kick plate with aluminum Z emblem, knee pad on center console for sporty driving, rear cargo floor carpet, floor mats with the Z emblem, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, and passenger seat map pocket. An optional Navigation Package includes touch-screen Nissan Hard Drive Navigation system with XM NavTraffic with Real-Time Traffic Information, a 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive and Interface System for iPod.
This all-new designed interior really gave me the feeling that I was behind the wheel of a very special sports car, everything to make my drive more enjoyable and safer was readily in evidence, plus the new fit and finish were as good as it gets in any two-seat sports car.

Under the skin and out of sight are big changes to the all-new 2009 370Z.
Since so many aspects of a sports car’s performance comes down to the simple formulation of power-to-weight, the engineering teams behind the development of the new 370Z made that their priority focus.

On the weight reduction side of the equation, they put the new Z on an extremely restrictive diet. Beyond just the pounds shed, every component throughout the vehicle was scrutinized. For example, fuel tank weight was reduced by 13.9lb.s, the exhaust system by 3.8lbs, the audio system by 3.5lbs. and the 19in. wheels by approximately 7lbs. for each front and 6lbs. for the rears-an estimated 225lbs. total.

Along with the reduced weight, the center of gravity was lowered through the use of a lower engine positioning (-0.6in.) and lower driver hip point (-0.4in.). Rotating mass was reduced with a short carbon-fiber composite driveshaft. All of these weight savings were needed, of course, to counter the added weight of the Z’s enhanced body structure and new technology and safety systems. The net weight reduction is 95lbs. for the new 370Z.

2009nissan370zengine01smallOn the power side of the targeted class-leading power-to-weight goal, the new Z picks up 26hp utilizing the fourth generation of Nissan’s award-winning VQ-series V6. the new 3.7 liter VQ37VHR engine with VVEL (variable valve event and lift) is now rated at 332hp at 7,000rpm, and 270lb.ft. of torque at 5,200rpm.

You can really feel the extra horsepower during hard launch as along with its larger displacement, the new engine gives better power delivery all the way up to the 7,500rpm redline, improved low-end power and more high-end torque. About 35% of the engine’s parts are new.

Since the VVEL system can adjust to open the valves slightly, it improves fuel efficiency by reducing camshaft friction and fuel waste. The engine also has a new, throatier growl from the dual exhaust system due to reduced back pressure that only makes the drive more enjoyable.

The new engine is backed by a choice of two new advanced transmissions, both designed to improve performance. the new close-ratio 6-speed manual includes an available ‘world’s first’ synchronized downshift rev matching system which allows drivers of any skill level 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 improves vehicle balance and smoothness by reducing the typical ‘shock’ when the clutch is engaged. The system can be deactivated with a button next to the shifter when you prefer less vehicle intervention. This advanced system is offered as part of the optional Sport Package. Furthermore, overall shift feeling has been improved with reduced vibration and noise (accomplished through improved lubrication), and a modification to the lever angle of the short-throw shifter.

The new 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. You can use the standard paddle shifters or the shift lever. It is fast, fun and easy to use with crisp faster shifts than I thought possible from an automatic. With new torque converter lock-up logic, the new 7-speed automatic feels more direct, like a manual transmission. The new 7-speed’s wide gear ratios offer improved fuel efficiency, while the ASC is designed to adjust to your driving style. The Sport Package includes a viscous, limited slip differential that really puts the power down to the pavement. A sports car of this caliper should always be equipped with a limited slip. The combination of the new 3.7 liter engine, and the advanced new transmissions puts the Z solidly at the front of the class in terms of responsive acceleration. just add the enhanced handling from the revised suspension-which provides better grip, reduced understeer, improved road holding ability, reduced impact harshness and a better overall ride, all help to push the 370Z to 60mph from a standstill in just 4.9sec., a new standard for thrilling performance. Estimated EPA figures for both transmissions are 18mpg/city and 26mpg/highway, about 1% higher than last year.

Besides quicker acceleration, the new, revised fully independent suspension reduces weight, improves strength and improves camber change and lateral displacement. You feel as if you are riding on rails. It just sticks to your chosen path, I had a tough time shaking the rear loose on the steepest of curves.

2009nissan370brearactiontwo01smallThe new speed-sensitive power rack & pinion steering system now has a lower gear that improved the feel from the road, and exhibited very quick reaction time from my inputs. At slow speeds you’ll really have to turn the wheel with authority, almost no power assist. The reworked system also includes redesigned mounting bushings, a column insulator to improve response, and a solenoid valve that acts like a damper when there are harsh impacts. The standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system has also been revised with new electronic hardware and all-new logic. You can turn the system off when you want to take the new Z to the edge and even beyond.

That is made possible by the new double-wishbone front suspension that replaces the lower multi-link setup in the 350Z and uses lighter forged aluminum arms, a lightweight rigid aluminum-alloy cradle, a lighter, link stabilizer bar with a 35% improved lever ratio, and new high-response shock absorbers. The new 3-piece strut tower brace stiffens and quickens the front’s response.

2009nissan370braketirewheel01smallThe 4-link rear suspension is also now stiffer and lighter, with the steel rear cradle now entirely integrated into a single part (no welding). Newly tuned stabilizer bar and high response shocks improve ride comfort through reduced shock friction. The new rear cylindrical brace behind the seats is attached to the sides and further stiffens the rear setup. Handling is fantastic like I said before. I haven’t tested anything so far this year that out handles the new 370Z’s suspension for grip and a smooth ride. It is so neutral!

Further enhancing the spectacular ride and handling are the standard wheel and tire package on the new Z. Up front are 18X8in. 5-spoke lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/50R18 front and 245/45R18in. rear Yokahama ADVAN sport maximum performance summer tires.

Also available as part of the optional Sport Package are 19X9 front and 19X10in. RAYS forged lightweight aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza RE950A 245/40R19 front and 275/35R19in. tires.

Quickly and safely slowing you down from speed is an already advanced braking system that has been upgraded to include improved overall brake feel, better fade resistance and improved noise, vibration and harshness (VNH). With adoption of the new variable ratio brake pedal, pedal stroke feel is more direct and linear. The standard 4-wheel vented disc system includes ABS, EBD and BA. The optional Sport Package includes Nissan Sport Brakes with large 14in. front and 13.8in. rotors (versus 12.6in. front/12.1in. rear standard rotors) with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminum calipers.

2009nissan370zbadge01smallThe Nissan 370Z’s long list of standard safety features includes the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags, with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, front seat-mounted side impact air bags, roof-mounted side-impact air bags, seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, active head restraints, Zone Body Construction with front and rear crumple zones, energy absorbing steering column, slide away brake pedal, body side beams, Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System, Vehicle Security System, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Wow, what a fabulous ride from Nissan. The all-new 2009 370Z Touring is at the head-of-class for under $36,000.00 priced sports cars. The base 370Z starts at $29,000.00 and is also at the head of that price segment.

I haven’t had so much fun since I tested the new C6 Corvette coupe, and the money savings are more than $10,000.00.

COPYRIGHT: 2009: HARVEY SCHWARTZ

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SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP (Touring Auto – as tested) $35,760
Type: Compact Coupe
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Two Seaters

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 167.2 in. Width: 72.8 in.
Height: 51.8 in. Wheel Base: 100.4 in.
Curb Weight: 3314 lbs. Gross Weight: 3968 lbs.
Interior
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

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6 Base Engine Size: 3.7 liters
Base 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: 4.9 seconds (auto trans.)

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 19 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 26 mpg / mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 342 mi. / 494 mi. / mi.

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