Sports cars are not an everyday sight on Indian roads. The reason is simple - many of them aren’t ‘daily drivers.’ They are mostly taken out of the garage on the weekend for a romp on the highways or a blaze up the twisties. But the Nissan 370Z flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that sports cars are not practical machines. The 370Z offers not just performance, but everyday practicality along with the technological edge.
A bit of history
The Nissan 370Z didn’t come down in the last shower of rain; it boasts of a rich lineage that dates back to 1960s. The original Z was sold in October 1969 in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z and then exported to the US with the 240Z nameplate. It took the Americans by storm with its muscular straight-six engine and the sleek design. Six generations of Nissan Z-cars followed and the 370Z pulls mainly from the 350Z, the model it replaces, but with more 240Z into it. The 370Z got curvier, more fluidic with its redesign – seductive to some eyes, more swollen to others - however, it remains clearly a Z to everyone.
Why does a sports car always stand out from the crowd of ordinary cars? It’s primarily because their design implies what they are actually capable of doing. The 370Z may look like a relatively small car in pictures, but in fact it’s a gargantuan of a machine that’s 4,240 mm long and 1,850 mm wide. Reading between the lines, 370Z has a lot in common with the GT-R, especially the long, aggressive bonnet, the air dam and the roofline. Its athletic proportions are further augmented by boomerang-shaped bi-xenon headlights and fishhook taillights. The Z-badged indicators on front fenders are a nice touch. And yes, the 19 inch alloys add to the sporty appeal. The Nissan 370Z is available in two trims – coupé and roadster – and the coupé inarguably has a sleeker presence than the roadster.
The 370Z features the same keyless entry system that we saw on Micra and Sunny; that means the key fob never needs to be pulled out of your pocket. Once inside the car, you will be surprised that there’s nothing exceptional about the cabin per se. Three small round dials on top of the dashboard and the regular instrument dials behind the steering wheel… that’s it. There are no complicated computers that call for special training, all you need is a driving license and confidence to control a wild horse, driving is fun and easy behind the 370Z’s wheel. There are, of course, some accoutrements - a Bose music system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, optional SatNav, to name a few.
The best thing about this car is definitely the 3.7-litre V6 dishing out a meaty 332 horsepower. Although maximum torque comes in at a high 5,200rpm, the V6 delivers plenty of thrust across a broad power band. With just 5.5-second 0-100 and 13.7-second quartermile times, it literally pushes you back in the seat and pulls in the horizon at a vehement rate. Power goes smoothly yet vigorously right up to the top speed of 250 km/h, sending shivers down your spine. But the big V6's vocalization fails to turn heads and only gets grumpier as you put your foot down. The Nissan 370Z has both manual and automatic transmission options and I drove the automatic one. However, the manual transmission is supposed to be more fun to drive, thanks to Nissan's unique Synchro Rev Match system that automatically blips the throttle to match engine and road speed, thus making downshifts incredibly smooth.
Ride, Handling and Comfort
Don’t expect this coupé to coddle you. The suspension is stiff, which means roll-free cornering but uncomfortable bumpy roads. Expansion joints on flyovers and bridges cause rhythmic bouncing and speeding on such roads is certainly a bad idea. However, the bolstered seats are comfortable and hold occupants tight while slicing through windy roads.
The car remains firmly planted to the tarmac even at insane speeds and strong brakes are definitely the 370Z’s forte. However, braking felt jittery above 200 km/h but I’m pinning this down to it being a test car for the media that has been around for more than two years.
On crazily crowded city roads, I never felt I was behind the wheel of a mighty sports car because the 370Z behaves much disciplined at low end. Ground clearance is decent that it never scraped at any speedbreakers. Nevertheless, driving it around was not so easy that there would always be a forest of camera phone holding hands around you or a couple of ‘exotic car aficionados’ stretching to the window, asking whether the doors open sideways or upwards.
If you are a serious sports car fan willing to dole out half a crore, you should find lots to love about the Nissan 370Z coupé. There's more performance and dynamics here than you’d possibly ever need. After all, all automobile experts agree to one point – ‘you need to spend almost double its price on another car to get anywhere close to the 370Z’s capability.’