We live in a strange world where a new car is launched every other week. So it was quite a novel experience when a Nissan 370Z Coupé arrived at my office doorstep a few days ago.
Considering that it was launched in 2009 – when I was still basking in joyful frivolity of youth – I didn’t think that Nissan had any of these manly sports cars in their press fleet anymore. But there it was, glinting under the pale winter sun, looking all sleek and fast and threatening in a beautiful coat of Gun Metallic paint.
Yep, five years after the fact, and it still sits high on the aesthetics barometer. Which is quite an achievement in our fickle society. The 370Z has had a few cosmetic tweaks since it first hit our crumbling, mean streets. After circling my test car for a minute or two, I noticed a fresh set of RAYS alloy wheels. They’re big (19-inch) and feature a deep-dish swirl design reminiscent of some terrible Japanese ninja star.
While most of my friends didn’t like them, I thought they looked the business. Ditto the red brake calipers. Yep, it’s all about the details. Up front, I found a revised apron shod with LED daytime running lights that mimic the fangs of a giant cobra. Again, the owner of the pizza joint across the road can’t stand the sight of them. But I think it injects the car with extra attitude. Other than that, it’s business as usual.
The same can be said about the interior. You still get the same body-hugging bucket seats, tiny leather-wrapped steering wheel and three-dial instrument pod sunk into the centre console. The only new tricks I could find inside this old dog were a revised infotainment system loaded with satellite navigation and full Bluetooth integration.
There was also a reverse camera – a real boon for parking a sportster with somewhat limited rearward visibility. Yeah, when it comes to standard features the 370Z holds a full house. There’s nothing you feel yourself wanting. Ah, but what about the actual driving experience, I hear you say. Well, despite five years of industry evolution, this sportster remains a choice, AAA-grade piece of kit.
I don’t know if Nissan have spliced in any chassis modifications but, to me, the 370Z now feels crisper and more responsive than ever before. You’ll notice it through the steering and the chassis the most; a level of feedback that lets you take full advantage of all those horses charging through the rear wheels. Kill the traction control and you can indulge in all sorts of lairy sideways shenanigans through your favorite curves – with full confidence and a huge smile on your face.
That’s the thing about this machine. In a class where ever heightening levels of mechanical grip and precision reign supreme, the 370Z comes across as a proper old school driver’s car. While something like a Porsche Cayman encourages you to drive clean and take the purist line, this Nissan wants you to break loose every now and again in a rude cloud of acrid tyre smoke. It wants you to have fun. And I really like that. A lot.
What I didn’t care for was the formidable thirst of that V6 engine – just over 23l/100km. Ouch. Granted I was driving the nuts off it. But I also drove the Cayman pretty damn hard and it was nowhere near as heavy on gas. I also thought that Nissan could have done something to make their creamy-smooth six-cylinder V sound more exciting. At the moment it still drones away like some kind of industrial- sized cooling fan, which does very little to titillate your eardrums.
Still, starting at a competitive R634 200 for the manual, the Nissan 370Z Coupé remains a worthy competitor to its newer, more technically advanced rivals – impressive for a machine now in the twilight of its life.
The Facts: 2014 Nissan 370Z
Engine: 3696cc, V6, petrol
Power: 245kW at 7000rpm
Torque: 363Nm at 5200rpm
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.6 seconds (Claimed)
Fuel consumption: 22.3l/100km (Achieved)
Pricing: From R634 200