2013 Nissan 370Z

2013 Nissan 370Z Review

Nissan's two-seat sportster pleases.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: November 21st, 2012

We're suckers for cars that make us grin, and powerful front-engine, rear-drive sports coupes with manual transmissions always put smiles on our face. Therefore, it was only natural that we would enjoy our time in the 2013 Nissan 370Z.

The Z is coming under a bit of fire from the competition. Not only does Ford have an updated Mustang for 2013, but Chevy also took the wraps off of its track-ready Camaro SS 1LE. Hyundai updated the Genesis Coupe, and Scion and Subaru have unleashed the FR-S/BRZ twins, with those two cars seeming destined to eat into the Z's core market by undercutting it heavily in price (the twins are in the mid-$20K range at the top end, while our Z tester cost more than $40K.).

Nissan's response is a mild freshening of the Z's looks (so mild that only the most hard-core fans will notice, with the biggest change being LED lights up front), but even if the response seems mild, it's no matter, since the formula was already pretty good to begin with.

For a more lighthearted take, check out our video review of the Nissan 370Z, featuring Sarah.

  • On the Road

    With only two seats, a low ground clearance, and a snarling 332-horsepower V-6 that displaces 3.7 liters under hood, the Z makes no attempt to pretend to be anything but a sports car. And it fulfills its mission well.

    With the gas pedal floored, the Z scooted from the line, although it felt a tad heavy, as if a few extra pounds are holding it back from its true acceleration potential. It didn't feel as light on its feet as the FR-S/BRZ twins, but it makes a lot more power than those cars, and it didn't take long to get it going.

    We took our tester to our favorite curvy road on a sun-splashed Sunday, and with traction control off and the SynchroRev Match system (automatically matches engine revolutions per minute to transmission revolutions when downshifting) on, we found the car to be capable of giving us an endless supply of grins. Early applications of the throttle when exiting a corner resulted in the rear end breaking loose, but even when the tail was wagging, it was controllable. We slid through corners effortlessly, with nary a worry about ending up in the weeds.

    We also gave credit to the perfectly weighted and perfectly accurate steering--the car followed the driver's inputs with no excess play in the wheel, yet it was never nervous or jumpy around town.

    Indeed, highway ride wasn’t sacrificed too badly, the Z behaved well for such a low-slung car, even on broken pavement. It's not a comfortable ride in the luxury sense, but it's less punishing than one would expect.

    The brakes did their job with no complaint, and we found that although the clutch can be quite abrupt, it didn't cramp our left leg too much in traffic. The shifter's throws were just a touch long but not enough to disturb the sporty feeling, and the gearbox was a joy to row during hard driving.

  • Exterior

    The Z's shape is pretty familiar by now, and the sleek design still looks good. The minor updates for 2013 (the biggest change is a minor revision to the front fascia and the addition of LED running lights) don't change that.

  • Interior

    We liked the synthetic suede on the seats, and despite the cramped cabin, Nissan still managed to put a decent-size center console in place. The switchgear was easy to decipher and use, and the tilt steering wheel/gauge cluster was pretty cool.

    Entry and exit aren't easy for taller drivers, though there is enough legroom and headroom once inside. Some road noise intruded, but not too much.

    Cargo space isn't as bad as one might think, but the slope of the hatchback means that cargo can't be too tall, lest it be chopped.

  • Final Thoughts

    The Z remains an elemental two-seat sports car, with a clear mission--deliver lots of smiles. It's more practical than one would expect but still offers an elemental sports-car experience.

    That works for us.

  • Specs, Features, Prices

    Engine: 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed manual

    Drive Wheels: Rear

    Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway

    Base Price: $37,820

    As-Tested Price: $43,905

    Available Features: Tilt steering wheel/gauge cluster, carpeted floor mats, navigation, red-painted brake calipers, USB, satellite radio, Bluetooth, rearview camera, 19-inch wheels, heated sideview mirrors, cargo cover, cruise control.

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