Let me just get this out of the way at the outset – I am a Z-car guy.
It occupies a special place in my heart as it was the car I idolized in my long ago youth, to the point that I incorporated 300ZX into a Hotmail address that I still use.
It was the car I most wanted to own and my teenage / early-20s self couldn’t get enough. I loved the look, the performance, the history and the spot it occupied in the performance segment. It was my dream car.
I’ve never owned one – never driven one either – but the 300ZX Turbo was the car I would have chosen above all others.
You can keep your Mustangs and your Corvettes and your Porsches - I’d take the Turbo Z over all of them.
Over the ensuing 20-ish years, my taste in cars has evolved somewhat. I now have a much greater appreciation for a useable back seat, extra cargo room, a higher seating position and a ride that doesn’t do permanent damage to the spine. In short, I’m not 19 anymore.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve forgotten the fascination I once had for the 300ZX. I remember. I certainly do.
So when asked by Nissan Canada if I’d like to drive a 2017 Nissan 370Z Touring Coupe, the descendant of the 300ZX, I said yes even though I’d driven a 2016 Z (base model) last summer.
I will not say no to seat time in a 370Z. No chance.
This time around, I didn’t get to drive it for as long (blame three days in a Nissan GT-R for that), but I did get to drive it this past weekend, and it impressed just as much this time around – even a bit more, I’d say.
Mechanically, there’s no difference between the 2017 Touring Coupe and the ’16 base model. Both are powered by Nissan's VQ Series 3.7-litre V6 that delivers 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission that drives the rear wheels.
Similarly, both cars share the same Z-car good looks: low-slung, sleek profile with a squat stance and big fender flares. It’s a handsome car and the Chicane Yellow finish on the ’17 flatters, much like the red did on the ‘16.
There are differences on the inside, however.
Whereas the ’16 was a base model with a bit of a spartan interior, the ’17 is a Touring model which basically means it has more stuff. Not surprising, considering it carries a price tag that’s $10,000 larger than that of the base car.
Among the additional features the Touring trim provides is a rearview camera, six-speaker Bose audio system, leather-appointed heated seats and Nissan’s hard drive navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen display.
Overall, it’s a more comfortable environment than that of the base car, but the Z-car feeling it evokes is the same.
It’s a similar story on the road, where the powerful and responsive 3.7L V6 engine delivers a throaty growl as the accelerator is mashed and one climbs through the gears. The clutch-shifter relationship works seamlessly which makes darting through traffic and stop-light getaways both easy and a great deal of fun. The front double-wishbone / rear independent multi-link suspension set up gives the 370Z sharp reflexes that deliver confident handling and cornering.
The ride is very much on the firm side of comfortable, so weatherbeaten pavement can be a bit jarring, but thanks to grippy, comforable seats, it didn’t prove to be much of an issue for me.
I’m loathe to pick nits with cars I really like, especially the Z, which delivers such great value.
But with that said, the 370Z sports an aging, pre-smartphone era interior and its age is beginning to show. The low-res instrument panel graphics, orange backlighting and expansive areas of hard plastic look and feel dated. Same goes for the navi, which looks very similar to a unit from a 2008-ish Infiniti.
Given the 370Z was introduced for the 2009 model year, it isn’t surprising it feels a bit old in September 2016. I remain optimistic Nissan will address the interior, either in a future update or a nex-gen Z car, but time will tell.
Interior issues aside, the 370Z Touring delivers tremendous value. It looks great, it’s fun to drive, it's reasonably priced, and if you care about such things, it attracts its share of admirers. The Z car was great in my youth and remains so today.
And one of these days I'm going to drive a 300ZX Turbo, and it's going to be great.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2017 Nissan 370Z Touring Coupe
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $39,998 / $45,748 (incl. $1,750 destination)
ENGINE: 3.7L V6 (VQ37VHR)
HORSEPOWER: 332 hp @ 7,000 rpm
TORQUE: 270 lb-ft. @ 5,200 rpm
DRY WEIGHT: 1,516 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY.): 13.3 / 9.3
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000
ALTERNATIVES: BMW 2-Series, Chevrolet Camaro V6, Ford Mustang V6
Photography by Lee Bailie