2013 Nissan 370Z

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Back in 1969, Datsun (Nissan now) answered the muscle car with a sports car – the 240Z. It was lighter – and far more agile – than the hulking American straight-line tire-fryers of the day. People snapped them up – especially as gas prices went up (and the original muscle cars began to die off) in the early ’70s.

By the ’90s, the Z-car had become a high-dollar exotic: $44k for a 300ZX turbo in ’96 – that’s  equivalent to $64k today. People stopped snapping them up. The Z was – temporarily – retired. Nissan recognized the mistake and corrected it in 2003, when the Z returned.

Like the original 240Z, the ’03 350Z car was a proper sports car – and though not cheap, it wasn’t impossibly expensive, either: $26k to start in 2003 – equivalent to about $32k today. This made it a deal relative to, say, a Corvette – which had a base price back then of $43k and change – equivalent to about $53k today.

The same dynamic exists today – ten years after the return of the Z in 2003: The ’13 370Z is still a helluva sports car – and it’s also still a helluva deal relative to a new Corvette (or Porsche).

Some critics point out that it’s also still mostly the same car today as it was three years ago – and that’s certainly true, too. But change isn’t always for the better. Don’t forget what happened to the Z car in the ’90s. The next-generation Z – probably coming our way sometime in 2014 – might not be as purposeful, as pure – or as affordable – as this one still is.

Which means, it might be smart to get one of these while you still can.

WHAT IT IS

The 370Z is the latest generation of Nissan’s famous Z car, which dates back to 1969. The current car, like the original car, is an aggressive and snug-fitting hatchbacked two-seater – with a free revving six up front and power flowing (as it always should in a sports car) to the rear wheels out back.

Unlike the original, the current Z is available in both hardtop coupe and convertible versions.

The coupe starts at $33,120 with 332 hp 3.7 liter V-6 and six-speed manual transmission; opt for the seven-speed automatic and the price goes up slightly to $34,420. Touring versions of the coupe start at $37,820 with the manual and $39,120 with the automatic.

There is also a higher-performance NISMO option for the coupe. Order this package and you’ll get a 350 hp version of the 3.7 liter V-6, track-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, “summer” wheel and tire package, standard limited slip differential and unique exterior bodywork, including front and rear fascias and larger rear spoiler.

Convertibles start at $41,470 – and somewhat oddly, the base model convertible comes standard with the seven-speed automatic transmission. If you want a manual transmission in the convertible, you have to step up to the Touring trim – and the price goes up to $44,170.

A Touring version of the 370Z convertible with the automatic tops out at $45,470.

Competitors include other two-seat high-performance sports cars such as the Chevy Corvette ($49,600 to start), BMW Z4 ($48,650)  and Porsche Boxster/Cayman ($49,500 and $51,900 respectively).

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2013

2013 is mostly a carryover year – with a few small tweaks here and there, the most obvious being new-design vertical LED daytime running lamps. This is the first time the Z has come with DRLs – and they cannot be turned off.

Otherwise, the changes are limited to new-design wheels for the base coupe, revised shock tuning if you order the optional Sport package and additional speakers if you order the premium Bose audio system.

Buyer’s note: Nissan hasn’t said anything publicly, but 2013 may be the final year before the Z car gets a major update – for good, bad or ugly.

WHAT’S GOOD

Toned and tight, like Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

Coupe starts out about $15-$16k less than Corvette, Z4 and Porsche Boxster/Cayman.

Handles as crisply as any of them – better than some. And it’s  quicker than most of them.

Not-terrible gas mileage.

Magnificently mechanical six-speed gearbox (with rev-matching downshifts).

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Stevie Wonder blind spots to the sides; Pulling into traffic from side streets can be a leap of faith.

In convertible versions, you lose much of the hatchback coupe’s usable cargo area. You also pay some $3k more to get the stick.

Nissan has caved on the always-on DRL thing. Here’s to hoping they don’t cave on the Belt Minder buzzer thing (more below). 

UNDER THE HOOD

The standard engine in the ’13 Z is a 3.7 liter DOHC V-6 pegged at 332 hp. In NISMO tune, the engine makes 350 hp.

It’s the latest, largest and most powerful version of Nissan’s “VQ” series V-6, an engine that’s been used in the Maxima, Altima and some Infiniti models for several years now. The VQ has an established reputation as a durable, smooth and very reliable powerplant – and in this application, can and will safely spin to 7,500 RPM.

Compared with several of its direct competitors, it is also an impressively potent powerplant.

For example, the $48,650 (to start) BMW Z4 comes with a 2.0 liter four. It’s turbocharged – but that still only gets you 240 hp – almost 100 fewer hp than the 370Z gives you for about $15k less.  The Z4 is reasonably quick – zero to 60 in just under 6 seconds – but the 370 is much quicker – zero to 60 in about 5 seconds flat. To match the Z’s moves in the BMW, it’s necessary to step up to the $55,150 Z3 3.0, which has 300 hp and can do 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. But then, you could buy the NISMO version of the 370 – decisively smoke the Z4 3.0 – and still have about $12k left in your pocket.

A Porsche Boxster starts at $49,500 and for that you get a 2.7 liter,  265 hp flat six and 5.4 seconds to 60. Step up to the $60,900 Boxster S and you get a larger, stronger 3.4 liter six making 315 hp that propels the Porsche to 60 in 4.9 seconds.

It’s just slightly quicker than the $32k 370Z.

The $51,900 to start Cayman coupe comes standard with a 2.9 liter, 265 hp boxer six and 5.5 second 0-60 capability. Once again, in order to achieve performance parity with the Z in the Porsche, it’s necessary to step up to the $62,100 Cayman S which – like the Boxster S  – just barely (0-60 in 4.9 seconds) out-runs the $32k 370 Z.

The Chevy Corvette is probably the only direct competitor that decisively beats the Z in a straight-up zero to 60 drag race, without needing to step up to its optional engine. It comes standard with a 430 hp 6.2 liter V-8 and is capable of a very quick 4.5 second to 60 run. Still, the base Corvette starts at almost $50k ($49,600) a sum you’d be hard-pressed to spend on a 370 with every possible option, including the NISMO performance enhancements.

Gas mileage is 18 city, 26 highway – not half bad for a high-performance sports car. For some comparison, the V-8 Corvette rates 16 city, 26 highway. The turbo’d BMW Z4 does do considerably better – than both – with a fairly impressive 22 city, 34 highway posting. But the Z4 2.0 also costs several thousand more up front, so it’ll take a good long while before the BMW’s at-the-pump savings amount to much.

And don’t forget: The Z4 2.0 isn’t nearly as quick as the 370Z.

Transmission-wise, you can choose either a six speed manual – with driver-selectable, computer-controlled rev-matching downshifts – or a seven-speed automatic with manual mode and F1-style paddle shifters.

All 370Zs are rear-wheel-drive and so, burnout (and tail out) friendly.

ON THE ROAD

The Z is often stacked up against the Chevy Corvette – a legitimate comparison, given that they’re both front-engined, RWD two-seaters – but the Nissan is a physically much smaller car overall. Both have intimate, two-seater interiors but the Z-car is about 8 inches shorter end to end (167.2 inches vs. 174.6 inches) and its wheelbase is only 100.4 inches vs. the ‘Vette’s 105.7 inches. The Corvette – though an excellent handler – is also a handful. It feels big, because it is big.

And of course, the Corvette is powered by a huge V-8 engine with more raw power than the fiercest of ’60s-era muscle cars. It’s also much more expensive, as already discussed: Nearly $50k to start and easily $55-$60k with a few options.

So, it’s apples and oranges.

The Z feels closest to the Lotus Elise in terms of lightness on its feet, its instant snap-to reflexes and push-it-til-you’re-chicken cornering prowess – as well as its quickness. But Lotus isn’t selling new Elises right now.  The Elise – and the Exige – are no longer being produced because they could not meet “smart” air bag requirements, among other reasons. The only new Lotus you can buy is the $64k Evora – and its price puts out of the 370’s orbit and makes any direct comparison unfair.  

The Porsche Boxster/Cayman and BMW Z4 are also superb corner carvers but their base engines don’t quite git ‘er done when the gas pedal goes down.

And don’t forget what they cost, too.

One of the other appealing things about the Z is that its big V-6 is as docile as a Maxima’s when you’re just puttering around. In stop-and-go traffic, a torquey six like this is preferable to a little four – as in the Lotus – that doesn’t make much power until you spin it past 4,000 RPM.

The Z also offers some serious track-minded equipment for when you’re not stuck in stop–and-go traffic, most notably the SynchroRev Match system for the six-speed manual transmission. It blips the throttle for you in between gear changes, matching engine revs to the speed/gear you’ve selected. The NISMO brake upgrade, meanwhile, will cut the car’s stopping distance from 60 MPH to just over 100 feet, about the same performance as the six-figure GT-R supercar.

A not-so-fun feature is the limited visibility to either side. The coupe’s steeply raked roofline and micro-sized rear quarter windows – which are completely obscured if you have the seats pushed back much – look absolutely stunning from the outside but can make it difficult to see to your left and right when you’re inside, as when rying to make a right or left turn into traffic. Even where I live – in rural Virginia where the roads are mostly open and you don’t have to seize the moment to dart into an intersection – the Z’s blind spots can be unsettling.

Same issue as far as seeing what’s behind you. There’s just that narrow slit of flat glass, steeply raked. Trying to scope out what’s behind you can sometimes be like peering through a skylight in your living room.

On the upside, the door-mounted rearview mirrors are very good, with a wide range of adjustment. In addition to improving your rearward visibility, you can use them to visually caress the hunky, 911-style rear fender flares.

AT THE CURB 

While the 2003 350Z was intended to resurrect the spirit of the original 1969 240Z, I think the restyled 370Z’s shape conjures the appearance of the first Z-car much more directly. You can see the old car in the shape of the new car’s upper canopy, its rear quarter glass and the outline of its fenders – as well as its overall squat – which is much wider and aggressive-looking than either the original or the clamshell-looking 350Z.

The interior is likewise a homage to the original – with a hooded three pod secondary analog gauge cluster (including oil temperature gauge) sitting on top of the dash, to the right of the main cluster and canted the driver’s way. It’s very similar to the early Z’s layout. The fuel level and coolant temperature gauges use modern LED readouts and are mounted to the left of the main cluster. You sit facing a big, centrally located tach and 185 mph speedo off to its right – the ensemble finished with titanium-looking trim and red-orange backlighting.

Just under the tach is a digital LED gear indicator – manual models, too – which was probably inspired by high-performance motorcycles that also have this feature, so you can establish for sure what gear you’re in by quickly glancing at the display. On the track, where fractions of a second count, stuff like this matters. Another nice feature is the AC vent built into each door panel. These help direct cool (or warm) air where it’s needed – plus they just look cool, too.

From a functional point-of-view, there’s is very little to complain about (well, ok, one thing; see below) and a great deal to like. Especially the way it’s all put together – which is top drawer and not only that, nicer than you’ll find in several much more costly cars – including the current Corvette, which seems (to me) a little low-rent, interior-wise, for a $50k-plus car.

In the Z, you’ll see  what appear to be hand-fitted sections of leather on the center console and dash – and even the door armrests are softly padded – to mention just two of the many unexpectedly fine detail touches you will discover in this car. Another notable design feature is the way the entire main gauge cluster tilts with the steering wheel – so you don’t have to choose comfort or being able to read the instruments.

Though it is a compact two-seater, the Z’s designers also endowed this car with a surprising amount of  storage space – including two large cubbies behind the front seats, a pop-open cubby on the central stack and a modular storage bin between the seats, with removable cupholder insert.

Pop the rear hatch and there’s yet more storage/cargo space – 6.9 cubic feet, total, for the coupe (convertibles have a conventional trunk that ‘s also a lot smaller, with just 4.2 cubic feet of capacity).

Technology/gadgetry includes Bluetooth audio streaming, hard-drive based Nav system with real-time traffic updates and a 9.3 Gig music storage hard drive.

THE REST

In addition to its handsomely executed interior, the 370Z is beautifully finished on the outside, too – including areas not immediately visible, such as the inside door jambs and underside of the hood. No not-quite-finished (or not clear-coated) undersides on this car.

Convertibles have a form-fitted soft top with multiple layers of insulation. Very little road/wind noise gets in, even at 80 MPH-plus highway speeds.

The only objective negative I could come up with after a week in the car goes back to the too-small rear quarter glass and the limited side visibility this gives you.

That aside, when you stop to consider that this car is priced literally thousands – and sometimes, tens of thousands – less than several other very desirable high-performance sports cars, including the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 – and actually beats them in several key categories of performance – it almost seems too good to be true.

And: Nissan – God bless ’em – continues to skip the aggravating Belt Minder (more properly speaking, Belt Fuhrer) buzzer that virtually every other make/model of new car comes with, want it or not. Nissan apparently believes you’re capable of deciding whether and when to buckle up on your own – without harassing you like a junior high school safety officer.

I’d buy the car for this feature alone, almost!

The now-standard DRLs, though, are a bad omen. These are LED DRLs, too. I haven’t checked, but my bet is the multiple little LED bulbs in each DRL cost a pretty penny each – and because they’re a “safety” feature, you’ll be required to replace them when they burn out.

Dammit.

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s no longer the latest thing, but it’s still a damn good thing, overall.

And bear in mind: The next Z may not be as good. It is entirely likely that, in order to placate the government’s new fuel efficiency mandates (35.5 MPG average by 2016)  it will be either less powerful – or a lot more expensive. Maybe both. Maybe none at all. The government killed off the Lotus Elise and Exige – and cars like the 370Z (and Corvette, et al) are likewise under the gun.

Might be time to get while the getting’s still good.

Throw it in the Woods?

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Nice review, Eric. 2 questions: Some reviewers have mentioned the road noise can get pretty ridiculous. Though it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with aftermarket sound-deadening material installation, I noticed this drawback wasn’t mentioned in your review. And, second, some reviews also mentioned the ride in this car can be pretty stiff, and even more stiff if you have the sport package. Did you notice any of these two elements in play?

    • Hi Eric,

      Well, a lot of that is very subjective. In my subjective opinion, as a person who enjoys the sounds of mechanical music in a high-performance car, the Z’s drivetrain sounds are enjoyable. I’d be disappointed if they were muted. I want to hear the engine (and the slight whine of gears). I think much of the criticism you reference comes from reviewers who are themselves not enthusiast drivers – and who also fail to review the car from the point-of-view of the likely needs/wants/likes of a person who is an enthusiast driver. Applying the same standards to a car like this that one might apply to, say, a Lexus RX just doesn’t make much sense to me.

      Ditto with regard to the w/Sport package. It is quite firm. But it’s intended to be track-day ready and thus, serious.

      I’d hate to see Nissan turn the current Z into something like the Z of the Disco Days (late 1970s/early ’80s) when it became a soft, bloated parody of the lean, focused sports car that the original 240Z was.

      Thanks for the kind words, by the way!

  2. What is missing in the already bargain price of the ‘Z’ is the huge end of the model year discounts that were available in the past on both the ‘Z’ and the MX-5.

    Since the tsunami, production of the ‘Z'(Tochigi) and MX-5(Nagasaki), are down, considerably. It is actually hard to find any of either on the lots, and my Nissan connection isn’t confident that the situation will get better, anytime soon. The result is, that full MSRP is the ticket to access, and limited availability and choice is the norm.

    Last year only 5,168 ‘Z’s’ were delivered to our shores, less then 2,500(2,464) were manuals. Only 1,331 were ‘Base’ models, and only 988 ‘Base/Sport’ models(my choice) were delivered. Both makers need to move production to the US, as I don’t see the situation in Japan improving in a viable time frame.

    Wish I had pulled the trigger before the tsunami on a new ‘Z’ or Miata retractable when they were both discounted as much as $8,000 plus at the end of the model year. Already a bargain, the heavy discounts put the stamp of ‘Legal stolen’ on a couple of great sports cars.

    • Can’t figure this, but I spent the weekend in Portland(Or.) and the local dealers had 2013! ‘Z’s, discounted as much as $6,000. And they still had ‘new’ 2011’s available. ?… Go figure

      • It’s got to be the economy. I marvel that anyone’s buying new cars. I suppose I am more conservative, financially – and of course, aware of the shit-storm headed our way – than most people. Even so, I would not consider buying a new car right now – and we have no debt, adequate income and can afford to do so. The idea of assuming debt in this economy, at this moment in history, seems extremely dangerous to me. How must if seem to people who have mortgages to pay, kids to feed, tenuous jobs…. ?

        • Hi! Eric,

          The economic situation would make sense, if it weren’t for other vehicles at the ‘Z’s price point and higher, increasing sales at this time.

        • I bought my new car because the money I saved could still buy one, dealers and incentives made it a better buy, and I figured I should have one car that wasn’t in double digit age if economic condition deteriorated to the point where I would become stuck with just my old cars. Then I don’t know if I could get a V8 MT car for much longer. It just became ‘do it while you can’ on every front. So I did it.

          Other people, inflation encourages living large. Get while the getting is good.

  3. Re: LED DRLs.
    Yes, I hate ‘always on’ DRLs, but if you’re going to have them, DRLs seem like a good option to me. I don’t know what they cost to replace, but they do have long life – otherwise semi-trailers and traffic signals would not be switching over. My 09 TDI Sportwagen runs the low beams anytime the engine is on and trans in gear. I have already replaced both of them, 1 of them twice, @ just over 100K miles.

  4. As a first time poster let me say I love your website! I’ve been reading it for about six months now and I agree with everything you say. I happen to be in the market soon for a 2013 Cayman. Your 0-60 times are wrong. Not your fault that Porsche always underestimates their vehicles times by a large margin. According to Motor Trend, the Boxster/Cayman S does 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and that was done with a manual transmission. The PDK dual clutch is even faster. So, the Porsche is significantly faster than the Z. That being said, the Z is still a fabulous deal. A good friend of mine is looking to buy one now and he will save a great deal of money vs buying the Porsche.

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1203_2013_porsche_boxster_s_drive/

  5. I would also compare it with the Mustang 5.0, which has perfect visibility, if you can compare anything to a Mustang 5.0 (that is if you take price into consideration).

    • Well, everyone’s welcome to compare as they like – and to choose whatever they prefer.

      But for me – for purposes of writing a vehicle evaluation – stacking up a two-seat sports car packing no more than a medium-sized V-6 vs. a two-plus-two muscle car with a 5 liter V-8 is kind of like stacking up a cheetah against a Bengal tiger. They each have their strong – and weak – points.

      But a side-by-side comparison is fairly meaningless given how different they are.

  6. This is a purely subjective response. But to me, the 370Z just does not have a very strong “gotta have it” factor. For that reason, I too would opt for the 5.0 Mustang. It triggers a major “gotta have it” response….for me. And I think the Z vs Mustang comparison is fair indeed, if we categorize them both as “thrill rides.”

    If we want to stick with sports cars…..the Porsche Cayman S’s “gotta have it factor” is Off The Charts (to me.) That’s far more important than a few ticks of acceleration, or lateral G force. In this price range, it is also more important than a $12K difference, in order to get something that Rocks Your World.

    • HI! Mike,

      Regarding the “Gotta Have It” factor. The newer(350/370) ‘Z’s’ didn’t get any serious attention or interest from me until I drove a new 370Z when they first came out. Since then they are high on my list.

      The point and shoot capabilities of the 370Z versus the Mustang/Camaro are of another order, in another league. I even recommend the Auto box so you can concentrate on the instantaneous handling dynamics under full throttle.

      I just find the Mustang to dated, especially in the handling regime. To ‘boy racer’ in its appearance. I like them, and rent one for a week, every year in Vegas(2013 it will be the now available Camaro SS convertible. Thank you Hearst), so they have some appeal to me, they just need to reload it with a new iteration with ‘IRS’.

      We are on the same page with Porsche’s Cayman and Boxster, but my piggy bank won’t support that reality, so I keep dreaming…col!

      Well, how about that, what a coincidence. The new 2013 brochures for the 370Z and ‘ATS’ just arrived.

      Regards…Tre

    • Yup, I get that. Subjective emotional appeal is a big factor in any person’s buying choice.

      And: I like the Mustang, too. But it’s a completely different feel/experience in every respect. The difference between a broadsword and a rapier; a fast-punching welterweight and a heavy-hitting heavyweight.

      On the Cayman S: Superb car. But at $62k to start, it is also nearly twice as expensive as the Z. It should be quicker – and handle better. But in both categories, it’s not by very much.

      Of course, subjectives come into play here, too.

      Still, don’t issue a final verdict on the Z until you’ve driven one – preferably, on a track!

  7. Once again, Eric, a great review and it parallels my own interpretation of the ‘Z’. I only have two issues with the car, one is the MPG into days world. And the other is the lack of sunroof availability.

    As regards the comparison of the 370Z to the original, referencing it as a …”Hulking ghost” The new car is a much better car. Like the ‘Old Muscle Cars’, this is not your grandpa’s ‘Z’. Go drive an old one, and your sure to be disappointed.

    I find the 370Z almost as much fun to drive as a Miata, a powerful go-cart like experience.

    The blind spots are not an issue with me since I’m well practiced using mirrors, and deliberate pro-active caution on the road and track.

    The Mustang is a ‘Pony Car’, some with muscle. It is not a true sports car, but a GT … ‘Grand turismo’.

    For those who remain confused, a muscle car was an ‘A’ body ‘Big block’ engine in a ‘B’ body(Intermediate)car. I can find know evidence of this nomenclature(Muscle car) transferring to Compacts or Pony Cars. Back in the day, we didn’t call big block Nova’s or Mustangs, Muscle cars.

    @ Pedro…There is an almost endless source of ‘Z’ performance and enhancement options. And the ‘Z’ is a completely different driving experience then a Mustang or Camaro. They don’t really, viscerally, compare. Only in performance and price point numbers is there a comparison.

    • Thanks, Deuce!

      On the muscle car nomenclature: There’s some debate on this. When cars like the Mustang were equipped with big blocks like the 390s and 428 CJs (396s in the Camaro, Chevy II/Nova, 400s and 455s in Firebirds, etc.) they arguably became muscle cars. By ’73 the Mustang was also a pretty big car; certainly comparable to a GTO. So, there’s some overlap.

      And when the intermediates died off, and most cars got small (and small-engined) in the mid-late 1970s, cars like Camaro and Firebird seemed heroic in comparision, both size-wise and power-wise as well as image-wise.

      They inherited the muscle car mantle at this point – and since then, they’ve become representative of the breed.

      • Morning Eric,

        I agree that that big block anything is a muscle car in reality, it is just the technical and literal historical aspects of the genre that I’m addressing.

        Reg; “Camaro and Firebird seemed heroic in comparision”

        Maybe to some(A younger generation), but for us guys who lived the Muscle/performance era, we booked out after the Mustang-11, and when cars lost their bumpers and became anemic, and preserved our Muscle car relics, and embraced our beginnings with flat head Fords, SM blk Chevies, and Oldsmobile V-8’s, Tri-fives, etc. Performance was created and came out of our shops, not Detroit. And progressively, we embraced the small car performance genre and sports cars. Cars like the Capri V-6, Opel Manta, BMW 2002, Cosworth Vega, Lotus Europa, etc.

        We weren’t stuck lamenting the past, but we weren’t to sure of the future either, so this whole new modern, technically sophisticated era of performance is very welcome. But few of us have stepped up and bought a new
        performance Pony, GTO, G-8, etc. Accords, Taurus’s, and BMW 3-series cars seem to be the new transport of choice. While we continue to polish the old iron.

        Reg; “They inherited the muscle car mantle at this point – and since then, they’ve become representative of the breed.”

        I agree, but only for the likes of a GT500, SRT8, or ZL-1.

        The term ‘Muscle Car’ is used to freely by young auto journalists and ad agencies these days, as are the terms ‘Sports’ cars, and ‘Roadster’, and my least favorite… 4-dr ‘Coupe’.

        I spoke to Michael Lamm once, about the term ‘Muscle Car’, and he was absolute in his literal interpretation of the term and regarded the big ponies and compacts as “aberrations”. You no doubt have one of his books.

        Regards… Tre

        “http://lammmorada.com/product/the-fabulous-firebird/

  8. I think the 370Z vs. V-8 Mustang/Camaro would have been a better comparison. I would have a TOUGH time choosing between a 370Z/5.0 Mustang. Both are roughly the same price. The endless aftermarket support for the Five-O Mustang would be hard to ignore.

    • Well, the Mustang is a two-plus-two resurrected muscle car, not a two-seat sports car. They’re very different cars in every respect. So a direct comparison isn’t really fair – to either car.

      • ” the Mustang is a two-plus-two” Hear! Hear! on that comment, Eric. I’m tired of people calling GT’s and performance coupes… ‘Sports Cars’. And 4-door coupes! And a ‘Roadster’ doesn’t have roll-up windows. Damn marketeers……

    • Me too!

      But I have to say, the point brought up by another poster in re the FR-S (and its sister) gnaws at me more and more. I didn’t include any comparison info chiefly because the FR-S is sold at a much lower price point – and it’s a much less powerful car. However, as the poster wrote, if you look at it relative to the original 240-Z, the FR-S is closer in concept (and function) than the new 370Z…

    • Hulking ghost? Go drive an old ‘Z’… They ain’t like you remember them.

      I will take a new one over an old one, any day, unless it is a highly modified 240 with global suspension, caged with suspension tied, brake upgrades, and an ‘LS’ motor of some iteration preferably the LS376+(510_Hp)) like I’m putting into a gen-11 RX-7. Why… Chassis integrity has increased dramatically since the original ‘Z’ engineering, not to mention drivability, the old carbs original to the Z were an issue, and probably led to more V-8 conversions, then for any other reason.

  9. “Stevie Wonder blind spots to the sides; Pulling into traffic from side streets can be a leap of faith.”

    That sounds terrible! Not that I’m in the market, but that point alone would make it easy to not consider this unit when shopping.

    • Yeah, me too. If we still lived in the DC area, forget it. You can get away with less-than-ideal visibility in a place like where we are now, where traffic is very light and you’ve got more time to consider your next move.

      The shitty peripheral visibility in this car is probably it’s single major design flaw.

    • Defensive driving ‘101’! Don’t make a turn unless you have a clear line of sight.

      Drive a Miata for a while and you will quickly learn what it takes to stay a line in an urban environment when your line of sight is lower then almost everything parked or fixed. Worst then riding a motor or a bike, but the pleasure of a low, sporty, quick handling, car is worth it.

      The most dangerous situation is, making a left turn from a stop when your right line of sight is blocked by parked cars. I just don’t do it, especially where there is a lot of bicycle traffic. A cop car nearly got me in that situation when he was running at night with no lights, the instantaneous handling of the Miata saved the situation.

  10. I test drove a Z around 2004. I liked with the exception of the vision issues mentioned AND the fact that you sat so low in the car, I almost eyeball level with the top of the door (where the side window began). Struck me as a bit “coffin-esque” for my taste.

    • Nice review, Eric. Good food for thought.

      Me, I think the closer spiritual successor to the 240Z is the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S: light, nimble, well-balanced, economical, fine handling instead of blinding straight line performance, reasonable storage space, not expensive.

      • Hi John,

        Thanks! And you make a very good point; I debated bringing the BRZ/FR-S into the mix. I probably ought to have, for all the reasons you mention. There’s price, too – $24k to start. That makes it one of the best deals going if you’re looking for RWD sports car performance.

        • I’ve always loved the Z series. Always had a hankering for the 300ZX turbo, but I’ve heard they’re a bit of an electrical/mechanical nightmare these days. Any thoughts Eric?

        • Notice the wheel spokes have a “directional” twist, but they’re all the same – this makes the wheels on the opposite side visually “rotate” in reverse!

          Pretty fugly by my standards.

          • Wheels, luckily, are easy to swap out!

            I agree with you, though. And not just as regards the Z.

            Wheel design has, to a great extent, become generic – as well as (my opinion) kind of ugly.

            Of course, it’s harder to be original given almost every new car now has alloy wheels. Back in the day, only a handful of performance/high-end cars had alloy wheels – and they tended to really stand out as a result.

            One of the things I love about my ’76 Trans-Am is the unusual look of the Honeycomb wheels – which complement the car and look like no other cars’ wheels. They are distinctively “Pontiac.” Just as Corvette knock-offs fitted to the ’60s-era Sting Rays were very distinctive and specific to that car.

            These days, it’s damn hard to think of a wheel that is brand or model specific. As that little ditty from the opening credits of Weeds has it:

            and they all look just the same.

          • Ah yes. I remember that song from my early days at what you would call elementary school – from Wiki:

            “Little Boxes” is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963.

            The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as “little boxes” of different colors “all made out of ticky-tacky”, and which “all look just the same.” “Ticky-tacky” is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time.

            Back on the subject of wheels, here in Oz the marque of a muscle car in the 80’s was deep-dish 12 or 5-slot wheels with fats. Almost nobody has fats anymore. It’s probably because cars these days don’t have the space under the guards.

            BTW, our Holden (Chev) “Monaro” had honeycombs as well (I hope the link works):

            http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/$(KGrHqRHJEkE-jkqyyccBPwD1fz82w~~60_12.JPG

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