First Tests

2017 Nissan 370Z Coupe First Test Review

Ready for Re-TIRE-ment.

Ready for Re-TIRE-ment.

During the 370Z’s nine-year tenure on sale in the North America, we’ve tested several iterations of Nissan’s two-seat sports car. But this is the first time we’ve gotten ahold of a base model without any performance-enhancing options, which also made it the slowest Nissan 370Z we’ve tested.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Defanged base models of high-powered sports coupes have been around since the original Mustang and Camaro, so it shouldn’t surprise us that Nissan knows how to play the game, too. With a starting price just a shade over 30 grand, the base Z allows Nissan fans to gain all the looks—and a hint of performance—of the full-zoot model.

Power for our 2017 Nissan 370Z coupe comes from the same 3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve VQ V-6 making 332-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque as other non-NISMO models, and it’s backed by a six-speed manual transmission sans the available SynchroRev Match feature. NISMO models make 350 hp and 276 lb-ft.

At the drag strip, the base 2017 Nissan 370Z reached 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 102.7 mph (165 km/h). We’ve tested eight other 370Z models, including two convertibles and two NISMO models, since it arrived for the 2009 model year. In testing, past models reached 60 mph in 4.7–5.1 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 13.3–13.6 seconds at 102.9–107.2 mph (166-172 km/h).

Our tester stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet. Previous models stopped in 102–114 feet.

In our handling tests, the base 2017 370Z lapped the figure eight in 25.9 seconds at 0.69 g lateral average and pulled 0.89 g lateral average around the skidpad. In comparison, past models lapped the figure eight in 24.7–25.9 seconds at 0.70–0.78 g and pulled between 0.91 g and 1.01 g around the skidpad.

So what gives? Despite no horsepower or transmission changes, why is our 2017 Nissan 370Z so much slower than earlier testers? It all comes down to two things: lack of a viscous limited-slip differential and narrower wheels with higher-profile tires.

Where our previous testers rode on a set of Rays Engineering staggered 19-by-9.0-inch front and 19-by-10.0-inch rear forged alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires (245/40R19 98Y front and 285/35R19 99Y rear), our base model rode on a set of 18-inch alloy wheels with Yokohama Advan Sport tires (225/50R18 95W front and 245/45R18 96W rear). NISMO models ride on 19-by-9.5-inch and 19-by-10.5-inch rear wheels wrapped in the same size Potenza S001 tires. Not only is the 19-inch wheel wider and the tires lower profile, but the Potenza tires are also more performance focused than the Advan tires.

With the 1.6-inch-narrower rear tires on the base 370Z, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana found it frustrating to launch. “It’s difficult to get these tires to grip and hook up,” he noted. “It would be interesting to see how it does with Pilot Super Sports. The clutch engagement is good, and gear gate is well defined, though I wish shift feel were a tad lighter. Best run: drop the clutch at about 3,000 rpm and roll into the gas.”

In handling, road test editor Chris Walton said that the six-speed manual was geared too tall to do the whole figure eight in third gear, requiring a 2-3 upshift followed quickly by a 3-2 downshift. “It seems to put the power down pretty well coming out of the corner with a slight bit of a drift,” he said. The tires really seemed to struggle on the skidpad, though. “If you go in a little—and I mean only a little—hot, the car gets into a terminal understeer and heads for the fences. And if I tried to lift the throttle and stab to rotate, it would just understeer more on a wider arc. Furthermore, these tires are good for about one lap, and then they go greasy and refuse to come back online—especially the fronts. Steering is heavy, and as soon as the tires get hot, it’s also ineffective. The shifter is heavy. Everything feels heavy. It doesn’t feel like a small sports car at all.”

Walton went on to critique the shifter. “The 2-3 upshift is pretty heavy, though the gate is accurate, and I never missed it,” he said. “However, the 3-2 downshift was very balky, and the pedal placement could be better for heel-toe downshifts. This car does not have the automated matched-rev downshift program.”

Out on the streets the 370Z rides fairly well, but the interior seems dated with hard plastics everywhere. The audio system’s display screen looks like it was cribbed from a solar-powered calculator. Even on the streets, aggressive starts spin the tires from a stop, and the 1-2 upshift causes rear suspension axle hop that sounds like something is trying to break through the rear floorpan. And although the shifter gate is well defined, the pattern isn’t intuitive. In fact, on more than one occasion I downshifted from third into second when I was trying to upshift into fourth—not a good outcome without throttle-blipping the gas pedal. The seats are comfortable, and the manual adjustments are in line with the simple sports car recipe.

Pricing for the base 2017 Nissan 370Z with the six-speed manual transmission starts at $30,825 USD. Our sole option was a set of $130 USD carpeted floormats, bringing the total price to $30,955 USD. Why are floormats not standard?

Standard features on the base model include an eight-way manual driver’s seat and four-way passenger’s seat, cloth upholstery, a manual-tilt steering column, Nissan’s Intelligent Key with push-button ignition, cruise control, automatic temperature control, a spare tire, a four-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB and auxiliary inputs. Automatic headlights with HID low- and high-beams are also standard. Safety equipment includes front, side, and side-curtain airbags, traction control, vehicle dynamic control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

So how does the base Nissan 370Z compare to the modern ponycars? Instead of boring you with a wall full of unreadable text, we created this simple chart for comparison:

2017 Nissan 370Z (Base) 2009-2015 Nissan 370Z including Touring and NISMO

20152016 Ford Mustang GT w/ Performance package

2017 Chevrolet Camaro (2LT 1LE)

2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS (1LT)

Engine 3.7L/332-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.7L/332-350-hp/270-276-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 5.0L/435-hp/400-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8 3.6L/335-hp/284-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.6L/335-hp/284-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed manual 6-speed manual 6-speed manual 8-speed auto
0-60 mph 5.2 sec 4.7-5.1 sec 4.4-4.6 sec 5.0 sec 5.3 sec
Quarter-Mile 13.7 sec @ 102.7 mph 13.3-13.6 @ 102.9-107.2 mph 12.8-12.9 @ 110.112.2 mph 13.7 sec @ 101.7 mph 13.8 sec @ 103.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 117 ft 102-114 ft 107-109 ft 105 ft 118 feet
Lateral Acceleration 0.89 g (avg) 0.91-1.01 g (avg) 0.96 g (avg) 1.01 g (avg) 0.92 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 25.9 sec @ 0.69 g (avg) 24.7-25.9 sec @ 0.70-0.78 g (avg) 24.4-24.7 sec @ 0.82-0.84 g (avg) 24.5 sec @ 0.78 g (avg) 25.5 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)
As-Tested Price $30,995 N/A $46,380/$47,350 $40,690 $35,250
Base Price of 2017 model with only Performance Options $30,825 $30,825-$42,855 $37,090 $32,895 $29,090 (2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT V-6, 8A )$28,395 (2017 Camaro 1LS V-6, 8A)
Price difference N.A. $12,030 $6,095 $2,070 -$1,865, -$2,560

Although we haven’t tested a base sixth-gen Mustang GT, we have tested a couple of examples with the optional $2,995 USD Performance package, and they easily outperform the base 370Z. That being said, we have no doubt a base Mustang GT would outperform the base 370Z. In fact, Mustang GT coupes with the Performance pack outperform the Nissan 370Z NISMO for $5,765 USD less.

Some might say that putting a V-8 up against a V-6 is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. So how does it compare to less potent ponycars, such as the V-6-powered sixth-gen Chevrolet Camaro with and without the 1LE handling package? Other than a tie in the quarter mile, the Camaro V-6 1LE manual outperforms the base 370Z in every metric, including being a significant 1.4 seconds quicker around the figure eight. A base Camaro with the eight-speed automatic is marginally slower in acceleration but 0.4 second quicker around the figure eight. Although a Camaro V-6 1LE is $2,070 USD more than the base 370Z, a base Camaro V-6 with manual (not yet tested) is $2,560 USD less, and a base Camaro V-6 with the auto is $1,865 USD less than the base 370Z.

All these stats leads us back to Ayapana’s original thought during acceleration testing: How would the Nissan 370Z perform “with Pilot Super Sport” or other high-performance tires? Could the 370Z beat the less expensive Camaro V6 ILE or keep up with the V-8 muscle cars with the right tire? Possibly. Could the right set of tires help the base 370Z match or beat the more expensive NISMO model? Also possible. We theorize a base Z with some sticky rubber could outperform the NISMO car for 10 grand less.

But we hope Nissan brings out the next-generation Z sooner than later. Some rumors suggest a new Z concept could make its debut at the next Tokyo auto show with a production model ready for the 2019 model year, but nothing has been confirmed by Nissan. After a decade on the market, the Nissan 370Z is due for a much needed re-TIRE-ment.

2017 Nissan 370Z (Base)
BASE PRICE $30,825
PRICE AS TESTED $30,995
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe
ENGINE 3.7L/332-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,304 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 100.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 167.5 x 72.6 x 51.8 in
0-60 MPH 5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.7 sec @ 102.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.89 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.9 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 18/26/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/130 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.93 lb/mile