Nissan 370Z Photo:Dan Roth/Examiner
It seems like not so long ago Nissan pulled the Z-car out of retirement and gave us the 350Z. Now, that vehicle has been thoroughly gone over, getting smaller and sharpening its fangs in the process to become the 370Z. Outwardly, it's extremely great to look at, and there are echoes of the 240Z cooked into the styling. The 370Z is rippling with muscle and beautiful in a way its predecessor was not.
Backing up the tightly flexed styling is hardware that delivers true sports car performance. Nissans VQ engine has been punched out to 3.7 liters for this application (hence the 370 in the nameplate) and delivers 332 horsepower - a hefty number for a V6. A six-speed manual rests easily at hand and snaps tightly through the gears - if I could only figure out how to drive the Z smoothly. It does seem to beg for manhandling, rewarding brutal gear-slamming with a racy exhaust note feedback and much forward motion. Handling and braking are phenomenally good, the Z is a stellar performer that is sublime to bend into a corner. When it's time to lay back and cruise, it can feel a little brusque, though the new interior in the $35,000 Touring-trim Z is leather trimmed and comfortable. The Z might be a little hardcore for everyday driving, tasks where a Mustang GT might be more forgiving, but when it comes to heroic driving, the Z is better mannered and is really a different thing from the Mustang's neo-retro Ponycar trappings.
Great looks, outstanding performance, reasonable price - think of the Z as a half-price Porsche, and you won't be far off the mark.