The 2018 Nissan 370Z marks the ninth model year for this generation of the classic Nissan sports car. That's a long time in the car world, and considering the incredible technical advances over the past decade like active safety features, cameras everywhere, smartphone integration, etc., a car introduced nearly 10 years ago should feel like a relic from the past.

In a way that's true of the 370Z, but in another way, it's not. True, this stripped-down Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition lacks things like active cruise control, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation, and even a touch-screen infotainment system. But what it does offer at its $31,795 price tag is a powerful V6 engine, crisp 6-speed manual, sharp steering, and excellent chassis dynamics that prove beyond any doubt that this car was right from the start.

Pretty much everyone on staff who drove the 370Z Heritage Edition had the exact same thought: notably dated, but still fun. The steering, for example, uses a hydraulic assist that feels sharper and provides more feedback than most of electrically boosted systems that are common these days. The suspension provides delightful tail-happy handling that responds beautifully to throttle and steering inputs, yet also manages to give a perfectly acceptable around-town ride. And the 332-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine offers up excellent power and torque, enough for the Z to get from a standstill to 60 mph in a little more than 5 seconds. Even the seats, manually adjustable and cloth-covered, felt just right. As a sports car, the Z is still a bucket load of fun to drive.

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Age shows

But, yeah, it's old, too. From the vibration of the engine at high revs, to the wind and tire noise, to the boom from under the hatch, there's no way the Z meets modern noise, vibration, and harshness standards. The transmission's short throws are fun, but complicated by an exceptionally notchy shifter with a weird push-down-to-the-lower-right reverse lockout that was fiddly to use at best. It shares poor rear visibility with many modern cars, but this model Z lacks a rear-view camera, making maneuvering in parking lots difficult. There's Bluetooth for your phone, but it's connected using a voice-activated system that often didn't understand what we were saying. There's a USB port for listening to music, but the Z pre-dates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto by several years. You want a digital information display? You have it...rudimentary information contained in an orange LCD to the left of the gauges. There's no telescoping steering wheel, either. True, higher-end Z models offer much of that, but as Z prices climb close to $40,000, the case for buying a Z instead of a newer vehicle gets weaker, regardless of equipment levels.

But there's a silver lining to that gripe list. Nissan only sold about 4,600 Zs last year, and dealers are willing to bargain to move them. According to the KBB Fair Purchase Price calculator, the average transaction price for one trends at least a couple thousand less than the MSRP. A savvy negotiator could stick with a lower-end model like this one, and get into a Z for considerably less than $30,000. That's actually a pretty good price for a car that's such a hoot to drive, and notably quicker than the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins, which are also in the high $20,000 range. If you're an enthusiast on a budget and willing to put up with a few anachronisms, the Z is worth a look.

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