First Drive Review 2018 Nissan 370Z: Still crazy after all these years

The 2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition (Nissan)

The 2018 Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition (Nissan)

For a certified gear head, there are few things in life better than an open road, a fast car and a hot woman in the passenger seat.

Well two out of three isn’t bad.

What makes it even more special is having the wind cut across you as you rocket down the road.  A good convertible sports car is like Nirvana to a gear head; top of the mountain, the bees’ knees, your happy place…well you get the idea.

This all sums up a recent week when Nissan delivered a 2018 370Z roadster. It was my first 2018 model of the year. What a way to start looking at the 2018 MY.

There is so much to like about the 370Z.  The look, with new styling tweaks for 2018, the engine which is still a V6 at a time when many are opting for a 4, the fit and finish of the interior with high quality materials, the pleasing leather scent and tons of tech.

One thing my 2018 Roadster didn’t have was all the “nanny” features. No collision avoidance, no blind spot mirror, lane departure warning, or autonomous braking. There was a rear-view camera, but that’s becoming almost standard fare these days.  No, this 370Z had none of the safety stuff some other cars have; and that’s a very good thing. Because the 370Z is a driver’s car, and oh what a driver’s car it is.

For 2018, The Z gets new headlights, taillights, door handles, revised paint on the rear fascia, and an EXEDY high-performance clutch on manual-transmission cars. Ahead of its 50th anniversary Nissan launched the 2018 at the New York Auto Show in April with a 2018 Heritage edition.  The Heritage can be had in Chicane Yellow or Magnetic Black paint, with corresponding interiors.

Under the hood the Z still has a 3.7-liter 322-horsepower naturally aspirated V6 that’s paired with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

The 2018 370Z can still be had in either a coupe or Roadster. The coupe has five levels: base, performance-oriented Sport, feature-loaded Sport Tech, top-of-the-line Touring, and specialty Nismo. The Roadster still has the base, Touring, and Touring Sport trims.

2017 Nissan Z 370 Roadster

2017 Nissan Z 370 Roadster

Standard features include automatic high intensity headlights, LED running and taillights, power accessories and duel exhaust. The Nismo adds exterior aerodynamic upgrades and a bit more horses under the hood (350).

The base and Touring levels have 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, other trims get 19-inch.

My top of the line Roadster Touring Sport had all the nice things you need to live with a car; cruise, keyless entry/ignition, aluminum trimmed pedals, an in-cabin air filter, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation.  I also had the 8-speaker BOSE sound system, steering wheel mounted controls, paddle shifters and leather seats with ventilation and heat.

The soft top was easy to operate, but normally would see very little time folded while driving in the early summer Florida sun.  One day during the mid-June week I had with the Z was a gift from the convertible gods however. The temp was below 90 and the humidity was well below its normally oppressive 80%.  This allowed for a top down drive in the rocket ship that is the 370Z. This is a pure driver’s car after all, and when in a pure driving mode with the top down there is little that can better the 370Z in the price range.

There is no luxurious comfort, no gentle ride, no beeping to let you know you’re going astray.  No, just a connection to the road that is hard to find anywhere else.  My one day with the top down was a joyful experience, and even the other days with the top up, the 370Z was the great roadster it’s always been.  It explodes off the line with power from an engine that seems almost too big, but of course isn’t and sticks to the road like Velcro.

I had the 7-speed automatic that shifted perfectly and responded instantly to each downshift via the paddle shifters, which like the pure driver’s car it is, are firmly attached to the steering column.

If you haven’t gotten the hint so far, I’m a fan. The 370Z is one of the best pure driver’s car on the market today.  Some have criticized the lack of changes since this latest generation was launched in 2009. It’s become ‘dated’, old, stale. I say: Dear Nissan, don’t change a damn thing. Sure, add some tech, a few styling tweaks, a few minor updates, but in a world of hybrid, self-driving, nanny minding, electrically driven robots, it’s nice to know there’s still a car that serves little purpose beyond delivering a pure driving experience that can leave you out of breath and saying “hell, yeah. Let’s go again.”

The 2017 Nissan 370Z Roadster Touring Sport
MSRP: $49,400
MSRP (as tested): $50,680
Engine: 3.7-liter V-6 332 horsepower @7000 rpm, 270 ft-lb torque @5200 rpm
Transmission (as tested, rear wheel drive): Shiftable 7-speed automatic w/OD, paddle shifters
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 18 city, 25 highway, 21 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 24 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 3521 lbs

Exterior Measurements
Wheelbase (in): 100.4
Length, Overall (in): 167.2
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in): 72.6
Height, Overall (in): 52.1
Track Width, Front (in): 60.6
Track Width, Rear (in): 61.6

Interior Measurements
Passenger Volume (ft cu): 52.3
Front Head Room (in): 38.7
Front Leg Room (in): 42.9
Front Shoulder Room (in): 54.4
Front Hip Room (in): 54.6
Trunk Volume (ft cu): 4.2

Corrosion Warranty Miles:  unlimited
Corrosion Warranty Months: 60
Powertrain Warranty Miles: 60000
Full Warranty Miles: 36000
Powertrain Warranty Months: 60
Full Warranty Months: 36
Roadside Assistance Miles: 36000
Roadside Assistance Months: 36

Greg Engle