Last year, Nissan cut the price of the 370Z to just $30,815 after destination charges.
Engine: 3.7 L V6, 332 HP, 270 lb-ft.
Transmission: Six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic
Pricing (US): Nissan 370Z base coupe starts at $30,815 after destination charges
Pricing (CDN): Nissan 370Z base coupe starts at $31,738 after destination charges.
Fuel Economy (US): 18 MPG city, 26 MPG highway, 24 MPG observed
Fuel Economy (CDN): 13.3 L/100 km city, 9.3 L/100 km highway, 9.8 L/100 km observed
For a 332 HP sports car to start around the $30K mark is quite phenomenal. That puts it just $2,000 over the 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost equipped with the performance package and about $4,500 cheaper than a Subaru WRX STI.
Driving a Stripper
So what does that price get you? Well, thankfully Nissan saw fit to loan me the base 370Z coupe with absolutely no options added to it. For a base model to wind up in a manufacturer’s press fleet is a rare to say the least.
Powering the 370Z base coupe is Nissan’s 3.7-liter V6 that makes 332 HP and 270 lb-ft of torque. The big V6 engine motivates the car with intent, but only at higher RPM where its full power is available. Part of this has to do with lack of torque in the 370Z. Even though it makes more power than most of its $30,000 competitors, without a turbocharger, it’s down on torque compared to the Ecoboost Mustang and Subaru WRX STI.
To keep the 370Z in the power band at all times, the six-speed manual has short ratios that keep the engine spinning quickly. The gearbox itself engages well enough and throws are short. One item missing from the base 370Z is Nissan’s synchro rev-matching technology; you will need both heel and toe to properly blip the throttle under braking in this baby.
Where’s The Music?
The biggest disappointment by far in the 370Z is sound. In a world of amplified or fake engine sounds, the VQ makes such a wonderful, natural noise. But in the 370Z, it’s been muted and sounds horribly ordinary. There’s no doubt that a meaty V6 lurks under the hood, but the sound from the 370Z isn’t all that distinguishable from a sedan using a big V6. Nothing in the exhaust note differentiates this car as something special. Yes, there is the NISMO exhaust option, but you need to buy a NISMO model to get it and that’s expensive.
For what the car lacks in sound, it makes up for in fuel economy. A purpose built sports car is never going to excel at saving gas, but the 370Z with the manual transmission is rated at an acceptable 18 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. During my week with the car that consisted of a lot of highway driving, I averaged 24 MPG. Combine that with a big 15.8-gallon fuel tank and the 370Z can travel a good distance between fill-ups on premium fuel.
Grip and Gripes
For $30,000, the 370Z still comes with 12.6-inch brake rotors at all four corners along with 225/50R18 front rubber and 245/45R18 rear tires. Sadly, the limited-slip rear differential is absent at this price. Getting it requires stepping up to the Sport model, which costs an extra $3,500.
SEE ALSO: 2011 Nissan 370Z NISMO Review
Even without an LSD, the 370Z still has oodles of cornering grip and rarely tries to break the rear tires loose. The Z may not have the same direct feel as a Mazda MX-5 or Scion FR-S does, but it still relates to the driver at all times what is happening on the road. And, at 3,301 lbs., the 370 feels smaller than it is and can be hustled around with ease.
The 370Z is a purpose built, two-seat sports car and it looks the part. Its swoopy body work, long hood and tapered rear hatch all look menacing. Even with the base Z coupe, LED running lights, HID headlights and LED taillights are standard.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Nissan 370Z Review
Inside, the list of standard equipment continues with smart key entry, a push-button starter, automatic climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. In fact, with the faux leather wrapped center stack, soft touch dashboard and quality switchgear, the interior of the 370Z is quite upscale for a $30,000 sports car if you ignore the 1990’s era radio.
The seats have good lateral support, but also feel a bit cheap. Put any pressure on the headrest and you will feel the two forks that support it poking through the middle of the seat. There is no telescopic steering wheel, which for me is usually a big issue. But in the 370Z, the seating position still feels proper and the squishy armrests are in the right places. Still, it’s hard to see out because the windows are small and the C pillars are large.
Despite being a hatchback, the Nissan can only hold 6.9 cubic feet of gear in its rear cargo area, which is small. To maximize storage space, Nissan installed parcel shelves behind the front seats and storage bins wherever extra space could be found, including in the center of the dashboard. This allowed me to carry four 17-inch wheels, boxed, in the car without a passenger.
The Verdict: 2016 Nissan 370Z Review
Is the Nissan 370Z perfect? No it’s not, especially around the $40,000 mark. But kept closer to $30,000 and this aging sports car still has life. With ample power, grip and style, the 370Z base coupe is quite the sports car bargain.