2009 Nissan 370Z Coupe

First Drive

2009 Nissan 370Z Coupe

Nissan’s Z DNA dates back to the original 1969 240Z and subsequent Datsun models (i.e. 280Z). The Nissan 300ZX reigned throughout the ’90s while the last-gen 350Z came out in 2003. The newest member of this 40-year-old club is the 2009 Nissan 370Z.

FAST FACTS

1. New Z gets more powerful 332hp 3.7-liter V-6.

2. 370Z is lighter and wider than outgoing model.

3. Available with a seven-speed auto or six-speed manual with rev-matching.

With an overall shape similar to the 350Z, a higher waistline and tighter fitting skin give this version a more athletic look. Its low stance is bolstered by a cantilevered roof design, broader flared fenders, boomerang-style head and taillights as well as upswept rear quarter windows that are faithful to the original Z cars.

Naturally, this is the most potent version yet with a new 3.7-liter VQ37VHR V6 cannon that fires 332 ponies and 270 ft-lbs of torque through either a manual or automatic gearbox. Fuel economy for both setups is a respectable 22 mpg EPA combined.

I haven’t tried the seven-speed auto, but the six-speed manual is oh-so-sweet! It features a downshift rev-matching system that uses tiny micro-switches inside the tranny and detects clutch position to automatically ‘blip’ the throttle without requiring any fancy footwork from the driver.

Thoroughly redesigned inside and out to be stronger, lighter and faster, this new model stays true to its classic Z predecessors while being totally modern and utterly captivating.

The new engine boasts several improvements over the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6. Most notably, it uses variable valve event and lift technology that combines continuously variable timing control to achieve 90 percent of its torque just after 2000 rpm with a 7000-rpm peak.

Versus the outgoing model, mild wheelbase, length and height reductions go well with the 370s much stiffer chassis, which further benefits from a more extensive use of aluminum throughout. Lighter doors, hatch, suspension, fuel tank and what is now a true dual exhaust system are the biggest losers of weight, 46 per cent of which goes to the rear.

By the numbers, this version is a couple inches shorter and roughly 110 pounds lighter than a comparable 350Z. Also significant is a wheelbase that’s nearly four inches shorter and rear track that’s more than two inches wider.

A viscous-limited slip differential is standard on the 370Z along with ABS, VDC, TCS and Nissans advanced air bag system.

Starting at $29,930, the base coupe comes with a cloth interior and basic stereo. The 370Z Touring model adds a Bose XM-ready eight-speaker audio system with 9.3GB HDD music box, iPod connection and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. Pricing has yet to be announced.

THE DRIVE

Just weeks after its debut at the L.A. auto show, Nissan invited the media to Las Vegas, Nevada to preview the 370Z on and off the track.

It’s 9 A.M. My route begins at the north end of the strip and heads west on Charleston Boulevard. Traffic is light and it’s not long before the 10-Z convoy evokes some stares from the locals. Hot car sightings are not uncommon in Sin City. Nonetheless, people seem impressed.

My vehicle has the sport pack option, which replaces the standard 18s with Bridgestone-shod Rays 19-inch forged wheels that are simply gorgeous, adds front and rear spoilers, larger Nissan sport brakes at both ends and enables the aforementioned rev-matching feature on the manual-six.

Just before reaching the city limit, a guy driving a black 3-series that had been following in my rear view for some time pulls up next to my graphite silver Z, looks over and gives a thumbs-up and nod. His lips clearly read “nice car.”

Leaving town, the worn gray city streets abruptly change to smooth black tarmac. Inside, the transition is barely perceptible, the four-wheel independent suspension with integrated stabilizer bars does a fine job soaking up most bumps without bouncing or harshness.

A few minutes later, I lead the parade into Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area where the gate attendant’s eyes light up at the sight.

The dozen or so miles of scenic road inside the park are jam-packed with countless tight twists, turns and major elevation changes. It’s almost too tempting, but self-restraint gets the better of me. No matter, my ultimate destination on this day is the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump.

Even at slow speeds is the 370Zs assisted power steering linear, responsive and pinpoint accurate.

ON THE TRACK

Taking the NV-160 west, I arrive at the track in under an hour. After a quick snack and orientation lap on the 1.5-mile west circuit (a.k.a. the Radical Loop), I grab a helmet and hop into one of several track-prepped cars.

In addition to the sport pack, each car also has an aftermarket oil, power steering and differential cooler to help them withstand several more waves of journalists that were trailing my group. These will be available from dealers, most likely as Nismo-branded parts.

After a few laps of this dizzying little circuit, it’s clear this car can perform. The closely-spaced gears are easy-to-find. Clutching is firm with quick take-up. Turn-in is near perfect with almost zero understeer. And, that suspension makes that chassis behave exactly how you’d expect it to. Potenza RE050A summer tires offer tons of grip while the upgraded sport brakes worked and resisted fade well.

Though the new Z doesn’t rocket off the line quite like a GT-R does, its powerband is linear and strong. Nissan makes no official zero-to-60 mph claim, though it has been clocked in under five seconds.

It takes some time to get used to the automatic blips, but once you figure it out you might just forget you ever learned that heel-toe move. It can be turned off, though it is so accurate there’s really no reason to. The VDC can be completely shut off to allow some ego stroking.

THE VERDICT

Nimble handling, crisp steering, good power and excellent quality are all hallmarks of the 2009 370Z, but it doesn’t stop there. Its good looks extend to the driver-centric cockpit that includes heated leather/Alcantara seating, more usable cargo space, enhanced quality throughout plus improved vision and ergonomics.

PLUS

Quick and agile Comfortable interior Slick exterior

MINUS

Requires premium fuel Plastic digital fuel gauge

The sport pack can be tacked on to either model, with no official word on pricing yet. Estimates place it around $3,500. As such, expect a fully-loaded 370Z Touring to come in around the $40K mark.

I’ll take a base 370 with the manual tranny and sport pack, ‘pleaZe.’

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked