The Nissan 370Z in 2021: Should you still get it?

This model has been around globally for 12 years now
by Carlo Chungunco | Jun 5, 2021

“Clearly, practicality was never a priority when designing the Z”

Owing to their prominence in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Nissan’s Z cars have always had a cult following in the Philippines. While we never officially got a Z model before this current one, some gray-market 350Z units exist in the market, commanding a relatively high premium for what is an early-2000s cheap Japanese sports car.

Fast-forward to 2021, and the Nismo variant of the 370Z has found its way onto my driveway. Being the Nismo variant means it’s sportier and more track-oriented than its regular siblings in the stable.

While new to the Philippines, it’s one of the oldest cars being sold today, with the first 370Z hitting the market in the 2009 model year. That’s not a typo: This model, a full-model change of the 350Z, has been sold in some form or another for the past 12 years. To put that into perspective, the 370Z came out when moviegoers were lining up to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

The first and arguably most laudable aspect of this car is the styling. Updated way back in 2013, it has held up well. It has the traditional roadster styling that exudes the essence of what it means to be a sports car. The car is wrapped in a not-so-subtle but ever-so-nice Nismo body and lip kit. Highlights are provided by red accents that stand out especially well against our car in white. The look is completed by a set of awesome-looking staggered 19-inch Nismo forged alloys by venerable alloy maker RAYS.

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Don’t get me wrong—the awkwardly sloping rear roofline still reminds me of a dog arching its back to have a poo, but at least the Nismo variant has a rear spoiler that accentuates the lines of the car better, compared with the standard Z. Everywhere you drive, eyes are sure to follow, and for some, that may be enough reason to buy the 370Z right then and there.

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But I urge you to hold your horses.

PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

From the moment you enter the Z, the first thing that greets you is literal pain. The Recaro seats, while nice for cornering as they are extremely tight in their bolstering, don’t actually have much in the form of cushioning. Yes, this is a track-focused car, but I have driven and owned cars with buckets before, and nothing comes close to the amount of sheer back pain this car caused. Adjusting the seat for fit, you realize another annoyance: the lack of any form of rake adjustment for the steering wheel.

This adds to the claustrophobia-inducing lack of interior space in the Z. The tops of the seats rub against the ceiling of the car, making the Recaros feel like an aftermarket job rather than a factory option. Despite this being essentially a liftback, you will definitely struggle to get anything loaded into the back of the car. Clearly, practicality was never a priority when designing the Z. Speaking of the rear, poor rear visibility and the omission of any form of camera or parking sensors make this a pain in the butt to park. Expect scratches on your expensive Nismo lip kit.

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PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

The powertrain is at least a highlight that can somewhat make up for the interior. The beating heart here is a 3.7-liter V6—an older engine, for sure, but still putting out a respectable 339hp and 371Nm of torque. This output is about 12hp more than in the standard Z, and power rightfully goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters. What boggles the mind is that the Nismo variant, the sportiest Z sold locally, is not available with a manual. That alone is sure to put off some buyers.

When you put your foot down, the 370Z Nismo fires off the line with a good pull of torque and the V6 wail. I say wail because while it sounds good at first, the engine does not sound very characterful, despite utilizing a Nismo dual exhaust. It has a sense of uniformity in its tone that is more a hum than a roar—a sound that gets old quick, tending to drone on the highway at steady revs.

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Power is adequate, bringing the Z from zero to 100 well within 5sec, but as the car accelerates, you notice that while it feels fast, it actually isn’t that fast. Or at least not as fast as what you would expect from a car that carves such an imposing silhouette.

PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

From the highs of the drivetrain, we get to the Achilles heel of this Z: the Nismo-tuned suspension with “increased spring and dampening rates.” One trip around the block is enough to confirm that Nismo engineers never visited the Philippines to tune the ride. The slightest imperfections on the road will completely unsettle the car. You think SLEX is smooth? It is, perhaps for any other car except the Nismo Z.

I emphasize that this is the ‘Nismo’ Z, because the regular (more affordable, available with a manual) variant has a ‘standard’ suspension. If it’s even the slightest bit more manageable, I’d skip the Nismo and just buy that.

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You’d think all this extra stiffness would result in a car that handles better, but this isn’t the case here. The chassis flexes and creaks over village humps, showing that 12 years of material and construction advancement cannot be substituted by extraneous bracing and stiffening additives.

Take a turn at speed and while the car hugs the road well, the slightest undulation could wrench the tiller violently from your hand. The steering is a hydraulic rack-and-pinion system, which, while offering good feel, is too easily upset by bumps. I don’t know if it’s just this specific unit, but engine revs audibly dropped whenever the steering is turned of-center, and the rack is so stiff and hard to turn, I felt I was driving a car without power steering.

PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

As for features, there’s a smart key and cruise control, but other than that, there really isn’t much to say. It is annoying that the most expensive variant of the Z in the Philippines—one with a price tag of P3.888 million—still has a plethora of blanked-out buttons scattered all over the cabin.

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The Blaupunkt head unit has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but our unit had an annoying hissing sound that ruined any sort of audio fidelity from the Bose sound system. The center-console USB port doesn’t work with CarPlay, too, so you need to plug your phone into the front of the head unit to get any kind of functionality, leading to a wire dangling out at all times. Also, the head unit itself is positioned low, near the gear lever, forcing you to look down and away from the road to see Waze.

Finally, the doors don’t lock automatically, which can be annoying and unsafe in Metro Manila. But at the very least, the aircon is cold—a Nissan staple.

PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

The Nissan 370Z Nismo is one of those cars that need a test drive before commitment. On paper, it should be a good car—old school in a way most other brands dream of. But an old chassis and an unforgiving ride could discourage most buyers in the segment.

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I realize there are some diehard Z fans out there, so here’s a piece of consumer advice: If you’re dead set on buying the Z, the regular 370Z equipped with a manual transmission—as God intended—costs P2.779 million. And it even comes with softer springs.

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PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco
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