By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/7/2011
The 2011 Nissan 370Z retains the same basic principle that spawned the original 240Z; namely, to offer world-class design and performance at a reasonable price. The 370Z's seductive exterior, potent engine and dynamic driving characteristics easily qualify it as a competitor to the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. But, many Z-car owners also consider their little 2-door terror the equal of such high-end names as the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Porsche Cayman. No matter what you compare it to, the 2011 Nissan 370Z is one serious driving machine that is sure to please even the most hard-core driving enthusiasts.
If you're seeking a fast coupe with BMW-like performance at a very un-BMW like price, take a spin the 2011 Nissan 370Z.
The definition of affordable is open to interpretation. While the 370Z's $30,000 starting price might seem a bargain to some, remember that the V6 powered Mustang and Camaro both offer more than 300-horsepower and start well under $25,000.
Changes for 2011 are limited to the addition of a rearview camera to the available navigation and a new color, Gun Metallic.
Unlike previous Z cars of late, the 2011 Nissan 370Z strikes an acceptable balance between razor-sharp handling and a comfortable ride. The Z's short wheelbase, lightweight chassis and wide track help the suspension to deliver praise worthy performance handling, with almost no perceptible lean or roll. The power-assisted steering is accurate and well-modulated. On an enclosed race track, we were able to push the Z hard, which caused its stability control system to intervene a bit too quickly. Switch the stability control off, and the 370Z remains balanced and forgiving. We never felt as if the Z was lacking for anything, delivering plenty of power when exiting corners, ample grip in the turns and brakes that never seemed to fade even after repeated hard stops. Nissan's automatic transmission works quite well, but the easy-to-modulate clutch, short throw shifter and SynchroRev Match option of the manual transmission make it our transmission of choice. Away from the race track, in everyday driving, we found the 370Z's ride never feels overly harsh and the cabin remains impressively quiet.
Heel-toe down shifting, which requires using the right foot to both brake and blip the throttle, is one of the most difficult skills for any driver to learn. The 370Z's SynchroRev Match system blips the throttle, automatically providing butter-smooth downshifts every time. Driving purists who would rather match revs the old fashioned way are given the option to shut the system off.
7-Speed Automatic Transmission
Delivering the direct feel and fuel economy of a manual transmission along with quick, smooth shifts, the paddle shifter-equipped 7-speed automatic found in the Nissan 370Z is a winner.
When it debuted the 350Z some years back, Nissan got an earful regarding the car's cheap interior plastics and hard surfaces. Determined not to repeat their mistake, the 2011 Nissan 370Z has been blessed with a detailed interior full of high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and rich, vivid color choices. An efficient use of the available space has resulted in a surprisingly accommodating cabin, especially in the areas of head, hip and legroom. The 370Z's interior is visually stimulating, with unique features such as an instrument cluster that moves with the tilt steering column and three individual gauges for oil temperature, volts and clock mounted atop the center dash pad. The 370Z's cargo area is free of the former car's obtrusive strut tower brace, creating a usable cargo hold for luggage with additional cargo nooks located behind the front seats.
While many performance coupes are growing larger (mostly to accommodate a rear seat), the 370Z's dimensions remain compact and lightweight. The 370Z sits low to the ground and when equipped with the Sport package includes ground effects and a low front spoiler designed to reduce lift while improving the car's aerodynamics. The 370Z's styling shares some common themes with Nissan's other performance legend, the Maxima Sedan, including its "boomerang" inspired headlamps and taillights. The Z car's large flared fenders and cantilevered roof are vaguely GT-R like, but aggressive 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels are unlike anything in the Nissan lineup.
The 2011 Nissan 370Z comes in two trims, base and Touring, and one special edition trim: NISMO. Even in base form, the 370Z is well equipped with automatic climate control, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, keyless entry and start, xenon headlights and a 4-speaker audio system with auxiliary input. Moving up to the Touring trim adds niceties like power-adjustable heated seats, Bluetooth, leather and suede interior, aluminum pedals and a Bose audio system with eight speakers including two subwoofers. Adding to the safety of both trims are standard stability control, traction control, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system and six airbags.
There are only two options available for the 2011 Nissan 370Z. A Sport Package is available for both base and Touring trims and includes a Viscous limited-slip differential, 19-inch forged wheels, sport brakes and downshift rev matching on cars equipped with the manual transmission. The Sport Package also includes a rear spoiler and front chin spoiler that eliminate aerodynamic lift at higher speeds. Available only for the Touring trim is a Navigation Package that includes a navigation system, real-time traffic and weather information, iPod connectivity and 9.3 gigabytes of on-board music storage.
Power for the 2011 370Z comes from the latest generation of Nissan's venerated VQ series V6 engine. Producing 332-horsepower (350-hp in the NISMO), the 370Z's engine delivers robust performance and impressive fuel economy. Stealing some of the focus away from the Z's excellent engine are its advanced transmission options: a standard 6-speed manual and an optional 7-speed automatic. Manual-equipped cars with the optional Sport Package also feature SynchroRev Match, a system that automatically blips the throttle for seamless downshifts.
332 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
350 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm (NISMO)
270 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
276 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm (NISMO)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 19/26 (automatic)
Pricing for the 2011 Nissan 370Z starts just over $31,000 for the base coupe and moves up to about $36,000 for the Touring trim. The NISMO edition is priced just shy of $41,000. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with a 7-speed automatic available for an additional $1,300 (N/A on NISMO). The Navigation System adds an extra $2,150 to the bottom line while the Sport Package increases the price by around $3,000. To compare the actual transaction prices for the Nissan 370Z, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. Like the 350Z before it, the 2011 Nissan 370Z is expected to hold its value well over time, far better than the Mazda RX-8, Ford Mustang V6 and Chevrolet Camaro LT, as well as the BMW Z4, Audi TT and Hyundai Genesis Coupe.